Posts tagged ‘BADA’

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.

M Harris 40 54 New Oxford Street Feb 1921 Conn

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 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

 

 

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

November 3, 2015

BADA Commemorative Plates 1919

Whilst having a meeting with Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of the British Antique Dealers’ Association, on Friday last week (regarding the Antique Dealer project conference in April, amongst other things), I noticed a small display of 6 plates on the windowsill of Mark’s office.

Stoner plate 1919

BADA Commemorative Plate, c.1918-19. Photograph copyright AHRC Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds.

All of the plates had the same painted inscription ‘Success to the BADA’ at the top edge, and each had a separate, individual inscription on the lower edge.  This one (above) has ‘Stoner for ever. 1919.’ on the bottom edge.  The plates themselves are relatively inexpensive, mass-produced objects – (Mark kindly told me they have a printed mark ‘Crown Staffordshire’ on the back) – so they are pretty common everyday ware. Three of the plates have printed decoration of a small bird in a branch of a tree – the style keys into the Chinoiserie revival of the 1910s and 1920s; the other three had similar, but hand-painted, decoration.

Andrade plate 1919

‘Andrade for ever 1919’. Comemmorative plate. Photography copyright AHRC Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds.

The inscriptions on the plates refer to the foundation of the BADA, which began just a year earlier, on May 7th 1918. The story of the founding of the BADA is by now very well known I guess, but one of the reasons for the founding of the Association was as a response to the proposed Luxury Duty that was to be introduced in the Finance Act of 1918.

The plates are variously inscribed – the one above is inscribed ‘Andrade for ever. 1919.’ Other plates are inscribed ‘Mrs Astley for ever, 1919.’ (below); ‘Thomas for ever. 1919’; ‘Law for ever. 1919.’; and ‘Evans for ever. 1919’.

Astley plate 1919

‘Mrs Astley for ever. 1919.’ Commemorative plate c.1919. Photograph copyright AHRC Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds.

The plates obviously celebrate founding members or early members of the BADA – Stoner, for example, probably refers to Frank Stoner, the son of George Stoner, who was one of founder members of the BADA in 1918.  Sadly George Stoner, a Vice-President of the BADA, and the father of Frank and Malcolm Stoner, died aged 50 in 1918, shortly after the foundation of the Association – the dealership was named ‘Stoner & Evans’, and was trading at 3 King Street, St. James’s, London at the time.

‘Andrade’ would be Cyril Andrade, then trading in Duke Street, St. James’s, London; ‘Mrs Astley’ would be Florence Astley, also trading in Duke Street, St. James’s in the same period. There were three further plates – one inscribed ‘Evans for ever. 1919.’ – probably for the Mr Evans who was partner in Stoner & Evans, although there was also a silver dealer, ‘Evans & Co’, but I’d think it was for the chap from Stoner & Evans.

The other plates were inscribed ‘Law for ever. 1919’ for Charles Law, of the dealers ‘Law, Foulsham & Cole, then trading from 7 South Molton Street, London, and ‘Thomas for ever. 1919.’ – Thomas was the formidable dealer C. Rochelle Thomas, the President of the BADA for 1919, and then trading at ‘The Georgian Galleries’ 10, 11 & 12 King Street, St. James’s, London, along with his sons, Victor Joseph Rochelle Thomas and Alfred William Rochelle Thomas.

The plates are fascinating pieces of ephemera associated with the founding of the British Antique Dealers’ Association – I just wondered if there were any more of these plates surviving?…there appear to have been 16 founder members of BADA in 1918, so maybe there are at least another 12 plates somewhere?… but the 6 plates here also include members who were not listed as founders, such as Florence Astley, who must have joined sometime after March 1918 and before the plates were inscribed in 1919…..so perhaps there are scores of them out there!

Mark

 

 

 

June 15, 2015

Project Interactive Website Launched

The project Interactive Website has finally been officially launched!

On Monday 15th June, with a major publicity push from the University of Leeds and the University of Southampton, the two collaborating universities involved in the Antique Dealers project, and with a forthcoming announcement in the Antiques Trade Gazette – we’ve made the interactive website available to the wider public. You can read the University of Leeds Press Release here – Mapping%20the%20history%20of%20antiques%20dealers%20FINAL Thanks to Gareth Dant, Press Officer at University of Leeds for composing the Press Release.

