How it all Began… From an inspirational trip to a North-West Indian market in 1998, to the creation of our first leather satchel in 2006, the realisation and conception of Scaramanga (born from... READ MORE
Indian Summer Interiors Indian Summer Interiors bring the colours of that special time of year in August when the sun shines brightly to enhance the natural colours outside. On these bright sunny days,... READ MORE
Back in the ‘good-old’ days…after the Industrial Revolution, new technologies, new materials and seemingly endless energy sources made it more profitable to create brand new products from scratch rather than repair and reuse... READ MORE
The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and the evenings are wonderfully light – it must be British summertime! Here at Scaramanga, we love our vintage and retro homewares, but they don’t... READ MORE
As we drift into autumn and the days get noticeably shorter, evenings chillier and the leaves on the trees colour the spaces we use may change to reflect the changes in our mood and what we see outside. Scaramanga shares its vintage autumn interior design tips using vintage furniture and interiors. Autumn colours are rich golden browns, ochres, deep faded yellows and deep reds. So we’ve selected furniture and interiors that reflect these colours, tones and textures.
Our autumn scene’s focal point is a mid-sized antique Art Deco cabinet made from solid teak. At around 110cm tall and with a slim profile the cabinet could be used in a living room, bedroom, hallway or home office. With its warm tone golden teak is perfect for mixing with other woods, brightly painted furniture. To its left is a cherry red old grain bin (we have lots of colours and sizes available). The bin would have been used for storing wheat and pulses like lentils in Indian houses.
This compact cupboard would have been used by an affluent merchant, perhaps a jewellery seller, for storing their money, jewellery and records and receipts. Several drawers have hasps and staples for small padlocks and others have money slots. We’ve decorated its interior with some of our smaller Indian decorations: a painted red cow charity money box, stone bowl with a vintage brass Laxmi lamp, vintage Gansha postcard, micro terracotta plant pots, Lower shelf: old Nandi (cow) toy, vintage postcards, old small tins, painted chapati rolling pin.
Different red tones are created by mixing an old enamel office sign, with a wooden Indian temple display, an old cow money box and a very well used vintage soda coolbox. The red textures are different but work well together with the warm tone of golden teak and the more neutral colour of the jute woven floor rug. We have decorated the temple and the top of the coolbox with unusual vintage padlocks, a stone Ganesh and tiny terracotta pots.
Add handstitched and woven textiles throws and bedspreads with bold geometric patterns and shapes to give your interiors a warmer softer look and a Global Bohemian feel. Go even further and layer them for a real hippy chic feel.
Add old travel trunks, vintage suitcases, maps and globes to give your interior a vintage travel vibe. In the image above we have placed an antique black trunk on top of an old teak cupboard. Potted plants soften the black iron and brown wood. A stack of suitcases can be used as a side table, while also storing smaller items like games and toys. Their well-used and worn surfaces will give any interior a less formal and more relaxed and lived-in feel.
We have stacked 2 small vintage suitcases and used them to display an old deer skull. The lower suitcase acts as a plinth and the colourful books lift it up from the suitcase.
We love leaving our old trunks as we discover them. So luggage tags, stickers and scuffs are left on. We just used a leather balsam to condition the leather and bring the leather back to life. The suitcases and trunks have retained their well-travelled look with travel labels and scuffed edge and marked top. No artificial distressing!
Use old wooden boxes and chests to show off your collections whether they are silk scarves, vintage jewellery or old toys. Do not hide your collections in drawers and shoe boxes. Get them out and show them off.
An extra-large vintage shop display cabinet makes the perfect ‘window’ for your curio collection. It could easily be a focal point for a living room. Curate your collection changing its contents to make it even more interesting. The best collections are those that show different items. So, like us, you could group into styles and varieties.
We repurposed an old ladder into hanging rails for clothes or towels in a bedroom or bathroom.
Of course, we’re big fans of eclectic styling. The first rule of eclectic style: is that there are no rules. Just don’t let any one style or era dominate.
