June 26, 2017

Antique Dealers Archives Grant Success!

We are very pleased indeed to announce that the Phillips of Hitchin archives, held at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds, have been awarded a prestigious National Manuscript Conservation Trust Grant. The NMCT awarded us £8,000 to conserve parts of the archive, which was one of only 10 major grants awarded by the NMCT this year.  The award was supported by a generous donation from the John S. Cohen Grant fund, and is a testament to the historical and cultural significance of the Phillips of Hitchin archives, the research potential and significance of Antique Dealer archives more generally (and the fabulous holdings at the Brotherton Library), and the expertise of the archive team at the Brotherton Library Special Collections.

Phillips of Hitchin Archive, ‘Daybook’ 1890-1892. Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

As part of the application for the Grant we composed a ‘Statement of Significance’ for the PoH archives – and here it is, in full –

‘The Phillips of Hitchin archive (PoH) (dating 1882-2005) is an exceptionally rare survival of a senior-level antique dealer archive. It is extremely unusual for such archives to survive, as they have often been deliberately destroyed due to the highly sensitive nature of the information that they contain (prices/values of artworks and antiques, restoration and provenance information). This makes the PoH archive a unique resource for future researchers. PoH were one of the most important and influential antique dealers in the UK and sold many thousands of objects to many major national museums, both in the UK and internationally. The client lists of PoH include virtually every well-known collector and personality of the day, from members of the British Royal family to influential American collectors such as Judge Irwin Untermeyer.  The richness of the PoH archive is without parallel in its comprehensiveness and contains not only stock books, sales ledgers and copy invoices but also includes extensive client correspondence material relating to the acquisition and sale of artworks.  This completeness allows for much more fine-grained research and makes the archive an essential resource for both provenance research and the expanding field of art market study.’

This grant, together with our recent success in the University of Leeds Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship scheme (the Laidlaw scholarship) and which allowed Liv Powell, our Laidlaw Scholar, to work with us on the Phillips of Hitchin archives, means that we can press on with the conservation and research on the PoH archives.  We hope that the rich potential of the archives will soon be made available scholars and researchers. There’s still a lot of work to do…as you can see!……

Packets of archive papers, Phillips of Hitchin archive, in situ at Hitchin prior to removal to Leeds. Photo copyright Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds 2015.

….but we are delighted that the National Manuscript Conservation Trust  have recognised the importance of Phillips of Hitchin Archives.

Mark

Phillips of Hitchin Archive, advertisement, c.1920. Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

 

May 17, 2017

Generous donation to the Antique Dealer and Art Market Archives

Interest in the antiques dealer and art market archives continues to grow.  The archives, as readers of the blog will probably know, are part of the Centre for the Study of the Art and Antiques Market (CSAAM) here at the University of Leeds, and are deposited in the Brotherton Library Special Collections  You can read about the archives deposited, and promised, to the CSAAM in the archives pages on the CSAAM website – click CSAAM.

The  latest addition, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Executors of the estate of late Anthony J. Evans (1954-2008) the well-known scholar and collector of Chinese Ceramics, and Michael Evans the brother of A. J. Evans, is a selection of provenance material, biographical information and related material associated with the collections of Chinese ceramics assembled by Anthony J. Evans. The material has already been catalogued by the team at the Brotherton Library Special Collections (thank you to Karen Sayers, archivist at the BLSC) and is available for consultation – the catalogue record is MS2071 – 1/2/3 – it’s certainly worth a look!

The archive material donated to the university is mainly devoted to the dispersal auction sales of the A.J. Evans collection at Bonhams auctioneers in London in November 2011.  These collections were primarily of Chinese ceramics, something for which Anthony had a special interest and was a world-leading scholar and author. The market for Chinese ceramics is, as many will be aware, very strong in particular areas, but perhaps it’s surprising  (to some…including me!) how valuable some early 20th century Chinese ceramics can be? A.J. Evans certainly had a very good eye!…For example, this Republic Period (1912-1949) plaque achieved £240,000 at the Bonhams sale in 2013 –

Republic Period Chinese polychrome plaque, from the A.J. Evans Collection. Photograph, Bonhams Auctioneers, 2011.

