Elisabeth James Antiques is a family run business born out of decades of professional work specialising in the fine antique furniture trade and now culminates in a trade type antiques warehouse just off Junction 15 of the M1 about 1 hour from London. We have eliminated the huge retailing costs from our overheads and subsequent prices by consolidating a tremendous stock of quality original English antique furniture in a low overhead antique warehouse where we can maintain very high product standards, keep prices low, offer tremendous choice and most importantly restore this wonderful antique furniture to exemplary standards using traditional techniques. Our core area of speciality is antique dining tables and associated antique dining furniture and we believe, under our humble roofs, to hold the largest collection of quality tables in World. We of course stock the associated sets of antique dining chairs in the elusive quantities to fill such large dining tables and pretty much all large scale antique furnishings for period homes.
I was looking for a small part-time job to make a bit of extra money over the summer. After a brief conversation over my resume, the owner agreed to hire me. He said very little about what was expected from me, except for informing me to ask no questions to the customers.
I was to simply put the money through, and watch to make sure the shop was safe. And people pay very, very highly for it.
In fact, to begin with I was shocked at how much money people would pay. It seemed outrageous, journals that seemed to have no value were selling for almost thousands, a broken guitar with a name scrawled on the side would sell for more money than I earned in a week.
A tall, strange man entered on the first Sunday, a thin moustache lining his upper lip — his composure staying remarkably still as he walked up to the counter.
He slipped three hundred pounds onto the counter, nodded after briefly rubbing his thumb over the cover. He then held it tight to his chest, and I saw a faint smile flicker across his face. On Monday my boss helped unload the delivery, before leaving me to mind the shop on my own.
After looking to make sure no one was lingering Working in an antique shop, I gently folded back the cardboard flaps. Inside was another journal, smaller this time — and several small, A4 paintings. Delicately, I flipped through the journal.
It started in the middle of her relationship, she was completely and utterly infatuated. You could almost see her smiling as she wrote it.
As it progressed, it got stranger and stranger — her once normal days become extremely eventful.
A long lost ex moved to the apartment next to them, her boyfriend barely survived a car-crash, as her boyfriend proposed the whole city experienced a power cut, leaving him illuminated by a single candle. The list went on. It almost seemed as if she was living a movie, her life became so dramatic it was enviable.
But then she started to get weird, mentioning that the coincidences were too much. The bus was always late when she needed to see her now-husband, just the little things — but it started to get to her.
The journal ended, and I assumed another was in the box somewhere, but it unnerved me. Her paintings were even weirder. They depicted normal landscapes at the beginning, or her love sitting near a sunset. I assumed they were organised in chronological order, as I flipped through them they became darker.
Landscapes would now be drawn with a shaking hand, dark figures wandering through the grass. A painting of a London street was marred by figures staring at her, CCTV cameras trained on the viewer with a red dot.
Frowning, I put it all back in the box, and looked at the clock. It was a deeper sense of unease than physical irritation, my very being felt out of place. The moustached man returned on Wednesday to buy the rest, and inquired if any more was to be delivered soon.
I was just as curious as he was, and after accepting roughly two thousand pounds for the whole box, I told him that he should expect it Tuesday.
It was a lie, of course, but I needed to understand more. My boss never explained much to me, simply paying me for my work — and occasionally letting me off early with a bow of his head and a couple of words.
I needed to know more about Katie, and so the Sunday before I searched her on the internet. I knew her surname, and after reading her journal I knew a few details about her.
It was invasive, of course, but the fact that people were buying it meant I felt less guilty. I frowned when the first article came up, and as I read it my hands began to shake. Her husband had died, apparently having fallen onto the tube tracks whilst drunk.
Katie killed herself shortly after. I felt a sense of loss at that moment.
But she was never the type for suicide.It helps if you can start out with one. One of my friend’s store was able to obtain a mailing list from an antique mall that went out of business.
We pretty much had to start from scratch sine our last shop was about 30 miles away. We used it but only about followed us to the new store which was much more upscale than the previous one.
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