Antiques Roadshow expert unveils staggering value of ‘incredibly rare’ 18th century dress

Over the years, several rare items have been brought along to the Roadshow, some have been given incredible valuations while others have fallen short if they have been restored. During series 39 of Antiques Roadshow which visited Tewkesbury Abbey, expert Hilary Kay took a closer look at an incredibly rare 18th-century dress. But how much was it worth? 

“Looking at this dress, I can picture the scene; one misty morning, a woman walking through the Abbey meadows. It’s wonderful. Is it a family heirloom?” Hilary asked and the guest replied: “No, no.” 

“So what is it?” The expert probed. 

“It was given to me by a friend in the 1960s and she just gave it to me, I just had a daughter and I think she might be interested later on to dress up in it,” the owner explained. 

“And did your dress up in it?” Hilary remarked.

READ MORE: Antiques Roadshow guest ‘open to offers’ as revolver valued at £150k

“No, it’s never been touched. I’ve never seen it out,” the guest confessed to Hilary. 

Shocked by her admission, Hilary replied: “You’ve never seen it out? This is the first time you’ve actually seen it? How do you think it looks?” 

“Very nice. It’s beautiful,” the lady said and then revealed she kept it “in a box or in a drawer”. 

Hilary then took a closer look at the dress and explained: “Well, lets talk about what it is. 

“It’s what known as a sack back robe, people might say it’s in complete, it’s got an open front. Well it was an open robe and you would wear a very beautiful – you call them petticoats but it was an underskirt really. 

“The decorations on it are also rather wonderful. You’ve got at the front here these little dangling hassles and then down each side you’ve got raised pockets almost, which have got a little piece of wool inside, a bit like a piece of cotton wool, but it’s real wool inside this panel here to give it a 3D view,” she told the lady. 

“What I’d like to do, if the breeze will allow us, I would just like to turn it around, gently and we can see the back here which gives it it’s other name – the sack back robe.” 

BBC One viewer saw Hilary turn the dress around so she could examine the details the back of the gown had to offer. 

Hilary said: “You’ve got pleats running from the shoulder blades, box pleats, running all the way down to the bottom which gives it a sort of train effect. 

“So, when you wore this, you were making really quite a statement. 

“What I also like very much is these scalloped edges, particularly on the sleeves here. 

“When one looks at a dress like this, one has to appreciate this is an extraordinary survivor. Painted fabrics are notoriously difficult to keep and the fact that it’s been kept in a box for so long, would perhaps explain why it hasn’t just fallen to pieces which is so often the fate. 

“It is incredibly rare survivor,” Hilary remarked. 

“It’s beautiful, it’s a lovely design and perhaps more importantly, a dress like this is of huge demand internationally by collectors and museums. 

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Post Author: martin

Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of and Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

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