Archive for October, 2014

October 26, 2014

Tourism and the Interwar Antique Shop

* Guest Post by Heidi Egginton, University of Cambridge *

As Mark very kindly said in his previous post, I am currently doing a PhD on amateur antique and curiosity collecting in Britain from the 1870s to the 1930s. In the course of my research I’ve become a bit obsessed with looking for old postcards and other bits and pieces relating to antique shops and collections, and when I came across some intriguing postcards apparently designed by two antique dealers themselves – Mr. F. G. Halliday of Fore Street, Taunton, and G. A. Parkhurst of Crawley – I decided to find out more…

During the early twentieth century, the new antique shops springing up in towns and villages all over England seemed to be instantly recognisable to amateur collectors and lovers of the antique – they tended to inhabit old, crooked buildings and played on their historical associations. This could mean simply affixing ‘Ye Olde’ to the name of the shop, though in some instances, the building itself was even promoted as a tourist attraction in collectors’ magazines, and through the use of promotional postcards. Many shops included cafés, and were evidently intended to cater for day-trippers and motorists.

F. G. Halliday, 'Ye Olde Tudor House'

One of a series of phototype postcards printed by Raphael Tuck & Sons to advertise F. G. Halliday’s ‘Ye Olde Tudor House’, Taunton (c. 1920s)

These two dealers, like many of their contemporaries, made much of their shops’ romantic (and probably spurious) connections with illustrious visitors. [1] Halliday portrayed his ‘Tudor House’ – now acknowledged as one of the oldest surviving domestic dwellings in Taunton – as being ‘rich in historical interest from its association with the notorious Judge Jeffreys and other celebrities’. [2] Parkhurst maintained that, in his shop’s previous life as an inn on the road to Brighton, ‘many noted personages’ had undoubtedly stayed there on their progress to and from London, ‘including Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Anne’.

IMG_5029

Map showing location of antique shops and Taunton Castle, in ‘The Quest of the Antique at Taunton’, The Bazaar: Our Saturday Issue for Collectors and Connoisseurs (8th October 1927)

One of the main attractions of these shops, however – perhaps even more so than the antiques and curios offered for sale – were their original architectural and interior features. In the summer of 1914, the newly-opened ‘Hatfield Gallery of Antiques, Ltd.’ placed an advertisement in the Connoisseur proclaiming that the firm had been established in Goodrich House, a ‘fine specimen of English domestic architecture’ with ‘25 spacious rooms, many fitted with rare Adam mantelpieces’. ‘The furniture and other antiques for sale, instead of being huddled together, as is generally the case in a shop, are judiciously placed about the various rooms as in a private house, and purchasers thereby are best able to judge how they would look in their own homes’. All of this was described as ‘in itself well worth a visit’, as there was much to ‘interest the antiquarian or artist’. This firm even employed its own ‘Curator’, a Mr. Horace Hall, who had previously worked in ‘the Antique Department of Harrods’ Stores’ [3]

Ye Olde Tudor House, Taunton postcard

The impressive ‘Banqueting Hall’, with a first-floor balcony, inside the Tudor House (c. 1920s)

In the following decade, Halliday and Parkhurst were suggesting that their shops could be visited as part of a day out in the countryside or market town, almost in the same way as historic houses. On his postcard, Halliday called his shop a ‘fine’ specimen of ‘Tudor architecture’ and ‘a striking example of the old world town of Taunton’; still of ‘undoubted antiquity’. Inside the shop, as well as some ‘well-preserved old timbering and some excellent panelling’, several rooms contained ‘examples of Adam work’ from the end of the eighteenth century. The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart’s special Saturday issue for antique collectors described the Tudor House in October 1927 as being full of ‘splendid “period” rooms where each piece has its place, and the galleries have the air and appearance of a particularly “intimate” museum’. [4]

Ye Ancient Prior's House, Crawley

Souvenir postcard showing exterior of G.A. Parkhurst’s ‘Ye Ancient Prior’s House’ (postmarked 4th January 1917)

On the first floor of the ‘Ancient Prior’s House’, which dated from ‘1150’, Parkhurst said that he had found ‘two secret chambers’ – no doubt once used by ‘highwaymen, who were the terror of the road in the old days’. Although he insisted, rather sheepishly, that he had most definitely not attempted to ‘verify’ the rumour that his cellars contained the entrance to ‘a secret underground passage leading into the Church’, he had also found ‘several old smuggling chambers’ underneath his front room.