And the University of Southampton Press Release here –Mapping%20the%FINAL SOTON

The Interactive website is one of the 3 main outputs of the AHRC funded Antique Dealers research project – the other outputs will be an edited book (edited by Westgarth, Quince and Jamieson), and the end of project Conference, (and for which we thank again the support from Leeds Museums & Galleries), which will take place next Spring at Temple Newsam House, Leeds (keep your eye on the blog for more details on the conference).

Screenshot 2014-01-30 15.10.18

Screen Shot of the Interactive Website. Copyright, University of Leeds 2015.

The website has been long in development and thanks to Mark Wales (‘Sparky’) of Small Hadron Collider, who has been working on the software programming for the site for the past 18 months, we now have an amazing research database, and research resource, for future investigations into the history of the Antique Trade in Britain, in the 20th century.

Using the search engine embedded within the site, or clicking on the DOTS on the map, you can find information on Antique Dealers trading in the 20th century. Below is a screen grab for a dealer trading in Southampton (see little red dot on the map) – Thomas Rohan, who was trading at 105 High Street, Southampton in the period c.1903-1918.slide700-3

The interactive website is still in development, and we’ve launched it as BETA version (i.e. we are testing it for feedback and suggestions on functionality and ease of use etc). At present, at least, there’s not that much data in the site…only c.2,100 entries…and we reckon there should be, eventually, about 100,000 entries in the site.  But we hope that the site will give people a sense of the amazing possibilities that emerge when one thinks about what it COULD do.

We eventually hope that each Dealership will  have a mini-biography, such as that in the Rohan entry already in the site – see below:

rohan-bio-screengrab

 

The site uses GPS (Google Maps) technology to track the changing locations of Antique Dealers, based in Britain, over the period 1900-2000 – but it is more, much more, than just a geographical mapping site.  We have built a temporal-spacial tracking system in the site that will trace the genealogy of not just Antique Dealers, but also the objects that they sold, and which, at the same time, establishes a whole series of spacial-temporal networks and relationships between, people, things, and ideas – this, we think, is the uniqueness of the website resource!…

We’ve had fantastic support from various people and organisations as we have developed the project and the interactive website; here are just a few examples of messages of support:

Project Advisory Board member, Christopher Wilk, Keeper of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at The Victoria & Albert Museum, said “This is an important and innovative project which points the way towards a serious consideration of modern antique dealing. The methodology of the project is innovative, not least in its mixture of oral history, archival research and cultural geography.”

And Chris Jussel, an interviewee of the Oral History part of the Antique Dealer project (see earlier posts) and formerly of the major international antique dealers, Verney & Jussel, and well-known as a former Presenter for the US version of the Antiques Roadshow, said: “Throughout most of the 20th century the British Antiques Trade was the driving force in presenting what were originally termed ‘old things’ to the public. Collectively the appreciation for, the collection of, the scholarship and knowledge of antiques largely emanated from the trade. That was where the expertise resided. No major private or museum collection of antiques was formed without the trade. This long overdue academic study is a testament to that era.”

And finally, Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of The British Antique Dealers’ Association, said: “The concept of an interactive website charting the historical locations of antiques shops and the movement of beautiful objects from collectors to dealers and into museum collections should prove fascinating for anyone interested in the history of the decorative arts.
“The UK has always been one of the world’s most significant locations for the trade in antiques, whether English furniture or Chinese ceramics. It is therefore fitting that a British university should have undertaken a study into this important aspect of our national life.
“I know that antiques dealers are often keen to check the historical ownership of important items they sell – referred to in the trade as the “provenance” – to back up their own judgements about the age and origin of pieces. The new website will provide them with an excellent tool for checking where and when dealers were trading in the past, so adding to the information they can provide to antique collectors about their purchases.”

We hope that you will enjoy using the Interactive Website – (click HERE to go to the site)

Do send us feedback on what you think about the site, and any teething problems.

Mark

 

May 31, 2015

Antique Dealers Project presented at BADA Regional Meeting

I forgot to mention, due to the increased activities on the oral history interviews front, that we were very kindly invited by The British Antique Dealers’ Association to give a presentation about the various initiatives of the AHRC Antique Dealers Project at the BADA Northern Regional Meeting of BADA in Yorkshire on Friday 15th May.

