The Antique Business (in 1966).

In amongst the archive materials that our friend Robin Butler kindly donated to the research project (thank you again Robin!) I discovered something I’d been searching for for the last 3 years – Howard Coutts (curator at The Bowes Museum) mentioned an interesting Sunday Times Supplement from the 1960s, which was, so Howard remembered, devoted to the ‘Antique Trade’.  I’d been struggling to find a copy of the Supplement since Howard mentioned it to me, as they were not part of the extensive (and so useful) digitization project of The Times online (which I have access to at the University). Anyway, I’d almost given up ever finding a copy of this elusive, but potentially fascinating, publication.

And then….Robin had kept a copy of it in amongst the ephemera in his archive! And it was worth saving. Here’s the front cover of the Sunday Times Supplement, August 14th 1966. Sunday Times 1966 ‘Special Insight Analysis: The Antique Business’ – it does not appear to have named authors and appears to have been composed by a team of Sunday Times journalists over a period of 6 months of investigation. It’s structured around a kind of ‘how to deal with dealers’ series of short articles, starting with ‘Plain Man’s Guide to the Dealers and the Deals’, with ‘buying guides’ and ‘How to Sell’ etc etc.

It also, inevitably I suppose, has a salacious tale of fakes and forgeries – ‘A Cautionary Tale of Two Blackamoors’; supposedly a cache of ’18th century’ figures, which were, according to the reporters, recently made in some studios in Homer Street, London W1 – I’m very interested in this trope of the ‘antique dealer’ associated with fakery and forgery….and keen to unpack this cultural stereotype further – I’ve been working on a text on the social and cultural identity of the antique dealer in the 19th and 20th centuries for a number of years…..

Anyway….if you are interested you can read that part of the Sunday Times Supplement here:  Sunday Times 1966 1 and here: Sunday Times 1966 2

What is also interesting, for us, on the project, is that the journalists also interviewed a small number of then prominent members of the antique trade in the 1960s; including, Lionel Geneen, Edward Nowell, Charles Thornton, and Claude Bornoff. As you know, we are also undertaking interviews with a wide range of antique dealers as part of the current research project – see our ‘Oral History’ pages on the project website. For your interest, here’s a copy of the fascinating interview that the Sunday Times journalists did with Claude Bornoff – he used to trade in Westbourne Grove, London, and sadly died only recently. Sunday Times 1966 3

We will be making more use of the Sunday Times Supplement as part of out research, but it was such a brilliant thing for Robin Butler to keep safe….thanks again Robin!

Mark

 

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