Frank Partridge & Sons – donation of materials

The antique trade continues to be exceptionally generous to the research project – Anthony Smith, formerly with the well-known dealers Frank Partridge & Sons (Partridge Fine Arts) serving as accountant, company secretary and finance director for almost 28 years, very kindly donated a whole stack of Partridge catalogues (1974-2007) to the project – as well as other ephemera, including a photocopy of Memoirs of the late Frank Partridge (published in 1961) and a copy of the prospectus issued at the time of the company’s flotation on the Stock Market in 1989.

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These materials are a fantastic resource for the project, so we owe a big thank you to Anthony!

One of the interesting aspects that have emerged in the initial investigation of the catalogues is the presentation of the Partridge business in the early and late 20th century. This follows on from some of the earlier posts on the Antique Dealer project blog (see entries on images of dealer shops) – here, again, is the photograph of the shop of ‘R.W. Partridge’ in 1914 – R.W. Partridge, was Robert Partridge, the elder brother of Frank Partridge, who established his antique business in the 1890s, prior to Frank opening his own shop in King Street, St James’s, in London in 1900.

 

Partridge second floor gallery

Robert’s shop, in the early 20th century, one can see, is arranged in much the same way as that of the more recent displays at Frank Partridge – here is an image of the antique business of Frank Partridge & Sons (then called Partridge Fine Arts) in c.2007 – perhaps Robert’s is a little more packed with material, but the general arrangement is similar at least…

 

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And below that image is a further photograph of Partridge’s galleries in the same brochure of c.2007, this time with a showroom arranged as a room setting. This is a subtle marketing technique, and one wonders when this kind of display was adopted by the antique trade?….perhaps it crossed from house furnishers? Perhaps from museum displays? But either way, there’s a distinctive marketing narrative being set up here….a subtle projected imagining.

There’s much more to say about these arrangements of objects….objects on the syntagmatic plain…the arrangement of objects in real space….they tell a story, and the project will be investigating these dynamics over the next few years…

Mark

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