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Spitalfields Antiques Market 22

June 9, 2011
by the gentle author

This is Nancy Lee Child, a weaver who came from New York in 1969 and ran a weaving shop in Walthamstow for thirty-six years until she sold it in 2009. “When I retired at sixty-eight, they said, ‘What are you going to do? You’re an a empress and your empire is your life,'” Nancy confided to me, her sharp blue eyes sparkling with intensity. “But I’d had enough. This is my empire now, it’s six feet long and two feet wide.” she said, gesturing proudly to her stall and crossing her arms in contentment, “I’m in charge, I employ me and I answer to me.” As well as being a virtuoso at the loom, Nancy collected wooden boxes for forty years until she had so many she could not get into her living room. “Now the word is sell ’em and you ain’t buyin’ any more,” she informed me with gruff enthusiasm, “Every one I have, I like and now I’m trying to persuade the public to like ’em too.”

This is Jo & Kelvin Page who deal in drinking and smoking collectibles. “It’s my wife’s baby,” said Kelvin, passing me over to Jo. “We’ve been collecting for a long time,” responded Jo with a diplomatic smile, casting her eyes fondly over all their fancy ashtrays and kitschy cocktail paraphernalia,“I admit I am compulsive, if I see it I have to have it.” “We like to own it for a little while and then we sell it,” continued Kelvin, in tactfully qualification. “We like the nineteen fifties,” declared Jo helpfully. “Neither of us smokes, but we do like a drink,” announced Kelvin, catching Jo’s eye as they exchanged a private smile.“But we don’t overdo it,” added Jo prudently, just in case I imagined they enjoyed a decadent lifestyle, and revealing she is a Paediatric Audiologist for the rest of the week.

This is Tim  Mason who has been trading in “quirks of art” for the past twenty-five years. “I used to have a flat full of weird and interesting things, but I am selling it all now I’ve become a dad because I need to keep the wolf from the door,” he confessed to me proudly with a grin untinged by regret, adding, “I’ve still got quite a nice art collection.” Tim’s stock ranges from taxidermy through vintage copies of Playboy to anatomical charts. “It serves me well coming to Spitalfields” he explained, setting his jaw purposefully,“because even if I have a slow day selling, all the other dealers are here so I can do a lot of buying.” If you look closely you can see Kermit the Frog to the left of Tim. “I’ve always had him, he’s been hanging around for years and no-one ever buys him. He’s my mascot,” confided Tim shyly, raising one eyebrow and revealing an unexpected whimsical side.

Photographs copyright © Jeremy Freedman

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. William Ewing permalink
    June 9, 2011

    I am an ardent Charles Dickens fan. Just what would he think of todays London?

  2. JanieB permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Thank you for another lovely post.

    Having moved from London to Dorset 5 years ago and only manage to return every 4-6 weeks for my ‘fix’ I really look forward to receiving my daily dose from you . It makes getting up worthwhile as I always read this having my first coffee!

  3. Clare B permalink
    June 9, 2011

    They’re back! Still quirky as ever. Thank you.

  4. Gary permalink
    June 9, 2011

    There is a tin globe of the world just above the Ladbroke Grove sign.
    I used to sell that make for 12/6d in the 1960’s

  5. ELAINE BABRISKY permalink
    July 2, 2011

    Delightful write up about a friend Nancy Lee Child who I went to school with 50 years ago. Haven’t see her up close since then….she wrote me I could view this online which I jumped at the chance to do! Thanks so much for sharing a wonderful person to the world and to me!
    Keep up the great reporting and outstanding photographs of all your subjects!!!!!

  6. February 15, 2016

    I use to sell in the market weekdays or Sundays

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