January 17 2011
Lucia van der Post
The wonderful thing about buying what we mostly call “vintage” but which some are beginning to dub “pre-loved” is that it doesn’t come in multiples. Almost all of it seems to turn up in singles. So let me recommend a few vintage sources.
First off, I’m a fan of London’s Alfies Antique Market and have found there some of the things I most cherish. The stock ranges from vintage handbags to old-fashioned tea-sets, brilliant clocks, watches, luggage, desks and chairs. They’re also particularly hot on tough industrial lighting from old doctors’ or dentists’ surgeries, which look wonderful in certain sorts of room and, as befits their provenance, provide fantastic light. Although it’s best to go in person, Alfies does have a website where you can check the sort of thing each dealer has to offer and you can then contact the dealer you fancy. But it’s worth remembering that it now offers personal shoppers who, for no charge, will track down the sort of thing you have in mind. But you must telephone in advance.
If you can’t make it to Alfies in person and you need to look online, Devoted2vintage has a small homewares section where you could find some pretty vintage glass and china (from about £10), a vintage cutlery set from the 1950s for £45 and a charming Bakelite ink-stand from the 1930s/40s for £85. The selection isn’t large but more should be arriving all the time. There are some great bags such as a 1950s crocodile version for £85 (third picture; check out current crocodile handbags and you’ll see what a bargain this is) and a Jane Shilton lizardskin number for £58.
For vintage Welsh blankets known as carthenni, there are two great websites – Welshblankets.co.uk (which sells them for around £200 a time) and Greatenglish.co.uk, which has a heavenly selection of blankets, some old ones starting at £95 (second picture).
Then there’s Susan Caplan. She used to deal in antiques but now specialises in vintage jewellery, primarily pieces from between 1960 and 1990 but with some from the 1930s-1950s. She nearly always has some classic numbers from the grand names – Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Trifari (a particular favourite of hers, now very collectable indeed) – but also a few specialist niche names such as Alexis Kirk, an American who often used big colourful stones, and Ben-Amun, best-known for his strong sculptural pieces.
You can see Caplan’s pieces online but can buy them at Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and online from Asos (when I checked there was a most wonderfully sculptural Givenchy gold-plated necklace for £235). Prices start as low as, say, £40 for a small Trifari brooch. A pair of 1980s Chanel earrings (first picture) would cost about £400 – but Susan Caplan is at pains to point that she buys only the best and all are in tip-top condition.