April 3, 2017

‘Where is it Now?’ – more objects to find

Following the success of the finding of the first of our ‘Where is it Now?’ objects from the Phillips of Hitchin archives, (we found the delftware plate in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, as you will know), we have posted 6 more photographs of objects to find.  You can see the photographs and the archive detail associated with them on the ‘Where is it Now?’ pages on the Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market – click here

Thanks especially to Peter Edwards, Faculty IT support at the University of Leeds for helping to create extra ‘Where is it Now?’ pages! The new objects are, we hope, relatively easy to identify, if they still exist of course – they may have been destroyed?  The photographs all date from the early 20th century, and the attributions in the archive may have been revised in the intervening years….but the objects are still fascinating illustrations of the taste for antiques in the period prior to World War I.

Do check out the ‘Where is it Now?’ pages and if you know where the objects are at present, do email us – antiquedealers@leeds.ac.uk

Mark

March 6, 2017

‘Where is it Now?’ – we found the first one!

Thanks to Simon Spier, one of our Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market PhD students, we have found the first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects. The object in question is a ‘Lambeth’ Delftware plate, dated 1717, with the initials ‘W D C’ painted on the top rim.

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Delftware plate, dated 1717. Phillips of Hitchin Archive MS1999/4/1/52. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, 2017.

The plate was in the stock of the antique dealers Phillips of Hitchin in c.1900, shown above in one of the photograph albums of stock that are part of the Phillips archive at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

We have discovered that the delftware plate is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA. The plate is currently part of the Met Museum’s collections of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts – here’s a link to the Met Museum collections online for the PLATE 

And here’s the plate itself, in full, glorious colour! The plate is on display in Gallery 710 in the Met Museum if you want to go and see it for yourself.

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Lambeth delftware plate, dated 1717, diameter 9 inches.. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 12.279.9 Rogers Fund, 1913. Photograph copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum acquired the plate in 1913 (via the Rogers Fund), through the well-known antique dealer Frederick Rathbone (1837-1919). Rathbone was, by 1913, trading at 20 Alfred Place, South Kensington, London, and would have been in his mid 70s when he sold the plate to the Met Museum. He was an acknowledged expert on antique ceramics, especially on Wedgwood and ‘Old English Pottery’; he was famous for helping to assemble the collections of William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925) 1st Viscount Leverhulme, and the extensive collections of 18th century Wedgwood ceramics assembled by Lord Tweedmouth (1820-1894).

It’s not known when, for how much, or to whom, Phillips of Hitchin sold the plate – it may have been sold direct to Rathbone, we have yet to discover that information, but it will be buried in the extensive archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections.  What we do know is that Phillips bought the plate from the collection of the well-known collector W.H. Booth of Ipswich in Suffolk sometime around 1900.

Anyway, we are pleased at least to have found the first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects, and to have provided a little more provenance information to the delftware plate in the collections at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Mark

 

February 28, 2017

Lord Laidlaw Undergraduate Scholarships 2017

The development of future research on the rich series of antique dealer archives donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections has had some recent success in an internally funded project (at the University of Leeds) – just to demonstrate that we are not sitting on our hands in our future strategy for ensuring that the rich potential of the very generous donations of key archive material continues!  Anyway, we were successful in our application to run a two year scholarship for an undergraduate student to work alongside the project team and develop research skills, and archive cataloguing skills, as part of a project to increase the research activity on the antique dealer archives.

The Scholarship is part of a series of generously funded projects from Lord Laidlaw – ours is the project called –

‘Object Trajectories – archives, objects, museums in the Phillips of Hitchin and Roger Warner archives’   

The scholarships are only open to existing students at the University of Leeds, but we hope that the successful student will be inspired to continue their research on the history of the antique trade…building new capacity for future research into this important aspect of our cultural life.

We’ll let you know the successful student as soon as the interviews have taken place, and will encourage the successful student to blog about their experience on the project in the coming months.

Mark

February 6, 2017

Thornton-Smith Antiques – ‘The Georgian House’.

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‘The Georgian House’ – W.& E. Thornton-Smith. c.1910.

Following the very kind donation of antique dealer ephemera by Tim Turner at Sworders Auctioneers we thought we should compose a fuller account of our investigations of the catalogue of the antique dealers W.& E. Thornton-Smith.

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Phillips of Hitchin, ‘The Georgian House’, catalogue, c.1920.

