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Oldest gift shop in Jerusalem displays unique and antique artifacts

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Opened in 1936, Noga Eshed worked at Charlott’s on Coresh for four years before buying the shoppe in 1980.

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If you are a first timer, a repeat visitor or a local looking for unique gifts in Jerusalem, you won’t want to miss meandering through the oldest gift shop in Jerusalem. 

I cannot remember when I first discovered Charlott, but I am quite sure it became my favorite gift shop the first time I walked through the door. 

Charlott opened it in 1936, making it the oldest gift shop in Jerusalem, with unique, one-of-a-kind, untypical, non-touristy items. When she opened it, Charlott thought it would be accessible to anyone walking down Jaffa Road, however, when the Main Post Office was built, her shop ended up on the street behind the post office, hidden from the main traffic. 

Noga Eshed began working there in 1976 and when Charlott was unable to continue coming to the shop, Noga bought it in 1980. 

Come through the door and on your right is a wall of replicas of old, brass wall chanukiyot, and modern ones as well, and hamsas of all kinds. The shelf below holds Armenian tiles and Hebron glass pieces. Scattered along this wall are brass mirrors, mostly from Morocco. 

Moving a little further back into the shop, one spies a glass showcase with modern brass candlesticks, glass pieces, and at least 100-year-old Turkish Ottoman pieces in silver, covered with gold leaf and stones. In front of this showcase is a wood table with old, embroidered scatter-pillow cases, coin purses and eyeglass cases. I have a large collection of embroidered pieces, framed and each with its own history. A few steps away, in front of the picture window isa table with more cushion covers and table runners, embroidered with Indian, Albanian and Arabembroidery. 

The back wall has Hebron glass in shades of blue, green and amber; I have amber vases and drinking glasses which I bought maybe 40 years ago. There are also copper pieces from Persia. 

What strikes you the most is the piece of damask material holding glass and ceramic necklaces, 1,000 years old. They remind me of a camel bone necklace I bought from a vendor, down near the Dead Sea. Nearby on shelves are Uzbekistan pottery and china. 

In the center of the room is a glassed case, where Noga sits, a rich looking, dark black-haired lady. Garnet, seed pearl, and lapis rings, necklaces, earring and pins are in   the showcase in front of her, as well as pill boxes, and some Persian tile, perhaps 50 years old. I remind her of the Roman glass (2,000 year old) broaches I bought there, uniquely designed with a gold frame—one with lapis and other blue stones hanging down and one with wine-color stones.

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Follow your eyes to the left wall where there are ceramic painted Persian vases; copper and brass trays; Armenian pottery; and modern Moroccan pottery. Below is a glass case with more jewelry and wood drawers in which to scavenger for more earrings. That’s my favorite thing—looking in these drawers for what I can find that is unique.  

Collectors of animals will find a wide variety of frogs, elephants, tortoises and owls scattered around the shop. 

The front picture window is a delightful array of old and new brass, copper, and ceramics items and lots of jewelry of all kinds. 

A stunning selection of jewelry, pottery, candlesticks and more at Charlott, a gift store in Jerusalem. (Photo: Supplied)

For those who love bazaars, thrift shops, markets, flea markets and second-hand stores, Charlott is a shopper’s paradise. It is also a place to buy gifts for those for whom you don’t want to buy ordinary, touristy Israeli souvenirs. A gift from Charlott is a gift to have forever. 

Charlott is located at 4 Coresh, behind the main post office and parallel to Shlomzion Hamalka Street. Charlott is open Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Monday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. only; Friday 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Phone 02 625-1632. 

Sybil Kaplan is a journalist, lecturer, food writer and author (Witness to History: Ten Years as a Woman Journalist in Israel), nine cookbooks (including What’s Cooking at Hadassah College.) She lived in Israel from 1970-1980; she and her late husband, Barry, came to live in Jerusalem in 2008, where she works as a foreign correspondent for North American Jewish publications, lectures to senior citizen residences, walks in English in Machaneh Yehudah, the Jewish produce market. She has been book reviewing for 40 years. 

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