It is that time of year again when you can clear out your wardrobe to sell the items you felt were too good to just pass on or throw away.
Greta Harding Theatrical Clothing Company is visiting the island until this Sunday, September 1, and it is looking for unwanted old clothing and accessories – Victorian to 1950s.
Greta Harding and her family have been coming to the island for more than 40 years to look for ‘hidden treasures’.
Due to Greta’s ill health her daughter Maggie now makes the trip to the Isle of Man.
Items that are sought after include dresses, shoes, hats, furs, paisley shawls, uniforms, top hats, tail suits, jewellery, evening bags, linen and lace, patchwork quilts, beadwork, textiles, leather luggage and accessories and feather eiderdowns.
Last year, Maggie received more than 50 calls and visited all parts of the island from Port St Mary to Bride.
She said: ‘Last year was very successful. We purchased some wonderful pieces. Lots of Victorian clothing from a lady in Peel, including a white Victorian wedding dress which has gone to ITV Television for use in Mr Selfridge. We also bought a lot of top hats, tailcoats and costume jewellery.’
Maggie said her best buy was a man’s original demob suit that had utility labels attached to show it was purchased with clothing coupons in 1945 – this has been sold to a costume museum.
She also bought women’s hats, dating back to the 1940s, from Lezayre, which will be used by The Royal Exchange Theatre for a production later this year.
‘One of my favourite items was a lady’s wool Edwardian cloak purchased from a lady in Castletown with pale pink silk collar and trimming which has gone to Austria to a private collector.
‘I still have many of the items I purchased and some of these will be loaned out to theatre companies and school groups for use in plays,’ added Maggie.
This year, Maggie is keen to buy original 1920s items as the success of the film The Great Gatsby has renewed an interest in costumes from this period.
She is searching for beaded flapper dresses, shawls, feathers and silk stockings, as well as, men’s items, two tone correspondent shoes, stripe blazers, straw boaters and silk cravats.
Maggie said: ‘The Isle of Man has many rich treasures and we always find lots of goodies. I think the tradition of local theatre groups and costume events on the island has been part of our success.
‘People used to keep items which they thought would be useful for drama groups and so the items have been saved for many years.
‘One lady I visited had run a theatrical group in Onchan so had gathered up old costumes for many years.
‘From her I bought top hats, bowler hats, boating blazers, walking canes, old spectacles, handbags and feathers.
‘She is now retired and so wanted to pass the items on to someone who would care for them and ensure they are used on stage.’
So what keeps bringing Greta Harding Theatrical Clothing Company back to the Isle of Man?
‘I love the island and I am looking forward to my visit,’ Maggie said. ‘I’m sad that my mum will not be able to make it as she always enjoyed her time on the island and has many friends there.
‘One of our favourite places is Glen Maye and if time permits I love the walk down to the sea passing by the waterfall.
‘I also love Scarlet beach, which is a great place to relax after a busy day.
‘We stayed in Port Erin when we first visited the island so it always a treat to go back there and walk up to Bradda Head in the evening to enjoy the sunset.’
Anyone with ‘treasures’ for Maggie can call her on 07734 798522.