Posts tagged ‘dealer catalogues’

February 6, 2017

Thornton-Smith Antiques – ‘The Georgian House’.

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‘The Georgian House’ – W.& E. Thornton-Smith. c.1910.

Following the very kind donation of antique dealer ephemera by Tim Turner at Sworders Auctioneers we thought we should compose a fuller account of our investigations of the catalogue of the antique dealers W.& E. Thornton-Smith.

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Phillips of Hitchin, ‘The Georgian House’, catalogue, c.1920.

The catalogue is a type that was produced by many antique dealers during the early 20th century.  A key comparison is the catalogue produced by Amyas Phillips, of the firm of Phillips of Hitchin, who also produced a catalogue of stock titled ‘The Georgian House’ (this one c.1920).  The Thornton-Smith’s catalogue appears to date from c.1910, given the suggested information on the back of the catalogue (i.e. that Thornton-Smith had ‘New Premises’ at 11 Soho Square, London); they appeared to have moved to 11 Soho Square in c.1910.

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Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

It must have been quite an extensive business; they state that they had ‘one of the largest stocks of English Antique Furniture in the country’ (but then, many dealers also suggested that at the time, and since). If we are to believe the information in the catalogue, they had 40 four-post beds in stock, all on show ‘in an historic Georgian House, decorated in the manner of that period.’

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Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

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Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

The catalogue also contains an extensive number of black & white photographs illustrating the range of stock held by Thornton-Smith in the period.

Walter George Thornton-Smith (d.1963) established his antique dealing business in c.1906, with Earnest Thornton-Smith. Like many antique furniture businesses at the time, Thornton-Smith also provided a full interior decoration service for their clients.  Indeed, such was the reputation of Thronton-Smith as decorators that they started the careers of two of the most well-known interior designers of the 20th century – Syrie Maugham (1879-1955), wife of the writer W. Somerset Maugham, and interior decorator par excellence during the 1920s and 1930s (famous for her interior schemes made entirely with shades of white) began her training with Walter Thornton-Smith in the early 1920s, before setting up ‘Syrie Limited’ at 85 Baker Street, London in 1922.  It seems that Thornton-Smith was introduced to Syrie when he was commissioned to decorate her home at York Terrace; she was at the time recovering from her recently failed marriage to the Industrialist Henry Wellcome (1853-1936).

The other key interior decorator associated with Thornton-Smith was John Fowler (1906-1977), of Colefax & Fowler, who briefly trained at Thornton-Smith in the late 1920s.

Thornton-Smith was a highly successful businessman and, like many dealers and collectors of antiques at the time, he also took a keen interest in ‘ancient buildings’. He developed a number of historic architectural projects, often recreating ‘historic homes’ by recycling architectural elements from demolished buildings.  One of the earliest of his projects was the dismantling and re-siting of a 16th century half-timbered building ‘Kingston Hill’, near Woodbridge in Suffolk (it’s not known where he re-sited the building?).  His major project however was Shoppenhangers Manor, Maidenhead, Berkshire.

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Shoppenhangers Manor, Maidenhead, as seen in c.1950. Photograph from Apollo Magazine, August 1956.

Thornton-Smith bought the site of the original manor house at Shoppenhangers (the site had already been cleared of the remains of the original manor) in 1914 and set about recreating a 16th century manor house on the foundations of the original house.  The project seems to have taken 4 years to complete, and was assembled, recreated, using an astonishing range of architectural elements, from a wide geographical area, and made available through a variety of opportunities and events.  Painted glass from Selby Abbey, for example, made available following the major fire at Selby Abbey in 1906, was installed in the ‘Long Room’ at Shoppenhangers; there were ceilings from an ‘ancient inn at Banbury’, and panelling from an ‘old house’ at Faversham, as well as that ‘removed from a Venetian Palace’. Other materials apparently came from West Wycombe Park and from ‘an ancient house in Spain’.  One of the most important rooms in Shoppenhangers Manor, the ‘drawing room’ was lined with panelling from Billingbear Park, Wokingham.

