Archive for September, 2017

September 24, 2017

New Archive – M. Turpin Antiques

Thanks again to the generosity of our wide community of friends and supporters we have accepted the donation of the partial archive of the well-known antique furniture dealer M. Turpin.  Maurice ‘Dick’ Turpin (1928-2005) established his business in the early 1950s, initially in Old Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London, before gravitating towards the Mayfair area and settling in Bruton Street by the 1990s – a street which at that date was also the location of R.A. Lee & Sons, whose archive is also now part of the collection of Dealer archives at Leeds.  Indeed, the M. Turpin archive is a great addition to the growing number of antique dealer archives now at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

We have many people to thank for the M. Turpin archive coming to Leeds University – the archive has been very generously donated through the auspices of Bonhams Auctioneers (and special thanks to the help of the Bonhams team at Leeds Office, Jane Winfrey, Jackie Brown, and Simon Mitchell; and Alison Hayes in their London office). The initial donation to Leeds was facilitated by Sally Stratton and Guy Savill, whilst they were at Bomhams London office (and they are now heading up the new auction business The Pedestal). I understand, from Sally, and from our previous project Research Fellow, Elizabeth Jamieson, that the original donation was through Jackie Mann, Maurice’s partner – so there are quite a few people to thank for ensuring that this important archive is saved for future generations of researchers – thank you all!

The M. Turpin archive itself mainly consists of a large series of fascinating photographs of stock sold by the firm; there are literally 1000s of B/W and colour photographs. Unfortunately there are no stock book or business records, but that said, the material donated to us gives a fascinating insight into a major antique furniture business over the course of 30+ years of trading.  There are, for example, photographs of the stands that M. Turpin took at various antiques fairs in the period. Here’s a B/W photograph of the stand of M. Turpin at the Maastricht antique fair in 1979.

M. Turpin, Maastricht Antique Fair 1979. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

And another photograph, this time in colour, of M. Turpin’s stand at the same fair in 1988 – a much larger stand, with many more objects, indicative of the success of the business no doubt.

M. Turpin, stand at Maastricht Antiques Fair, 1988. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections.

Amongst the many wonderful and historically significant objects that passed through the firm of M. Turpin was this flamboyant Regency period polychrome penwork cabinet – probably well-known to many people.

Regency Penwork Cabinet – M. Turpin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds. Original photograph copyright P.J. Gates, London.

The cabinet was purchased by Maurice Turpin in the 1980s, and seemed to have remained with him until it was sold at the auction sale by Christie’s of the M. Turpin Collection in 2006, after his death – (see Christie’s The Legend of Dick Turpin 9th & 14th March 2006), where it sold for £78,000.  This history is, of course, well known in many circles, but what is perhaps less well known, and revealed in some of the discrete sections in the M. Turpin archive, is the history of the restoration of the cabinet.  The Turpin archive contains a large number of restoration records for a wide range of objects that were either part of stock/collection of M. Turpin, as well as, it seems, records of restorations to many other objects belonging to collectors and dealers.  These make fascinating reading.  The penwork cabinet, for example, appears to have suffered minor damage to the cornice at some stage – here’s a photograph of the record in the archive.

Restoration Record – Penwork Cabinet: M. Turpin Archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections. Photograph copyright Brotherton Library Special Collections.

Restoration Record – Penwork Cabinet. M. Turpin Archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds. Photograph copyright Brotherton Library Special Collections.

Other restoration records provide valuable insight into the processes of restoration and the changing taste and fashion for the presentation of antique objects – here, for example is the record of the cleaning and minor restoration to an early 18th century walnut stool.

Restoration Record – M. Turpin Archive. Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds. Photograph copyright Brotherton Library Special Collections.

It is a great pity that the actual business records and stock books for M. Turpin do not survive (unless someone knows where they are?), but this very extensive photographic archive, and the fascinating series of restoration records, will, I’m sure, be invaluable for future research into the history of the antique trade.  The M. Turpin archive will soon be catalogued and made available for research, so keep your eyes on the Brotherton Library Catalogue online.

Mark

 

Advertisements
The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

An International Conference hosted by The Bowes Museum and The University of Leeds

H. Blairman & Sons Ltd

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century

Museum Studies Now?

'Museum Studies Now?' is an event which aims to discuss and debate museum and heritage studies education provision.

The Burlington Magazine Index Blog

art writing * art works * art market

East India Company at Home, 1757-1857

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century