The catalogue is a type that was produced by many antique dealers during the early 20th century.  A key comparison is the catalogue produced by Amyas Phillips, of the firm of Phillips of Hitchin, who also produced a catalogue of stock titled ‘The Georgian House’ (this one c.1920).  The Thornton-Smith’s catalogue appears to date from c.1910, given the suggested information on the back of the catalogue (i.e. that Thornton-Smith had ‘New Premises’ at 11 Soho Square, London); they appeared to have moved to 11 Soho Square in c.1910.

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Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

It must have been quite an extensive business; they state that they had ‘one of the largest stocks of English Antique Furniture in the country’ (but then, many dealers also suggested that at the time, and since). If we are to believe the information in the catalogue, they had 40 four-post beds in stock, all on show ‘in an historic Georgian House, decorated in the manner of that period.’

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Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

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Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

The catalogue also contains an extensive number of black & white photographs illustrating the range of stock held by Thornton-Smith in the period.

Walter George Thornton-Smith (d.1963) established his antique dealing business in c.1906, with Earnest Thornton-Smith. Like many antique furniture businesses at the time, Thornton-Smith also provided a full interior decoration service for their clients.  Indeed, such was the reputation of Thronton-Smith as decorators that they started the careers of two of the most well-known interior designers of the 20th century – Syrie Maugham (1879-1955), wife of the writer W. Somerset Maugham, and interior decorator par excellence during the 1920s and 1930s (famous for her interior schemes made entirely with shades of white) began her training with Walter Thornton-Smith in the early 1920s, before setting up ‘Syrie Limited’ at 85 Baker Street, London in 1922.  It seems that Thornton-Smith was introduced to Syrie when he was commissioned to decorate her home at York Terrace; she was at the time recovering from her recently failed marriage to the Industrialist Henry Wellcome (1853-1936).

The other key interior decorator associated with Thornton-Smith was John Fowler (1906-1977), of Colefax & Fowler, who briefly trained at Thornton-Smith in the late 1920s.

Thornton-Smith was a highly successful businessman and, like many dealers and collectors of antiques at the time, he also took a keen interest in ‘ancient buildings’. He developed a number of historic architectural projects, often recreating ‘historic homes’ by recycling architectural elements from demolished buildings.  One of the earliest of his projects was the dismantling and re-siting of a 16th century half-timbered building ‘Kingston Hill’, near Woodbridge in Suffolk (it’s not known where he re-sited the building?).  His major project however was Shoppenhangers Manor, Maidenhead, Berkshire.

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Shoppenhangers Manor, Maidenhead, as seen in c.1950. Photograph from Apollo Magazine, August 1956.

Thornton-Smith bought the site of the original manor house at Shoppenhangers (the site had already been cleared of the remains of the original manor) in 1914 and set about recreating a 16th century manor house on the foundations of the original house.  The project seems to have taken 4 years to complete, and was assembled, recreated, using an astonishing range of architectural elements, from a wide geographical area, and made available through a variety of opportunities and events.  Painted glass from Selby Abbey, for example, made available following the major fire at Selby Abbey in 1906, was installed in the ‘Long Room’ at Shoppenhangers; there were ceilings from an ‘ancient inn at Banbury’, and panelling from an ‘old house’ at Faversham, as well as that ‘removed from a Venetian Palace’. Other materials apparently came from West Wycombe Park and from ‘an ancient house in Spain’.  One of the most important rooms in Shoppenhangers Manor, the ‘drawing room’ was lined with panelling from Billingbear Park, Wokingham.

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Shoppenhangers Manor, the drawing room. Photograph from Apollo Magazine, August 1956.

It’s not actually clear how Thornton-Smith acquired the panelling from Billingbear Park – given that the house was still occupied until a devastating fire in 1924 (some 6 years after Thornton-Smith supposedly completed his house), but it may be that Billingbear Park was refurbished/remodelled sometime in the 1910s, or that Thornton-Smith acquired the panelling in 1924 and continued to construct his ‘new-old’ house? If you are interested in reading more about Thornton-Smith’s project at Shoppenhangers, it was the subject of a short essay by Horace Shipp, in Apollo Magazine in August 1956, pp.41-45 – ‘A Home and it’s Treasures, Shoppenhangers Manor and the Collection of Walter Thornton Smith’.  After Thornton-Smith died, Shoppenhangers Manor was sold to the Esso Petroleum Company in 1965, when there was also an auction sale of the contents; it was converted into an hotel in the late 1960s, and was eventually demolished in 2007.

