Posts tagged ‘BADA Voices’

May 16, 2017

New Oral History Interview – Lanto Synge, from Mallett & Sons

Our latest Oral History Interview took place last week, with Lanto Synge in the interviewee chair. The interview was conducted by our lead project volunteer, Chris Coles (thank you again Chris!) and is part of our continued efforts to capture the Voices from the Trade as part of the ‘BADA Voices’ extension to the Oral History project (thanks again to the BADA for their support). 

Lanto, as many of you will know, worked at the world-famous antique dealers Mallett & Sons for almost 40 years, after joining the firm in 1969, rising through the ranks to ultimately become Chief Executive of the firm in 1997; Lanto eventually retired in 2009.

Lanto Synge, formerly of Mallet & Sons (Antiques). Photograph courtesy of Lanto Synge.

Catalogue from Mallett & Son, 1930s.

In this absolutely absorbing interview Lanto recalls the history of Mallet & Sons – they are one of the oldest antique dealing firms in the world, established in 1865 by John Mallett in Milsom Street, Bath, Somerset. During the interview Lanto reflected on his memories of working at the firm during the 1960s-1990s and describes the changes in marketing practices, the displays in the galleries (there were 28 rooms of antique furniture and objects in Mallett’s Bond Street showrooms by the time Lanto retired in 2009); he also recalls the various individuals involved in the business over the period he worked at Mallett.

Lanto was also instrumental in the development of Mallett’s antique business in Australia and during the interview he reflects on the expanding business for antiques in the 1980s.  There are some fascinating memories on many leading dealers and collectors, as well as observations on the role of the antique fair (especially The Grosvenor House Fair) in the developing antique trade.

Lanto is also a leading expert and author on the subject of antique textiles, and his enthusiasm, and expertise, is clearly expressed in a series of engaging reflections on the development of his interest in antique textiles and tapestries.  Our interview with Lanto, as with all of the other Oral History interviews we have undertaken for the Antique Dealers Research Project, will be edited and made available in due course.

Thank you again to Lanto and Chris Coles for taking the time to expand our Oral History strand of the research project.

Mark

 

April 25, 2017

Latest BADA Voices Oral History Interview

We recently completed the latest in our series of Oral History interviews, as part of the extension to the research theme under the ‘BADA Voices’ project –  and thank you again to Marco, Mark and the team at the BADA for generously supporting these new oral history interviews. Our latest interviewee was the leading antique furniture dealer John Hill, of Jeremy Limited; the interview was undertaken by Chris Coles, our Lead Volunteer for the Antique Dealers research project.

John, Geoffrey and Michael Hill, outside of Jeremy Limited. Photograph courtesy of John Hill.

During this absolutely fascinating interview, John recalls the early history of the business of Jeremy Limited, established in 1946 by John’s father Geoffrey Hill, and well-known for their shop in the King’s Road, London.  John tells us how the firm got its name (his father was known to friends as ‘Jeremy’) and of his memories of many other key members of the London antique trade, including John Partridge, Francis Egerton of Mallett & Son and Horace Baxter of H.C. Baxter & Sons (we have also, as followers of the research project will know, interviewed both John Partridge Jnr and Gary Baxter, Horace Baxter’s son).

John also offered some interesting reflections on the marketing techniques of the firm during the 1960s and 1970s, and some absorbing memories of the Mentmore auction sale, conducted by Sotheby’s in 1977 – considered to be one of the key country house sales of the 20th century.

As will all of our Oral History interviews, our interview with John will, as soon as we are able, be edited, approved, and uploaded to the project website.

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 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

 

September 25, 2016

BADA Voices Interviews

Our project to capture the reflections and memories of antique dealers and people involved in the British Antique trade is one of the central research themes in the Antique Dealer project.  And thanks to the British Antique Dealers’ Association, who have very kindly given the project financial support, we are able to continue the oral history interviews – do check out the Oral History pages in the project website for more information of the support from the BADA and the new interviews that we have undertaken as part of the ‘BADA Voices’ initiative, see – Antique Dealer Project Oral History

PrintOf the two most recent interviews we have completed, one focused on the history of the BADA itself, in our interview with Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of the BADA.  The other interview, with the former antique dealer, agent, Forensic Appraiser and Expert Witness, Nicholas Somers, allowed us to capture some of Nicholas’ memories of the history of that most famous of antique furniture dealers, M. Harris & Sons, amongst many other things.

 

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Mark Dodgson, Sec Gen of the BADA. Photo courtesy of the BADA.

Mark Dodgson started at the BADA in 1989, as an assistant to the then Secretary General, Elaine Dean, before succeeding Elaine as Secretary General in 2008.

In this engaging interview Mark tells us about the history of the BADA – which was founded in 1918, and has the exciting prospect of their centenary celebrations coming up in 2018. Mark outlined the wide range of activities and projects that the BADA have been involved with over the years – as many of you will know, the BADA was initially founded by members of the antique trade in 1918 to lobby Government as a response to the proposed introduction of the so-called ‘luxury tax’, and the organisation has continued that tradition.  The BADA has been a central player in many of the most high-profile issues affecting the antique trade, from the introduction of Valued Added Tax and ‘margin scheme’ in the 1970s, the (still contentious) issue of the introduction of auction sales buyers premium in the 1970s, to the lively debates surrounding the restrictions on the sales of elephant ivory – currently animating (excuse the pun!) the art world at present.

