He began his career as a silver dealer in the Chancery Lane Silver Vaults in 1960 and opened his own business, John Laurie Antiques, in Camden Passage in 1961.
John was a real personality as well as a great dealer. He encouraged his clients’ patronage as much with his sense of humour as he did with his stock! In the 1970s-80s, when business was flourishing, John’s ability to get to know his clients was always his strong suit. He was a ‘good man’, one of the good guys in life, and he was as attentive to the customer spending £50 as he was with the customer spending £5000.
I joined the business in 1988 and together we experienced the surge in commerce during the 1990s. Dad would go out buying every Friday morning – you had ‘calls‘ in those days!
First stop was always a trusted colleague in George Street, followed by Kensington Church Street, then the Silver Galleries in Bond Street and finally the young runners who worked in the Silver Vaults.
He would sift through their purchases of the week and would often return to Islington with a carful of merchandise.
I would be at the shop and was never ceased to be amazed as customer after customer would arrive mid-morning and wait to see and buy his morning’s purchases. I still believe half of them were buying the stock on merit and the other half were simply buying into ‘Dad’.
John was a true ‘mensch’. For many years a local homeless man would visit the shop every Wednesday afternoon and whistle at dad through the window, Dad would give him a nod and he would spend the next 15 minutes cleaning the shop windows with his hand.
To be honest, this only gave our professional Monday morning window cleaners extra work to do, but Dad always gave him £10 as he was always happy and privileged to help anyone less fortunate than himself.
John retired relatively young at 63 and enjoyed spending time with his wife, children, grandchildren and loving friends as well as travelling extensively. He never stopped being a silver dealer and would return from holidays all over the world with his local silver purchases.
He will be immeasurably missed by his wife Valerie, sister Marilyn, sons Richard and Jeremy, daughter Nicola, daughter-in law Julia, son-in-law Justin, Maxine and grandchildren Jo, Freddie, Mimi, Frankie and Oscar.