Posts tagged ‘ATG’

July 6, 2019

Year of the Dealer – Antiques Trade Gazette

Thank you to Frances Allitt and the team at the Antiques Trade Gazette (ATG) for the news piece on the launch of the SOLD! The Year of the Dealer project. Frances composed a short promotional piece in the ATG this week – See – ATG Year of the Dealer. We have been busy in planning meetings the last few weeks, at the V&A Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Temple Newsam and at the University of Leeds, settling on final dates for some of the planned events and activities – you can follow updates on the Year of the Dealer project website – Click Here.

In the coming weeks we are planning further project meetings with the rest of the project partners. There’s still a lot of work to do, but the Year of the Dealer is beginning to take shape and the final lists of the 20 objects that will form each of the proposed curated ‘dealer trails’ through the galleries at the 7 major museum partners are coming together.  We can give you an exclusive preview of just one of the 20 key objects identified for the ‘Year of the Dealer’ antique dealer trail for Temple Newsam in Leeds –

Library Table, c.1770, by Thomas Chippendale; formerly at Harewood House, near Leeds, now at Temple Newsam, Leeds. Photograph courtesy of Leeds Museums & Galleries

And here it is –  the famous Library Table made by Thomas Chippendale, c.1770 for Harewood House, near Leeds.  The ‘Year of the Dealer’ trail will obviously mention Chippendale in the story about the Library Table but the main focus of the trails will be the stories about the antique dealers that lie behind the acquisition of the objects by the museums.  For the Harewood Library Table the story we will be foregrounding is how it was acquired by Temple Newsam through the antique dealers’ H. Blairman & Sons in July 1965.   The Library Table was purchased by the antique dealer George Levy, Director of H. Blairman & Sons, at Christie’s auction sale of artworks from Lord Harewood’s estate in London on 1st July 1965 (the table was lot 57).  Blairman’s were established in 1884 and George Levy had joined the business in 1949 – here’s the H. Blairman & Sons stand at the famous Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, London, in June 1950, the year after George Levy joined the business.

H. Blairman & Sons stand at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair 1950. Photograph courtesy of H. Blairman & Sons.

The 1965 auction sale of the Harewood Library Table generated a great deal of interest at the time – one anonymous reporter writing in Tatler 30th June 1965, the day before the auction, wrote, ‘There is little doubt that such an item will cause a lively stir in the saleroom and I shall be surprised if it does not eventually reach five figures.’  Martin Levy (the son of George Levy), and who remains the owner and director of H. Blairman & Sons, recalls that his father persuaded the group of Yorkshire businessmen who had agreed to support the acquisition of the Harewood table for Leeds Museums & Galleries, that he should bid the agreed limit of 40,000 guineas ‘plus one’ at the Christie’s auction – this was to ensure that if Blairman entered the bidding on the ‘wrong foot’ so to speak – i.e. if they entered the bidding at say 20,000 guineas and their maximum bid was 40,000 guineas, they may end up with a bid at 39,000 guineas, with the opposition having the bid of 40,000 guineas…so a bid of ‘plus one’ would potentially secure the object – indeed, George Levy’s suggestion proved prescient, as the final and successful auction bid was 41,000 guineas!

41,000 guineas (a guinea is £1 + 1 shilling) equated to £43,050 in 1965 and was at the time acknowledged as a world record price for a piece of English furniture. This was indeed an enormous sum for a piece of antique furniture; the equivalent value today would be about £2,450,000 (see Measuring Worth.com).  It’s always difficult to work out relative values of course, and the notion of a ‘world record price’ is no less complex – Gerald Reitlinger (The Economics of Taste, volume 3, 1963 and which was obviously published slightly before the auction sale of the Harewood Library Table) cites several ‘world record’ prices for English furniture – (Reitlinger’s data is derived from artworks circulating on the auction market of course…we don’t know about any values from private treaty sales…).  Reitlinger cites 10,000 guineas (£10,605) in at an auction in 1928, paid for a Queen Anne console table with matching mirror and torcheres (what is often called a ‘trio’), and sold from the collections of Earl Howe, as the world record auction price for English furniture in the 1920s; although Reitlinger also notes the sale, in 1921, of one of the famous ‘Raynham Commodes’, (also attributed to Chippendale) which made £3,900 (equating to £1,721,000 today).