G. A. Parkhurst postcard

Promotional postcard showing the ‘Entrance Hall’ to Parkhurst’s shop (c. 1910s)

G. A. Parkhurst died in 1920 and the shop briefly passed to a ‘J. Wyndham Parkhurst’, probably a relation. Some antiques were later transferred to ‘The Carlton Galleries’ in Tunbridge Wells, which dealt in ‘Authentic Antique Furniture’ as well as offering decoration services for period and modern room schemes. [5] By the end of the 1920s, the shop itself had been converted back into an inn, ‘furnished with the old beautiful’, by Trust Houses Ltd., a company who ran a number of “old English” hotels and historic public houses.

IMG_5028

‘The Motorist Antique Collectors’ Guide’, showing the locations and opening times of antique shops and other attractions between Brighton and London in The Bazaar: The Popular Weekly for Connoisseurs and Collectors (27th April 1929)

Halliday moved out of the Tudor House and into another shop in 1946, at which point it became a restaurant; its new owners assured a local newspaper that they would retain the interior’s original features. [6]

 

Heidi

 

[1] Deborah Cohen, Household Gods: The British and their Possessions (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006), pp. 152-53.

[2] R. J. E. Bush, ‘The Tudor Tavern, Fore Street, Taunton’, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History, 119 (1975), pp. 15-21.

[3] Advertisement: ‘Now Open: Visit Historical Hatfield and The Hatfield Gallery of Antiques, Ltd., Founded to Encourage the Collecting of Genuine Antiques’, Connoisseur (May 1914), p. xxvi. For Harrods’ antique department, see: Julia Petrov, ‘“The habit of their age”: English Genre Painters, Dress Collecting, and Museums, 1910-1914’, Journal of the History of Collections, 20 (2008), p. 241.

[4] ‘The Quest of the Antique at Taunton’, The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart, 9 October 1927, p. 380.

[5] Advertisement: ‘The Carlton Galleries’, Kent & Sussex Courier, 28 February 1936, p. 11.

[6] ‘A Historic Tudor House: No. 15, Fore Street, Taunton, To Change Hands’, Somerset County Herald, 26 January 1946, p. 3.

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October 19, 2014

The generosity of scholars!

I had the great pleasure of meeting Heidi Egginton this week whilst I was in London – Heidi is an emerging scholar, just completing a PhD at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Peter Mandler. Heidi’s PhD looks at the craze for collecting old furniture, bric-à-brac, and curiosities during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. She is especially interested in the ways in which a taste for historic furnishings, and knowledge of the decorative arts and craftsmanship, circulated among a popular audience after the 1900s. Of course, there are many intersections that resonate with the Antique Dealer Project, and it was fascinating to hear how her research is progressing – and,  with such a wonderfully generous gesture, Heidi sent us some information on some early 20th century dealers she has been discovering – including sending us a massive spreadsheet with over 200 dealer names and locations from the Shrewsbury trade directories (c.1900-1940)….amazingly generous!…Thank you Heidi!

Heidi has also very kindly agreed to post some blog entries for the project, based on some research she has undertaken – so what this space for Heidi’s blog posts – we have quite a community of interest developing around the Antique Dealer project!

Mark

 

October 12, 2014

Alfred Bullard Inc.,- further reflections on changing practices

The recent shifts in the taste for ‘antique furniture’ continue to impact on the changing landscape, and practices, of the trade in antique furniture – of a particular type anyway….the ‘new antiques’ such as Danish Designer furniture continues to thrive…illustrative of the shift to the contemporary that is the driver for the market at present.  The announcement of the auction sale by Stair, Auctioneers and Appraisers in the USA of the ‘Collection and Inventory’ of Alfred Bullard Inc., in their auction on 25th & 26th October 2014, draws further attention to the significance of these shifts in taste.

Bullard-London-Shop-Interior-1

Alfred Bullard shop interior, c.1930.

Bullard are just one of a number of antique furniture dealers that have either changed their patterns of trading, downsized, or ceased trading altogether in the last 10 years or so – and, as you may know, part of the catalyst for the current investigation of the history of the antique trade is to track, assess and critically analysis this shift.

