One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and London has long been a veritable hive of activity for the hawking of wares old and new, from antiques and curios at Bermondsey Market to vintage fashion on Portobello Road via assorted ephemera at Spitalfields.
Popular, too, are the many car-boot sales that crop up regularly around the capital. Often more a case of rummaging through bric-à-brac than admiring objets d’art, a visit to one of these events can nonetheless throw up the occasional diamond in the rough.
With this in mind, I ventured forth on a bright Sunday morning to explore the weekly event held at the Pimlico Academy in SW1. Though keen-eyed dealers can pay extra for early entry, I arrived for the 11.30am public opening (at just £1, it was the day’s first bargain) and joined the lengthy queue. I was eagerly anticipating finding some gems for my new home, even though my recent move had been so arduous that I’d vowed never to buy so much as a vintage postcard again. Ranging from classic furniture, clothing and collectibles to odds and ends brought along by people clearing out their cupboards, the mix was enjoyable to sift through for a magpie such as myself.
Highlights included one seller who insisted on using the term ’haute couture’ for a rather old (and possibly fake) Hardy Amies suit jacket and another who told me sternly that ’reading costs ten pounds but you can buy it for five’ as I perused a book of David Hockney exhibition posters. I settled eventually on a 1953 copy of Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer, a title that I’ve never read and that includes amazing original photographs. For only £2, it was the best sort of escapism after a few hours spent jostling among other people’s old news.
Pimlico Academy car-boot sale (http://www.capitalcarboot.com)
Words: Harald Donoghue