Saturday, 2 July 2011

Anniversary outing

The Mr and I celebrated 8 years of marital bliss last Tuesday, so being the thoughtful and caring wife that I am, I thought he'd like a look round a market and a load of vintage shops. Oh no, hang on...that's what I wanted, and he kindly acquiesced to my suggestion when I pointed out we could have curry for lunch and he could take his camera and get gritty East London shots. So, a romantic stroll around the grimy environs of Shoreditch it was.

I hadn't been to Spitalfields Market for absolutely ages, and was pleased to discover that although it was a Tuesday, stall holders were setting up and it wasn't just the shops around the edges which were open. There are some really nice pitches there, and the stall holders were all friendly. I bought this necklace from a charming Afghani man with a great sales patter, although I may have a go at making these myself - they're basically just scarf material stitched into a tube, and the material alternately threaded through and covering the beads.

necklace / hair band / belt

I also picked up these photo prints of vintage Vogue covers, which I'm going to put up in the bedroom. They also had photographs of local street art and landmarks, but we've been taking our own shots of those to mount and frame.

The best stall for me though was the one selling antiquarian books, especially given all my whinging about London vintage prices these days. I know that old books like this are probably not going to provide a pension, but the most I paid was £4, and that was for the Partridge's Children's Annual dating from 1922. The other hardbacks were £3 each, and all have their beautiful colour plates intact and the binding is in pretty good condition considering their age. A similar book would cost between £12 and £25 on Ebay. I kept expecting the seller to say that he'd made a mistake with the pricing!

 Blackie's annual is c1935
Partridge's 1922
Haven't been able to date the Kiddies' annual - maybe 50s?

I also picked up the book below for £1, it's the second part of a poetry anthology for children, originally published in 1906. I'm not sure when this little paper back edition came out - it was possibly a school textbox - but probably not much later, it includes all the press reviews from 1906, and was priced at 'threepence'. I'd love the hardback original one day, if anyone comes across it!

Like my dad and I, my eldest is a big fan of poetry, so it's been nice to be able to share some of the poems thought suitable for children 100+ years ago. It includes a frankly terrifying one called The Dreadful Story of Harriet and the Matches, which should possibly be read in schools round Guy Fawkes night:

"And see! Oh! what a dreadful thing!
The fire has caught her apron-string;
Her apron burns, her arms, her hair;
She burns all over, everywhere.

...So she was burnt , with all her clothes, 
And arms, and hands, and eyes and nose:
Till she had nothing more to lose
Except her little scarlet shoes;
And nothing else but these were found
Among her ashes on the ground."
(Heinrich Hoffman)

I also felt for the narrator of Little Girls - "If no-one ever marries me - / And I don't see why they should,/ For nurse says I'm not pretty / And I'm seldom very good" - and enjoyed A Boy's Aspirations, which listed a four year old's ideas for when he was 'quite old':

"I'll never go to bed until twelve o'clock;
I'll make a mud pie in a clean frock;
I'll whip naughty boys with a new birch;
I'll take my guinea-pig always to church;

...I'll never stand up to show that I'm grown;
No-one shall say to me, 'Don't throw a stone!'
I'll drop my butter'd toast on the new chintz;
I'll have no governess giving her hints!"
(Menella Bute Smedley)

The fashion and schooling may have changed, but the general defiance and mess seems to have stayed the same!

Anyway, enough of the English lit (my degree, sorry) and on to the shops! As well as being the old Jewish quarter - a famous 24 hr bagel bakery still survives, and is the best food for under a pound in the area - and current heartland of the Bangladeshi community in London, Brick Lane is also home to probably the largest concentration of London's vintage and retro shops in one area.

 Of course, a lot of what's on offer it is overpriced, but if you can't find what you're looking for here, you're probably not trying. Each shop has a different vibe, and some are certainly friendlier than others. Absolute Vintage is a famous one, although to my mind I'd rather work through a charity shop and hope to strike lucky than rummage in this place. So much of the stock is battered and filthy, yet they treat the customers as though they are offering them a rare glimpse at top secret couture designs for next season. There are signs everywhere warning you against filming, photography and even drawing; and I saw staff going through someone's phone to delete a quick snap taken of a bag. I'm sure plenty of fashion students come in, hence the 'no sketching' rule, but I can't imagine they clutter the place up that much, and surely are just the type of people who would be regular customers. I wouldn't be surprised to see 'No Looking' signs next time, and felt guilty using my eyes to, y'know, observe the merchandise. They do have a vast array of vintage shoes though, arranged by size, which is always handy.

