London's Portobello Road on a Saturday morning is truly magical - that is, before the hordes of sightseers and poseurs arrive - a veritable treasure trove of the rare and the unusual. What most people fail to realise is that some of the dealers who elect to
trade from there are among England's most admired and respected antique dealers. There are, however, definite rules of engagement whether buying or just browsing.
The Done Thing Is:
1. to arrive early ... as only time wasters window shop in the afternoon.
2. to say hello... as it helps to break the ice.
3. to ask if you may handle the goods... as no one likes seeing their finds indiscriminately pawed.
4. to compliment the piece... as genuine appreciation may help later with the price.
5. to ask the price if interested... as things may not be obviously marked.
6. to ask for the best price once, and only once... as any more would be gauche - save the haggling for the Continent.
7. to control children both physically and audibly... as it is not a theme park and, quite frankly, not everyone likes them.
8. not to ask prices "out of curiosity"... it is pointless and intrusive.
9. not to ask a price "because I have one just like it"... it is auction houses that give free valuations.
10. not to pass negative comment on a dealer's stock... the fact is, as you are clearly not buying it, no one present cares what you think and it may very well start one hell of a row.
Today's haul consisted of a pair of Victorian gazelle horns, a wonderful elm table, and a couple of large bunches of peonies (it is June after all).