Search icon


15th May 2024

Antiques Roadshow expert refuses to value item because of disturbing history



He said it was ‘one of the most difficult things’ he’s had to speak about on the show

Antiques Roadshow is a staple of TV, but one episode left viewers shocked after expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan refused to value an item due to its disturbing history.

The guest who brought the object along had no idea what it was, but Ronnie confirmed that it had roots in the transatlantic slave trade.

“The item was a disc that acted as an endorsement of the professional reputation of an African slave trader in the West African port of Bonny in the 18th century,” the show’s presenter Fiona Bruce said in a voiceover explaining its history.

Ronnie added: “I want to make it absolutely clear that myself and we and the Antiques Roadshow wholly and unequivocally disapprove of the trade in ivory.

“But this ivory bangle here is not about trading in ivory, it’s about trading in human life, and it’s probably one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever had to talk about.

“But talk about it we must,” he added.

The guest who brought in the bangle explained that it had come into her possession after a member of a family she worked for had died years before.

“One of the members passed away and she was having a house sale,” she said. “And I bought that 36 years ago in the house sale for £3.”

She admitted she had ‘had no idea what it was’, but was intrigued by its ‘interesting’ appearance.

Ronnie went on to explain that the ‘beautiful calligraphy’ of the name Prince Jemmy of Grandy on the bangle was likely an African himself who was a ‘despicable human being’ who traded people.

He noted the words ‘honest fellow’ written on the object and added: “I’d like to meet him and tell him how honest I think he is.”

“My great-grandmother was a returned slave from Nova Scotia in Canada and came back to Sierra Leone and Freetown,” Ronnie continued.

“And I actually think it’s my cultural duty, our cultural duty, to talk about things like this.”

The antiques expert went on to explain why he didn’t want to value the bangle.

“I just don’t want to value it,” he said.

“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 in and thank you so much for making me so sad.”