London Shops

What's the coolest thing you sell?

We asked five London shopkeeps about their best-loved wares

Mark Sullivan Antiques, Cecil Court

What's the coolest thing you sell? 4

William Gladstone Parium Bust, 1866, circa £400

David: “I love parium. Parium was meant to be a mass produced answer to marble. Marble is very labour-intensive – you need a big block that you carve things out of – so this was the more affordable alternative. It’s a type of English porcelain with a creamy look to it, and is deceptively light – being fired, it’s hollow. It wasn’t mass production as we know it today, but it would be runs of 250 to 500. With the mobilisation of industry and the beginning of the industrial revolution, things were now being produced for the burgeoning middle classes. There was a middle class with money and property. It was very common to have a bust of a prime minister or statesman who’d achieved something. Gladstone was a very popular Prime Minister, popular enough to be Prime Minister six times. It’s a lovely thing.”


Francis Edwards Books, Charing Cross Road

What's the coolest thing you sell? 6

The Natural History Of Barbados, Reverend Griffith Hughes, 1750, £3,400

Walter: “This is incredible and not just for its age. It’s got beautiful illustrated plates in it by an artist called Ehret who travelled to Barbados with the author and was known for his botanical drawings. The details in his work are incredible. It was for subscribers only – there’s a list at the front of the book, including people like Dr Samuel Johnson. It was almost like crowdfunding – he wanted to make this journey so had subscribers pay for it. It contains the first description of the grapefruit, which nobody had encountered until then. It’s in close to perfect condition and still has the original binding – I just think it’s great.”

Mega-City Comics, Inverness St

What's the coolest thing you sell? 7

Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85, 1971, £66

Dav: “This issue’s pretty infamous, as it shows Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy becoming a heroin addict. Comics weren’t really expected to deal with things like heroin addiction, so things like this caused a lot of controversy amongst people who expected comics to all be light-hearted. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams did a really good job of it if you ask me. Green Lantern and Green Arrow had previously had dealings with lynchings, cross-burnings, lots of things like that. There’s a great speech in one issue where a black man tells Hal Jordan he’s looked after green-skinned aliens but ignored black-skinned humans. That blows Hal Jordan’s mind. Green Arrow is all high and mighty about it, but then everything comes back to bite him when he discovers his sidekick Speedy is a junkie. A really great storyline followed where Black Canary became a sort of mother figure for him. It was nice to see DC tackle a few real-life issues,which at the time Marvel tended to do more of.”

Sister Ray Records, Berwick St

What's the coolest thing you sell? 8

Movin’ With Nancy LP, 1968, £20

Phil: “Not just this record, anything by Nancy Sinatra. She was hanging out with Lee Hazlewood, who wrote most of her stuff, but the great thing about it was that he took loads of drink and loads of drugs, and Frank Sinatra, Nancy’s father, absolutely hated her hanging out with someone he thought was a complete bum. It really appeals to me that someone who hung out with the Mafia had the audacity to tell his daughter not to hang around with an unsavoury character. Look at the cover – she looks amazing. She always looked stunning. She was a child of the late ‘60s, a product of that perfect time. She just had it. She took to the limelight like a duck to water – it could have gone wrong and she could have just been a cheesy Vegas singer, but she always put really interesting songs on her records. She wasn’t afraid of doing stuff she probably wasn’t supposed to do. Whenever we get any Nancy Sinatra album in it lasts about two seconds before someone comes in and it’s gone.”

Flashback Records, Essex Road

What's the coolest thing you sell? 10

Alien 25th anniversary box set, 2004, £150

Jim: “This just grabs everyone’s attention in a childlike way whenever they come in. Everyone becomes nine years old in a toy shop. HR Giger’s design is obviously incredible. I know whoever buys this will either be single or become single shortly after buying it. It’s every single Alien film with all the bonus features and everything – although everyone knows the first two are the only good ones. It doesn’t have Prometheus in it, but everyone hated that anyway. It’s just a cool thing though, it appeals to the Beavis and Butt-head within everybody. Nobody’s taken the plunge yet – it’s going to be an eyesore in anyone’s house really. We might still have it in five years.”

Words and pictures by Mike Rampton

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