Which brings us back to the Phillips of Hitchin ‘The Georgian House’ catalogue.  The antique dealers Frederick W. Phillips and Amyas Phillips have been the subject of earlier blog posts in the antique dealers blog (see Phillips of Hitchin posts), but one of the interesting aspects about the Phillips family business is also their architectural projects, which are in direct correlation with those of Walter Thornton-Smith (they must have known each other I’m sure!).  Phillips’ major project (one of many, that also included the dismantling and sale of the London home of Sir Isaac Newton in the 1910s) was the reconstruction of Baliffscourt in Sussex.

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Baliffscourt, West Sussex. Wikicommons.

Amyas Phillips was engaged by Lord Moyne in 1927 to recreate a late Medieval manor house, and, like Thornton-Smith, he began assembling the ‘ancient manor house’ by scouring the country for historic architectural elements, creating a house that is a poem of romantic architectural fragments.

Whatever the real stories behind the provenance of the architectural elements that eventually made their way to these ‘new-old’ homes, these architectural projects illustrate the significance of the key roles that the antique trade played in these romantic recreations of the past, providing the perfect back-drop for the assemblage of antique furniture and objects that the dealers also supplied.

Mark

February 5, 2017

Further generous help!

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Catalogues of antique dealer material, from the 1950s and 1960s.

Our very generous Antique Dealer project supporters continue to send us antique dealer ephemera – thanks again to Tim Turner at Sworders Auctioneers  and to Jacqueline and her son George, for passing on another parcel of ephemera – these resources are crucial for the continuing developments in the research for the Antique Dealers project. The material that Tim passed to us included a selection of Antique Fair catalogues from the 1950s and 1960s, and two very interesting antique dealer sales catalogues. One of the catalogues was from the well-known dealer Margery Dean, of Wivenhoe in Essex – the catalogue is undated but appears to be from the late 1950s?

The other catalogue was a much more interesting, and much rarer, example, produced by the dealers W. & E. Thornton-Smith, and dating from c.1910.

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W. & E. Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

Indeed, the Thornton-Smith catalogue deserves a separate, and fuller, blog entry, and I’ll compose that shortly.  Once again we have to thank our generous supporters at Sworders Auctioneers…thank you Tim and all…your contributions have again been most welcome, as we continue to build what we hope will become the National Centre for the Study of the Antique Trade here at the University of Leeds.

Do watch out for the forthcoming Thornton-Smith blog entry…

Mark

 

 

January 19, 2017

‘As it’s called in the Trade’ – more generous help to the research project

Thanks again to the vast number of interested, and interesting, individuals who follow the Antique Dealer research project we continue to build an archive of the Cultural History of the Antique Trade.  And this time our thanks go to our friend and colleague, Dr Howard Coutts, Curator of Decorative Art and Ceramics at The Bowes Museum, in County Durham.  Howard very generously donated a small box of antique dealer related ephemera that he recently discovered in a charity shop – Thank You Howard!

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Material for the proposed book ‘As it’s Called in the Trade’. Early 1980s. Photograph, Antique Dealers Project, University of Leeds, 2017.

The material appears to be an outline draft structure and associated images for a publication entitled ‘As it’s Called in the Trade’, composed by the writer Brian Jewell, apparently in the early 1980s. Brian Jewell (1925-2006) was a prolific author, with at least 20 publications, ranging from local history subjects to military history.  He appears to have been something of a specialist in military history, indeed he also appears to have been in an editorial role for the journal ‘Soldier‘ in the early 1990s (‘Soldier‘ has been published since the Second World War, and continues to be produced), whilst running something called ‘War Room – Collection and Sound Archive’ in Harrogate, West Yorkshire.  Jewell also produced a small number of books on collecting in the 1970s and 1980s, including, Antique Sewing Machines (1985), Smoothing Irons: a history and collector’s guide (1977), and Collecting for Tomorrow (1979) – and was obviously preparing to produce a book on collecting antique furniture, as this archive demonstrates.

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Photographs and draft structures for ‘As it’s Called in the Trade’. Photo., Antique Dealer Project, University of Leeds, 2017.

I don’t know why his proposed book ‘As it’s Called in the Trade’ did not hit the press, but the small amount of archive material that Howard donated to us suggests that considerable work had already been done.

