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London's Best Vintage Shopping

London's Best Vintage Shopping: Central Gallery

Artifex Lucis / Alamy

Day 1: 1,500 Dealers Await

It’s 8:30 on a clear Saturday morning, the earliest I can manage to get here, though friends have urged me to arrive sooner, since they say the serious trading is over by now. This is the first outing of a long weekend dedicated to antiquing in London that I’ve been planning since the days the pound soared; by the time I amble down Portobello, past the plaque on George Orwell’s old house, the exchange rate is more favorable, an unexpected bonus but not something I’d counted on. In truth, I always find bargains in London on quirky antiques and curios I could never come across in the States.

These three blocks are near to paradise for me, and I’m swimming in the ecstasy of anticipation when I see my friend Allen Ward, a jewelry dealer who’s been setting up at Portobello for 15 years. I tell him I’m heading for the Central Gallery, where the fanciest jewelry is, and he crinkles his nose. “Too rich for me in there,” he sniffs. So we make a plan to meet at our mutual friend Vanessa Williams’s stall in a few hours.

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