Yet more on ‘Quinneys’

Following some earlier blog posts on ‘Quinney’ and the dealer Thomas Rohan (see blog posts December 31st 2014; December 6th 2014; July 27th 2014), I recently came across some more information associated with this fascinating conflation of fact and fiction – as you’ll know, the real antique dealer Thomas Rohan (trading in Bournemouth and Southampton in the period 1903-1937) was the basis for the famous fictional antique dealer ‘Joe Quinney’ in the novel by Horace Vachell (published 1914) – see our interactive research project map site for the entry on Rohan:

www.antiquetrade.leeds.ac.uk/dealerships/34852

Anyway, recently in a couple of antiquarian book dealers I found two further pieces of ephemera associated with the play ‘Quinneys’ (1915) and the novel ‘Quinneys’ (1914). Firstly, I found a rare copy of the playbill for the first staging of the play ‘Quinneys’ on April 20th 1915, at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London – see cover picture:

Quninneys 1915 play

Playbill, ‘Quinneys’, Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 1915. Image copyright, AHRC Antique Dealers Project, 2015.

And secondly a copy of the published script of the play (a later copy, probably from the 1950s?) –

Quinneys play script 1915 reprint

‘Quinneys’, play script (1915) – 1950s edition. Image copyright AHRC Antique Dealers project 2015.

henry ainley

Henry Ainley (1879-1945), British Actor. Image Wikicommons.

The playbill lists the actors in the play – ‘Joe Quinney’ the eponymous antique dealer, was played by the well-known Shakespearian actor Henry Ainley (1879-1945) (see above); incidentally he also played ‘Quinney’ in the 1919 film version of the play…and interesting (as far as we are concerned) Ainley was born in Morley, Leeds, West Yorkshire!. Quinney’s wife, Susan, was played by the British film actress Syndey Fairbrother (1872-1941).

What is also interesting, for the antique dealers project, is that a number of (then) high profile London antique dealers and interior decorators supplied the antique furniture for the play. The dealers listed in the playbill were the interior decorators ‘Thornton Smith Limited, 31 Soho Square’; antique dealers ‘Keeble Limited, 10 Carlisle Street’, ‘Parkenthorpe, Ebury Street’, and ‘Spillmans, St. Martin’s Lane’, who are all listed as supplying the ‘furniture’ and acknowledged for their ‘expert advice in this regard’.

The project interactive map website, at present, includes entries for ‘Keeble’ – and trading at 10 Carlisle Street, indeed we even have an image of the interior of their shop, dated 1927.

Keeble Carlisle House Carlisle Street London Oct 1927 Conn The Oak Room at Carlisle House

Keeble (1914) Ltd, Carlisle Street, ‘Oak Room’, 1927.

Parkenthorpe were trading at the time at 79 Ebury Street, as ‘dealers in antiquities’ – see again our project interactive map.

We can get a sense of the attention to authentic detail in the room settings for the play ‘Quinneys’ from the stage directions in the play script; the play opens in ‘The Sanctuary in Quinney’s house in Soho Square’ (one can note here that there is an extra layer of authenticity here, as the antique dealers Thornton Smith, in real life, also had premises in Soho Square)…and the stage directions continue:

‘The rise of the curtain discloses a beautiful room, filled with rare and costly furniture, prints in colour, miniatures and tapestry. Obviously the room belongs to a collector who is a connoisseur….between the windows is a magnificent Chinese lacquer cabinet, standing on a Charles II gilded and carved stand. On the cabinet is a Kang He mirror-black bottle about twenty inches high. An Adam’s mantelpiece, with dog grate, in which logs are burning….an incised lacquer screen, with a gilded Carolean chair in front of it. Upon the mantelpiece are a set of five blue-and-white jars, Oriental china of the eighteenth century. An old Aubusson carpet is on the parquet floor…..there is not much furniture, but it is of the finest Chippendale period….’

The description suggests a display of all of the most fashionable antiques of the period…the ‘Kang He mirror-black bottle’ was of the, then, hugely expensive, so-called famille-noir Chinese ceramics, collected by major figures such as Lord Lever during the opening decades of the 20th century.

Quinney/Rohan is certainly becoming a fascinating case-study of the evolving social and cultural identity of the antique dealer!

Mark

 

 

 

 

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