Other good shops are This Shop Rocks, which had a 50% off sale, and a cluttered basement area with unsorted bric-a-brac as well as clothes  (I found something for my swap partner Amy here) and The Vintage Emporium and Coffee House. This has mainly antique clothes downstairs - Victorian to 1930s, including a selection of furs, if that's your thing - and a Coffee and Tea room upstairs, filled with antiques. Then there's Rokit, which is the polar opposite of Absolute Vintage, and has washed/dry-cleaned and labelled everything. Ok, you may lose the thrill of the chase somewhat, but they do have lovely stock, and the clothes prices aren't that bad really (although the jewellery is very over-priced). The staff are far nicer too! I found this late 60s Woodstock style top there, which may form part of my outfit for friends' 60s themed wedding in August. I've just mentioned a small selection of the vintage places, there are many more!

I'll share some more street art and graffiti pictures in another post, but here's some of the illustrations out of the children's books I bought. Most of the stories are equally charming, although it still comes as a shock to come across the odd story or rhyme featuring the unenlightened attitudes of the time. Obviously I don't want my boys learning certain racial slurs, so unfortunately they can't be for general reading. I'm still looking for prints to frame, but as these are in such good condition I think I'll scan them and print them rather than take them out of the books.

From The Golden Staircase, illustration for Wynken, Blynken and Nod

Illustration to a rhyme called 'Tangled' which made me laugh as it reminds me of my 3 year old
who's just been for yet another haircut.

Lakota x

PS. I've had loads of comments about people sorry to have missed the swap. If everyone's up for it, maybe we could do another around Christmas?

Linking up to Flea Market Finds
Thrift Share Monday


  1. Ohhhh Lakota! I am so envious of the gorgeous books! The illustrations and colour plates are to die for aren't they. Glad you had a lovely day out and congratulations on your anniversary. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Fantastic post! Loved the tour - hope to go there sometime, sounds amazing. The books are wonderful - great prices too!

  3. Harriet and The Matches! I was Harriet when I was in primary school! I had to stand and pretend I had caught alight while all the other children stood around me and did something that I can't remember. This was in the 70s by the way, I'm not that old!
    I lived in Hackney before it was fashionable. Great post and we still use the beigel shop when we can.
    (I've been a bit of lurker but this post brought me out of the woodwork.)

  4. Happy Anniversary Lakota plus one
    LOVE with a passion the illustration of the boat with the moon and star; and MAD KEEN on a Christmas swap!

  5. congratulations, and love your post, great pictures. I love Spitalfields. thinking of going today as i have my eye on this dress i can't afford... the books you got are fabulous. xx

  6. Great tour. Will def be going to Brick Lane next time I'm in London.

    Madison xxx

  7. Looks like you had a fantastic anniversary. Great books and what bargains!

    X x

  8. Oooo I might have to visit round there over the summer, sounds great apart from that snooty shop!

  9. oh thanks for your tour of E.London... lovely... I adore the hairdresser illustration, now that is just perfect♥

  10. Happy Anniversary to you and Mr FHACS! I think its a lovely way to spend the day - child-free mooching around, and buying a few bits to remember your day.
    Great idea to scan the book prints for framing. I still remember an Enid Blyton description of a shifty "youth" who had "collar-length hair which was way too long" - how times have been-a-changing since!
    I used to live just over the road from columbia rd so brick lane was one of my old haunts - would love to see the photos your hubby has been taking off the buildings! x

  11. ... or even "of the buildings"; not implying anyone's been ripping things down OFF buildings;)

  12. happy anniversary! what lovely finds! i can't wait to visit brick lane when i visit next year, never got there in the 10yrs i lived in the UK...oops! have a wonderful weekend.

