RENOWNED for his personality and characterful appearance, Mick Edwards, who has died aged 74, was born into a long line of market traders. Both his father and grandfather were part of the scenery in the markets of South Yorkshire where they made a living auctioning pottery and china.
The Edwards brothers – Joe, Arthur, Bill and Mick – were all flamboyant characters, dressing in shirts and ties and dapper suits and often sporting hats, rather than flat caps. Their trademark was to throw pots across to one another, and build them into spectacular, fan-shaped displays
In the heyday of Sheffield’s old Rag and Tag market, they pulled the crowds on Saturdays, people crowding around to watch them for entertainment as much as for the opportunity to purchase best bone china.
Mick and his brothers were affectionately nicknamed “Potty Edwards”, a moniker immortalised with a carving on public seating on Sheffield’s The Moor shopping street.
In the early 1970s, Mick left selling pottery and china and built a reputation as a persuasive demonstrator, appearing in numerous publications and being invited to appear on Sky TV.
Later, he expanded his activities to the Continent, and presented an unusual spectacle on Hamburg’s city-centre streets demonstrating a patent decorating/painting system.
His family worked out that he had probably demonstrated and sold over 20 products over the years, often designing and commissioning their manufacture himself. He had an entrepreneurial spirit and at one point had a flower shop in Sheffield, making use of the Continental flare for presentation and promotion of goods he had learned about in Germany and Switzerland.
Quickly bored, and needing new adventures, he was always looking for the next big line to sell.
Being ready for anything, he was among the first to work Sunday markets, and went so far as to get some friends together to set up their own in a field outside Sheffield, advertising it on television, and clogging up the roads for miles around as 9,000 people descended on it.
Mick loved the buzz and colour of outdoor markets, and was a lifelong member and supporter of the Market Traders’ Federation. He was a frequent trader at Lincoln Christmas Market with his old-fashioned handcart selling toffee. He went into business with his son David, who made stalls and canopies, and old-fashioned handcarts in the style of traditional costermonger barrows. Mick was a perfectionist and liked to preserve traditions.
In 2009, with the help of his daughter Michelle, he recounted his life in The Potty Edwards. What a Way to Get a Living, and it reached the top 100 in website Amazon’s biography list. A story-teller and mimic, and he liked to amuse and entertain - and never failed to do both, whether selling to a crowd or among family and friends.