Mix and match tones, colours, size, texture. Mix old and new, industrial with kitsch 70s, classic British design with tribal Indian. The good thing is that if it does not work try something else until you feel it works, or try it somewhere else. However, just don’t try too hard – an eclectic interior should look harmonious and not contrived. Old wooden mirrors are good for small wall spaces. They can be mixed with framed prints and artwork to create a gallery wall. They can be used in bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms and living rooms.
Old brass gives a space a brightness, without looking too shiny. An old brass chapati tin can be used for storing some of those little things that get lost if left lying around: keys, coins. Add an small brass lock for mystery and intrigue.
Scaramanga stock a wide range of authentic vintage furniture and interiors. We have new stock arriving every week. See more of our original stock on our website or visit our store in Cupar, Fife, Scotland.
Behind the Brand – Let’s get to know the people who work behind the scenes to make Scaramanga run smoothly. Find out what a day in the life is like in one of the UK’s best vintage retailers. Next in our series we have wholesale manager, Kelly. Let’s find out what she gets up to in a day at Scaramanga.
Name: Kelly Stuart
Age: 😉 (Never ask a lady her age)
Job Title: Wholesale Manager
How did you come to work at Scaramanga?: Pot luck! A change of location forced a change of job and I was fortunate to find Scaramanga at the right time!
What is your favourite part of your job?: I love helping our lovely customers! It makes my day when I hear that a customer is happy with the service we give and products we supply.
What is a day in the life like for you at Scaramanga?: My day is quite varied; I deal with all aspects of customer service as well as trade/stockist requests. One minute I can be packing a wholesale order, the next answering a live chat or email enquiry.
What keeps you motivated?: The team, we all work well together and know how to bring out the best in each other.
What do you love about the brand?: I love the diversity of products we offer and that everything is sustainably sourced.
What is your fav bag or accessory?: My personal favourite is my weekender bag, it’s my go to travel bag and is by my side through all my adventures.
Behind the Business – Let’s get to know the people who make Scaramanga. Find out what a day in the life is like in one of the UK’s best vintage retailers. We get to know a little more about our Customer Service Assistant, Tracy.
Let’s meet the team behind the scenes of Scaramanga.Find out what it is really like working at one of the best vintage retailers in the UK. We caught up with our operations manager, Georgia, and discover what a day behind the scenes of Scaramanga is like for her.
Name: Georgia Porteous
Age: 26Job Title: Operations ManagerHow did you come to work at Scaramanga?: I actually had a short work placement at Scaramanga whilst I was at college! I then started a role as a Retail Assistant around 6 months later, then was promoted to Buying Manager after 18 months. Another 18 months after that, I was promoted to Operations Manager, and I’ve been in that role for the last three years.What is your favourite part of your job?: I love how varied my role is, no two days are ever the same. I also like that, as we’re such a small team, we all help each other out so no one is ever left struggling with their workload.What is a day in the life like for you at Scaramanga?: My role is so varied that my days often reflect this! Sometimes I’m managing a delivery of furniture stock in a 20ft container, other days I’m working on designing and overseeing production of our latest range of leather goods, all whilst helping with lots of other queries and tasks in between.What keeps you motivated?: I genuinely love the company and what it stands for. I’m a supporter of sustainability and ethical trading, and it motivates me that Scaramanga and I have these values in common.What do you love about the brand?: I love that we have been working with the same suppliers in India for over a decade. We have always traded fairly with our suppliers, which ensures that we are paying a fair price for thevintage Indian furniture and quality leather goods that we sell. This also ensures that we’re providing our customers with a high-quality product that will last a lifetime, which is very important to us.What is your fav bag or accessory?: The Gemini is my go-to bag for a weekend walk or pub lunch! Thecrossbody strap means that I can walk a dog in each hand without worrying about my bag getting in the way and it’s the perfect size: big enough to fit my essentials but small enough that it’s not too bulky.Your favourite type of furniture we source?: Our wall cabinets, sometimes the little compartments that they have are so clever and they’re much more interesting than your basic bathroom or kitchen wall cabinet!
