Even More Oral History Interviews! – Gary Baxter

Our busy schedule of Oral History interviews continues apace this week – on Monday 16th August we interviewed Gary Baxter of the well-known Antique English Furniture specialist dealers H.C. Baxter & Sons. In an absolutely exemplary interview, full of rich historical detail, Gary told us about the beginnings of H.C. Baxter & Sons, established in the late 1920s in Chelsea, London. Here’s Gary in his new shop in Lewes, East Sussex, which he now shares with his sister.

Gary Baxter 2015

Gary Baxter, in Lewes, East Sussex, 2015.

Gary is one of the last in a generation and tradition of antique dealers that stretches back into the opening decades of the 20th century – something that the current research project is keen to map and investigate.

Horace Baxter

H.C.M.V.J. Baxter, c.1950s. Photograph courtesy and copyright of Gary Baxter.

Gary told us about his grandfather, the marvelously named, Horace, Claude, Montague, Victor, John, Baxter – who established the business in 1927. H.C. Baxter – here (above) in a photograph kindly loaned to us by Gary. Horace began the firm in partnership with his sister Maud – (Mrs Maud Chalmers), in a business initially called ‘Chalmers and Baxter’. Indeed, it was as ‘Chalmers and Baxter’ that they showed as one of the antique businesses at the inaugural Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in 1934; as this photograph (again kindly loaned to us by Gary) of their stand at Grosveonr House in 1934 illustrates –

Chalmers and Baxter stand GH 1934

Chalmers & Baxter at Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, 1934. Photograph courtesy and copyright Gary Baxter.

Maude, who was, Gary tells us, much more interested in antique jewellery, opened her own separate antique jewellery shop in Knightsbridge by the mid 1930s, leaving Horace in the antique shop in Fulham Road, London.  Horace was joined in the business by his wife (Gary’s grandmother) Florence Ann Baxter, and later by Gary’s father, Terence Baxter, and his uncle, Roy, before Gary joined the business aged 17 in 1978.

In an interview full of absolutely fascinating detail (Gary should certainly have been an historian!) Gary told us about his memories of being taken around the antique shops and auction rooms of Brighton in the early 1960s, and of the extensive buying trips undertaken by his grandfather and father as they sought antique furniture for their dealer customers in London. H. C. Baxter, as many of you will know, were one of the leading trade suppliers of fine quality English 18th and early 19th century antique furniture during the second half of the 20th century. In our interview, lasting over 2 hours (thanks again Gary for your patience!), Gary described the structure of the antique trade and how it operated, changed, and declined during the course of the late 20th century – the interview will be of considerable interest to our research project, as well as being an exceptional resource for future historians of this fascinating cultural phenomena.

Mark

 

 

 

 

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