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Spitalfields Antiques Market 15

July 15, 2010
by the gentle author

This is John the Hat, who has been dealing in silver plated cutlery and old Sheffield ware since being made redundant from his job as a bank manager in Covent Garden eighteen years ago. “It’s a living,” admitted John with a good-humoured shrug, while polishing his cherished stock of “shell & line” and “king’s pattern.” Reticent of his motives in choosing this speciality,  John was eager to inform me with a proud grin that “the quality of silver plate from the nineteen thirties is far greater than you find today,” before justifying his status as a sole trader by declaring that, “a partnership is a leaky ship.” Yet in spite of his superficially irascible posture, I remain convinced of John’s irresistibly warm-hearted nature.

This is Jen Franklin, an artist whose serene exterior and immaculately arranged stall reveal nothing of her raging passion for ephemera. But given the opportunity, Jen was quick to declare her fervor. “I’ve always collected things obsessively, pieces of old paper that no-one wants, bits of old games, cards with letters printed on them,  jigsaws with pieces missing, badly printed stuff, and really nicely printed stuff too. Also, I’m quite fond of animals and I collected over one hundred photos of people holding cats.” she confessed – surprising herself with her own emotion, her pale cheeks glowing with ardor and dark eyes glittering with delight.

This is Ian Lawrence. “My dad died a couple of years ago. He was a collector, so I am selling off some of his stuff.” he told me with gentle candour. A gracious fellow who comes along regularly to enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the market, Ian helps out in a charity shop in Crouch End on other days. “I wanted to do letterpress printing but my grandfather said it was a dying trade,” explained Alan, who spent many years cutting stencils for a silkscreen printer in Enfield and now paints occasionally for his own pleasure. Distinguished by a modest dignity, Alan is one of the most charming gentlemen you could hope to meet in the market.

This is Julie Harris & Maxine Davis, a television production designer and set dresser who worked on the popular series “Teachers” for ten years, experiencing their first day as traders in the market. “We don’t know the protocol,” revealed Julie excitedly. “We bought all this stuff because we like it and now we don’t want to sell anything,” confided Maxine with a girlish smirk. While they may be the new kids in the playground now, these women are experienced professionals and I have no doubt we shall see them rise to the top of their class over coming weeks.

Photographs copyright © Jeremy Freedman

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