Inside Scaramanga – Behind the BusinessScaramanga is the place for Vintage Interiors and handmade leather bags.Find out what life is really like behind the scenes of one of the best vintage retailers in the UK. We caught up with our senior book-keeper Kelly Stevenson, to find out what a typical day at Scaramanga is like for her.
Name: Kelly StevensonAge: 44Job Title: Senior BookkeeperHow did you come to work at Scaramanga?: I was working as a bookkeeper in the motor trade and unfortunately the business went in to liquidation and I was made redundant, I was lucky enough to get another job straight away after their accountants contacted me to come and work for them. As much as I loved working in Practice, I am at my happiest when working in the industry. Applying for the position at Scaramanga was (one of) the best decision’s I have ever made. I love it!!!
Vintage Furniture In India
After spending a few days in Kolkata I fly to Jodhpur where I meet Dharma, our adviser in Jodhpur. The ancient city is widely acknowledged to be the best place to buy vintage furniture in India. Dharma has been in the antique furniture trade for over 30 years having worked for several of the large dealers. 15 years ago he set up his own consultancy business. He has an unrivalled knowledge of the antique and vintage dealers. He also has great knowledge of the sellers and dealers in Jodhpur. We have been working with Dharma for almost 12 years. Although we have been buying furniture for over 13 years, having a very knowledgeable local contact is indispensable.
Like buying antiques in the UK, many dealers specialise in certain types, eras and styles. So if you want to see a range of reclaimed doors and windows, there are several people who sell specific products only. Of course there are many who are ‘generalists’ selling everything.
There are hundreds of businesses selling antique and vintage furniture. Some have been in the business for 30 years and others are start ups with a couple of carpenters and a small stock of furniture. I always return to dealers I have bought from before and see what they have available. We trust their skilled workers and carpenters. I always buy on my first visit as their stock changes daily. The vintage furniture are also all unique pieces.
Of course we have to be confident that it’s what we want and what we are prepared to pay for it. This is why I always select and inspect every single piece of vintage furniture we buy. I tend to have a good tour of dealers’ warehouses and yards and then tour again to mark pieces I want to buy. This gives them an indication of the value and quantity. This could also mean they give us more competitive prices.
By the end of the day I have bought several hundred pieces of furniture. Around 25% need light restoration: a light washing to remove dirt, surface sanding and waxing. 25% need extensive restoration to work to replace panels and drawers, tighten very loose joints and replace hinges. I will return in a couple of days to several dealers to see how the working is getting on.
Restoring Vintage Furniture
Team Scaramanga have the opportunity to specify how they would like the furniture restored and repaired. We may want the paint left on and not stripped off. We think it is important to give the vintage piece justice and showcase the years of use. This can include historical repairs or changes to the wood’s colour. We really do not like seeing pristine and perfectly restored antique furniture that has lost its acquired history.
I was delighted to discover chests that were buried under piles of reclaimed wood. They are wonderful compact chests of drawers which make bedside cabinets, side tables and children’s storage chests.
We buy all of our antique furniture together which usually leads to quicker negotiations. It also usually allows us to get a better price.
Furthermore, Dharma arranges their delivery and checks that the restoration and repairs have been completed. He also carefully packs them into a container, which usually arrives 10 weeks after we buy the furniture.
It’s that time of year again when we begin our annual Summer Sale. You’ll get to browse through our collection of gorgeous original vintage furniture that has all been reduced. Some vintage furniture items are up to 60% off! We have a range of wooden trunks, vintage cupboards, wall art, kantha quilts, vintage mirrors and much much more. These select items won’t break the bank, shop our annual summer furniture sale today at Scaramangashop.co.uk
We’ve put a spotlight on a few of our favourite sale furniture items below, let us know what you think! First up we have a Scaramanga classic, a lovely vintage wooden chest. This beauty has several purposes from storage to additional seating. You’ll no doubt find the perfect use for it. Grab a huge savings on this Vintage Memory Chest before it’s gone! We should mention that all our furniture is one of a kind, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. So where we have many wooden chests, there are no 2 ever alike. How cool is that?!
