The gold coin rattling around the bottom of the box is so small, Charles Hanson almost misses it.
“What do we have here?” he asks, lifting it out and holding it between a finger and thumb. He pulls his glasses up, squinting at the tiny disc that glints prettily in the sunshine, then drops the specs back on his nose with a satisfied nod.
“This is an Iranian gold coin,” he says, handing it to Sheffield resident Margaret Hellliwell.
“I don’t know who in your family went to Iran or Persia back in the 1800s, but this is real gold, and at auction today would probably bring around £150.”
Margaret is visibly amazed, and – minutes later, as I chat to her about the trove of treasures she’s brought along today – she confesses the coin nearly didn't make it.
“I have no idea how it came to be in there,” she reveals.
“My husband and I have been clearing things out from our parents homes just recently and have come across all kinds of wonderful things, some of them - like this coin - so small they could easily have been missed and ended up at the bottom of a black bag.
“I actually hadn’t seen any of the items in this box until recently, and I assume, though I don’t know, that they belonged to my grandparents.”
It was the Victorian writing box that Margaret chose to transport her family heirlooms along in today that first caught Charles’s eye. Inside, the team from Hansons Auctioneers, in Bakewell, discovered a host of items, including watches, a gold chain, gold ring, a Georgian box containing scissors and boot-hook, a coin case, and even an old Christmas letter - sent from Margaret’s grandmother to her grandfather before they were married – dating back to December 1906.
“In total, the contents were valued at several hundred pounds,” Margaret says, clearly delighted with the valuation.
“I doubt I’d be willing to part with any of them though. I really like the Edwardian jewellery, and my grandfather’s watches are very special to me. It's lovely to know a bit more about them after my visit here today, but they’re worth more to me at home in this box than they are for their money.”
Margaret is one of a number of Sheffield people who’ve raided their lofts and attics and brought along their treasures to Kenwood Hall, where Hansons Auctioneers are hosting a charity valuation day for St Luke's Hospice. The event is open to everyone, bringing along any items they wish, to have an expert eye cast over them for free, though donations to St Luke’s are being warmly received.
Margaret adds: “I avidly watch Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip, and Charles is such a character, really good fun, so I was looking forward to coming along today. I do have some other things at home, so I'll definitely come back if they do another one.”
It was Charles Hanson himself who helped to launch the charity valuation days last year – held in the city in conjunction with Sheffield Antiques Quarter - and promises this will be the first of many throughout 2019.
Charles said: “It’s always amazing to see what comes out of boxes and bags - objects of history, objects of passion, which mean so much to families across Sheffield.
“I think we tuck things away in our lofts and attics, and we forget about them, then when we do pull them out, they hold memories, they invoke moments that reflect loved ones that might not be here anymore.
“It’s interesting to note that the word ‘antique’ isn’t quite so important now, people talk instead about 'vintage’ and ‘retro’ and – even now, in 2019 – objects from my youth, in the 1980’s, are already very popular. So it's worth remembering, next time you’re having a clear out, that even those recent loft objects could be valuable; you never know what could make money.”
Among those waiting to see the team are Janice Quinn, from Wincobank, who has brought along a pair of large Capodimonte porcelain figures, passed down to her by an elderly aunt; and Doreen Scotton, of Totley, who comes bearing a prized family heirloom, in the form of a colourful paperweight.
“This has been in the family as long as I can remember, and I’m 90," Doreen laughs.
"I’ve brought it along to see Charles and his team today and would love to know more about it and where it comes from.”
Charles adds: “My team of valuers and I are here today simply to identify and educate people, and to share some local history, nostalgia and sentiment. These events give us a great excuse to get out into brilliant cities like Sheffield and meet the local people, make some memories, and hear their stories. Most importantly, we want to support the Sheffield Antiques Quarter, and fundraise for a wonderful charity, St Luke’s Hospice.”
Megan Senior, community fundraising manager for St Luke’s, said: “We are grateful for the support of Hansons Auctioneers and their generous customers who donate at these popular valuation events. The money raised will help St Luke’s to continue providing specialist palliative care to the people of Sheffield.”
Visit hansonsauctioneers.co.uk for details of future events.