Georgian chic: a mudlark’s prize

Imagine holding a piece of history in your hand, one that has been slumbering in the murky depths of the Thames for over two centuries. A mudlarker, with eyes like a hawk and patience of a saint, stumbled upon a treasure near Blackfriars—a silvered brass Georgian buckle from around 1750. Such buckles were the height of fashion, a symbol of status, fastening the shoes of well-heeled gents or adorning the belts of society’s finest. This relic, once lost to time and tides, now serves as a tangible whisper from the past, reminding us that the river, much like history itself, keeps its secrets—until one day, they resurface for us to marvel at. What stories could it tell? Who did it belong to? The allure of the Georgian era lives on in this small yet significant artifact.

Typical of the sort of historic treasure you’d find on any given Saturday in Central London… Where else but Charing Cross Collectors Market?

Peace On Earth, Goodwill to All

It’s especially sad at Christmas time to reflect on the conflict still going on around the world but we can only hope that 2024 will bring better times. And that’s a good opportunity to remember this incident from the Great War.

In the winter of 1914 a remarkable event known as the Christmas Truce unfolded on the Western Front. On Christmas Eve, amidst the desolation of the trenches, an unexpected harmony emerged as soldiers from opposing sides began singing carols, bridging the divide with familiar melodies. This spontaneous act of goodwill culminated in troops venturing into no-man’s land, a place previously marred by conflict. There, they shared an extraordinary moment of peace, exchanging gifts, stories, and photographs, transcending language barriers with gestures of fraternity.

The highlight of this truce was an impromptu football match between the British and German soldiers. On a makeshift pitch in the frozen, scarred battlefield, they played a joyful, rule-free game, momentarily casting aside the horrors of war. Although not widespread along the entire front, this event symbolized the enduring human spirit and the possibility of camaraderie amidst chaos. The Christmas Truce of 1914 remains a poignant reminder of hope and unity in the darkest of times.

Market Legend Attains Antique Status

A landmark birthday approaches for an esteemed Market trader from the eighties, Joe Randall. He will be 100 on 10th August!

He was well known as a seller of old military uniforms and made to order regimental blazer badges, buttons and cap emblems. He had a valuable network of contacts among the military tailors in London and could often obtain much sought after items. For example, the large bullion cloth ERII badges made for the Beefeaters at the Tower of London. Michael Burroughs of Anything Military has fond memories of the tea chests full of buttons which nearly brought down his ceiling!

He was always wearing his parachute regiment beret and closed every deal with the question “are you sure you’re happy?” But heaven help anyone who asked him if he was in the Paras!

Joe began his military service aged just 17 in WWII with the then little known RAF Engineers. In the photo here you can see the white training band in his cap. His unit built runways in newlay liberated parts of Europe. An ever present threat was the German planes on their way back to base which would attack them in passing.

Joe was later part of the occupying forces in Germany keeeping the Russians on the trains as they passed through the British zones. He also took part in shore patrols before joining the Parachute Regiment in the Territorial Army. His brother saw active service as part of the SAS in Malaya.

Joe now lives in Teignmouth with his wife Chrissie. Everyone at the Market would like to wish him a very happy hundredth birthday!

Happy Easter!

Just a reminder that we’ll be closed this Saturday for the Bank Holiday weekend. We wish all our traders, collectors and friends of the market a lovely Easter. See you next Saturday!

Open as usual this Saturday!

While a train might be as hard to get hold of as this vintage postcard of the Folkestone Express (departing from Charing Cross!), the serious business of collecting goes on.

Calling at all stops from Burgeoning Curiosity to Avid Enthusiast, the Charing Cross Collectors Fair surges ahead regardless with the most fascinating ‘rolling stock’ to be found anywhere in London… See you there!

The First Collectors Market of the Carolean Era

Of course, we’re open again this Saturday and with the recent passing of Her Late Majesty, the throne falls to the former Prince of Wales, Charles III. And so the second Elizabethan age becomes the second Carolean era (following that of Charles II – that of Charles I is often known as the Caroline Age).

The date is yet to be announced for Charles’ coronation but plans were laid for the ceremony – Operation Golden Orb – many years ago and reviewed on a regular basis. This will in all likelihood be a very religious affair consecrated at Westminster Abbey.

Naturally, stamp, coin and banknote collectors will be following announcements from the Royal Mail, the Royal Mint and the Bank of England closely as our currency changes to reflect our new constitutional reality. In line with tradition, on coins Charles’ profile will face the opposite direction (left) from his predecessor. On stamps, however, the monarch only ever faces left.

Finding Your Niche

Becoming a world authority on anything is no mean feat. Yet it’s surprisingly easy. A general collector may have a smattering of knowledge about their pastime but once you start to specialise, it’s very easy to be the expert in your field.

Take stamps. If you wanted to collect German ones you’d be hard pressed to rival any of the existing authorities on the subject. Yet once you decide you’re going to specialise in those from the hyerpinflation period during the Weimar Republic, it becomes much easier to get a handle on all you need to know. Drill down further and restrict yourself to stamps which were overprinted with values in excess of a million marks and it’s easier still.

An expert, we’re told, is someone who knows more and more about less and less. But on their turf, you can’t beat them.

So why not pop down to the Market this Saturday and find your niche.