Alfred Bullard may be an American firm of antique dealers (and therefore seemingly outside the remit of the present research project), but they were originally established in Britain in the 1920s (and therefore part of the ‘cultural geography of the British trade). They have been trading in 18th and early 19th century English Furniture since the 1950s in Philadelphia, USA. According to our research Bullard was established in Newport Pagnell, Wales by the early 1920s, before moving to premises off Park Lane in London by 1925. They already had a branch in Philadelphia USA by 1950, and consolidated both the UK and USA operations in Philadelphia by 1965.  The firm is a testament to the importance of the transatlantic antiques trade throughout the 20th century and were one of a number of dealers operating at the very top of the trade in antiques in the period.

We should say that whilst the shop of Bullard Inc., may disappear from the high street, the firm itself will continue through Bill Bertolet, who will now continue to act as ‘advisor’ to clients – but the shift in practice is also a further testament to the changing panorama of the antique trade in the late 20th and early 21st century.

Mark

October 5, 2014

The London trade in microcosm-the changing face of Mount Street

Mount Street in more recent times. The architecture remains but the focus of the street has changed forever.

Mount Street in more recent times. The architecture remains but the focus of the street has changed forever.

You'll have to take my word for it as this is the best image I can find, but most of the shops here, pictured in 1976, are antique dealers.

You’ll have to take my word for it as this is the best image I can find, but most of the shops here, pictured in 1976, are antique dealers.

Located off of Berkeley Square and between Grosvenor Square and Piccadilly, Mount Street is an idyllic location that has long been described as the heart of what estate agent Peter Wetherell still describes as the Mayfair village. Looking at the immaculate rows of late Victorian shop fronts, now largely filled with fashion retailers, clothiers and the like it is easy to forget that this one street alone used to provide the addresses of an extraordinarily high number of dealers at the Grosvenor House Fair.

Nowadays the exceptional general dealer Kenneth Neame and the Asian art specialist A J Speelman remain the only dealers with ground floor shop fronts in the street (though others do operate by appointment from 1st floor premises) but in the past the street was visited by every serious wealthy collector as a matter of course. As the project continues and more data is gathered then a more complete picture of the sheer numbers of dealers in the street will emerge but my own list comprises the following:

Barling of Mount Street (Oriental art)

R L Harrington (English furniture and related objects)

The dealer R L Harrington at 120-121 Mount Street in 1961

The dealer R L Harrington at 120-121 Mount Street in 1961

John Keil (English furniture dealer with premises in Knightsbridge and, in times past, Bristol and Bath)

Stanley J Pratt (antique fireplaces and accessories)

Trevor (English furniture)

Stair and Co (one of the pre-eminent English furniture dealers-see Mark’s earlier post)

Pelham Galleries (English and French furniture plus Chinoiserie decoration)

H Blairman and Sons (Regency and later furniture and decorative arts)

John Sparks (Oriental art)

Mansour Heskia (rugs and carpets)

Alistair Sampson (early English pottery and country furniture)

Mount Street Galleries (still exists but different scope-the emphasis has switched from furniture to contemporary art)

Patrick Jefferson (English furniture and associated objects)

Walter Waddingham (English furniture)

Gerard Hawthorn (Oriental art)

Marks Antiques(Antique silver and Faberge)

Bruford (jewellery and silver)

Quite a selection I’m sure you’ll agree.

Hopefully the images give something of a flavour of this remarkable street but if you were lucky enough to see the area in its antiques heyday and have images to share then please get in touch.

Nowadays the largest concentrations of dealers in London are in Kensington Church Street, Portobello Road and the Fulham Road. With South Audley Street (at the end of Mount Street and another traditional heartland of the trade) also beginning to attract  fashion brands the Mayfair trade will never quite be the same again. My advice would be to visit whilst you still can, even if just to window shop. There are still some remarkable pieces to see here and who knows-you may be a part of the trade’s fight back against the multinational giants.

Chris Coles,

Project volunteer.

The last paragraph says it all. An undated entry for the street kept in the Westminster Archive.

The last paragraph says it all. An undated entry for the street kept in the Westminster Archive.

The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

An International Conference hosted by The Bowes Museum and The University of Leeds

H. Blairman & Sons Ltd

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century

Museum Studies Now?

'Museum Studies Now?' is an event which aims to discuss and debate museum and heritage studies education provision.

The Burlington Magazine Index Blog

art writing * art works * art market

East India Company at Home, 1757-1857

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century