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Spitalfields Antiques Market 3

April 8, 2010
by The Gentle Author

This is Mike Leslie, ever-devoted husband, minding the stall for his wife Barbara whose business it is dealing in pawnbroker rings. Barbara Leslie has five hundred different rings for sale at approximately a quarter of the retail price, both antique and modern, and starting at £25. Mike showed me a diamond ring that would retail for £1,000 in the West End which he was selling for £200, and demonstrated the device that reveals the flaws in the gems, since only genuine diamonds have them. I was captivated by the drama of Mike’s display of glittering stones because I discern he understand that each one represents a chain of love stories, both in the past and yet to come.

This stylish couple are Charles and Tracey Darby who deal in taxidermy and possess a fine display of stuffed animals that return your gaze with frozen intensity. I was particularly attracted by the pair of squirrels which date from 1780. As well as selling antique specimens, Charles is a passionate taxidermist of the contemporary ethical variety and sells his own work too. Look out for the fox cub that was a victim of a hit and run, which the RSPCA gave Charles dispensation to stuff. “I grew up on a farm and my father taught me taxidermy at home from when I was ten years old,” confided Charles enthusiastically, “Years ago people used to love this kind of thing, then it went out of fashion but now it has come right back again.”

This is Jonny Mitchell, the handsome bookdealer with an eclectic left-field taste in literature, manifest in his collection of the works of Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac and other beat writers, plus related marginalia including Fluxus titles. It is a rare delight to come across a bookseller who has read his books and is as passionate about his speciality as Jonny. Be sure to check out his vintage erotica, comprehensive selection of Star Trek novels, pulp fiction by Dennis Wheatley and Ian Fleming, and fine selection of early Penguins too. You have to admit, Jonny knows how to wear a leather jacket with an ease that compliments his choice of books perfectly.

This is Estefi Vidal and Enric Jorba, two happy young Catalonians in love. After two years, their stall is no longer simply vintage clothing for sale, it is a full blown romance that last week burgeoned into an engagement. “It’s not just a job for us, the business is something that we do together. We’re a couple and it’s our love story.  It would be hard if I had to do it by myself but, sharing the work with Enric, it becomes a pleasure,” explained Estefi with a smile. Then she flashed her engagement ring proudly and I wondered if it came from Mike and Barbara Leslie’s stall.

Photographs copyright © Jeremy Freedman

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  1. April 8, 2010

    i’ve just spent a lovely 20 minutes here with you in spitalfields. it was a tonic! if it wasn’t so far, and it didn’t look so cold, i’d hop on my bike and nip over to see you all! thanks for another week of lovely posts!

  2. Anne permalink
    April 9, 2010

    Loved the Catalonian couple, I’d love to visit this market someday.

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