Crossing the threshold of Maritime Antiques & in the historic district of Frederiksstaden, visitors are greeted by the scent of traditional Swedish tar ropes. “It’s the store’s perfume,” says co-owner Frans Pachner, whose father founded this Copenhagen anomaly within striking distance of the harbour 40 years ago. “The building dates from the early 1700s and withstood the onslaught of Lord Nelson and his navy in 1801,” he adds proudly. “Today we are surrounded by artisans – metalworkers, glassblowers. We love this location. We’re a bit hidden here, but we like the fact that people have to seek us out.”
A main draw, as the store’s name spells out, is its world-class collection of maritime antiques. Exceptionally precious pieces range from a Swedish binnacle (DKr170,000, about £19,900) dating from 1700-1750 and featuring exquisite handmade brass embellishments, to extremely rare half-hull model ships. Measuring up to 2m in length, these detailed replicas can fetch anywhere between £4,500 and £18,000.
But what of that ampersand in the name? Since taking the reins some 15 years ago, Pachner and his partner in both work and life, Magali Chiaberge, have added a somewhat unexpected fashion angle to their offering. The selection of “timeless, high-quality, functional clothes with a nautical vibe” includes stacks of utilitarian-chic jumpers in a largely neutral palette of navy blue, grey and black – and, of course, a smattering of stripes. Presented on rough-hewn tables accented with fishing nets, enormous clam shells and skeins of rope are fishermen’s sweaters (from about £160) by SNS Herning – a Danish staple brand founded in 1931 by Søren Nielsen Skyt – and indigo sailor crewnecks (about £330) designed in Denmark and manufactured in Italy by Andersen-Andersen.
One brand Pachner and Chiaberge are particularly fond of is Mister Freedom. “We are the only store in Denmark to carry it,” says Pachner of the California workwear specialist, whose pea coats (from about £900), buttery soft leather jackets (about £900) and selvedge denim jeans (about £300) are sought out by the store’s broad clientele, which on any one day might include actress Kirsten Dunst or executives from Danish shipping conglomerate Maersk. The latter tend to come in search of navigational antiques, says Pachner, but might also be tempted by a pair of delightful leather braces (from about £150) with ceramic buttons crafted by local artisans.
Other standout items include rope keyrings (about £10), nautical mats (from about £85) and belts (about £80) that are all handmade by a Danish sailor, while the sculptural silver-coated-brass rings and bracelets (from about £90) are hand-hammered by Jean-Claude Chiaberge, Magali’s father. The creative endeavours of Chiaberge herself are also evident in the store: her intriguing fine art photography (from about £700 to £3,500), with ethereal figures as its subjects, completes this downtown cool-meets-maritime mise en scène, which always sends shoppers on their way with a final nautical flourish – every purchase is wrapped in brown paper and tied with delicately scented fine tar twine.