According to Reitlinger the ‘world record’ of £10,605 of 1928 stood until 1961 when he recorded that one of the famous ‘Rainham Commodes’  was sold in New York for £25,000 – I’m not so sure about this?…According to the newspaper reports at the time (30th June 1961) the piece that sold for £25,000 in New York was, and I quote, ‘an Adam-Chippendale satinwood and mahogany marquetry serpentine-front commode in the French taste.  A masterpiece of design probably executed by Chippendale himself.’  The ‘Rainham Commode’ is, as many of you will know, a mahogany commode (sans marquetry) – here’s a couple of illustrations of ‘Rainham/Raynham’ model commodes – left is an 18th century mahogany commode, described as ‘possibly supplied to…Raynham Hall, Norfolk’ and which was sold at Christie’s New York in 1998 (for c. $1,500,000).  And on the right is an acknowledged ‘Raynham Hall’ commode – this one is now at the Philadelphia Art Museum in the USA, and was acquired in 1941 having been in the collections of both H.H. Mulliner (1861-1924) and William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951).

18th century commode, sold at Christie’s New York 1998. Photograph copyright Christie’s New York.
18th century commode, from Raynham Hall, Norfolk. Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA. Purchased with the John D. McIllhenny Fund, 1941. Photograph copyright Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The history of the ‘Rainham’ and ‘Raynham’ commodes is also complicated by the fact that the well-known collector of English furniture, H. H. Mulliner, purchased Rainham Hall, which is in Essex, in 1920 as a suitable home for his extraordinary collection of antique English furniture; Mulliner’s collection is said to have included a commode from Raynham Hall, Norfolk  – so maybe there is more unravelling to do on these ‘Raynham’ and ‘Rainham’ commodes?

The Norfolk Raynham Commode was actually made much more famous in the popular television series’ Tales of the Unexpected (1979), in a version of Roald Dahl’s short story ‘Parson’s Pleasure‘ (1959). In the TV version, in which John Gielgud plays the crooked antique dealer ‘Cyril Boggis’, Mr Boggis stumbles across a piece of Chippendale furniture in an old farmhouse – and the model for the piece of Chippendale furniture is the ‘Raynham Commode’ – you can just see the commode, painted white, in this film still from the episode of Tales of the Unexpected.

Still from ‘Parson’s Pleasure’ in Tales of the Unexpected (1979).

Roald Dahl was a very keen collector of antique furniture himself, and specifically mentions the Raynham commode in his short story – as Dahl writes; ‘He knew, as does every other dealer in Europe and America, that among the most celebrated and coveted examples of eighteenth-century English furniture in existence are the three famous pieces known as ‘The Chippendale Commodes’….coming out of Raynham Hall, Norfolk.’ (Parson’s Pleasure, in Kiss, Kiss, p.78).

But anyway, besides this fascinating interweaving of fact and fiction in the history of the Raynham Commodes, what we hope that the Year of the Dealer trails will draw attention to is the complex relationships between cultural value and economic value.  Indeed, if we take the Measuring Worth.com calculations for these auction sale values of English furniture we can see that the notion of a ‘World Record price’ is a notoriously difficult thing to nail down.  For example, the economic value of the Queen Anne ‘trio’ sold in 1928 of 10,000 guineas (£10,605) was the equivalent of c.£5,000,000; and the ‘Rainham Commode’ sold in 1961 for £25,000 (if indeed it was the ‘Rainham Commode) was the equivalent of just £1,881,000.  So technically the Queen Anne ‘trio’ sold in 1928 still holds the ‘world record’ for a piece of English furniture sold at auction, even surpassing the auction sale of the Harewood Library Table in 1965 (equivalent of £2,450,000).

But then again, there’s more to ‘World Records’ that merely economic calculations; they are complex cultural and social signifiers that both transcend and complexify the blunt instrument of economic value.