If you are looking for a statement piece for your home this January, then look no further. This beautiful set of vintage metal lockers is an iconic statement piece that will amplify your home. These old vintage lockers can be used for storage in an hallway, bedroom, kitchen or office. They bring that desirable retro old school feel to any room. And the colour! What’s better than a pop of blue in your home. These vintage lockers are a great price and you most likely won’t see them anywhere else, so don’t wait!
Some big things come in small packages, like this fabulous metal hanging plant pots. Guess what?! They’re only £6 in our summer sale!!! Which is fantastic news because you’ll want more than one. These hanging plant pots are meant to make a chain effect, so grab a few and get them hanging. What a lovely and simple statement for any room in your home that needs a little greenery. These plant pots are really light weight, so you won’t need to fuss around with anchors in the wall or ceiling. Grab one (or 10!) today at this great price! Clay Pot in Metal Hanger here >
On the larger side of things, we have a number of vintage sideboards and cupboards available in this years summer sale. What a great way to bring practical storage into your home without using a bunch of plastic tubs. A beautiful new wooden sideboard brings that classic vintage look into your home, while serving a great purpose. We have sourced a lot of vintage cabinets and sideboards, so you can choose from an array of sizes to suit your home. From wall cabinets to large armoires, we’ve got something for everyone. Bring a new wooden sideboard, like this beautiful Large Vintage Sideboard into your home today!
Don’t tell anyone, but this might be our favourite piece added to our vintage furniture sale. It’s a lovely rustic pine farmhouse table. Ideal for adding a true style statement in your home. This is an antique rustic pine farmhouse table made with generously thick planks and a lot of character. Well made good-sized tables, which comfortably sits eight people are hard to find and now you can get it for more than 10% OFF in the summer sale- BE QUICK!
We literally love nothing more than a vintage trunk! So many uses, so little time. We have a small range of vintage trunks in our annual summer furniture sale, but act quick, these won’t last long. From under bed storage to beautiful decor, an old travel trunk is just what your house needs this summer. They bring style, charm and practical storage to any room in your home. This gorgeous distressed travel trunk just been reduced, see it now >
There are many more pieces for your viewing pleasure at Scaramangashop.co.uk, have a visit and grab something you love. We have quick and affordable delivery option in the UK, enquire today. Happy vintage furniture sale shopping, Everyone!
With summer holidays just around the corner, we thought we would try out some travel inspired interiors inspired by intrepid travellers exploring tropical lands or simply discovering quiet undiscovered and hidden parts of the British Isles. We were trying to create a look that is inspired, in-part, by early 20th century explorers, gentleman’s club and the textures and greens of jungalow styled interiors. There are elements of eclectic styling in our travel inspired interiors as it’s unlikely an entire house or even a room would be created in this ‘junglaow explorer’ style. It’s a look that allows you to experiment and try objects out. What we love most about travel inspired interior styling there are no rules! When looking to create a individual and unique home most people have old piece they have collected over time and new acquired pieces. The trick is getting the blending right so it is harmonious. It’s a theme that would work well if you love travelling and bringing back a memento from an exciting and memorable trip.
We have used this vintage door panel as the statement piece in this travel inspired interior design. It has a lovely light light pink-washed finish. They are an original solid teak, the panel would have divided the inside and outside spaces of a traditional Indian courtyard house. This panel would look incredible in an outdoor design or used as a feature in your home.
Create Stylish Storage
You can never have enough storage space. We have stacked these old Vintage Brick Moulds on top of each other to add height and to add hidden storage underneath. If you have a small narrow space stacking small boxes, crates and chests will create extra storage space without having to find a single piece that fits exactly. The boxes are all different sizes and styles and the woods are different textures and colours.
British explorers and colonialists loved to collect items from their travels. So unusual curios fit in well with decorative pieces. We’ve added colourful tribal art from India, Africa and Indonesia amongst tropical plants, bundles of letters and old photos. Not all the items need be old you could mix in new, handcrafted artisan items and pick your favourite travel photos and print them in black and white and add a sepia filter to give them an old look.
