In the 18th and 19th centuries, mudlarks were people who sifted through the mud on the banks of the River Thames to find things of value. Ted Sandling keeps the dream alive. He compiled his curious collection in a book, London in Fragments: A Mudlark's Treasures, and you can also follow his finds on Instagram. If you're inspired to dig yourself, new laws require mudlarkers (and metal detector users) to apply for a permit first and then report any treasures you uncover to the authorities.
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A couple of days ago I found this spoon, standing straight up in the gravel like a very small and shapely monolith. There was a symbolic significance to its position, as if it had been placed with deliberate purpose, probably to do with britishness, and tea. I picked it up (how could one not?) and brought it home for someone who is six and a half years old and likes spoons. The reverse tells all manner of stories to those who can decode the hallmarks (I can’t, but I know a google who can). It’s silver plate, made by James Deakin & Sons in the late nineteenth century and has what sophisticates know as ‘rather a lot of dings’ in the bowl. Also, for some ceremonial reason, most of the silver has come unplated. It’s their Sidney Silver brand, so called because it was made at the Sidney Works on Sidney Street, quite possibly by a man named Sidney.