Posts tagged ‘Bournemouth’

December 31, 2014

Even more on Thomas Rohan!

The blog posts on the antique dealer and author Thomas Rohan (see previous posts) are becoming quite a theme – thanks again to John Cresswell who very kindly posted photocopies of some newspaper clippings reporting the death of Rohan in 1940, as well as some photos of the house that Rohan lived in during his time in Bournemouth in the 1930s.

This Christmas, one of my presents (thank you Clara!) was a small (tiny actually!) booklet entitled ‘The Origin of Quinneys’ (by E. Montefiore) – it is undated, but perhaps c.1940 when Rohan died? The little booklet, which came all the way from a book dealer in the USA, rehearses the story of Rohan being the basis for the character of ‘Joe Quinney’ in Horace Vachell’s novels (see earlier blog entries for details on this).

 

quinneys booklet 1quinneys booklet 2

The booklet, as you can see, really is a tiny thing – here photographed next to a UK pound coin.

One thing that is interesting to note about Rohan is that for his first shop, located in High Street, Southampton, from c.1903, Rohan traded as ‘Thomas Rudd’. He tells us, in his autobiographical book Confessions of a Dealer (1927) how he came to trade as ‘Rudd’, and how he eventually renamed the business (actually called A. Rohan – after his wife Alice Rohan) by 1919. As Rohan writes;

‘How I took the trading name of Rudd was in this fashion. For family reasons I was asked not to use my own name as a dealer. I rather resented this, but for peace and quietness agreed. Just before opening my little shop, I went to a sale, and bought a grandfather clock. The auctioneer asked, “What name?” I called out my own name of Rohan. He said, “Rudd?” I said, “Yes, put it down R U double D” and from that time for fifteen years I was known as Rudd.’ Confessions of a Dealer, p.71.

Newspaper reports on the death of Rohan in 1940 suggest that he was ‘the scion of the noble family of France, the Prince and Ducs de Rohan’ (Bournemouth Echo, 27.1.1940) – so it may have been that associations with the ‘trade’ were not seen to be appropriate when Rohan first set up as a dealer in 1903. Whatever the reason, Thomas Rohan is a fascinating example of an early 20th century antique dealer!

Mark

Advertisements
July 27, 2014

Thomas Rohan, Dealer and Author – and ‘Quinney’

Some of you may be aware of the novels about an antique dealer called ‘Quinney’, in the writings of Horace Annesley Vachell – Vachell published a number of novels about the adventures of Quinney, starting in 1915, with the original novel, called ‘Quinney’s’.  The novels are interesting period pieces and tell us a lot about the characterisations of the antique dealer in the first half of the 20th century – and part of the research for the current project will be focusing on an investigation of these literary constructions, and their meanings and influence on the characterisation of the antique dealer in the wider public domain.  One interesting result of the popularity of Vachell’s novels is the number of real dealerships called ‘Quinneys’ that emerged, right across the country – we’ve traced at least 11 so far; as far as I know there is only one dealership named ‘Quinnney’s’ left trading…in Warwick.

100_3712

The novels themselves are fascinating, and contain lightly veiled characterisations of real dealers – a ‘Mr Pheasant’ is quite obviously an allusion to the well-known London dealer ‘Partridge’ for example – and there are several other fictional dealers that seem to relate to factual ones – ‘Primmer of Bath’ could only be Mallett I suppose, and ‘Gustavus Lark’, who ‘wore a cut-away coat, with an orchid in the lapel of it’….and was ‘smoking an imposing cigar’, in one scene from the original novel ‘Quinneys’…is this the infamous Duveen?….

One fact that is less well known is that Vachell based his character Quinney on the real dealer Thomas Rohan, who was trading in Bournemouth in the first quarter of the 20th century. Rohan was himself a very successful author, publishing many books on collecting and on the antique trade itself – most famously in ‘Confessions of a Dealer’ (1927)

Here’s a photograph of Thomas Rohan, and an image of his first shop: 100_3710100_3709Rohan, as I mentioned, was also a prolific author, publishing many books, mainly on collecting, such as ‘Old Beautiful’ (1926)…as well as writing novels – his novel ‘Billy Ditt, the Romance of a Chippendale Chair’ (1932) traces the fortunes of a chair, made by Thomas Chippendale in the 18th century, as it passed through various hands – I can’t say it’s a literary masterpiece, but it is an intriguing book, and of course, is crucial to our cultural understanding of the history of the antique trade itself.

One exciting development (for me anyway!) is that I recently managed to acquire this short manuscript from a book dealer: 100_3708

The MS is only a short document, entitled ‘People that I have met’; it is undated and unsigned, but seems to date from c.1920, and I am certain that this is part of the original writings of Thomas Rohan.  It contains musings on his life as a dealer, and on the collectors that he sold antique objects.  Quite apart from this being a lucky and serendipitous find, it’s also now a brilliant resource for the antique dealer project and will play a key role in the research into the literary characterisations of the dealer…watch this space!

Mark

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