Posts tagged ‘antique dealer archives’

May 17, 2017

Generous donation to the Antique Dealer and Art Market Archives

Interest in the antiques dealer and art market archives continues to grow.  The archives, as readers of the blog will probably know, are part of the Centre for the Study of the Art and Antiques Market (CSAAM) here at the University of Leeds, and are deposited in the Brotherton Library Special Collections  You can read about the archives deposited, and promised, to the CSAAM in the archives pages on the CSAAM website – click CSAAM.

The  latest addition, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Executors of the estate of late Anthony J. Evans (1954-2008) the well-known scholar and collector of Chinese Ceramics, and Michael Evans the brother of A. J. Evans, is a selection of provenance material, biographical information and related material associated with the collections of Chinese ceramics assembled by Anthony J. Evans. The material has already been catalogued by the team at the Brotherton Library Special Collections (thank you to Karen Sayers, archivist at the BLSC) and is available for consultation – the catalogue record is MS2071 – 1/2/3 – it’s certainly worth a look!

The archive material donated to the university is mainly devoted to the dispersal auction sales of the A.J. Evans collection at Bonhams auctioneers in London in November 2011.  These collections were primarily of Chinese ceramics, something for which Anthony had a special interest and was a world-leading scholar and author. The market for Chinese ceramics is, as many will be aware, very strong in particular areas, but perhaps it’s surprising  (to some…including me!) how valuable some early 20th century Chinese ceramics can be? A.J. Evans certainly had a very good eye!…For example, this Republic Period (1912-1949) plaque achieved £240,000 at the Bonhams sale in 2013 –

Republic Period Chinese polychrome plaque, from the A.J. Evans Collection. Photograph, Bonhams Auctioneers, 2011.

And this rare pair of fan-shaped plaques c.1900-1920, decorated and signed by Pan Taoyu (c.1887-1926) made an even more spectacular £360,000 at the Bonhams auction sale of the A.J. Evans collection.

Rare pair of fan-shaped plaques c.1900-1920 by Pan Taoyu (c.1887-1926) from the A.J. Evans Collection. Photograph, Bonhams Auctioneers, 2011.

I hope this whets your appetite to take a look at the archive information on the A.J. Evans collection; it has been meticulously assembled by Michael Evans and includes all the dealer invoices for the objects that Anthony collected, as well as biographical information and copies of the auction sale catalogues and provenance notes composed by Anthony J. Evans himself – it is an extraordinary resource for future scholars and researchers on the history of the art market, and the history of the taste for collecting Chinese ceramics in particular. Our warm thanks go to the Executors of the Estate of Anthony J. Evans and Michael Evans for donating this fascinating material to the CSAAM and the Brotherton Library Special Collections.

 

NOTE: (and thank you to Michael Evans and Dominic Jellinek for pointing out the initial error on the first posting of this blog – the A.J. Evans (below) is in fact a different individual from Anthony J. Evans (above) – but it is quite an interesting coincidence that there are 2 collectors of Chinese works of art, both called A.J. Evans, and both collecting in the same period, and both with auctions of their collections around the same time!…)

Anyway – this other A.J. Evans was a also celebrated collector of Chinese works of art, a taste he seems to have inherited from his father Frederick Evans, who worked for an Anglo-Chinese mining company in China during the 1920s. Anthony Evans inherited a range of early Chinese ceramics from his father, including this early 18th century polychrome decorated bowl (below), which was sold at one of the auction sales of A.J Evans collection at Canterbury in Kent in 2013, where it realised £235,000.

Early 18th Century Chinese Bowl from the A.J. Evans Collection. Photograph, Canterbury Auctions, Kent, 2013.

Thanks again to Michael and Dominic for pointing out the initial error!

Mark

 

April 11, 2017

Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholar (UGRLS) 2017

The Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship is a two-year scholarship funded by alumni, offered to first-year students, which enables students to develop their research and leadership skills through participating in academic research projects and attending residential and one day events. The Scholarship is unique in that it funds students to participate in live research, as well as developing their skills for future research and leadership roles in employment or further study. Furthermore, it offers scholars the opportunity to attend networking events to meet other UGRLS scholars and researchers, as well as providing scholars with the chance to attend conferences related to their project. The scholarship is one of the most prestigious offered at the University of Leeds, and I’m greatly looking forward to fully engaging with both the scholarship and the research project.

I am a first-year International History and Politics student, and I’m greatly interested in the life-course of objects, such as how they are affected by outside influences and why they are moved to different places of residence. I’m also interested in the social history of the 20th century, and after having never studied neither antique dealers or the antique trade, I’m looking forward to learning more about the subject. I also love primary sources, so the chance to work with primary materials like sales ledgers and photographs greatly attracted me to this fantastic project.

