YOU can find a Wandsworth prison scrubbing brush from 1953, absinthe spoons and even shipwreck treasure.
And now at Antiques on High in Oxford High Street you can find the beaming nominees of a national award.
The antique dealers are up for the Centre of the Year category at the Homes & Antiques 2013 awards.
The centre opened 16 years ago when many of the original dealers from Oxford’s main dealer, The Jam Factory, opposite the train station, closed down.
There are three directors of the business, antiquarian book dealer Tony Sloggett and his daughter Katharine, of Abingdon, and Joan Lee, of Steventon, a dealer who specialises in high-quality silver, porcelain and needlework tools.
Vintage fashion dealer Caroline Henney said: “There are hundreds of antiques businesses in the UK so to be shortlisted in the final 25 is brilliant.
“We are up against stiff competition with famous centres such as Alfies and Grays in London, who have won antiques industry awards in the past.
“This year we want to win for Oxford. Antiques on High is the only antiques centre in the City of Oxford and as such is important to Oxford University students, overseas visitors and the local population. So we are appealing to Oxfordshire and to all our customers and friends to vote for us.”
She said the shared knowledge between the dealers had helped identify many unusual items.
“Sometimes the public bring in things they can’t identify and ask our dealers what they were used for. We can usually offer some good advice and nine times out of 10 will have a good idea about the use and age of things.
“I have sourced pieces for period drama on TV and films and my stock has appeared on Marple, Poirot and more recently Parade’s End.”
The award nomination listings on the Homes & Antiques website said: “Linking today’s antiques with yesterday’s crafts, Antiques on High boasts 30 friendly dealers offering silver and jewellery, books and music, vintage fashion and accessories, medals, ceramics, glass and more, as well as a separate gallery featuring the work of a dozen local contemporary craftspeople.”
Voting ends on February 28, and anyone can vote online at homesandantiques.com/awards
OUTLET'S HIDDEN GEMS:
A Pacific Rim water dropper: £48
A Votive candle, burned as an offering to the gods, dated 1730: £195
Chinese Spade money – coins of unusual shapes which were actually used as currency: £75
‘Pieces of Eight’ and Ancient Roman, Greek and British coins including tokens and coinage minted in Oxford in the Civil War: from £10
A Viking Box made with walrus ivory: £495