Mark Dodgson, the BADA Secretary General, has been following the project with considerable interest – and indeed has been very supportive, he even provided us with a copy of BADA catalogue of the Art Treasures Exhibition (1932), which has been a valuable resource for our ongoing research into the history of the British Antiques Trade. We were also very warmly received by members of the BADA meeting, which included Tony & Mary Lumb (with whom we have already undertaken a fascinating oral history interview – thanks again Tony & Mary!); present were also Louise Phillips (of Elaine Phillips Antiques); Holly Johnson & Benjamin Aardewerk (of Holly Johnson Antiques); Simon Myers (of the old established dealers R.N. Myers & Son); Philip Carrol; Paul Beedham (of Paul Beedham Antiques); Helen Sutcliffe (Sutcliffe Galleries); and Chairman of the Council, Michael Cohen (together with his wife Ewa, of Cohen & Cohen Antiques).

After a fabulous lunch, I presented a short(ish) presentation, outlining the project and it’s objectives, and demonstrated the (still in development, but very soon to be launched…really…within weeks now!) interactive project website.

It was great to have such a keen interest in the project from members of the trade, and the premier trade body – thank you for the lunch, and for your ears!

Mark

April 23, 2015

The Rise of the Antiques Fair in the 20th Century

When I think of my time in the trade and the variety of experiences that have left their mark over the years, I might picture myself browsing in a newly discovered shop in unfamiliar territory; probing gently to see if the owner might be ‘friendly’ to the trade as I hunt for stock. I might see myself waiting, interminably, for one last lot at the end of a sale then only to be outbid with nothing to show for my efforts at the end of the day. I might remember the life stories told to me by customers over long afternoons or visiting an old dealer on his death bed who was surrounded by gilt-framed oils and eager to deal them on to those paying their last respects whilst they and he still could – but most of all I picture again and again with an intensity that does not dim, the vibrant and atmospheric hustle and bustle of buying and selling at antique fairs across the country. Whether they were of the vetted and stand-fitted variety, small weekly flea markets, showground events as big as a town or held in the middle of the night to suit the earliest of birds, they all felt like the life-blood of the trade and had in common the possibility of unearthing a ‘good find’ at any moment, earning a days wage from informed and eager buyers and like any social encounter, the chance to bemoan ‘the one that got away’ or ‘the good old days’ over a tea when the buying was done.

From such a nostalgic perspective then, what follows outlines briefly the emergence and development of antiques fairs as a sub-genre of the British antiques trade and views them as a real driving force of the trade at the time. It serves as an incomplete introduction to a subject yet to reveal much of its history and with a view to assessing the significance of fairs in cultural terms, further discussion of their role and importance for the British trade is warmly welcomed; especially as much of what remains to be unearthed lies intact in personal recollections, anecdote and the contemporaneous ephemera that is scattered across a host of private, institutional and commercial archives. All this potential ‘data’, together with a more comprehensive study of the variety and distribution of fairs, is yet to be collated and interpreted but I believe it to be very worthwhile; writing as someone who relied on both a shop and fairs to conduct business. I feel fairs in their own right were one of the more important developments the trade underwent in the last century and in contrast to the formative pressures shaping the trade in the 19th Century, they are one of the key features making it distinct and different from what came before. Whilst my research is merely a ‘work in progress’, a cultural geography of fairs is emerging, although dates, venues and individuals may change entirely or in emphasis as research in this area develops.

