Collectible Souvenirs: What and Why We Get Them

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The souvenir is an important component of the tourist experience, with most tourists bringing back mementos and souvenirs as evidence.

"People like to be reminded of special moments in their lives and to hold evidence of those special moments. However, despite the considerable previous research into souvenirs and purchase behavior, little research exists that investigates the motivations for souvenir purchase
In addition, there has been little investigation of the impact of gender on the souvenirs purchased and the motivations for purchase. This research addresses these gaps in the literature and evaluates the souvenir purchase behavior of tourists. The research identifies the core importance of the souvenir as evidence of the experience as well as the roles of memory and as gifts"
-Hugh Wilkins from Griffith University, Queensland, Australia,
Some most selling London and UK souvenirs
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Some most selling London and UK souvenirs

The 10 Best Souvenirs to Buy in London

From Royal mementos and keychains emblazoned with red telephone boxes and double-decker buses to the ubiquitous “I love London” t-shirts and endless Union Jack memorabilia, London’s souvenir shops are bursting with kitsch keepsakes, but there are also plenty of quality souvenirs to be found in the city. Whether you want to invest in a timeless designer item, bring a taste of England back with you or seek out a uniquely British gift, here are some ideas for the best souvenirs to buy in London.
Keyrings and Miniatures are top on selling list
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Keyrings and Miniatures are top on selling list
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Keyrings and Miniatures are top on selling list
Fridge Magnet are in the increasing popularity list for last few decades
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Fridge Magnet are in the increasing popularity list for last few decades
Mugs are very popular for visiting tourists
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Mugs are very popular for visiting tourists
Some cute keyrings you might fancy
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Some cute keyrings you might fancy
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1. British Tea

Tea making and drinking is one of England’s most prized traditions, and few gifts are as quintessentially English as tea. Head to Harrods, Fortnum & Mason or the Buckingham Palace gift shop if you want luxury tea in a fancy tin, or a specialty tea shop for the widest range — Whittard’s, Twinings, the Tea Palace and the Tea House in Covent Garden are all good choices and also sell beautiful teapots, china tea sets and tea-making accessories. On a budget? Head to the supermarket and pick up popular brands like Yorkshire Tea, PG Tips and Typhoo.

2. A Harrods Teddy Bear

London’s most famous department store, Harrods, tops many a tourist’s itinerary, and the obvious souvenir is one of the special Harrods teddy bears. The soft toys come in a range of UK-inspired clothing, including Scottish piper, guardsman with bearskin hat, policeman and Beefeater guard costumes, but the most sought-after is always the annual Christmas bear — a new design is released each year and afforded a different name (Maxwell, Charles, Benjamin, etc.), making it a hugely popular collector’s items that always sells out. Alternatively, pick up another one of London’s most famous bears: Paddington Bear. The legendary duffle-coated bear can be found in most souvenir shops, but the original toys are from the Paddington Bear Shop at Paddington Station.[Pick up an iconic Harrods teddy bear as a souvenir]Pick up an iconic Harrods teddy bear as a souvenir.

3. An Original British Umbrella

If you haven’t packed an umbrella, you’ll probably find yourself needing one, so why not buy one from London’s most famous umbrella shop? The family-run James Smith & Son Umbrella Shop has been crafting quality umbrellas since 1830 and is allegedly the world’s oldest umbrella store. Even if you don’t make a purchase, it’s worth taking a peek inside — the historic boutique on New Oxford Street still has its original Victorian fittings.

4. Vintage Finds

London’s markets and antique stores are full of bargains, and unique vintage finds can make memorable souvenirs. Vintage stores like Blitz, Beyond Retro and Rellik are best for clothing and accessories, while Portobello Road Market, Alfies Antique Market in Marylebone and Grays Antique Centre are the top tickets for quality furnishings and genuine antiques. Alternatively, head to Camden Market, Spitalfields Market or Greenwich Market, where you’ll find just about everything imaginable on sale.

5. Handmade Arts and Crafts

London is full of homegrown designers, artists and craftsmen, making it easy to commission tailor-made pieces or find creative gifts that no one else will have. Check out museum gift shops like the British Museum and V&A Museum, which both offer their own line of art-inspired gifts that change depending on the exhibits; explore the local designer shops along Carnaby Street or in Covent Garden for handmade jewelry and homewares; or visit the monthly Designers Makers Market at Spitalfields, where stalls sell everything from hand-crafted cards and textiles to beautiful artworks and clothing.

Other top choices include brass rubbings, an art form that dates back to medieval times, and customized stationary from stores like Smythson. And don’t forget British clothing designers — splashing out on a classic Burberry trench coat, Jo Malone fragrance or Paul Smith shirt is an investment, and Brit designers like Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Lulu Guinness and Vivienne Westwood all have their flagship stores in London as well.

6. A Football Shirt

England is world renowned for its footballing prowess, with a huge number of household name players and legendary football (soccer) teams like Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool FC known all around the globe, so what better gift for a football fanatic than an authentic football shirt (soccer jersey)? If you don’t have time to tour one of London’s football stadiums and buy from the official merchandise stores, head to Soccer Scene, the capital’s biggest football store.

7. Posters and Postcards[Postcards make great souvenirs.]Postcards are classic souvenirs.

For those on a tight budget, posters and postcards make cheap and fun mementos that look great pinned on your fridge or transformed into wall art once you get back home. For something a little different, head to London’s galleries, where the gift shops often produce low-cost prints and postcards of their most iconic works, while the London Transport Museum gift shop has colorful London Underground posters. Alternatively, search for vintage postcards at London’s markets or at Grosvenor Prints in Covent Garden, or head to Paperchase or other craft stores for more creative London postcards.

8. A Magic Wand

Probably one of the city’s most unusual gift shops is at the Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio, where you’ll find hundreds of weird and wonderful Harry Potter-inspired gifts. Predictably, souvenirs here don’t come cheap, but where else could you buy a bag of Fudge Flies, a three-headed dog soft toy or a magic wand?

9. English Foods

Whether you want to splash out on hand-painted biscuit tins and luxury hampers from Fortnum & Mason or stock up on discounted candy at the supermarket, English foods make great gifts. It’s a perfect way to recreate your London experience for friends too — pick up some scone mix, a selection of biscuits and some artisan jams and marmalades, and you can host your own English tea party once you get home. Other classic British foods to try include Worcester sauce, Wilkin and Sons Lemon Curd, Cadbury chocolate and regional specialties like Cornish gingerbread or Moffat toffee. Don’t forget to pick up a bottle of London gin, too!

10. Britannia Memorabilia

From the cool to the kitsch, those looking to take home a little bit of London have endless options, but before you decide on a fridge magnet or keychain, make sure to check out some of the more unique options. Cool Britannia in Piccadilly Circus sells tea in double-decker-bus-shaped tins, a telephone box teapot, Paddington Bear tea towels and Royal Guardsmen salt and pepper pots, while the nearby Crest of London has Union Jack telephones, London Underground beach towels and English bulldog toys. Alternatively, the London Transport Museum gift shop has a huge range of London Underground-inspired souvenirs; Buckingham Palace gift shop sells guardsman hats and costumes, fluffy corgi slippers and Union Jack throws; and Hamleys toy shop has London board games and puzzles.

-By Blogsdna (Contributed by Zoe Smith)

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