Posts tagged ‘Brotherton Special Collections’

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 30, 2017

UGRLS Scholarship Scheme

Following Liv Powell’s (our UGRLS, Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship, Scholar) blog post a couple of weeks ago we thought we would tell you a little more about the UGRLS Scheme. Liv will be working with us on the antique dealers research project and the antique dealer archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections over the next 2 years, and we are very pleased indeed to have such an enthusiastic student!

The Laidlaw Scholarship scheme has been developed with very generous support from Lord Laidlaw, the businessman and philanthropist, who was educated at the University of Leeds.  Lord Laidlaw first developed the UGRLS scheme at the University of St. Andrews, and has now rolled out a programme of UGRLS at many more universities, including of course at the University of Leeds. Our Project ‘Objects Trajectories: Archives, Objects, Museums, in the Phillips of Hitchin & Roger Warner Archives’ was one of only SIX projects that were successful in the competitive funding round this year at the University of Leeds – so we are very pleased to have this extra support toward the future development of the Antique Dealers research project.

Liv will be working for 6 weeks each summer over the next 2 years, undertaking research on the Phillips of Hitchin and the Roger Warner archives, as well as working with Tim Proctor, Head of Engagement at the Brotherton Library Special Collections, on cataloguing and conservation and cleaning projects for the Phillips of Hitchin archives. We have lots of exciting plans for Liv – we hope, for example, that she will become a regular blogger on the Antique Dealers research blog, and she will be working with us on a number of developments for the dissemination of the research undertaken so far, and on some exciting projects on antique dealer exhibitions. Liv is also very skilled with Social Media (much more so that I am!), and has some great ideas for our digital media profiles…so watch this space!

Welcome to the team Liv!

Mark

 

 

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

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

December 17, 2016

‘Where is it Now?’

As part of developing the rich potential of the wide variety of Antique Dealer archives that we now have at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds we have developed a ‘Where is it Now?’ project. The project aims to reconnect some of the objects in the archives with their current owners, if they still exist in public museums or private collections anywhere.  We are choosing objects that are relatively easy to identify, and objects that we believe are (still) of some historical significance.

The photographs of the objects will be initially from the Phillips of Hitchin archive photograph albums, which appear to date from c.1900.  Phillips of Hitchin were established in 1882 at the Manor House, Hitchin, and remained there for over 120 years. The business sold antique objects to museums and collectors from all over the world, so we are hoping that some of the objects will speak of their travels!

The first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects is this Lambeth (London) delftware plate, dated 1717, and with the initials ‘C W D’ painted on it. If you know where it is now do let us know by emailing antiquedealers@leeds.ac.uk

ms1999-4-1-52-plaque

Lambeth delftware plate, 1717. Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, MS1999/4/1/52. Photograph courtesy Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, 2016.

Happy Hunting!

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

 

March 8, 2016

In the Footsteps of Roger Warner

As some of the followers to the project blog will know, part of the growing legacy of the AHRC Antique Dealer project has been the donation of several highly significant antique dealer archives to the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds. The archive of the well-known antique dealer Roger Warner (1913-2008) is part of this growing corpus of antique dealer material coming to Leeds – all part of a broader research initiative focused on the histories of the art and antique markets, and under the auspices of our new Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market. We have exciting plans for research activities based in the new Centre in the coming months and years so do keep an eye on the Centre!

Anyway, Roger Warner – I was in Burford to oversee the collection of the first part of the Roger Warner archive – which in an extraordinarily generous act has been donated to the University of Leeds by Roger’s family, Sue Ashton, Deborah Warner and Simon Warner – we cannot thank Sue, Deborah, Simon, and Sue’s husband, Hugo, enough for their generosity and for their enthusiastic support to this ever expanding project on the history of the antique trade.

Roger Warner ran his antique shop for almost 50 years, from 1936 to 1985, and was, as many of you will know, an iconic antique dealer (perhaps one of the most emblematic antiques dealers of the 20th century) – indeed, his autobiography ‘Roger Warner, Memoirs of a Twentieth Century Antique Dealer‘ was published by the Regional Furniture Society in 2003.