Whilst it is possible that markets may predate fairs by some years, so far I have found nothing to contradict the view that The Antiques Dealers Fair at the Grosvenor House hotel and organised by Alex G. Lewis and BADA president Cecil F. Turner in 1934 was the very first antiques fair proper to take place in Britain or elsewhere. Given the accumulation and flow of cultural and monetary wealth through the country in the centuries proceeding it and the recent affirmation that ‘we’ were at the very centre of culture and commerce at the British Empire Exhibition of 1924-5 it is not surprising that London would also be the focus of an antiques industry that traded on the fruits of history and Empire. Although we can speculate that the fair was held to promote the trade in a notable economic downturn, selling exhibitions were nothing new on an individual basis. Lewis and Turners’ innovation was to make the selling of fine antiques a collective event that in a suitable interior was both museum and market place and much imitated later. The Antiques Dealers Fair running annually up to the war and resumed in 1947 would have consequences for a greater appreciation and access to antiques by a wider public in the years to come and with its 1830 dateline, it charted the shifting perception of what constituted an antique in terms of age and quality and appealed to connoisseurs that could still afford to collect period furnishings and object d’art in a time of austerity – although this gradually gave way to fairs that became more democratic affairs and operated at every level and suited every pocket and taste in the decades to come. See http://www.grosvenor-antiquesfair.co.uk/history.html for further information on the origins and history of the fair.

The Grosvenor House fair led the way for a while and had the approval of its first royal patron in Queen Mary from 1937-53 but another mainstay of the London scene was soon to emerge when the inaugural Chelsea Antiques Fair was held at the Old Town Hall in the autumn of 1950. Its reputation was also helped by celebrity patronage over the years and British Movietone News promotions which brought it to the attention of an international market and to America in particular and by the 1980s it referred to itself as both the ‘famous’ and the ‘original fair’ which points to the imitation of its up-market and multi-day format and the competition, then, between promoters in a thriving market. Below is an image from British Movietone News reporting on the Chelsea Town Hall Fair from 1954 and is reproduced here with kind permission of the AP Archive that holds copyright for British Movietone media.

chelsea

Meanwhile, in the post-war years fairs began to take root in place, space and season across the British Isles as entrepreneurs and dealers in regional associations promoted and marketed events more proactively and affirmed their regional identity and presence in the market place. In a time of great optimism The West Country Antique Dealers Fair was held in 1951 and in the same year the Kensington Antiques Dealers Association held a fair in its own Town Hall. Whilst London was to see a range of significant fairs in the coming decades, the regions also fared well with fairs at Glasgow in 1965, Bath and Norwich in 1967, Bristol and Edinburgh in 1968 and Liverpool in 1969. These key fairs had both a professionalism and a budget for promotion as all produced accompanying catalogues for their events but it must be assumed that by the 1960s and certainly by the 1970s smaller fairs were mushrooming across Britain in great numbers – as respected promoter Caroline Penman’s association with Brighton Fair from 1959 is an example. See http://www.penman-fairs.co.uk/userfiles/image/details/penmans-history.pdf for more information.

The 1970s saw a continued growth in antiques fairs and two of note in London were Earls Court in 1973 (which by 1979 became the International Antiques Fair in recognition of the trade’s global reach) and Olympia in 1979, becoming the Fine Art & Antiques Fair by 1983 and thereby reinforcing another natural association. Fairs expanded in the regions also and in 1977 the first Northern Antique Dealers Fair was held in Harrogate. At the same time more ‘down market’ fairs were being established but the quality was still high by todays standards as the availability of antiques was greater and if London had Alexandra Palace and the Midlands had the Granby Halls, Leicester and ‘The Big Brum’ in Birmingham, the North had Leeds Queens Hall as Edinburgh’s had its Ingliston. These events had hundreds of stalls in cavernous and poorly lit spaces and the fair at Leeds, which I knew well, ran until 1989 until its old tram shed home was demolished. It opened its doors at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings and ran monthly throughout the year and was typical of many and a magnet for the trade who came from far a field for the chance to buy or sell there. Here below is a picture of the soon to be demolished venue with its last fair still advertised and is a reproduced with kind permission of the owner of the image, Phil Edwards (http://bit.ly/1Esh2hg).

queenshall

When I joined the trade in 1985 Geoff Whittaker had just established the two day International Antique and Collectors Fair at Newark that year and held it each spring and autumn initially. It quickly came to influence the rhythm of the antiques dealers year and confirmed the notion that the supply of stock would flow from local auctions and markets to be ‘saved’ and taken to Newark where dealers who exhibited at fairs such as the democratically-titled Antiques for Everyone in Birmingham would be eager to add to their datelined and soon-to-be-vetted stocks and would always come to buy – and so on into the upper echelons of the trade. It is safe to say that dealers and collectors who operated in every strata of the trade came to Newark at some time or other in the 1980s and 1990s and was typical of a ‘fairs scene’ that flourished in the last decades of the century and in its short history the Newark Showground fair, with its home and international buyers from all over the world, was arguably the culmination of a trading phenomenon that had gained in growing momentum over the proceeding years since fairs first emerged.