Old books, especially travel books work well with travel inspired interiors. Vintage maps, antique cameras, travel bags and old books should be used to create finishing touches in an explorer inspired space. We have added contrasting materials: old glass bottles, a small display cabinet and antique brass padlocks. Vintage storm lamps along with the storage chests really add a feel of real outdoor travel.
Fabrics were inspired by botanical, animal, paisley and were made from readily available locally made cotton and linen. So long flowing light coloured cotton fabric will give a room soft filtered light. Mixing throw cushions and tropical printed bedcovers or traditional vintage covers will give an eclectic travel look.
Small Explorer Displays
Of course you may not want to turn a whole room into an a explorer jungalow space. Or you may want to start small. For a small space choose a small surface perhaps a side table and create a mini display on top.
If you don’t have floor space for an explorer’s table or want to keep your displays contained then try a wall mounted cabinet or small cabinets on a mantelpiece and fill these with your explorer curios.
Wall mounted cabinets come in all shapes and sizes. A natural wooden wall cabinet give a more formal look to the display, while a shabby chic cabinet will make a space look more lived in and relaxed. Their style can vary from plain and simple to ornate decorative display cabinets with carved finials and moulding and hidden pops of colour.
We would love to learn how you style your Travel inspired interiors, share in the comments below.
You probably know this by now, we LOVE a vintage trunk. The styling possibilities, the nostalgia, the charm…the storage options. There is so much to love, we might be a little obsessed – in a good way! We have the biggest collection of gorgeous aged trunks to offer our vintage lovers. A good vintage trunk is not only rich in character but history as well. A lot of these old trunks have their original stickers on them. These stickers allow our customers to be transported by in time. We could just keep stacks of trunks in our home, that’s how much we love them. But we thought we’d offer some practical ways to style these beauties for the more practical-minded out there.
Top 5 Ways to Style Vintage Trunks
Use your vintage trunk as a blanket box
That’s right. One of these gorgeous trunks would make an ideal blanket box. Simply choose one of your liking (it might be hard to choose just 1!), then place it at the end of your bed. Voila, you’ve got yourself some charming bedroom storage. We think that a vintage travel trunk would suit any bedroom style from minimalistic to shabby chic or industrial vintage. Most of these old trunks are pretty big, so no doubt you’ll be able to get plenty of blankets inside. This is truly one of the most style ways to create storage space in your room. If extra linen or blankets don’t need storage, then why not tuck away your seasonal clothes or shoes. Our range of trunks come in all different sizes and colours, so have a wee browse and find the perfect storage trunk for your bedroom.
2. Use your vintage trunk as a coffee table
What is better than a conversational piece of furniture in your living room? Nothing. That’s why we suggest an old vintage trunk as a coffee table. You’ll get to enjoy the rich history these trunks offer. From old stickers to initials to scuffs and marks from travelling aboard ships, Scaramanga trunks will offer plenty of conversation. We don’t mind that the surface can be a bit uneven, it makes it even more character-filled. However, we see a lot of customers simply place a sheet of glass over top for that smooth desirable surface. Clever, eh? Now that you’re inspired, you won’t settle for any old boring coffee table, we certain of it. If that didn’t sell you enough, then think about the storage possibilities. We usually keep extra blankets and board games in ours. So unlike your ordinary coffee table, our steamer trunk coffee tables not only look amazing but provide practical storage.
3. Use your vintage trunk as home decor
Pretty simple and perhaps obvious, but these old trunks make excellent decoration. Vintage travel trunks are works of art in our opinion, so just one in your home can bring a lot of character and charm. Easily put one on top of a wardrobe, next to your bed or on a shelf, just as you would a picture. The deep browns and various textures of leather and canvas make each trunk a stunning visual treat. Additionally, old trunks like these were adorned in brass hardware and interesting features. These qualities make them even more special. So why not use them as such? Whether your house is nautical, vintage, shabby chic or even pretty modern, an old trunk will bring loads of style.