And this rare pair of fan-shaped plaques c.1900-1920, decorated and signed by Pan Taoyu (c.1887-1926) made an even more spectacular £360,000 at the Bonhams auction sale of the A.J. Evans collection.

Rare pair of fan-shaped plaques c.1900-1920 by Pan Taoyu (c.1887-1926) from the A.J. Evans Collection. Photograph, Bonhams Auctioneers, 2011.

I hope this whets your appetite to take a look at the archive information on the A.J. Evans collection; it has been meticulously assembled by Michael Evans and includes all the dealer invoices for the objects that Anthony collected, as well as biographical information and copies of the auction sale catalogues and provenance notes composed by Anthony J. Evans himself – it is an extraordinary resource for future scholars and researchers on the history of the art market, and the history of the taste for collecting Chinese ceramics in particular. Our warm thanks go to the Executors of the Estate of Anthony J. Evans and Michael Evans for donating this fascinating material to the CSAAM and the Brotherton Library Special Collections.

 

NOTE: (and thank you to Michael Evans and Dominic Jellinek for pointing out the initial error on the first posting of this blog – the A.J. Evans (below) is in fact a different individual from Anthony J. Evans (above) – but it is quite an interesting coincidence that there are 2 collectors of Chinese works of art, both called A.J. Evans, and both collecting in the same period, and both with auctions of their collections around the same time!…)

Anyway – this other A.J. Evans was a also celebrated collector of Chinese works of art, a taste he seems to have inherited from his father Frederick Evans, who worked for an Anglo-Chinese mining company in China during the 1920s. Anthony Evans inherited a range of early Chinese ceramics from his father, including this early 18th century polychrome decorated bowl (below), which was sold at one of the auction sales of A.J Evans collection at Canterbury in Kent in 2013, where it realised £235,000.

Early 18th Century Chinese Bowl from the A.J. Evans Collection. Photograph, Canterbury Auctions, Kent, 2013.

Thanks again to Michael and Dominic for pointing out the initial error!

Mark

 

May 16, 2017

New Oral History Interview – Lanto Synge, from Mallett & Sons

Our latest Oral History Interview took place last week, with Lanto Synge in the interviewee chair. The interview was conducted by our lead project volunteer, Chris Coles (thank you again Chris!) and is part of our continued efforts to capture the Voices from the Trade as part of the ‘BADA Voices’ extension to the Oral History project (thanks again to the BADA for their support). 

Lanto, as many of you will know, worked at the world-famous antique dealers Mallett & Sons for almost 40 years, after joining the firm in 1969, rising through the ranks to ultimately become Chief Executive of the firm in 1997; Lanto eventually retired in 2009.

Lanto Synge, formerly of Mallet & Sons (Antiques). Photograph courtesy of Lanto Synge.

Catalogue from Mallett & Son, 1930s.

In this absolutely absorbing interview Lanto recalls the history of Mallet & Sons – they are one of the oldest antique dealing firms in the world, established in 1865 by John Mallett in Milsom Street, Bath, Somerset. During the interview Lanto reflected on his memories of working at the firm during the 1960s-1990s and describes the changes in marketing practices, the displays in the galleries (there were 28 rooms of antique furniture and objects in Mallett’s Bond Street showrooms by the time Lanto retired in 2009); he also recalls the various individuals involved in the business over the period he worked at Mallett.

Lanto was also instrumental in the development of Mallett’s antique business in Australia and during the interview he reflects on the expanding business for antiques in the 1980s.  There are some fascinating memories on many leading dealers and collectors, as well as observations on the role of the antique fair (especially The Grosvenor House Fair) in the developing antique trade.

Lanto is also a leading expert and author on the subject of antique textiles, and his enthusiasm, and expertise, is clearly expressed in a series of engaging reflections on the development of his interest in antique textiles and tapestries.  Our interview with Lanto, as with all of the other Oral History interviews we have undertaken for the Antique Dealers Research Project, will be edited and made available in due course.

Thank you again to Lanto and Chris Coles for taking the time to expand our Oral History strand of the research project.

Mark

 

April 30, 2017

UGRLS Scholarship Scheme

Following Liv Powell’s (our UGRLS, Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship, Scholar) blog post a couple of weeks ago we thought we would tell you a little more about the UGRLS Scheme. Liv will be working with us on the antique dealers research project and the antique dealer archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections over the next 2 years, and we are very pleased indeed to have such an enthusiastic student!

