Archive for December, 2015

December 30, 2015

Early 20th century women antique dealers

I recently came across a fascinating little article published in The Sketch on the female antique dealer Clara Millard – The Sketch, in case you were not aware, was a British weekly illustrated newspaper which focused on high society and the aristocracy (it ran from 1893 until 1959).  The article, written by a journalist/writer named only as ‘F.E.A.’, was published on March 14th 1894 and focused on an interview with Clara Millard – here is Miss Millard aged about 25, in a photograph published in the article (see below):

Clara Millard 1894 The Sketch

Miss Clara Millard, c.1894. Photograph by Jones & Co., Surbiton. Image from ‘The Sketch’, March 14th 1894, p.348.

Clara Millard, as far as we know at present, traded from the 1890s until the 1920s, first at Vicarage Road, Teddington, and later at Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire; she was also an early member of the British Antique Dealers’ Association (certainly a member by 1920) – see also our interactive project website map for information on Clara Millard – www.antiquetrade.leeds.ac.uk

The article was entitled ‘A Curio Collector, a visit to Miss Clara Millard’ and gives us an insight into the social demographic of women curiosity/antique dealers in the period (it is evident, for example, that Clara was from a well-to-do family), and the kinds of objects that circulated in the trade in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Millard mentions a few objects that she had sold in her shop in Teddington, including ‘a set of seven spa diamond buttons worn by Garrick at the Stratford Jubilee’ – The Shakespeare Jubilee took place in September 1769, and was organised, and partly financed, by the actor-manager David Garrick (1717-1779).

She also mentioned that she also sold the library table used by Napoleon when in exile at Longwood House, St. Helena. The effects of Longwood House were sold in 1822 and there were several library tables in that sale – for an exemplary description and analysis of Napoleon’s furniture at Longwood House see Martin Levy, Napoleoon in Exile, the houses and furniture supplied by the British Government for the Emperor and his Entourage on St. Helena (Furniture History Society, 1998). Perhaps the library table that passed through Clara Millard’s stock was the famous table that was also subsequently sold at the auction sale of the library and effects of John Copling in 1867, who seems to have acquired a number of Napoleonic relics.  The table in question was described in 1867 as ‘A 6ft LIBRARY TABLE of mahogany and yew, banded with ebony…..constantly used by Napoleon himself in his cabinet’ (see Levy, p.66) – this table certainly appears to have been the most famous of the library tables dispersed at Longwood House in 1822. One wonders how Millard obtained the table, and to whom she sold it?

Besides these interesting details on the objects that Millard sold, the interview also provides a fascinating insight into the social networks of Millard, and how she came to become a dealer. The interviewer ‘F.E.A.’ asked her ‘What made you become a dealer in curios?’ – and she gave a comprehensive response, stating;

‘ When I was sixteen I had to decide upon some way of earning my own living….I had always lived with people who liked nice things, and I understood a little about curios, so I started a sale of china and curiosities.  I prepared a catalogue, and sent it round to collectors and wealthy people. The catalogue was a happy thought; it attracted notice and the whole transaction was so successful that I went on as I had begun. I must not forget to tell you that I owe a great deal to the kind help and teaching given to me by Lady Charlotte Schreiber, Lady Currie and Baron Rothschild.  Thanks to them, I made fewer mistakes that I should otherwise have done. Then, I have had a larger share of good luck than falls to the lot of most people’ (The Sketch, p.348).

Millard’s connections to Lady Charlotte Schreiber (1812-1895), daughter of the 9th Earl of Lindsey, and a major collector of ceramics, as well as to Baron Rothschild (1840-1915) and Lady Currie (1843-1905), is indicative of the intimate relationships between dealing and collecting, and of the significance of social and cultural networks in the history of the antique trade.

It’s also worth mentioning that Clara Millard was also well known, in the 1890s, as an antiquarian book dealer – which also draws further attention to the overlapping practices that constitute the ‘antique trade’ (see earlier blog posts on these notions).

Mark

December 23, 2015

And even more on Quinneys

I’ve been undertaking some further research on the play ‘Quinneys’  – as readers of the project blog now know, I hope – it’s the fictional story of the life of an antique dealer, Joe Quinney, written by Horace Annesley Vachell in 1914, and made into a play in 1915 – see previous blog posts on ‘Quinney’ and on Thomas Rohan. In a recent post I posted about the playbill for Quinneys, at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, which was staged in 1915 (see blog entry for December 2015), and drew attention to the fact that the London antique trade had supplied much of the antique furniture and etc for the stage-set.