The ‘Where is it Now?’ aspect of the project is what I’m most looking forward to, especially finding out how and why antiques changed hands, and the opportunity to develop both my primary source skills and ability to handle and care for archived materials are arguably my other favourite aspects of the project. My personal favourite of the ‘Where is it Now?’ antiques is the ‘Fine Italian Marquetrie Bureau Bookcase’ (http://csaam.leeds.ac.uk/archives-where-is-it-now/where-is-it-now-number-4/) and I can’t wait to start working with the team to try and track this down.

Liv

Liv

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.

ms1999-4-1-52-plaque

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.

delftware-plate-1717

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

October 21, 2016

The Generosity of Auctioneers – more archive material from Sworders

Tim Turner from Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers, Stansted Mountfitchet, very kindly donated some antique dealer related material to the Antique Dealer research project – and thanks to Jacqueline Travell, also from Sworders, for bringing the package of materials all the way from Essex to Leeds last week (Jacqueline was up North to see her son, who coincidently is studying at the University of Leeds).

It is through the exceptionally generous nature of people like Tim and Jacqueline that the research project at the University of Leeds continues to progress – thank you Tim, Jacqueline, and Sworders. The material that has been donated ranges from a selection of Antique Fair handbooks, dealer catalogues, and antique collecting publications – dating from 1909 to the 1970s.sworders

The materials also include an amazing selection of invoices (dating from the 1940s-1970s) from a wide variety of Antique Dealers; these are invaluable to the research project – they give us, for example, key self-designated descriptions of the dealers themselves, dealer addresses, as well as often having detailed information on the people involved in the various businesses, not to mention the fascinating ways in which a variety of ‘antiques’ are described in the old invoices. dealer-invoices-sworders

Included in the materials are also some early antique dealer catalogues – one from Mallett & Son, dating from the 1930s – mallett

and one from The Parker Gallery (print dealers, rather than antique dealers per se), which seems to have been produced as a booklet celebrating 200 years of trading – The Parker Gallery was established in 1750, so the booklet suggests. parker-gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most interesting documents in the parcel of archive material, is a very early (probably 1920s?) furniture catalogue produced by the antique dealers and reproduction furniture makers, Arthur Brett & Sons – trading from Norwich. The booklet, titled, ‘Period Furniture’ contains a very wide range of reproduction furniture that Brett & Sons were manufacturing in the 1920s and 1930s.

brett

The catalogue is ordered chronologically, with ‘Tudor’ oak furniture in the opening pages, and includes reproductions of virtually every kind of antique furniture that was fashionable in the period. brett-1 brett-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brett catalogue demonstrates how popular furnishing with antique furniture was during the period between the Wars, with demand outstripping supply to the extent where reproductions filled the gap, satisfying the look of the old. It’s quite striking when one reflects on this today, with the rapid shift to the contemporary in the last decade or so – no doubt there are now masses of reproductions of Charles Eames chairs, instead of Thomas Chippendale – tastes change, but everything stays the same!

Anyway, thanks again to Tim and Jacqueline, and Sworders – the archive materials are already proving useful to the research project as we add more and more antique dealer data to the Project Interactive Map.

Mark

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

 

April 9, 2016

Project Conference

We are on the final straight for the AHRC Antique Dealers project Conference – which takes place at Temple Newsam House, Leeds on Thursday 14th & Friday 15th April – this coming week!

project posterWe are also very pleased to announce that the British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA) have very generously sponsored the conference – Print The BADA are sending their Chief Executive, Marco Forgione, and their Secretary General, Mark Dodgson, to the conference, as a further demonstration of their commitment and support to the project – thank you BADA!

Our conference preparations are going well, with all of the Temple Newsam House tours now finalised – we are taking an unusual (for a museum anyway) tour through the spectacular museum objects on display at Temple Newsam – the narrative will be objects that have entered the collections via the Antiques Trade, or through the auspices of Antique Dealers – so that’s just about every object at TN of course, but we are highlighting particular objects and their history in the antique trade as part of the tours.  The tours will be led by museum curators, and antique dealers, so we hope that there will be lots of things to discuss!

We are also showing various antique dealer related archives, and ephemera associated with the Antique Trade as part of the activities on the first day of the conference – much of the material is exceptionally rare. And as well as all these tours, and behind the scenes activities, we are also having a wine reception in the early evening, with very talented pianist playing the historic Broadwood piano in the Great Hall at TN…what’s not to like!

And on the Friday we have some leading Antique Dealers talking about the history of their dealerships, and some of our Oral History Interviewees, ‘In Conversation’ – as well as some ‘Sandpits’ at the end of the conference, where the whole conference can get involved in discussing the issues raised and history of the antique trade – we hope that the conference will be a fully immersive and participatory event!

There are still a few places left for the conference if you are thinking of attending – you can book via the weblinks in the Antique Dealer project websites.

We very much look forward to welcoming everyone to Temple Newsam!

Mark

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