The Laidlaw Scholarship scheme has been developed with very generous support from Lord Laidlaw, the businessman and philanthropist, who was educated at the University of Leeds.  Lord Laidlaw first developed the UGRLS scheme at the University of St. Andrews, and has now rolled out a programme of UGRLS at many more universities, including of course at the University of Leeds. Our Project ‘Objects Trajectories: Archives, Objects, Museums, in the Phillips of Hitchin & Roger Warner Archives’ was one of only SIX projects that were successful in the competitive funding round this year at the University of Leeds – so we are very pleased to have this extra support toward the future development of the Antique Dealers research project.

Liv will be working for 6 weeks each summer over the next 2 years, undertaking research on the Phillips of Hitchin and the Roger Warner archives, as well as working with Tim Proctor, Head of Engagement at the Brotherton Library Special Collections, on cataloguing and conservation and cleaning projects for the Phillips of Hitchin archives. We have lots of exciting plans for Liv – we hope, for example, that she will become a regular blogger on the Antique Dealers research blog, and she will be working with us on a number of developments for the dissemination of the research undertaken so far, and on some exciting projects on antique dealer exhibitions. Liv is also very skilled with Social Media (much more so that I am!), and has some great ideas for our digital media profiles…so watch this space!

Welcome to the team Liv!

Mark

 

 

April 25, 2017

Latest BADA Voices Oral History Interview

We recently completed the latest in our series of Oral History interviews, as part of the extension to the research theme under the ‘BADA Voices’ project –  and thank you again to Marco, Mark and the team at the BADA for generously supporting these new oral history interviews. Our latest interviewee was the leading antique furniture dealer John Hill, of Jeremy Limited; the interview was undertaken by Chris Coles, our Lead Volunteer for the Antique Dealers research project.

John, Geoffrey and Michael Hill, outside of Jeremy Limited. Photograph courtesy of John Hill.

During this absolutely fascinating interview, John recalls the early history of the business of Jeremy Limited, established in 1946 by John’s father Geoffrey Hill, and well-known for their shop in the King’s Road, London.  John tells us how the firm got its name (his father was known to friends as ‘Jeremy’) and of his memories of many other key members of the London antique trade, including John Partridge, Francis Egerton of Mallett & Son and Horace Baxter of H.C. Baxter & Sons (we have also, as followers of the research project will know, interviewed both John Partridge Jnr and Gary Baxter, Horace Baxter’s son).

John also offered some interesting reflections on the marketing techniques of the firm during the 1960s and 1970s, and some absorbing memories of the Mentmore auction sale, conducted by Sotheby’s in 1977 – considered to be one of the key country house sales of the 20th century.

As will all of our Oral History interviews, our interview with John will, as soon as we are able, be edited, approved, and uploaded to the project website.

Mark

April 11, 2017

Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholar (UGRLS) 2017

The Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship is a two-year scholarship funded by alumni, offered to first-year students, which enables students to develop their research and leadership skills through participating in academic research projects and attending residential and one day events. The Scholarship is unique in that it funds students to participate in live research, as well as developing their skills for future research and leadership roles in employment or further study. Furthermore, it offers scholars the opportunity to attend networking events to meet other UGRLS scholars and researchers, as well as providing scholars with the chance to attend conferences related to their project. The scholarship is one of the most prestigious offered at the University of Leeds, and I’m greatly looking forward to fully engaging with both the scholarship and the research project.

I am a first-year International History and Politics student, and I’m greatly interested in the life-course of objects, such as how they are affected by outside influences and why they are moved to different places of residence. I’m also interested in the social history of the 20th century, and after having never studied neither antique dealers or the antique trade, I’m looking forward to learning more about the subject. I also love primary sources, so the chance to work with primary materials like sales ledgers and photographs greatly attracted me to this fantastic project.