I recently found another playbill for Quinneys, this time from 1925, for a staging of the play at the New Theatre, St. Martin’s Lane, London.

Quinneys New Theatre 1925

Playbill, ‘Quinneys’, New Theatre, St. Martin’s Lane, London, 1925. Image, copyright Antique Dealers project 2015.

henry ainley

Henry Ainley as ‘Quinney’, c.1915.

As in the 1915 play, the lead (Joe Quinney) is still played by the Shakespearian actor Henry Ainley (looking much older, as one would expect, to his youthful self in the 1915 photograph – see above, and in our earlier blog post).

There are a few other photographs of Ainley as the character ‘Quinney’ in the 1925 playbill – here’s one with the aged Ainley suitably posed as the ‘connoisseur’ inspecting an antique cup –

Henry Ainley as Quinney 1925

Henry Ainley as ‘Quinney’, 1925; ‘Camera Portrait by Dorothy Wilding’. Image copyright Antique Dealer project 2015.

The 1925 playbill is a much more extensive document than the 1915 one (which was effectively just a single, folded, page), and amounts to 12 pages, mostly of advertisements. The adverts, as one might expect, included many of the leading antique dealers of the day; including the antique glass specialist Arthur Churchill (then in Dover Street); Joe Sale, of Kensington Church Street; John Sparks; Dreyfous of Mount Street; Frank Partridge; Charles J. Pratt; M. Harris & Sons; Hotspur Ltd; Stoner & Evans, the ceramics specialists, as well as lesser know dealers such as C. Rose, Edith Lee, C. Griffiths, Mrs. Mellor, and H. Fisher.

And, just as the 1915 play had antique furniture and objects loaned by dealers, (in 1915 it was Keeble, Parkenthorpe and Spillmans), in 1925 the antique furniture for the stage-set was supplied by leading antique furniture dealers Moss Harris & Sons, New Oxford Street.

If anyone knows anything else about the staging of the play ‘Quinneys’ we would be very interested to hear!

Mark..

Oh and Merry Christmas to all our readers of the project blog!

December 12, 2015

New Oral History Interview – Simon Spero

Our lead volunteer, Chris Coles, interviewed the antique ceramics specialist dealer Simon Spero in London the other week – thank you both to Simon and to Chris for taking the time to do the interview!

Simon-Spero-shop 2

Simon Spero’s shop, London, c.2010. Image, wikicommons.

Here’s Simon’s shop in London (above) – the interview gives us a fascinating insight into the world of the specialist dealer.  During the interview Simon told us that he’s always been a collector, from his earliest age, and his dealing activities are clearly networked into personal conversations with collectors – he eschews the internet, for example.  Many of you will also know Simon as an author, and his published books on 18th century English ceramic factories are regarded as key reference works for collectors.

The interview includes Simon’s reflections on his first shop (in Kentish Town, London) and his recollections on influential dealers in ceramics such as Reg Andrade in Plymouth, and Robert Williams from Winifred Williams (London), as well as some of the major ceramics collectors he has sold to over the years.  It’s an amazingly detailed account of the world of the ceramic specialist dealer-scholar-collector and will be of considerable interest to those interested in the history of the antiques trade.

And, like all of the other interviews we are undertaking as part of the Antique Dealers research project, a version of the interview will be available via the project websites in the coming months.

Mark

 

December 2, 2015

More Student Volunteers

Four more of our undergraduate students, studying on the Art Market module, have signed up as volunteers to add data to the interactive map website – great news, as the map website is now picking up speed on the number of dealer entries etc!

Here are our new volunteers, Angharad-Lambourne-Wade, Lydia Haines, Miranda Carins and Oliver Getley, all in my office at the University of Leeds after an intensive induction session on how to add data to the website – it’s actually a bit easier than one thinks, after getting used to the sequences of data input!

oliver g etc

Angharad, Lydia, Miranda and Oliver – new student volunteers on the Antique Dealer research project.

Thank you again to all our volunteers on the Antique Dealer research project – all the help you offer is invaluable to the project!

Mark

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