Antiques Roadshow expert tears up as he refuses to value object with ‘awful’ history – best news


Antiques Roadshow expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan became teary-eyed during Sunday’s instalment of the popular BBC programme as he refused to value an item linked to the transatlantic slave trade. 

The presenter welcomed a guest who brought an ivory disc inscribed with the name of a man, a ship and the date 1782. Ronnie soon revealed that the item was a relic of the slave trade. 

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

Ronnie Archer-Morgan examined an ivory disc with links to the slave trade

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 into the 19th century,” he continued. 

After being asked how she acquired the disc, the guest explained that she bought it 36 years ago for £3 from a family she used to work for. “I thought it looked interesting, I had no idea what it was.

Ronnie Archer-Morgan on© BBC
Ronnie became visibly emotional as he refused to value the item

“It said traders and I thought it meant trading in coffee or spices, but actually I realised it was trading in people,” she explained. 

Inscribed on the disc was the name ‘Prince Jemmy of Grandy’, who Ronnie believed to be an indigenous trader. 

“A despicable human being. 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,” he said. “These objects are really rare. I know of the existence of about half a dozen of these only. It’s extraordinary.

Examining the object, he continued: “I mean, this is a document, the living proof in a way, the surviving proof that this awful trade went on. Look how beautiful the calligraphy is. The beauty of the calligraphy, it just belies the awfulness of the message.”

Ronnie Archer-Morgan on Antiques Roadshow© BBC
Ronnie said the item made him sad

The ring also had the ship name “Anna” and the year 1782 inscribed, with the guest explaining that the ship contained 535 slaves, who were transported from Bonny in Nigeria to Montego Bay.

Ronnie added: “Probably all stacked on top of each other, transported across the Atlantic for months on end,” before explaining that slavery wasn’t abolished until 1833. 

“This is over 50 years in advance of that, when the trade was rife,” he said. 

Ronnie Archer Morgan admires a ceramic pot by Nigerian craftswoman Ladi Kwali on Antiques Roadshow© BBC/Callum Lawrence
Ronnie has been a presenter on Antiques Roadshow since 2011

“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.”

Refusing to value the item, Ronnie continued: “I just don’t want to value it. I do not want to put a price on something that signifies such an awful business.’

Tearing up, he continued: “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.”

Viewers took to social media to applaud Ronnie’s decision, with one person writing: “Kudos to Ronnie Archer-Morgan for acknowledging the difference between price and value,” while another was left feeling emotional: “Ronnie Archer-Morgan, quite outstanding moment on #AntiquesRoadshow just now. Brought tears to my eyes. So emotional.”

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