The ‘Where is it Now?’ aspect of the project is what I’m most looking forward to, especially finding out how and why antiques changed hands, and the opportunity to develop both my primary source skills and ability to handle and care for archived materials are arguably my other favourite aspects of the project. My personal favourite of the ‘Where is it Now?’ antiques is the ‘Fine Italian Marquetrie Bureau Bookcase’ (http://csaam.leeds.ac.uk/archives-where-is-it-now/where-is-it-now-number-4/) and I can’t wait to start working with the team to try and track this down.

Liv

Liv

April 6, 2017

‘Here it is Now!’ – Phillips of Hitchin in the UK, USA and Australia.

As readers of the Antique Dealer research blog will know, we have recently posted more ‘Where is it Now?’ objects, illustrating images from some of the early 20th century photograph stock albums in the Phillips of Hitchin archive, now at the Brotherton Library Special Collections. We thought you would be interested, and amused perhaps, to hear about a kind of reverse of the ‘Where is it Now?’ theme (a kind of ‘Here it is Now!’) – i.e. the catalyst for this blog post was not an illustration of an object in the PoH archive, attempting to set up a link from the archive to the outside world, but rather a photograph of an object in a public museum, that links back to the archive. Indeed, the photograph generated an investigation of other museum collections, which has further demonstrated the international significance of the Phillips of Hitchin archive.

Anyway, the PoH archive was generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections by Jerome Phillips, the 3rd generation of antique dealers associated with the business that has always been located at The Manor House, Hitchin since it was established in 1884. Jerome retired in 2014, and as many of you will know, is still in regular contact with us at the university; we often update him on the progress with his family business archive – Jerome is, after all, a living extension to the archive!

Jerome emailed us recently following an update from us on the archive, and mentioned that his wife, Barbara, was in Australia, and had been to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and whilst there she spotted a pair of chairs that Phillips of Hitchin had sold to the (then) Victoria State Gallery, Melbourne, in 1961.  Here is Barbara’s photograph of the chairs in situ (you can also spot Barbara reflected in the 18th century mirror!).

Pair of Houghton Hall chairs at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Photograph courtesy of Barbara Phillips, 2017.

Houghton Hall chair, Temple Newsam House, Leeds. Photo c.1960, courtesy of Temple Newsam House, Leeds.

The chairs are related to a set of chairs at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, a very large suite of furniture, including 2 settees, made by Richard Roberts in the period c.1720; the chairs were acquired by the Gallery of Victoria through the Felton Bequest in 1961, through Phillips of Hitchin (see here for a link to the museum catalogue entry).

The pair of chairs now in Australia came from a set of six chairs acquired by Phillips of Hitchin in 1960; Jerome tells us that he thinks his father bought the 6 chairs at auction (not direct from Houghton Hall).  PoH then sold the chairs to four different museums in 1960 and 1961. One chair from the set was sold to Temple Newsam House, Leeds in June 1960, for the sum of £275.00, and described, in the PoH archive invoice as ‘a walnut and parcel gilt chair ensuite with chairs at Houghton Hall’. The chair in the first B&W photograph is the Temple Newsam House example, photographed in c.1960.

Another single chair was sold to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in the same year.

Houghton Hall chair, Victoria & Albert Museum. Photograph c.1960. Copyright V&A Museum.

It seems quite strange perhaps that one of the pair of chairs were split up into single objects, rather than being retained as a pair (or indeed retaining the set of 6 chairs together), but the rationale, in the 1960s, was to distribute key examples of objects across as many museums as possible in order to allow more distributed access – this kind of materiality of things was a dominant idea in a period when object-based study was a key element in the structures of knowledge.

It’s interesting to note that the more recent acquisition by the V&A of the remaining large suite of furniture to which these 6 chairs relate, as part of the 2002 Acceptance in Lieu Scheme for the Inheritance Tax Settlement of the Cholmondeley Estate, has stipulated that the remaining suite of furniture remains in situ at Houghton Hall.

Chair in situ at Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Photograph copyright V&A Museum.

The last pair of chairs from the set of 6 acquired by Phillips of Hitchin were sold by the dealers in 1960 to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, through the Harris Brisbane Dick Fund. Here is a link to the online catalogue for the chairs.

‘Houghton Hall’ chair, c.1720. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photograph, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017.

