The Utterly Inessential Shopping List: Plant pots worth their weight in gold, posh chess and a Porsche to get your motor running

After a few wonderful weeks of romance-themed lists, Alexandra Fraser places her rose-tinted glasses firmly on the shelf and returns to her regularly-scheduled examination of the most utterly inessential products on the market this week.

We’ve had a good start to the year. We’ve taken a look at yeti-like chairs fit only for ski chalets, weathered the pain of the Valentine’s season and emerged largely-unscathed and even dipped our toes into the exciting world of the newly-engaged. Now, in the short break between winter festivities and the upcoming spring season (think: Mother’s Day, Easter and, my personal favourite holiday, Henley) we circle back to those everyday products that everyone (probably) wants but nobody – nobody – actually needs.

Seal of approval

Wax letter seal set_262370311_399093132

Feeling like your letters are lacking a certain level of gravitas? That’ll be the fact that you’ve sealed the envelope with spittle. Instead, make like a Roman senator, medieval king or opera ghost by sealing your letter in wax. Problem solved.

Wax & Letter Seal Stamp Set for £14.99,

A Porsche with a touch of Toytown

1958 Porsche 356A Speedster interior 1200px

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I won’t lie to you. I know nothing about cars. However, I will say that when I sent these pictures to a colleague who certainly does know about cars, his words of wisdom were ‘looks like a toy’.

1958 Porsche 356A Speedster interior 1200px

He’s not wrong. If I somehow ended up staring in Honey, I Shrunk The Journalist, I would happily climb into a model of the1958 Porsche 356 A Speedster to escape the exuberant bounding of Nimrod the office labrador. As of this weekend some lucky individual will be able to actually do that, although I think there might be a little more room for a dog in the car.

1958 Porsche 356 A Speedster, predicted to sell between £280,000 and £320,000 on Saturday 23rd February,

Knight to SW1

Limited Edition Game-Bird chess set

There are five lucky people in this world who are destined to be bound together by nothing more, yet nothing less, than a gold and silver chess set with cock and hen pheasants ruling the board, woodcocks as pawns and partridge knights in shining silver.

Wait until you see the next photograph, though.

Limited Edition Game-Bird chess set

It’s bigger than you expected, isn’t it? A LOT bigger. And yet even the giant scale wouldn’t be much good to me because a glaring flaw in my person is my inability to properly identify birds.

Sterling Silver & Gilt Game Birds Chess Set, with 4.25″ Board & Travel Cases for pieces, £250,000. is currently under construction but you can call 020 7591 5000 for more details.

A Nina Campbell-approved place to plant plants

Nina Campbell HR Oomph planter 3_266172601_480733171

These planters are so exclusive that they aren’t even for sale yet.

Yes, you could also put your plants in the ground. I’m not saying you can’t. But the question is should you.

Powder-coated aluminum planters avaliable from May for £1,380 each by Nina Campbell for Oomph. To see the rest of Nina’s range, visit

As always, we end where my evening will start


The flavour of this week is dessert wine from the white Hungarian grape Furmint, described by our wine writer Harry Eyres as ‘an intriguing grape that can lean in widely different directions.’

Harry suggests trying the Holdvölgy 2009 Culture Tokaji Aszu, with its ‘golden colour, great richness and quince- and spice-inflected intensity’. I’d have taken two, but best make it three since it’s sold in cases of six half-bottles.

Six half-bottles of Chablis Holdvölgy 2009 Culture Tokaji Aszu, £250,

If you purchased our entire shopping list this week you would’ve spent £571,644.99 – and would you please teach me how to play chess after you adopt me? (Sorry mother.)