Mark

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December 20, 2018

Progress on SOLD!

SOLD! is coming together very well – we’ve been working at The Bowes Museum on the text panels and object labels all of this week.  They all go off to the designers soon – there’s only about 1 month to go before the exhibition opens on 26th January (and that includes the Christmas break!), so there’s still a lot of work to do.  George Harris (Exhibitions Manager at Bowes), Catherine Dickinson (Exhibitions Officer), Jane Whittaker (Head of Collections) together with the other members of the exhibitions team Vin and Jen, and I have been working on the images and texts we need for the exhibition.  It’s going to be designed around a theme of ‘shopping for antiques over 200 years’….using a cityscape as a main theme, with antique shop fronts, of various periods from 1820s to present day, interspaced with images of antique shop interiors over the same period, so the visitors to the exhibition will get a sense of the changing panorama of the ‘antique shop’.

Simon Spier (Project Assistant on the recreating the 1850s Shop) has also been helping with engaging with the local community of dealers and collectors to gather appropriate objects for the shop (see Simon’s ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ Twitter feed).  Simon and I were searching the Bowes stores this week for suitable objects for the 1850 shop…together with Howard Coutts, (the Curator of Decorative Art) – it is interesting that Howard is not the curator of ‘Antiques’ – but then, antiques’ are not what the museum contains I guess?

Over the course of the research project we’ve gathered hundreds and hundreds of images of exteriors and interiors of antique shops.  These two photographs, of F.W. Phillips’ (Phillips of Hitchin) antique shop in about 1905 and the interior photograph of the shop of C. Charles (Charles Duveen, J.H. Duveen’s brother) in New Bond Street, London in c.1903, are just examples of several hundred we have to choose from, so it’s been quite a task to find the right kind of image for the exhibition interpretation.

Phillips of Hitchin shop, c.1905. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

 

C Charles, New Bond Street, c.1903. Photograph, Connoisseur, September 1903.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve also had some excellent pre-publicity for SOLD! this week – the exhibition was featured on the front page (and on page 4) of the Antiques Trade Gazette – see the web version HERE and SOLD! is also on the British Antique Dealers’ Association website (thank you as always the BADA!).

The objects coming to SOLD! cover quite a range of object types (and dealers of course) – we have this wonderful ‘majolica’ dish, from Deruta in Italy, and dating from c.1530, on loan from the V&A Museum.

Dish, c.1530, sold by Henry Durlacher to the SKM in 1854. Image courtesy of the V&A Museum, copyright the V&A Museum.

It was sold to the South Kensington Museum in 1856 (as the V&A Museum was called in the 19th century) by the well-known 19th century antique dealer Henry Durlacher (b.1826) for £5 and 5 shillings – quite a meagre some, even in the context of the market for such objects in the 19th century.  The market for ‘Raphaelware’ (as this kind of object would have been categorized in the 19th century) was very strong in the middle decades of the 19th century, so perhaps Durlacher was hoping to encourage more purchases from the South Kensington Museum?

SOLD! also has several objects from the collections at The Bowes Museum on display of course, including this spectacular 18th century Bronze fountain mask, which was sold to The Bowes Museum in 1966 by the dealership ‘David Tremayne’ – one of the directors of ‘David Tremayne’ was David Salmon, a member of the family that owned J. Lyons & Company, of ‘Lyons Tea Rooms’ fame.  ‘Tremayne’ traded from the King’s Road in London, which in the 1960s was the epitome of Swinging, Fashionable London, with the antique dealers patronised by Film Stars and Rock Groups such as the Rolling Stones.

Bronze Mask, sold by ‘David Tremayne’ to The Bowes Museum in 1966. Photograph courtesy of The Bowes Museum.

 

In SOLD! we also have a number of objects from Temple Newsam, part of Leeds Museums & Galleries, including the famous black lacquer secretaire, formerly supplied by Thomas Chippendale for Harewood House in the 1770s.

Secretaire, c.1770, sold by Hotspur to Temple Newsam, Leeds Museums & Galleries in 1999. Photograph courtesy of Leeds Museums & Galleries, copyright Leeds Museums & Galleries.