  13. Sounds like you had a great anniversary belated congrats/I reckon those pics could be copied and sold now since th ebooks are so old.You could always check I think copyright stops at a certain age?Anyway I bet the print copys would sell well

  14. Oh those books are truly wonderful. I'm feeling quite a lot of sympathy for the Litte Girls narrator at the moment.

    I do not like the sound of Absolute Vintage at all. Let alone the rudeness and annoying signs, is it actually that difficult to wash and mend your stock before putting it out on the rails?

  15. I'm drooling over the books - gorgeous, gorgeous finds hun!! The prices were so reasonable too given the age of the books!! :-)

    Happy Anniverary to you and Mr FHC and here's to many more! :-)

    Jem xXx

  16. I'm sure I had a copy of The Golden Staircase in one of my cupboards at school. It looks very familiar. Unfortunately (fortunately) I've retired so can't check. I found all sorts of old school books, including a set of 'Modern Teaching' from the 1930's. I like looking at these old books too.
    Love from Mum

  17. I used to go to Spitalfields market a lot when I first moved to London as a graduate (about 15 years ago eep). My housemates and I would go to the sunday morning one and then treat ourselves to freshly made bagels from this bakery nearby - do you know the one i mean?

    Anyway, one of the things I miss about London. Lokks like there are still rich pickings to be had too.

    I love the books and illustrations - they will look lovely on the wall.

    Congrats to you and the mister too x

  18. Happy anniversary! Mooching round London with a camera is one of my favourite things to do. A Brick Lane Salt Beef Bagel is one of the few things that might tempt me out of my vegetarian ways.

    What finds! Those Vogue covers are just beautiful

  19. Happy anniversary to you both ;-) Looks like you had a wonderful day. I love those books and the illustrations in them are so sweet. Its amazing i feel when you are able to sit and read a vintage book the memories it evokes and the thoughts of i wonder who first sat down to read it make it even more wonderful. Have a lovely weekend, dee x

  20. What a fantastic day out. The books are pure entertainment, and every time you look at them you'll remember your 8th anniversary. Great idea with the necklace, when I'm feeling really adventurous I think I'll try to make one. Look forward to more street art. Congratulations on making it past the 'seven year itch'. X

  21. Those books are just delightful. The Golden Staircase is a dream. I recognised Winken and co immediately. Even if words aren’t one’s thing, the pictures tell their own story (that’s the teacher in me).

    So glad to hear you’re a poetry fan. I’ve just discovered a free app for the iPad, which I think is also available here:
    where you can browse for poems by mood and subject.

  22. Your comments always make me laugh! I look forward to them! I dont even care if you comment on my posts about your own day. So funny. Happy anniversary! Way to compromise.


  23. What a great outing! The Blackie's and Patridge's Annual look especially appealing and I love the top, so pretty!

  24. I have just found your blog. What a wonderful selection of children`s books. I think you are right about the "Kiddies" book being late 1940`s/ 1950`s.

    The Golden Staircase has an Arts and Crafts look about the illustrations and is of that era. It is comforting that children have not changed all that much!

  25. Happy 8th Anniversary to you both! i'm learning more about vintage children books since i found and read your blog and i have you to thank you as i was born and grew up in asia so im not familiar with these books and I fell in love with them! the covers are so adorable as well as the illustrations! love the necklace and the top you bought! graffities on the wall are so interesting, especially with sesame street, now that was famous when i was a kid :) i must say the dreadful story of harriet and the matches is indeed terrifying, the scarlet shoes prob made of stronger stuff to survive such fire. anyways i dont think i'd enjoy the shops where you cant even take pics from the outside or look down on the customers who just wanted to browse but i think it would be great to have another swap! xx Susan

  26. Dear Lakota, sorry to be a stranger, I'm so behind on reading! Thanks so much for your comments at mine.

    A very happy anniversary to you both. I'm deeply impressed you managed to get your way with the shopping! You must let me know how you managed that one.

    The books are fantastic! What amazing finds.

    I haven't been to Brick Lane or Spitalfields for a few years, even though I live five minutes away. I can't be doing with some of those shops but as you say Rokit and This Shop Rocks are great.

    Have a lovely weekend and I will be back to catch up tomorow. Love, C xx

  27. Ooh those books are MARVELLOUS!

    Happy Anniversary.

    I would DEFINITELY join in the next swap - I feel like an idiot for missing out on this one - pre xmas would be fabulous!