The archive will be an absolutely amazing resource and, once we have it all conserved and catalogued, will be available for future researchers, scholars and those interested in this highly significant part of social and cultural life.  The Warner archive is a fascinating and exceptionally detailed history of an antique dealer;  Warner was certainly an antiquary by inclination, recording minute details of the everyday business of a dealer – he even kept a record of the footfall in his shop each year!….His ‘Annual Review and Policy Reports’ produced every year, continuously from 1951-1985, (together with two earlier annual reviews for 1947 and 1949), are fascinating personal reflections on the previous year’s trading, with commentaries on the changing markets conditions, details of auctions visited, observations on other dealers, information on significant objects bought & sold, and summaries of business accounts – they will be a key resource for anyone studying the history of the antique trade in the 20th century.

To give you a flavour of the richness of the archive, and to draw attention to its potential significance, I’ve traced just one object in the archive from its acquisition by Warner to its eventual new home at Temple Newsam House, in Leeds. The object in question is the now famous Four-poster painted bed, made to commemorate the marriage of Francis and Anne Hall, 1724.

painted bed TN

Four-poster painted bed, 1724. Temple Newsam House, Leeds. Image by kind permission of Leeds Museums & Galleries. Copyright Leeds Museums & Galleries.

The bed was acquired by Temple Newsam House (Leeds Museums & Galleries) in 1979, following a grant from the Art Fund of £2,500, for £13,000 from the London antique dealers Jellinek & Sampson, then trading in Knightsbridge.  The Warner archive records that had he sold the bed to Jellinek & Sampson on 4th November 1978 for £2,500.

The Warner archive also records the acquisition of the bed in the stock book for 1977-78 on 4th January 1977, from ‘George Carr, Lilac Hse, Kirkbride’ (Cumbria), for the sum of £850 (see image). Warner also notes, in his annual review for 1978, ‘purchase and removal early in the new year Of painted oak Tester Bed from Kirkbride, Cumbria, the bed never having been moved since its erection in room in 1724.’ (see image).

RW stock book 1978

Roger Warner Archive. Stockbook 1977-78. The Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, currently uncatalogued. Photograph AHRC Antique Dealers project. Copyright University of Leeds 2016.

RW review

Roger Warner Archive. ‘Annual Review 1978’. The Brotherton Library Special Collections University of Leeds, currently uncatalogued item. Photograph AHRC Antique Dealers Project. Copyright University of Leeds 2016.

These fascinating insights into the provenance of just one of the 70,500 objects that Roger Warner sold illustrate the rich potential of antique dealer archives, not just for provenance research, but also for the insights that they can reveal into the social and cultural practices of the, still as yet, unexplored history of the antique trade.

But whilst I was in Burford collecting the Warner archive I also had an opportunity to ‘walk in the footsteps’ of this extraordinary dealer – thanks to Sue Ashton, Roger’s daughter, and to Nicky, who with her partner Tim now owns Roger Warner’s shop, I was taken on a journey through the spaces of Roger’s old shop.

rw shop burford

Roger Warner antique shop, High Street, Burford. Warner traded here from 1936 until his retirement in 1985.

It was fascinating and illuminating to hear Sue reminisce about the activities that took place in the various rooms – the shop had been, after all, Sue’s home for much of her life. The interior spaces had changed over the years of course, but not substantially, and Sue recalled many happy memories of her father in the shop and home. I got a sense of how Warner had used the spaces of the shop through Sue’s recollections….and also got a sense of how he had furnished the private spaces of the house/shop through some of the photographs in the Warner archive – here is Roger’s bedroom, as it was in the 1980s.

rw bedroom

Roger Warner’s bedroom, High Street, Burford, undated photograph, but early c.1980s. Roger Warner archive, The Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, currently uncatalogued item. Photograph AHRC Antique Dealer project. Copyright University of Leeds 2016.

The tour of the shop was an extraordinary personal experience, and will be invaluable in navigating the richness of the Warner archive now at the University. Thank you Sue, and Nicky, for taking the time to walk in the footsteps of Roger Warner.

Oh and for those that never met Roger – and I regret I never did – we have, thanks to the Web, some recordings of Roger Warner from the TV show ‘Going for a Song’ – this was an early precursor to the hugely popular (and still going) Antiques Roadshow. Anyway, here is Roger Warner in a 1971 episode of ‘Going for a Song’ (with that other former doyen of the world of antiques, Arthur Negus).

Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yblWjTU7Vek

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn5GAmLoWdo

Mark

 

 

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