It only remains to say that antiques fairs in the 20th Century supplemented, perhaps at times competed with, but broadly enhanced a shop and auction based trade and added to the vibrancy of both dealing and collecting. They thus served as a conduit of the supply of goods through the trade and on into private or institutional hands throughout much of the century and warrant some closer examination within the wider scope of study for that reason alone – if not for their value as exciting episodes of social history in the making.

Graham Panico

February 22, 2015

More on Connell & Sons, Glasgow – and BADA

We’ve discovered a bit more about James Connell & Sons (the ‘Art Dealers’) in Glasgow (see earlier blog post on Connell).  Thanks to Mark Dodgson, Secretary General, and Riley Grant, membership Secretary, at The British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA) who very kindly emailed us a PDF copy of the full catalogue for the ‘Art Treasures Exhibition 1932’. The exhibition, ‘under the auspices of The British Antique Dealers’ Association’, was held at Christie’s auction rooms in King Street, London, October 12th to November 5th, 1932.

There are lots of fascinating things in the catalogue itself, not least the kind of stock that antique dealers sold in the 1930s – but there’s too much to outline here in a short blog post! However, amongst the exhibitors was our friend ‘James Connell & Sons’ – at this date trading at 26 Old Bond Street, London, and also at 75 Vincent Street, Glasgow.

As readers of this Blog will know, we regularly highlight the overlapping trading practices of the ‘Antique Trade’, and drew attention to the fact that James Connell & Sons, were, conventionally at least, classified as ‘Picture Dealers’ – and you’ll know that we disrupted the smoothness of such classificatory parameters in our earlier Blog post on an exhibition catalogue of ‘A Few Examples of Old Furniture of Fine Character and Quality’ that Connell & Sons staged at their Glasgow gallery in c.1915 (see earlier blog post).

In the ‘Art Treasures’ exhibition of 1932 Connell also exhibited objects…but again, not paintings, but ‘antiques’ – including ‘A George II stool c.1745’; See image here – sorry about the poor quality- connell

They also exhibited ‘A George II mahogany chest of drawers, c.1755’, and ‘A Balloon bracket clock, c.1790’ – and despite there being a small section at the exhibition devoted to pictures, Connell & Sons did not contribute to that section of the exhibition. So, it seems, on this evidence at least, that Connell & Sons continued to trade in antique furniture from at least c.1915, up to the 1930s, and whilst all the time classified at ‘art dealers’.

This is not to say of course that other ‘picture dealers’ did not also sell ‘antiques’, nor of course that ‘antique dealers’ did not sell pictures….but maybe it points towards a more complex network of overlapping practices that are not captured by the trading classifications of ‘art dealer’, ‘antique dealer’ and etc…and, as you know, part of the objective of the current research project is to explore these shades of grey (there’s an up to date allusion for you!) –  the umbra, penumbra and antumbra of the antique trade…

Mark

 

November 2, 2014

Some surprising sources for antiques

One of the more interesting side effects of the constant fluctuations in taste and fashion in relation to the antiques trade is the emergence (and subsequent disappearance) of antiques departments in some slightly unexpected places.

Those of you who have been collectors/connoisseurs/enthusiasts for some time will not need to be told that Asprey and Harrods were once very serious players on the London antiques scene. Both firms were members of the BADA (British Antiques Dealers Association) and exhibited at the celebrated Grosvenor House fair every year. They carried extensive stocks of furniture, textiles, silver, jewellery and porcelain etc. and traded at the very top of the market. Both firms had always been associated with luxury goods of course but neither were founded as antiques dealerships as such. Harrods does still have a small antiques section in its store but, as this image from 1951 shows, at one stage the department was very extensive indeed.

Harrods 1951

Asprey’s antiques department was the starting point for many celebrated dealers including silver specialist, and Antiques Roadshow expert, Alastair Dickenson who worked there between 1983 and 1996. Sadly the department is no longer operational though the firm does still retail antiquarian books. The image below is from an advert published in 1951.

