£200,00 dolls revealed on Antiques Roadshow

The antique dolls
The antique dolls

A set of small dolls that have been in the same family for 300 years has been hailed as being 'of national importance' on the Antiques Roadshow.

In an episode filmed at Tewkesbury Abbey to be screened this Sunday, expert Fergus Gambon is stunned to see the three dolls - especially when he is told that the owner also has the original doll's house, as well as its other inhabitants, at home.

Fergus immediately commandeers a camera crew and car to go and see the doll's house for himself.

"You arrived here this morning clutching those dolls and mentioned that they lived in a house and I thought to myself 'if those dolls are from a house as old as those dolls we're talking about something quite, quite incredible'," he tells the owner on the show. "It is totally unique."

The doll's house and its inhabitants were made on the Isle of Dogs for the owner's ancestor, a Miss Westbrook, and have been passed down the family ever since.

"When I opened it I was looking at something which was unchanged, essentially, for 311 years," says Gambon.

"Made as a toy, it could so easily have been spoiled but it's been preserved in your family – that's why it's so moving."

Gambon, who is head of British ceramics at auction house Bonhams and a keen collector of dolls' houses, says the set is very hard to value - but picks a figure of £200,000.

And, says presenter Fiona Bruce, "I think Fergus thought all his Christmases had come at once."

Toys, by their very nature, don't tend to last long, and few of us have anything quite as old or valuable stashed away in an attic. But it's surprising how much money there is in old toys.

According to the experts, they're most valuable if they are still in their original box, although really popular items such as Dinky toys will still sell without.

Steiff teddy bears have been known to sell for more than £100, while even Barbie dolls can be worth hundreds of pounds.

And there's even a market for McDonalds Happy Meal toys, with some selling for more than £80.

UK: The Queen's wardrobe on display
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