The material consists of a few pages of draft structures for the book, with title and chapter headings (all relatively conventional for the time, as one would expect), and a large amount of black and white photographs of antique furniture, all from Bonhams auctioneers, from what must have a been a series of English and Continental Furniture auctions in 1980 and 1981.

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18th century ‘library chair’. Original photograph copyright Bonhams Auctioneers.

Back in those days, the major auction houses used to classify auctions into collecting categories – ‘English Furniture’ ‘French Furniture’ ‘Continental Furniture’ etc etc…today of course the big auction houses are much more keyed into evolving and expanding markets and titles of auctions often follow sophisticated marketing and promotional techniques  – hence auctions titled ‘Interiors’ and the numerous ‘curated’ auctions in more recent times.

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One of a pair of ‘George III Pier Tables’, original photograph, Bonhams Auctioneers, 1981.

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Verso of ‘Pier Table’ photo – with details of price realized and buyer. Bonhams Auctioneers, 1981.

What is of particular interest to the antique dealer project in the small archive is how it further illustrates the synergies between the developing literature on the history of objects such as ‘antique furniture’ and the wider art market structures – the relationships between discourses if you like. This is made much more evident when one examines the back of the photographs – all of which have a range of art market information on them.

In this instance, this pair of ‘George III Pier Tables’ was sold at Bonhams auction on 28th July 1981, when they made £7,200, and were recorded as being sold to the dealer ‘Turpin’ – (M. Turpin Antiques, which was then run by the well known dealer ‘Dick’ Turpin, who was at the time trading from Mansion Mews, London SW7).

 

Other photographs similarly illustrate furniture sold at the auction house of Bonhams in 1980 and 1981. The ‘library chair’ in the photograph above for example, was one of a set of eight chairs sold at Bonhams on 25th March 1980 for £10,500 to the dealer ‘Williamson’ (possibly R.G. Williamson, then trading in Devon).  Other photographs just record the description of the object, auction lot number, and priced realized, such as this ‘George III mahogany serpentine chest’ which was sold at Bonhams on 17th July 1980 for £1,250. (There are probably buyer’s premiums to add to these figures of course, which in those days was c.10%).

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A ‘George III…chest’. Original photograph Bonham Auctioneers, 1980.

All of this is not unusual of course – why wouldn’t a publication that intends to provide illustrations of antique furniture seek photographs of antique furniture that have recently been circulating on the art market.  But there is an interesting genealogy here, if we remember that many of the founding texts that focused on the history of English Furniture, which began to appear with increasing frequency from the period 1900 onwards, had also drawn their illustrations of key objects from the corpus of photographed examples circulating in the antique trade in the period. Attention to the meanings of this observation is something that the project is considering, and I’d like to say thank you again to Howard Coutts for providing us with yet another example of the significant interaction between discourse and the market.

Mark

 

December 17, 2016

‘Where is it Now?’

As part of developing the rich potential of the wide variety of Antique Dealer archives that we now have at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds we have developed a ‘Where is it Now?’ project. The project aims to reconnect some of the objects in the archives with their current owners, if they still exist in public museums or private collections anywhere.  We are choosing objects that are relatively easy to identify, and objects that we believe are (still) of some historical significance.

The photographs of the objects will be initially from the Phillips of Hitchin archive photograph albums, which appear to date from c.1900.  Phillips of Hitchin were established in 1882 at the Manor House, Hitchin, and remained there for over 120 years. The business sold antique objects to museums and collectors from all over the world, so we are hoping that some of the objects will speak of their travels!

The first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects is this Lambeth (London) delftware plate, dated 1717, and with the initials ‘C W D’ painted on it. If you know where it is now do let us know by emailing antiquedealers@leeds.ac.uk

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Lambeth delftware plate, 1717. Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, MS1999/4/1/52. Photograph courtesy Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, 2016.

Happy Hunting!

Mark

December 15, 2016

Another ‘BADA Voices’ oral history interview

We’ve been busy this last month with our Oral History interviews with members of the antique trade – and the latest in our continuing series of ‘BADA Voices’ was with one of the leading members of the Antique English Furniture trade, Robin Kern, of Hotspur Limited.  We would like to thank Robin, and Chris Coles, our Lead Volunteer for the Antique Dealers Research project, for undertaking the interview. Print

And continued thanks to BADA for their support!

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Robin and Brian Kern, of Hotspur Limited, standing next to the famous black lacquer secretaire, made by Thomas Chippendale for Harewood House in the 1770s (now at Temple Newsam House, Leeds). Photograph courtesy of Robin Kern, 1999.

