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Benjamin Smith has this pair of late 19th century Billingsgate fish market’s porters’ ‘bobbin”’ hats on his website available for £1400 together with the documentation relating to the owner of one of them, James Robinson, known as Robo. Formed around a wooden block, each leather hat took six yards of waxed thread and 400 nails to make.

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The School for Scandal reflects Smith’s passion for collecting the slightly edgier end of antiques, including taxidermy and pickled specimens.

This interest started when he was a teenager and became a business when his partner Hayley Miller suggested in 2013 that he sell some pieces to make room for more.

Eighty per cent of the stock which the family live with now in Gorleston-on-Sea is for sale.

Sourcing all this material takes time and effort and Smith buys from Christie’s plus private collections, local auctions and fairs across East Anglia, including Southwold and the antiques street markets in Beccles and Bungay.

Antiques markets in France also feature including Paris, Beziers and Avignon as well as farmers’ auctions elsewhere in Europe and the US.

Asked if he had a particular want for the business, Smith said: “I would like a collection of William Hart & Sons 1850s boxing squirrels but they are firmly out of my price range, along with the felt pictures by the 19th century folk artist George Smart.”

theschoolforscandal.com