PIECE OF HISTORY: Tina Lance looks at the model ship that has been passed down her family through generations.
PIECE OF HISTORY: Tina Lance looks at the model ship that has been passed down her family through generations. Amber Macpherson

Penny for your thoughts

WHAT'S more valuable - the price of an antique, or the story that goes with it?

On Saturday, Antique's Roadshow presenter Paul Atterbury hosted a discussion at Peregian Springs Golf Club to a sold-out function.

Members were invited to bring a "treasure” to be inspected and valued by Mr Atterbury, but rather than find out if they'd been sitting on a multi-thousand dollar collectable, most wanted to know if the story behind the item was true.

Judy Waugh, a published local author, brought along trinkets from World War I.

The trinkets became the inspiration behind her historical book Trench Art, which is now owned by a number of academics and museums in Australia and overseas.

"I haven't brought them to be valued by Paul,” Ms Waugh said.

"It's the story behind them, whether there's more stories behind some of them.”

Ms Waugh began collecting the antique pieces a few years ago, early in her retirement.

She said her first purchase came after bidding in the final seconds on eBay for a war trinket with identification numbers etched in to it.

"I asked the seller if he had any more, similar to these,” she said.

"He said 'yes', he'd been collecting them for 30 or 40 years.

"I was only interested in ones with the soldier's name and regiment number, so I could research them and find out who they were, their stories.”

Judy Waugh with some of the antique war trinkets she's collected and wrote a book on called Trench Art.
Judy Waugh with some of the antique war trinkets she's collected and wrote a book on called Trench Art. Amber Macpherson

Ms Waugh gathered 57 trinkets, most made of coins and shrapnel - metals that were abundant on the battlefield.

She said they offered soldiers a tactile piece of distraction, something to touch to take their mind off their surroundings.

One of the most haunting pieces she accrued was a small, handmade cross with a textured chiselled pattern from a soldier who died of heatstroke on the field.

"I imagine he would have worn it on his chest, and as he was dying, he would have been touching it, thinking of home, thinking of his faith, holding on to those thoughts,” Ms Waugh said.

Tina Lance brought in a model ship that had been passed down through her husband's family.

She said the ship is a model of the Victoria and Albert Yacht II, built in 1845.

"My grandmother-in-law owned it,” Mrs Lance said.

"We inherited it from our Welsh side of the family. The story that's been passed down is that her great-great uncle was the captain.

"When he retired, he was presented with a model for his service. It's been in all the living rooms through the generations, it's just known as 'the boat'.

"His (my husband's) parents moved out here to be with us, they brought it with them. The family's never had it valued.

"We will never sell it, we just want to know if the story is true.”

Mrs Lance also brought pictures of statues to show Mr Atterbury, also brought over from Wales by her parents-in-law.

"We believe they were dug up from a monastery in England, before they were buried centuries ago to save them from being ruined by Oliver Cromwell,” she said.

"I couldn't bring them with me because they weigh a tonne. We can't get them valued because no one knows anything about them.”

So - if you had a family antique with a fascinating story, would you have an expert examine it?

You run the risk of learning the story's exaggerated, or even fabricated.

But does that matter?

"It's the stories that go with them,” Ms Lance said.

"They may be nothing - you never know.”


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