Archive for August, 2016

August 29, 2016

New Volunteer Researcher – Harriet Beadnell PhD student

We have a new student volunteer, working on adding data to the Antique Dealer Project Interactive Map website – see the Map here

Harriet Beadnell, is a PhD student from University of York, researching the role and representation of World War Two Veterans, Post 1945 – Harriet is an AHRC White Rose PhD student – i.e. her PhD is funded through the White Rose Consortium (Leeds, Sheffield & York universities) – and we are so pleased that she has joined the Antique Dealer project as a project volunteer.

Harriet Beadnell photo 4

Harriet Beadnell – PhD student, University of York, and project volunteer.

Harriet also has antique dealer DNA in her blood – her maternal grandfather, Jim Phillips, had a number of antique shops in and around Saltburn and Middlesborough after WWII; and her paternal grandfather was an antiques  collector and later worked as a stamp & coin dealer post WWII – so Harriet comes with a great antique dealing pedigree!

We are currently seeking more project volunteers to add data to the Project Interactive Website, so if you think you might be able to help do email the project – antiquedealers@leeds.ac.uk – we offer short training sessions on adding data to the website, and once you are set up, you can add data from anywhere!…all you need is basic computer skills….so nothing too complicated!

Thank you to Harriet for her enthusiastic help on the project – we could not deal with the masses of data still to add into the Interactive Map website without such help and support!

Mark

 

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August 28, 2016

Final Day in ‘Action Week’ on Phillips of Hitchin archives

‘Action Week’ at the Brotherton Library Special Collections came to a close on Friday – it was an exhausting, but very productive week of cleaning and cataloguing – and thank you again to everyone that helped out with the Phillips of Hitchin archives – to the team at Brotherton Special Collections – Sharon, Francis, Tim and Joanne, (and everyone else!); and to the volunteers in the archives Helen, Matt and Riza, and our Antique Dealer project volunteers, Heather, Pauline, Sue and Yiwen – it was such a great team effort!…. here’s four of the happy volunteers (see also pictures of the volunteers in previous blog posts) –

archive action week

Action Week volunteers – L-R, Yiwen, Pauline, Heather & Sue.

There’s still an awful lot of cleaning and cataloguing to do, but we made great progress on the Phillips of Hitchin archives – and made some new discoveries…the archive is certainly beginning to reveal the rich potential that we always knew it had. And from the huge variety of materials (sales ledgers, day-books, photograph albums, correspondence files, etc etc) some fascinating stories are emerging.

One of  the tasks we undertook was the cleaning and cataloguing of some of the scores of small (6 inch high) ‘photograph albums’; they appear to date from the early 20th century, and contain a huge variety of black & white photographs of antiques – the condition of the albums is mostly fair, but many of them need a little bit of care and attention; see below for an image of the cover of one of the albums –

photo album c1910

Photograph Album, c.1900, Phillips of Hitchin archives MS/1999/4/1. Photograph courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

They contain fascinating images of the type of stock that Phillips of Hitchin traded in during  the late 19th and early 20th centuries; and there are some interesting objects – such as this late 17th century armchair, seemingly still with it’s original upholstery, but with a fascinating repair-job to the feet, which appears to have been added in the late 18th or early 19th century?

PoH MS1999.4.1.15

Photo Album, Phillips of Hitchin archives, MS1999/4/1/15. Photograph courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections.

The pencil annotation below the photograph states ‘Sold’, but I wonder how long the chair retained it’s subsequent, practical, additions…and how long before it had a much more historically ‘sympathetic’ repair – if I’m honest, I quite like the old repair, it is, after all, a testimony to the history of the object.

Within the Phillips of Hitchin archives, as one would expect, there are thousands of transactions with hundreds of other antique dealers – including the most high-profile dealers at the time – as well as all the major collectors and museums one could think of……..the archive also contains a wide range of photographs of the interior displays at Phillips of Hitchin. The especially interesting images are those taken during the late 19th and early 20th centuries – including this amazing image of the ‘Corner of the English China Room’ (c.1900), showing a wide range of antique ceramics, including some (now) seemingly exceptionally rare things!

PoH English Ceramics room MS1999.4.1.17

Phillips of Hitchin archives, photo of ‘Corner of English China Room’. MS1999/4/1/17. Photograph courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections.

As I say, there is an exceptionally rich potential for further research into the Phillips of Hitchin archives – and, as followers to the Antique Dealer Research Project will know, we also have an oral history interview with Jerome Phillips, the 3rd generation of the family business, and donator of the archive to the Brotherton Library Special Collections; if you would like to hear about the history of the firm from the person that really knows about it do have a listen to the interview Here’s a link to the interview –

Interview with Jerome Phillips

We are continuing to clean and catalogue the Phillips of Hitchin archives in the coming months, and will post information on any interesting discoveries, so do keep your eye on the Research Blog.