4. Use your vintage trunk as a side table
You can keep all your essentials close by when you use a trunk next as a table. One storage trunk might be a bit low, but 2 stacked would be a perfect height. The rich leather or wood will bring depth to any lounge or any room in your home. You can even use these as bedside tables. Simply place your bedside lamp and clock on top and you’ve got yourself a genius side table. We have some pictured below next to some gorgeous armchairs which is a complete vintage look. However, if you have a more modern interior with simple chairs, that would work too. Mixing and matching furntiure styles show a true sense of style and make your home truly unique.
5. Use your vintage trunk to put stuff on
That might sound, well, silly and obvious. However, it’s worth pointing out that these make excellent surface areas. For example, imagine a few stacked up at a different height with a bunch of plants on them. What a unique vintage jungle look! We’re always looking for cool or unique plant stands and feel this ticks all the boxes. Or you can have one next to your fireplace, open or closed, for stacking wood or logs. This would offer your lounge or living space that popular ‘cabin in the woods’ vibe.
If you’d like more information on the history of trunks, Carl explains a little here:
You can see our love and passion for vintage trunk is real. Let us know your favourite ways to style them!
We have been the go-to supplier of vintage and antique and vintage trunks, chests, suitcases and padlocks for many of the world’s leading action props buyers for thirteen years. We are super excited by this autumn’s starring role for Scaramanga in the 25th James Bond film No Time To Die starring Daniel Craig. Despite an 18 month delay, it has been worth the wait. With amazing scenery and some of the most daring action scenes. Carl shares our latest roles, his experiences working with props buyers, a funny incident involving Tom Cruise and his tips for working with top buyers. A props buyer we’ve been working with for the last 9 years called looking for 2 large antique locks and we sent some photos. He was impressed with our wide range of sizes and styles and bought 2 large brass locks. We have over 500 unique locks in stock at any time in over 15 different shapes and sizes. We discovered a week later that they were going to be for the 25th James Bond film. Carl was absolutely delighted to hear some of our vintage interiors were going to be in the next Bind film. He’s been a James Bond fan since he was 10. Our business was named after the assassin villain Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun. Our first big film break came 12 years ago when we had a call from a props buyer looking for eight travel trunks and storage chests to be used in the Tim Burton film Dark Shadows starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green. In a scene, the storage trunks were to be stacked up on Liverpool docks in 1760. It was the first time we had worked with an action props buyer and it was an exciting experience. Our most recent Since then we have worked with her on more than 5 films the latest being the action-packed drama His Dark Materials 2. We cannot reveal what the props buyer bought until they appear on screen. But we can say the items look as if they belong in the ‘New World’ hilltop village discovered by Lyra.
In the summer of 2020 we saw our old padlocks starring in HBO / Sky’s The Third Day with Jude Law and Emily Watson, an intriguing drama that “chronicles the individual journeys of a man and woman who arrive on a mysterious island at different times” and will allow viewers to follow the events of a single day in real time.
We were delighted to be asked to supply props again for the second Maleficent film Mistress Of Evil. Five of our large antique iron padlocks were bought for Maleficent 2. We asked Rebecca, who bought from us for Disney’s 2014, Maleficent starring Angelia Jolie, what she felt were the biggest challenges of working as a props buyer?
Rebecca said: ‘The very last minute requests. There can be changes on set on the day that have us jumping off our seats to rush and find a prop. The other challenges involve detailed research you would have to do in order to try and make sure that you’re getting the correct items. This often links with period projects or props that involve a specialism – there is always someone out there who can spot a mistake and we do try to avoid these as much as we can. We do have to allow ourselves a little artistic licence sometimes as usually the final choice is made by the director who possibly prefers the look of an item which might not be 100% true to detail!!’
The brief from Rebecca was for medieval-style chests and boxes with a good decorative finish and storage chests that could be carried. We thought several of our Shehkawati chests would work. They were used by affluent merchants 100 years ago as cash boxes and are always highly decorated with ornate carvings and brasswork. They were just what she was looking for and several, long with old wooden pots, vintage Indian quilted kanthas (blankets) and brass bowls were ordered and used in the film.