The business of Hotspur began in 1924 in Buckingham Palace Road, London, established by Frederick Kern, before moving to Frith Street in Soho, London just before the Second World War, then Streatham Lodge, Twickenham during the War, and finally to Lowndes Street, London from 1951.  The business was continued by Robin Kern’s father, Rob Kern, before Robin and his brother Brian joined the firm in 1957 and 1963 respectively.

Our interview with Robin adds critical mass to the wide range of complementary oral history interviews we have already completed – including those with Jerome Phillips, of Phillips of Hitchin, who was, as Robin tells us in his own interview, a key travelling companion during their formative years in the antique trade in the 1950s and 1960s.

We have move oral history interviews planned for 2017, so do keep an eye on developments.

Mark

 

November 29, 2016

Even More Student Volunteers!

The benefits of having an increasing number of students interested in the Art Market are clearly reflected in the recent growth in the number of student volunteers on the Antique Dealer research project.  The ‘Art Market’ modules we run in the School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds are providing a steady steam of fantastic, and fantastically able, students, all willing to be involved in adding data to the Interactive Map website.  Our latest recruits, Layla Hillsden, Kenza Gray, Charlotte Ford and Marie-Louise Hanson, all level 2 undergraduate students on the ‘Art Market: Moments, Methodologies and Meanings’ module – shown here in the latest student volunteer photograph – have all started work uploading the mass of data we still need to add to the website.

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Layla, Charlotte, Kenza and Marie-Louise – student volunteers 2016.

Without such enthusiastic help and support it would take much, much longer to increase the amount of data in the Interactive Map, and  to begin the number-crunching that will allow new research questions to emerge!…so thank you again to all of our volunteers…and do keep you eye of the Project Interactive Map 

If anyone else is interested in volunteering, do drop me a line – there is training available.

Mark

November 23, 2016

New ‘BADA Voices’ Oral History Interview – Georgina Gough, of R.A. Lee

Our latest in the series of ‘BADA Voices’ Print Oral History interviews took place last month, and in the chair was Georgina Gough, daughter of the world-famous antique dealer Ronald A. Lee (d.2000).

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Georgina Gough. Photograph courtesy of Georgina Gough, 2016.

In this fascinating interview, Georgina tells us about the history of the family business, which started in the 1920s with her grandfather, Henry Morton Lee, a former hairdresser to King Edward VII, who opened an antique shop in Kingston-on-Thames.  By 1931 the business expanded and was renamed as H.M. Lee & Sons – and one gets a sense of the high quality antique furniture sold by H.M. Lee in this photograph of the stand of H.M. Lee at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in the 1930s. Fine quality late 17th and early 18th century English furniture was at the height of taste during the second quarter of the 20th century.

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Stand of H.M. Lee & Sons at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair during the 1930s. Photograph courtesy of Georgina Gough.

Georgina’s uncle, Morton Henry Lee (‘Uncle Mo’, as Georgina tells us in the interview) joined his brother, Henry, during the early 1930s, and by the late 1930s Ronald Lee, Henry’s son, had joined the family business. ‘Uncle Mo’ eventually opened a separate antique shop in Chichester, specializing in French furniture – something that H.M. Lee was less interested in. And by 1949 Ronald A. Lee had established his own antique business at 1 The Terrace, Richmond Hill, Twickenham (where Georgina was born) – here again, is a photograph illustrating the high quality stock that was synonymous with the Lee family of antique dealers.

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The stand of R.A. Lee at The Grosvenor House Antiques Fair – c.1950. Photograph courtesy of Georgina Gough.

As many of you will know, Ronald Lee was a leading expert on English clocks, and indeed was the author of what still remains a key reference work on Knibb clocks – The Knibb Family of Clockmakers (1964). During the interview Georgina provides some fascinating insights into the antique trade during the period after WWII, as well as her personal memories of her father and other well known dealers at the time such as Roger Bluett, Ronnie Lock and Bob Williams.  Georgina also reminds us that as well as working with her father, she also worked for a number of other leading antique dealers a various points during her career in the antique trade, including the silver specialist Brand Inglis, and at one of the other leading English furniture specialists, Stair & Company – a firm that, like the Lee family of dealers, had roots back into the early decades of the 20th century.

As with all our Oral History interviews, we hope to make our interview with Georgina available on the project websites as soon as we are able.

Mark

 

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