And so, in this little example of the acquisition and distribution of this suite of Antique Furniture we can see not only the significant role of the antique dealer in the dissemination of objects across three Continents…..but also the shifting significance of the notion of historical context, cultural heritage, and museum collecting policies in the last 50 years or so.  And with that, the growing sense of the significance of the Phillips of Hitchin archive now held at the University of Leeds.

Mark

April 3, 2017

‘Where is it Now?’ – more objects to find

Following the success of the finding of the first of our ‘Where is it Now?’ objects from the Phillips of Hitchin archives, (we found the delftware plate in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, as you will know), we have posted 6 more photographs of objects to find.  You can see the photographs and the archive detail associated with them on the ‘Where is it Now?’ pages on the Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market – click here

Thanks especially to Peter Edwards, Faculty IT support at the University of Leeds for helping to create extra ‘Where is it Now?’ pages! The new objects are, we hope, relatively easy to identify, if they still exist of course – they may have been destroyed?  The photographs all date from the early 20th century, and the attributions in the archive may have been revised in the intervening years….but the objects are still fascinating illustrations of the taste for antiques in the period prior to World War I.

Do check out the ‘Where is it Now?’ pages and if you know where the objects are at present, do email us – antiquedealers@leeds.ac.uk

Mark

March 6, 2017

‘Where is it Now?’ – we found the first one!

Thanks to Simon Spier, one of our Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market PhD students, we have found the first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects. The object in question is a ‘Lambeth’ Delftware plate, dated 1717, with the initials ‘W D C’ painted on the top rim.

ms1999-4-1-52-plaque

Delftware plate, dated 1717. Phillips of Hitchin Archive MS1999/4/1/52. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, 2017.

The plate was in the stock of the antique dealers Phillips of Hitchin in c.1900, shown above in one of the photograph albums of stock that are part of the Phillips archive at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

We have discovered that the delftware plate is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA. The plate is currently part of the Met Museum’s collections of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts – here’s a link to the Met Museum collections online for the PLATE 

And here’s the plate itself, in full, glorious colour! The plate is on display in Gallery 710 in the Met Museum if you want to go and see it for yourself.

delftware-plate-1717

Lambeth delftware plate, dated 1717, diameter 9 inches.. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 12.279.9 Rogers Fund, 1913. Photograph copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum acquired the plate in 1913 (via the Rogers Fund), through the well-known antique dealer Frederick Rathbone (1837-1919). Rathbone was, by 1913, trading at 20 Alfred Place, South Kensington, London, and would have been in his mid 70s when he sold the plate to the Met Museum. He was an acknowledged expert on antique ceramics, especially on Wedgwood and ‘Old English Pottery’; he was famous for helping to assemble the collections of William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925) 1st Viscount Leverhulme, and the extensive collections of 18th century Wedgwood ceramics assembled by Lord Tweedmouth (1820-1894).

It’s not known when, for how much, or to whom, Phillips of Hitchin sold the plate – it may have been sold direct to Rathbone, we have yet to discover that information, but it will be buried in the extensive archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections.  What we do know is that Phillips bought the plate from the collection of the well-known collector W.H. Booth of Ipswich in Suffolk sometime around 1900.

Anyway, we are pleased at least to have found the first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects, and to have provided a little more provenance information to the delftware plate in the collections at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Mark

 

February 28, 2017

Lord Laidlaw Undergraduate Scholarships 2017

The development of future research on the rich series of antique dealer archives donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections has had some recent success in an internally funded project (at the University of Leeds) – just to demonstrate that we are not sitting on our hands in our future strategy for ensuring that the rich potential of the very generous donations of key archive material continues!  Anyway, we were successful in our application to run a two year scholarship for an undergraduate student to work alongside the project team and develop research skills, and archive cataloguing skills, as part of a project to increase the research activity on the antique dealer archives.

The Scholarship is part of a series of generously funded projects from Lord Laidlaw – ours is the project called –

‘Object Trajectories – archives, objects, museums in the Phillips of Hitchin and Roger Warner archives’   

The scholarships are only open to existing students at the University of Leeds, but we hope that the successful student will be inspired to continue their research on the history of the antique trade…building new capacity for future research into this important aspect of our cultural life.

We’ll let you know the successful student as soon as the interviews have taken place, and will encourage the successful student to blog about their experience on the project in the coming months.

Mark

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