New Antique Dealer Archive Material – Stair & Andrew (Stair & Co)

Thanks to the generosity of Robert Luck, a former Director of the antique dealership of Stair & Company, we have another cache of antique dealer material for the project archive. Robert passed on a selection of Stair & Co sales catalogues (see below) of various dates, from the 1950s to the 1980s; some of the catalogues retain annotations of prices and stock codes – which make fascinating reading in terms of the changing sale values of antique furniture.

A selection of Stair & Co sales catalogues for the Antique Dealers Research Project.

The catalogues are a very useful resource for the project, and illustrate the changing practices, and changing taste, of one of the leading dealers in antique English furniture and works of art.  Stair and Company was established in 1911 as Stair & Andrew, at first in London and then in 1914 in New York; the business was founded by Arthur Stair, who trained as an architect, and Valentine Andrew.  The partners met at the furniture manufacturer Waring & Gillow, before working at the decorating firm, Crawford & Co in New York and then setting up business together in 1911.

The business became Stair & Co after the Second World War, and from 1952 was owned by Jules C. Stein, (of MCA, Music Corporation of America).  In 1968 the business acquired the antique dealership, R.L. Harrington (formerly Christy’s of Kent), then also, like Stair & Co., trading in Mount Street, London; this allowed Stair to operate from 2 interrelated shops (120 & 125 Mount Street) in one of the most important locations in London for antiques at the time.

Stair & Co., 125 Mount Street, London, 1970. Photograph, Stair & Co archive.

Stair & Co 120 Mount Street, London 1970 – formerly the shop of R.L. Harrington. Photograph, Stair & Co archive.

In 1980 the business was again bought by an American businessman, this time by David Murdoch, the Los Angeles based financier and owner of Pacific Holdings Corporation – both Stein and Murdoch were serious collectors of antique English furniture.

The Stair & Co catalogues are fascinating, as I say, but more importantly Robert also passed some rare survivals from the business archive of Stair & Co., including a copy of the first business account books from the Stair & Andrew Limited business.

Stair & Andrew Limited, Signed Accounts book c.1912-1937. Stair & Co archive.

The account book shows the balance sheet and profits of the Stair & Andrew business from April 1912 (when the business made sales of £8445 and 6 shillings and 3 pence), until June 1937 (when the business made sales of £25,071 and 5 shillings and 1 pence). The accounts are an amazing survival and give a unique insight into the working practices and profit and loss accounts of one of the world’s most important antique dealers of the 20th century.

But perhaps more significantly Robert also passed a large collection of the client cards from Stair & Co – these are truly fascinating and an amazing resource for the antique dealers research project.  The cards appear to date from the 1950s up to the 1980s, and record the changing addresses and the changing family members involved in the business, as well as recording changing members of staff, and details of when people left particular firms, or had died.  This information is particularly useful for the data in the antique dealers research project interact map website.

Stair & Co., client card – Stair & Co., archive.

Here’s just one of the client cards – this one recording the information on fellow antique dealers Norman Adams Ltd, then trading in Hans Road; the verso of the cards also record the purchases made from Stair & Co by the particular client – here’s the verso of the Norman Adams Limited card, listing purchases from 1964 to 1968 – it’s a great pity that the actual stock books of Stair & Co no longer survive – Robert Luck believes that they were destroyed when the business closed in 2004.

Stair & Co., client card for H.C. Baxter & Sons, verso recording purchases. Stair & Co archive.

The client cards may need sensitive handling in the archive, given the nature of the personal information that they contain, and will probably be need to be partially embargoed for a number of years.  But even so, the Stair & Co archive material that Robert Luck has so kindly donated to the Antique Dealers Research project archives is an amazingly generous gesture and will be a major resource for future researchers.

Mark

2 Comments to “New Antique Dealer Archive Material – Stair & Andrew (Stair & Co)”

  1. Dear Mark –

    This is great. So good to know – and tragic that they destroyed those records so recently.

    Trust all is well.

    Regards,

    Chris

    PS: You have his name backwards 😊  Valentine Andrew, always known as Val. He and Vernay were great friends – shared rooms together when first in  NYC.

    From: antiquedealersblog Reply-To: antiquedealersblog Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019 at 2:43 AM To: Subject: [New post] New Antique Dealer Archive Material – Stair & Andrew (Stair & Co)

    antiquedealersahrc posted: “Thanks to the generosity of Robert Luck, a former Director of the antique dealership of Stair & Company, we have another cache of antique dealer material for the project archive. Robert passed on a selection of Stair & Co sales catalogues (see bel”

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