Mark also talked about his role as Secretary of the Art Trade Liaisons Committee (The British Art Market Federation), and the history of the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair (founded in 1934 as an initiative by some key BADA members), as well as the more recent BADA Fair (established in 1991) and the BADA relationship with, and support for, the conservation courses at West Dean College. With the centenary of the BADA coming up in 2018, I’m sure the interview will be a valuable resource in those celebrations.

Our other interview in the BADA Voices series was with the retired antique dealer, agent, auctioneer, and Expert Witness, Nicholas Somers.

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Nicholas Somers, at his home in London. Photo Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2016.

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Richard Grose, 8 Exhibition Road, London, c.1950.

Nicholas, currently the Master of the Worshipful Company of Turners (he has also been collecting treen for decades!) and has over 50 years experience of the antique trade.  Nicholas started his career in the world of antiques with the dealer Paul Smith (a BADA member) in 1965, before moving to work for Richard Grose at Exhibition Road in London.

In 1967 Nicholas left Richard Grose and became one of the sales team at the world-famous antique furniture dealers M. Harris & Sons, staying with Harris until 1971, when he set up his own antiques business in Worcester  – ‘Somers at the Sign of the Chair’.

Nicolas had some fascinating memories of working at Moss Harris – with some wonderfully evocative descriptions of the showrooms – the business was already contracting somewhat when Nicholas joined Robert Harris in 1967, and, as Nicholas tells us, the showrooms had been reduced by half, but it still had 80 rooms packed with museum-quality English furniture and objects when he joined the firm. Here is the gallery of Moss Harris, in New Oxford Street, London, in the early 1920s, soon after Moss Harris had taken over the firm of D.L. Isaacs, who established the business in 1868.

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M. Harris & Sons, New Oxford Street, London, c.1924.

Nicholas has an exceptionally wide ranging experience of the antique and art world, having been part of the management buy-out at the auctioneers Bearnes in Torquay, from the then parent company Sotheby’s, in 1981, and as a ‘forensic appraiser’  and Expert Witness in legal disputes in the art world.

Both interviews make rich contributions to the growing archive of antique trade interviews that we are assembling as part of the Antique dealer project.

Mark

 

 

 

July 25, 2016

‘BADA Voices’ Oral History Interview – John Bly

Print We did our 2nd in the new ‘BADA Voices’ Oral History interviews last week – this time in the interviewees’ chair was John Bly, of John Bly Antiques. John Bly Antiques was established by 1891, but the business itself has roots into the early 19th century, begun by John’s Great-Grand father William Bly, in Tring, Hertfordshire.  John’s grandfather, also called John Bly, operated as a cabinet-maker, house furnisher and dealer in antique furniture at 22 High Street, Tring by the early 1890s – and here’s an early photograph of the shop of ‘J.Bly’ at 22 High Street in 1907.

John Bly 22 High St Tring 1907

J. Bly, 22 High Street, Tring, 1907. Photograph from John Bly.

In a wonderfully engaging and fascinating interview, John tells us of the history of the Bly businesses, and of how he started in the antique trade over 50 years ago! John left school to work at Sotheby’s in Bond Street, London, where he was employed in the Silver Department, marking up lots for sale; he left Sotheby’s at the age of 19 to work for his father, Frank Bly, in 1960, and continues to run the business, with his son James, from locations in Tring and in the Kings Road, London.

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John Bly, in London, 2016.

John’s infectious enthusiasm for the antique trade is evident in the conversation – he tells us of his first job, driving the Northampton-based antique dealer Jack Roberts’ around auctions and dealerships in the early 1960s; and of the importance of his two ‘mentors’, Michael Brett (then of Broadway, Worcestershire) and the Nat Ayer, of Bath and London – who was, so we learn, the son of the famous songwriter Nat D. Ayer (1887-1952) – writer of, amongst other songs, ‘If you were the only girl in the world…’ (1916)

John also tells us of his life as a T.V. personality – he is famous, as many of you will know, as one of the experts on the BBC ‘Antiques Roadshow’ – but he began his career as T.V. antiques expert as long ago as 1969/1970 on a show for Thames Television called ‘Looking at Antiques….’, before moving on to a programme in the mid 1970s called ‘Heirlooms’.  He has been on the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ since the 2nd series, in 1980.

John’s father, Frank Bly, is perhaps most well-known for the sale of the famous ‘Kimbolton Cabinet’ to the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1949. John rehearses the fascinating tale of the acquisition, and eventual sale of the cabinet to the V&A, during the interview – it is, by now, quite a well-known story, but John’s regaling of how the cabinet was loaded on to the flat-bed truck, and covered in a tarpaulin sheet, is still worth hearing again.

 

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The Kimbolton Cabinet, c.1775. Photograph, copyright the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

John obvious positive energy comes across strongly in the interview, as he talks about the changes to the antique trade in the past few years, and the prospects for the future of ‘antiques’.  And as with all our other interviews, our interview with John will, once edited, be made available via the Antique Dealer project websites – keep you eye of the sites for updates.

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.

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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.

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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…)

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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

 

 

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