Antiques Roadshow expert issues stark warning as he tells guest ‘I don’t want to value it’

Antiques Roadshow expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan refused to value one item during the latest episode of the BBC series. The expert admitted to feeling sad when chatting about a disc of ivory, and before he even began discussing the history of the item, he issued a stark warning to the guest.

He told her: “I want to make it absolutely clear that myself and we in the Antiques Roadshow wholly, unequivocally disapprove of the trade in ivory. But this ivory bangle here, it’s not about trading in ivory, it’s about trading in human life.

“It’s probably one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever had to talk about, but talk about it we must. This is an amazing object and a testament to the callous trade that went on in the 17th, 18th, and 19th century.”

When asked where she got the ivory bangle from, the guest explained she used to work for a family “looking after them” and when one of the family members died, the item was put up for sale. “I bought that 36 years ago in the house sale for £3,” she said. “I thought it looked interesting. I had no idea what it was.”

Ronnie was intrigued about why the guest decided to keep the ivory disc to which the guest replied: “I had no idea what it was, there was something about it and now I am researching it. It said traders and I thought it meant trading in coffee or spices and then I realised it was trading in people.”

Ronnie inspected the item further and read out who the item once belonged to.

“A despicable human being,” the expert fumed. “I think he was an indigenous trader, somebody from Nigeria.

“He wouldn’t have been trading in his own people, it was another nation, another tribe.

“And then we have Honest Fellow, I’d like to meet him and teach him how honest I think he is.”

“These objects are really rare,” he noted before adding: “I know of the existence of about half a dozen of these only. It’s extraordinary.

“I mean, this is a document for living proof in a way, the surviving proof that this awful trade went on, and look how beautiful the calligraphy is. The beauty of the calligraphy, it just belies the awfulness of the message.”

Ronnie turned his attention to the name of a ship before the guest chipped in: “And on that particular ship, there were 535 slaves.”

The expert went on to conclude: “My great-grandmother was a returned slave from Nova Scotia in Canada and came back to Sierra Leone and I actually think it’s my cultural duty, our cultural duty to talk about things like this. I just don’t want to value it.

“I do not want to put a price on something that signifies such an awful business, but the value is in the lessons that this can tell people.

“The value is in researching this and what we can find out and I just love you for bringing it to the Roadshow and thank you so much for making me so sad.”

Antiques Roadshow is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.


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