Antiques Roadshow expert details how guest could double value of U-boat binoculars

Antiques Roadshow: U-Boat binoculars valued in 2013

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In an old episode of Antiques Roadshow, Graham Lay left his guest speechless when he revealed a pair of binoculars used in the Second World War could make a small fortune at auction. The guest on the BBC show revealed how they were passed down from his father to him as they both pursued a career as submarine Captains.

Introducing the guest to the show, Graham said: “I love second world war binoculars because in my view they’re some of the best binoculars ever built.

“What do you know about these, and why have you got them?”

The guest explained: “My father was a submarine CO during the war, and on May 10 1945, all the German U-boats were told to surrender.

“The U249, which was the first German U-boat to arrive in UK waters, came into Weymouth Bay and surrendered, and dad was sent down to be the prize crew.

“He went on board with his crew and took command, and anyway, first thing dad liberated was this lovely pair of binoculars.

“Then amongst the other things he brought home was the visitor’s book of the U249, it’s the official visitor’s book from the submarine.”

Shocked at what the guest had brought along, Graham exclaimed: “That’s amazing, let’s have a quick look inside, now here you’ve got a photograph, this is your father here, correct?”

Pointing out his father, the guest said: “This is my father there with the tin hat on and these binoculars around his neck already.

“And they’re standing alongside him is Commander Coch, who was the German commanding officer for the submarine up until the point that dad took it over.

“We have some other photographs with a smile on his face,” to which Graham teased: “He doesn’t look very happy there, does he?”

Graham continued: “These binoculars, in my view, are probably the best ever built, they have these incredible optics.

“They are incredibly bright; they’re a fixed focus, so you can’t focus them, there is an adjustment for each eye.”

Taking over from Graham, the guest began to take apart the binoculars and said: “Yes, there is, if we look at the binoculars, they have a rubber bumper around them, and then you take the rubber off, dad used these binoculars for the rest of his submarine career.”

“He used them himself!” Graham yelled excitedly as the guest continued: “Yes, and then he gave them to me, and I used them when I was a captain of a submarine in the 70s and 80s.

“There is the adjusting screw there, so you set your own focus on them and then put the rubber bumper back on.”

Taking a closer look at the binoculars, Graham explained: “Now BLC are the code letters of the manufacturer, these are certainly superb binoculars.

“Now on their own, these binoculars have sold for recently £1200, £1400 on their own, however, because you’ve got the U-boat visitors book and you’ve got photographs and all sorts of other things.

“It makes it an important lot you could certainly double that in my view to £2500 to £3000, and it wouldn’t surprise me if somebody paid even more at auction!”

Astonished at the price given to him, the guest exclaimed: “Good heavens, fantastic!”

Antiques Roadshow is available to watch on BBC iPlayer. 

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