Earlier last summer saw the release of Disney’s remake of Dumbo. Two years ago another regular props buyer came to us looking for 10 vintage and antique travel trunks, large padlocks, long poles, netting and lengths of thick ropes. They were looking for items for a circus scene. You have probably worked out that there’s a definite trend in the props we supply for films. Much of the work involved in films is shrouded in mystery. Film makers do not want to give away plots, storyline and events and so that naturally extends to acquiring the props for the scenes. So it is not uncommon for us not to know the film the props are bought for, sometimes we are told in confidence, other times we have to sign non-disclosure agreements and sometimes with a bit of cunning investigative work can work the film out!
We sent nine vintage and antique travel trunks to the Dumbo film-makers, along with padlocks and several old school climbing ropes. Despite trying we could not find netting or old poles for staking the netting. All the trunks were original trunks used around the turn of the 20th century. The open large travel trunk, below, is clearly seen in the opening scenes of Dumbo.
So what is a hero prop? It is a prop that features prominently in a key scene or series of scene throughout a film. If you’re wondering if we have ever supplied a hero prop the answer is yes. A large antique Indian teak chest was a key prop in the Michael Palin BBC drama Remember Me. It was Palin’s first regular television acting role in 20 years. The wooden memory chest held clues to Palin’s character, Tom’s, dark secret past. We’re still hoping for a big movie hero prop. We came close when Rebecca asked us for two old leather suitcases that needed to be 100% identical. We had several that were similar, but none were exactly the same. We discovered a little later the film was Paddington 2 and the suitcases were Paddington icon case. However, we did supply the vintage padlocks that were used in the very dramatic final train scenes.
Whilst many films we supply are fairy tale stories with a lot of animation and CGI many are based on historical events and people. We were contacted by a buyer working on a film of the later years of Queen Victoria and her friendship with her Indian servant Abdul. She had worked with another buyer who had worked with us before and we had been recommended. She knew we’re antique chests, boxes, travel trunks and Indian antique experts!
She bought 15 pieces including trunks and an assortment of Indian bowls, boxes, tins and journals. Victoria and Abdul brought the colours of India to the big screen, as well as high Victorian style with several scenes were filmed up here in Scotland. It starred Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal as Indian clerk Abdul Karim who becomes her unlikely teacher and friend. Look out the them as the film opens this weekend.
We supplied the wicker travel trunk and hamper that were used in this Scottish Highlands picnic scene.
it’s a very rewarding to see our vintage furniture and bags on a big screen production. It all started when we were approached by a buyer at the Royal Shakespeare Company looking for satchels for several productions.
The buyer was very specific about what she needed: must look like they were from the 1700s, so a basic wooden construction, with irons; colour: dark browns and they needed to look as if they were from the 18th century. We had over 300 large chests and trunks to chose from and after many exchanges of photos and dimensions she selected 8 antique chests and trunks. We thought we had several days to get the trunks to the studio, but we had less than a day to get them to there so we had a arrange a same day pick-up and delivery to the film studio. When working with props buyers there’s a flurry of activity and then after filming things then go quiet for a while. Sometimes a year, often 2 years, then we start to see the trailers and promotional material. The really exciting part is then watching the film and spotting our trunks, suitcases, chests or padlocks in the scenes.
Around the same time we were contacted by a props buyer in New Zealand looking for 10 antique brass padlocks for the 2012 Lord of the Rings blockbuster The Hobbit – several of our locks could be seen on a chest in Bilbo’s house in the first few minutes of the film. Sometimes our props are seen for a second or two, but somtimes they can be a key object in an important scene.
Our funniest props story happened a few years ago. Jonny called us looking for a vintage leather messenger bag for a film he was working on. The bag was going to be worn by Tom Cruise in the action sci-fi film Edge Of Tomorrow. We sent the bag off and called Jonny to check it arrived OK, unfortunately, he had ordered a large bag and was too big for Tom! So it didn’t make it onto the big screen. In retrospect, we should have offered him a smaller bag knowing Tom Cruise is 5’7″!