Of course, for SOLD! this is not a ‘Chippendale’ , it was sold to Leeds Museums & Galleries by the well-known Antique English Furniture specialist dealers Hotspur in 1999, who were then trading in London.  Indeed, the secretaire’s dealer biography can be traced to 1946 when it was acquired by the London dealer Jesse Botibol, probably direct for the auction sale of some contents of Harewood House sold at Christie’s in London that year.

There are many more well-known and world-class museum objects in SOLD!, But of course the purpose of SOLD! is to highlight their ‘hidden histories’ and to retell the history of the antique dealers that are such a fundamental part of their object biographies.

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2016

First of the ‘BADA Voices’ oral history interviews – Peter Francis Cheek

We did our first in the ‘BADA Voices’ oral history interviews the other week. As you may have heard, or read in the Antiques Trade Gazette, the British Antiques Dealers’ Association have very generously sponsored the capture of a series of new oral history interviews, as a discrete extension to the Oral History research for the Antique Dealers project. Thank you again to the BADA for this generous support. Print

The first in the new series of ‘BADA Voices’ was with Peter Francis Cheek, formerly of ‘Peter Francis Antiques’.  Peter is now 94 years of age, and it was a fantastic opportunity to capture his reflections on more than 60 years in the antique trade.

Peter Cheek 2016

Peter Francis Cheek, at his London home, in 2016.

Peter started his life as an antiques dealer in 1949, following service in the army in World War II, after training as a carpenter in the late 1930s, and working for his father in his father’s second-hand and antique furniture business (his father’s business was called W. Johnson, after the previous owner of the firm) in the period 1947-1949. His father, interestingly, had been a Foreman for the firm of Howard & Sons, before setting up on his own in the late 1920s.

In this very engaging interview, Peter reflects on the changes to the antiques trade, and his experiences on the vetting committees at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair during the 1980s, and as a member of the review committee for the export of antiques for the BADA during 1972-2000. And here is Peter’s stand at the 1984 Grosvenor House Antiques Fair.

Peter Francis stand GH 1984

Peter Francis’ Stand at Grosvenor House 1984. Courtesy of Peter Cheek.

Peter’s first shop was in Bowes Park, North London, before he purchased his father’s shop in Winchmore Hill (North London) – and as many of you will know, Peter Francis were located in Beauchamp Place, SW3 for 25 years, from 1954 until 1979, when Peter moved the business to 26 Museum Street, the former home of the equally well-known antique dealers, ‘Cameo Corner’ – indeed, it’s quite curious, although obviously understandable, how many antique dealers move into premises formerly occupied by other dealers – Peter’s shop in Beauchamp Place, for example, was also the former shop of the dealer Josephine Grahame-Ballin, who also had a shop in St. Albans.

Peter had many fond memories of life in the antiques trade, including the time when the actor Robert Lindsay (himself now portraying an Antique Dealer called ‘Mr Bull’ in the TV comedy ‘Bull in a China Shop’!) attended the opening of the Grosvenor House Antiques fair in 1985, and was photographed sitting in an antique Invalid’s Chair on Peter’s stand – (Robert Lindsay was dressed as a character from the musical ‘Me and My Girl’, in which he was then starring…)

Peter C and R Lyndsay 1985

Peter Francis, with Robert Lindsay at the GH Antiques Fair 1985. Copyright untraced. Courtesy of Peter Cheek.

As with all of our Oral History interviews, including these new ‘BADA Voices’ extensions, our interview with Peter Cheek will appear on the Antique dealer Research project website in due course.

Mark

 

 

November 30, 2013

Antique Dealers support the project!

There has been a groundswell of support from the trade itself following the article about the project in the Antiques Trade Gazettte – with more support coming in daily – thanks indeed, so far, to Guy Apter, John Bly, Robin Butler, Geoffrey Godden, Edgar Harden, Dominic Jellinek, Christopher Payne, Andrew Whittaker, and Mark Dodgson at BADA

Thank You!

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