    Sarah xxx

  28. Spitalfields is one of my favourite markets in the whole wide world. Used to go all the time *sigh* now it is so far away.
    Like the DIY Beads idea, and your gorgeous woodstock-esque top is wonderful!

    Happy anniversary =)

  29. Loving that Golden Staircase book,such a nice cover to it! Have to check out those vintage stores, although hate that no photo thing-imitation is the finest form of flattery-if my vintage stuff was copied surely that would make it more desirable? I would love people taking photos of my store when I have one! Hope you both had a fantastic curry and day out!

  30. Happy Anniversary to you both!
    I love that tunic and my favourite illustration has to be that cute pair having a barbering session.
    Here's to your next eight years, hope they are even happier! xxx

  31. Lakota! I have nominated you for an award on my blog - please take a look! xx

  32. What a fab anniversary!
    Love all the books. That hippy top is bringing back some memories - I had an almost identical one in the 70s, it was so cool and so soft, and it never quite lost the incense smell of the shop where I bought it!

  33. Sounds like you had a lovely anniversary. Lovely books, the illustrations are gorgeous.

    Vintage shops that think they are doing you a favour allowing you to enter? Yes, I know the type. Don't deserve the discerning customer's cash, I say!

  34. Oh yes, Absolute vintage is really irritating! I had to put my pully bag (with wheels) on their counter because I wasn't allowed to drag it around! And it was really hard to find anything- just too much- I just didn't stay for very long!
    Happy Anniversary! Can't believe you've been married that long and kids- you look so young from your air-hostess fruit dress shots!

  35. Happy anniversary! Loving your books, those illustrations are fabulous! Scarlett x

  36. Happy Anniversary! As usual loving all your finds, especially the books, I've been framing up some Alice In Wonderland prints from a battered charity shop book this week. x

  37. Happy Anniversary! As usual loving all your finds, especially the books, I've been framing up some Alice In Wonderland prints from a battered charity shop book this week. x

  38. Gorgeous finds, loved the illustrations and books!

  39. Happy Anniversary!

    I've been with my old man for 8 years too, although not married. Guess I'm like the girl in your book!

    What a great way to spend the day, it sounds perfect. Your books are stunning, if a little politically incorrect in places. x

  40. Happy Anniversary! What a wonderful thrifting haul. The children's books are so delightful! The necklace is beautiful, amazing though I saw something similar at the thrift store last week too, except that a tie was used to string the beads together, I thought it was a really neat idea!


  41. Happy Anniversary Lakota, its also mine and OH 8th wedding anniversary this week !! Love your books and the tour of Brick lane. I went to Columbia road last week when I was in London for Cybermummy. The flowers were devine and some of the shops fab too. Think we are really lucky in Devon, still so many places to find absolute gems ! xx

  42. Hi Lakota, I enjoyed reading your story about brick lane and the Precious' shops! I woul love to spend time looking around the London markets and shops and the history behind them all. What a great way to spend your anniversary together, may kept that in mind for ours later this month) Happy anniversary!

  43. Hi my dear-happy anniversary to you and what a lovely range of books you bought, real gems and fabulous bargains, well done xx

  44. Happy belated Anniversary and thank you for stopping by my blog some days ago!

  45. Happy Anniversary! I love the wonderful graphics in and on those books

  46. Congrats on your anniversary amor.
    love the Vogue prints and the scarf/necklace. I think I seen of few of those books at the boot sales. I loved the poem book too.
    love the the vintage stores bit.
    Thanks for visiting.

  47. Congrats on ten years. Just celebrated six myself :-) lovely blog. Would definitely be up for a swap if you do it again. C

  48. Most excellent books!
    Congrats on 8 years!
    And thank you so much for organising that swap,I really enjoyed it and have made a new friend!

  49. Sickeningly wonderful haul so well done you. I love the Vogue things and the top in particular but vintage books and the illustrations are always great. I love the horse picture in particular.
    Oh I could rave on and on about your finds.

  50. I love a mooch along Brick Lane and a look in the vintage shops too. I really like the 60s top you found and those beautifully-illustrated childrens' books. Also, want to say thank you so much for organising the swap, it was great fun, and I'll certainly be up for a Christmas one too.


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