Mark

 

 

August 25, 2016

More ‘Action Week ‘ work on the Phillips of Hitchin archives

We are making steady progress this week on the enormous task of cleaning and cataloguing the Phillips of Hitchin archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds. The Brotherton Library drafted in their Special Collections team, and extra volunteers, for the rest of the ‘Action Week’ project on the archive – special thanks to the hard work of Francis (conservator at the Brotherton Library), together with Sharon, (head conservator) and our team of volunteers, Sue, Pauline, Heather, Matt, Helen and Riza – we are getting through the masses of material now. Here’s the team in the Special Collections archive room at the Library, busy cleaning, all masked-up – it’s dangerous work!

action week volunteers new

Cleaning the Phillips of Hitchin Archives. L-to-R, Helen, Pauline, Heather and Matt (left-hand table) and Riza, Sue and Francis (right-hand table).

Considering that the archive had been stored in a garage in Hitchin for most of it’s life, (it dates from c.1880s-to present) the archive arrived at the Brotherton in generally good condition, although parts of the archive had been subject to damp and mould and pest – hence the need for masks and gloves for the cleaning.  The process of cleaning and cataloguing is a huge task though, and at present we are only able to undertake brief cataloguing – we’re hoping for some funding to extend and complete the task!

As one would expect, given the significance of the history of the business of Phillips of Hitchin, the archive is absolutely packed with fascinating information on high profile transactions – all yet to be discovered!…but we thought we’d give you a flavour of the kinds of material that is buried in the archive –

The client lists of Phillips of Hitchin is a veritable ‘who’s-who’ of major collectors of antiques, and hundreds of sales of museums world-wide – here’s just one of many sales of antique furniture to the American collector Henry Ford II – for the sale of an 18th century English commode in the French taste, c.1770 – sold in 1957 for the sum of £2,750 –

H Ford II 1957

Copy Invoice, to Henry Ford II (21/10/1957) Phillips of Hitchin archive MS1999. Courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

Other, perhaps more surprising discoveries, include sales of antique furniture to the British Modern Sculptor, Henry Moore (1898-1986).  Moore was buying a wide range of 18th century antique furniture from Phillips of Hitchin in the late 1970s for his home/studio at Perry Green in Hertfordshire.  All of the furniture in the selection of sales invoices we’ve seen so far in the archive is for what one would consider to be ‘country furniture’ (18th century ‘fruitwood’ chairs; an early 18th century walnut side chair; an 18th century oak hanging cupboard; an 18th century ‘Yew wood’ settle, etc).

henry moore 1978 1

Copy Invoice, Phillips of Hitchin, to the sculptor Henry Moore, 1978. Phillips of Hitchin archive, MS1999. Courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

This is not out of keeping with Moore’s interest in ‘crafts’ of course – and no doubt the tactile nature of country-made antique furniture resonated with Moore – but it’s fascinating to see evidence of these sales of antiques to the great ‘Modernist’ sculptor.

The archive of Phillips of Hitchin covers over 120 years of antique dealing, and we are so grateful to Jerome Phillips, the last surviving member of this famous antique-dealing dynasty, for generously donating the archive to the Brotherton Library Special Collections, and the Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market at the University of Leeds. It will, once we’ve finished cleaning and cataloguing it, be an astonishingly valuable resource for future researchers and scholars.

Mark

 

August 22, 2016

Phillips of Hitchin archives – action week at the Brotherton

At long last, we have started to catalogue and clean the Phillips of Hitchin archives – the archives, as you know, have been very generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds by Jerome Phillips, the last owner of the world-famous antique dealers ‘Phillips of Hitchin’.  The business was established in the early 1880s, and remained at the Manor House, Hitchin since that time.

The archives will be a tremendous resource for scholars and researchers, but we have to get them catalogued and cleaned before we make them accessible – and that all takes time and funds!…We are making a start though, and this week The Brotherton Special Collections have devoted a whole week, and significant resources, to begin to clean and catalogue the extensive archives – there are at least 50 archive boxes to clean and catalogue…with thousands of individual items.

We have a team of archive specialists (including Sharon and Karen, the conservation and cataloguing experts) and a few eager volunteers working on the project – here are the volunteers (Yiwen, Pauline, Heather & Sue), working away, cleaning the materials –

archive action week 4

Archives Volunteers – L-R, Yiwen, Pauline, Heather and Sue.

As you can see, this is dangerous work!…the archives had been stored in a garage at The Manor House for decades, and require delicate cleaning and conservation – once this task is done, they are passed over to the cataloguers for basic level cataloguing – we are hoping for some funding for item level (i.e. individual letter/invoice/item) cataloguing…but at least we are making a start!

Even on this first day of cleaning and cataloguing the sheer quality of the Phillips of Hitchin archive is being revealed…and from these brown paper packages, treasures are emerging!

box 19 complete

Phillips of Hitchin Archive

 

packet corr 1960

A parcel of letters from the Phillips of Hitchin archive

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ll update on progress and discoveries during this exciting ‘Archive Action Week’

Mark

 

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