Asprey 1951

More surprising still are the following two firms that also had antiques departments in the past. Firstly Debenham and Freebody (yes, that Debenham’s). I bow to the greater experience of others but until I saw this advert from the Connoisseur in 1916 I had no idea that they had ever sold antiques. The advert below suggests that the antiques department was limited to textiles but what textiles! Some incredible examples of needlework including one piece possibly worked by Mary, Queen of Scots. Debenham’s flagship store straddling Wigmore Street and Oxford Street is still in place of course but unfortunately the collection of needlework is not.

Debenhams 1916

Finally we come to one of the country’s most prestigious retailers but one that I certainly wouldn’t associate with antiques. Fortnum and Mason has long been a foodie’s destination but, apparently, in the post-war period (this advert is from 1951 once again) you could also expect to see a fine selection of antiques. What I find particularly interesting about this advert is that the firm is taking a noticeably different approach to those illustrated above by concentrating on “moderate prices” as the primary selling point. That having been said, the beautifully laid-out gallery setting certainly leaves the viewer in no doubt that, however “moderate” the prices may have been, there are objects of real quality on sale here.

Forthum and Mason 1951

Who knows, perhaps during the next antiques boom we’ll witness the birth of the IKEA or Tesco fine antiques department…

Chris Coles,

Project volunteer.

August 13, 2014

Oral History Interviews – Bill Beaton

We completed another of our oral history interviews on Monday 11th August – up at Kinross in Scotland, with William (Bill) Beaton.  Bill is in his 80s and retired from antique dealing about 25 years ago!  He started his antique dealing activities with his father, Walter Beaton, in about 1946 just after WWII, at his father’s shop at 37 Albert Square, Dundee.  Walter had opened his shop in c.1930, following 10 years working for an antique dealer in Dundee named Norries, and Bill continued the business in Dundee until his father retired in 1963, when Bill took over and subsequently moved the shop to Perth in 1970. Both Walter and Bill were members of BADA – Bill acted as Vice President at one stage.

Bill Beaton (right) with Henry Fotheringham, c.1965. Copyright Perthshire Advertiser.

Bill Beaton (right) with Henry Fothringham, c.1965. Copyright Perthshire Advertiser. Courtesy of Bill Beaton.

Here is Bill (on the right), in c.1965, with his friend and colleague Henry Fothringham (a member of the Angus family, who also traded as an antique dealer, under the trading name of Grantully Castle Antiques), at the ‘Scottish Antiques Fair’.  Incidentally Bill was one of the founders of the Scottish Antiques fair, which was held in Edinburgh between 1964 and the mid 1970s. Here’s Bill’s stand at the fair, in c.1965.

Courtesy of Bill Beaton.

Courtesy of Bill Beaton.

Bill and I talked for a few hours and he recalled his first country house auction sale, (Cusworth Hall, near Doncaster, in the 1950s – where his father had put him under the watchful guidance of the well-known dealer Walter Waddingham of Harrogate) and memories of fellow dealers, and objects that passed through his hands – including a rare painting by the 17th century artist Melchoir de Hondecoeter (bought from a furniture dealer in Harrogate in the 1960s) and a ‘Chippendale’ double partners desk from a well-known (Royal) Scottish country house!

Amongst the many interesting things that Bill’s father sold was an 18th century  French clock by Jacques Droiz Leschot, which was also noticed by the writer of the Antique Yearbook for 1950 – who writes;

‘We found in the main Albert Square [in Dundee], number 37, the shop of Mr. W.S. Beaton [Bill’s father], where the 18th century mahogany furniture, the fine silver, the glass and Chinese porcelain were polished and in splendid condition, where a collection of snuff boxes was up to Bond Street standard, and where a gold and enamelled singing-bird clock by Jacques Droiz Leschot was one of the most precious works of art we had seen for many a month. You must visit Dundee and Beaton.’ (Antiques Yearbook, 1950, p.557).

Bill still remembered the clock after all those years, and actually found a B&W photograph of it!

Photograph courtesy of Bill Beaton.

Photograph courtesy of Bill Beaton.

You will be able to listen to the interview with Bill in a few weeks, once we’ve edited it and uploaded it to the project website.

Mark

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