Many will remember Jan as a dealer in Arts & Crafts/Art Nouveau silver and jewellery, dressed in black with long hair, beard and glasses.
However, when a young man Jan had a brief claim to fame as part of the skiffle group The Vipers. From then on he held a variety of jobs including being the executive director of the Anglo American Theatre in Paris. After gaining his MSc and teacher’s qualifications he settled on teaching mathematics at West Ham college. In the late 70s Jan, with his future wife Carole, started dealing on an outside stall, then with an large inside unit, at Camden Lock when Camden Lock was one of the great London antiques markets.
Originally this was to obtain finances to pay for the refurbishing of newly purchased derelict house in Crouch End. However, helped with Carol’s knowledge of art, they both soon developed a serious interest in art and antiques and moved to open a shop in the Georgian Village, Camden Passage, where they dealt in Clarice Cliff, Gallé, Daum, and a variety of early 20th century items.
Soon Martinware, Elton ware, and William de Morgan joined the stock and the Arts & Crafts/Art Nouveau seeds were sown. The stock then focused mostly on furniture, jewellery and silver, Archibald Knox and Charles Robert Ashbee being particular favourites.
Over time the shop moved around Camden Passage, ending up in the Mall and a large shop with Jan’s and Carole’s very impressive knowledge of the Arts & Crafts/ Art Nouveau movement.
The final move was to a shop in Grays antique centre where Jan could often be found snoozing in his chair, a sci-fi book resting in his hand.
Jan was fundamentally a very lovely man, often viewed as a bit of an eccentric – but then that was an image he encouraged. When he was locking the shop door at the end of the day, he would be asked ‘are you off Jan?’, and he would reply ‘I’ve been off for years!’ He always would engage deeply and share his passion for Arts & Crafts silver and jewellery. His knowledge was unparalleled. Always happy to help, he would chat with potential clients for 30-40 minutes and enthuse about this designer or that maker, but by this time the visitor would completely forget what they had come into the shop for!
Often this chat would involve the ‘Van Den Bosch bounce’. Jan would bob up and down and almost do a little jig as he spoke, so excited to be telling a story. Many clients caught this enthusiasm, as well as a few dealers.
Jan always said he was the front man and Carole was the brains behind the business. But really they were inseparable as a team. Jan will be greatly missed. The funeral, for close friends and family, will be held at Eden Valley Woodland Burial Ground, Edenbridge, at 11am on Thursday, June 9. A wake will be held in Crouch End, at a date to be decided.