In the middle of a long line of antiquarian bookshops, that used to run from Cambridge Circus down to Leicester Square Station, was G.F Smith & Sons at No.74, a beautiful old tobacconist's shop with a lovely old mirrored frontage and hand-painted gilt lettering showing they were purveyors of fine cigars and smoking paraphernalia. The shop was established in 1879 and was reputed to be one of the oldest/longest-trading shops in Soho. It was also the meeting place for the The London Snuff Club
|I took these pics in 2008 when the shop was a garish orange (it was soonafter repainted royal blue – you can just make out the scaffolding in the mirror).|
|As you can see by this screenshot, from Google Streetview (July 2015), the shop is still there with the same woodwork painted a soft beige, but I wonder what became of Smith's lovely painted glass, the stock and and all the advertising ephemera?|
At the time of writing, the specific section of the road mentioned above has only about three bookshops left, the others having been replaced with cafés and coffee houses, souvenir and clothes shops; crushed under the wheels of high rent and homogenisation. It's called progress.
More antiquarian shops can be found a few minutes' walk away in St Giles Court and St Martin's Court, (both further down Charing Cross on the left just after Leicester Square station) where you will while away hours amongst books, prints, maps, coins, stamps, medals and more.
Hmmm... thinks... Smith the stationer, Smith the umbrella maker, Smith & Nephew the chemists and Smith the tobacconist and snuff seller... any more?