The nature of the film business means we often don’t get any notice. A while ago I got another call from Jonny, at 3pm on a Friday afternoon he urgently needed six plain black late Victorian travel trunks by the following Tuesday for a scene in a remake of the classic adventure film Tarzan. They had to be plain and priced as competitively as possible because they were to be destroyed in the scene! We had several, but most of our storage trunks are decorative and were not the price Jonny was looking for. I had to urgently phone round our dealers and suppliers. We then spent the weekend collecting them ready to be despatched 500 miles to London to arrive on Tuesday morning. If you saw Tarzan our trunks can be seen in at the end of the epic wildebeest stampede through the mining camp of the Belgian villains directed by Tarzan.
We have a code: RED status at Scaramanga, which means: ‘drop what you are doing and help!’ a status often activated by props buyers.
The key to working with props buyers is to:
1. understand what they are looking for, so we use our experience to ask as many relevant questions as we can. These can include: size, style, budget, condition and timescales. Often if a p[ropd buyer is looking for a special piece they will refer to it as a: ‘hero’ prop. That means it has a key role in a scene. Perhaps appearing several times. If it is something we cannot definitely help, we tell the buyer immediately, as there is no point in raising their expectations. Carl always tries to give a realistic probability of finding what they have asked for.
2. offer relevant choices, which means having a good description and knowledge of the items, this may mean knowing its history, provenance, size and construction and having more than five high res photos showing all the views of the piece.
3. act quickly, get back to the buyer as soon as you can and quick despatch quickly, as shooting schedules are often very tight. We cannot simply pop our props along to Pinewood Studios. We have to factor in a 500 miles journey from Scotland.
4. The props buying community is a small, but well connected group of dedicated people working directly with directors to source props for specific scenes. So if a supplier or contact has done a good job sourcing a hard to find prop or they find a specialist supplier they will often share their experiences and contacts with other props buyers. So it’s critical to do a good job. We have never let a props buyer down.
Carl “When I founded Scaramanga 14 years ago and named it after a Bond movie character (Christopher Lee’s assassin in The Man With The Golden Gun), I never imagined that by now our reputation for original vintage and antique items, as well as our own bags, would be so good that we’d become the first-choice supplier for so many Hollywood movie props buyers.
Look out for more dramatic Scaramanga starring roles in 2021 (wink wink)!!
Of course not everything is destined for the big screen. We have seen our vintage furniture and interiors appear in reality TV shows. We supplied The Crystal Maze with wooden chests and old padlocks for their medieval zone. A bright red retro suitcase appeared on Stictly Come Dancing. Our biggest piece of props work was to supply the Celebrity Big Brother House with 300 antique iron padlocks for the opening day of their 2016 series. Everything in the entire house was chained and padlocked away. Contestants had to win tasks and challenges to get their suitcses or even sleep on their beds.
Darren Day, like all the other contestants, looking dazed and confused by the chains and padlocks locking absolutely everything down!
We supplied more iron padlocks for Jericho. Set in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1870s, the series focuses upon the shanty town of Jericho, home to a community that will live, thrive and die in the shadow of the viaduct they’ve been brought together to build. Jericho is a community of people with secrets to hide and those looking to start again.
5 million people tuned in to watch Michael Palin and Julia Salwalha in BBC1’s supernatural thriller Remember Me in December 2014. The Sunday night series tells the story of pensioner Tom Parfitt (Michael Palin) and the ghostly spirit that wreaks havoc around him and everyone who enters his world. At the end of the first episode there was a very scary scene in which a boy discovers an old wooden chest full of Indian mementos and old sepia photos in the upstairs rom of a haunted house. The chest in the dark moody room was a Scaramanga antique wedding chest. And is what props buyers call a ‘hero’ piece. It was a significant prop that was very noticable in the episode, when two boys discover the attic room. There were dark and moody shots of the chest and other parts of the room as a ghost makes itself felt, with flashes of a mysterious Indian women who is at the centre of the drama. One showing of our chest was not enough. Channel Four’s Gogglebox repeated the ‘Ghostly Indian Woman’ scene earlier this week.