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Shoppenhangers Manor, the drawing room. Photograph from Apollo Magazine, August 1956.

It’s not actually clear how Thornton-Smith acquired the panelling from Billingbear Park – given that the house was still occupied until a devastating fire in 1924 (some 6 years after Thornton-Smith supposedly completed his house), but it may be that Billingbear Park was refurbished/remodelled sometime in the 1910s, or that Thornton-Smith acquired the panelling in 1924 and continued to construct his ‘new-old’ house? If you are interested in reading more about Thornton-Smith’s project at Shoppenhangers, it was the subject of a short essay by Horace Shipp, in Apollo Magazine in August 1956, pp.41-45 – ‘A Home and it’s Treasures, Shoppenhangers Manor and the Collection of Walter Thornton Smith’.  After Thornton-Smith died, Shoppenhangers Manor was sold to the Esso Petroleum Company in 1965, when there was also an auction sale of the contents; it was converted into an hotel in the late 1960s, and was eventually demolished in 2007.

Which brings us back to the Phillips of Hitchin ‘The Georgian House’ catalogue.  The antique dealers Frederick W. Phillips and Amyas Phillips have been the subject of earlier blog posts in the antique dealers blog (see Phillips of Hitchin posts), but one of the interesting aspects about the Phillips family business is also their architectural projects, which are in direct correlation with those of Walter Thornton-Smith (they must have known each other I’m sure!).  Phillips’ major project (one of many, that also included the dismantling and sale of the London home of Sir Isaac Newton in the 1910s) was the reconstruction of Baliffscourt in Sussex.

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Baliffscourt, West Sussex. Wikicommons.

Amyas Phillips was engaged by Lord Moyne in 1927 to recreate a late Medieval manor house, and, like Thornton-Smith, he began assembling the ‘ancient manor house’ by scouring the country for historic architectural elements, creating a house that is a poem of romantic architectural fragments.

Whatever the real stories behind the provenance of the architectural elements that eventually made their way to these ‘new-old’ homes, these architectural projects illustrate the significance of the key roles that the antique trade played in these romantic recreations of the past, providing the perfect back-drop for the assemblage of antique furniture and objects that the dealers also supplied.

Mark

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April 6, 2015

Vernay Archives at Winterthur

The antique dealer related archives at The Winterthur are an amazing resource, and the archive team there, led by Jeanne Solenksy, are simply great; they are certainly the most accommodating of archive teams (thank you to all!). And thanks again also to Chris Jussel (see previous blog posts) for donating the archive of Vernay & Jussel, and that of J.J. Wolff, to Winterhur archives – it was such a generous, and insightful, thing to do….without such ‘blue sky’ thinking we would not have such rich resources to investigate the history of the antique trade. As you probably know, antique dealer archives in public archive collections are very rare indeed.

Anyway, as readers of the blog may also know (see previous blog posts), the dealer Arthur Stannard Vernay (c.1877-1960) was one of the most important dealers operating in the USA in the period prior to WWI and up to the 1960s. He was born in Weymouth, in the UK, and Chris Jussel tells us, (in the oral history interview we did last week) that Arthur Vernay was originally called Arthur Avant, but changed his name to ‘Vernay’ in about 1903 or 1904 when he came to the USA. Vernay eventually had shops in New York, and in Boston, Massachusetts, but he also had a shop in London, at 217 Piccadilly, probably in the late 1910s-20s, (217 Piccadilly may also be the same location as Vernay’s address at Trafalgar House, 1 Waterloo Place?); Vernay also took a house at 51 Berkeley Square in the late 1920s, which also possibly operated as a showroom too.  So whilst he is primarily an antique dealer with associations in the USA, he qualifies as a suitable subject for the present ‘Antique Dealers in Britain in the 20th century’ project by virtue of his shop in London.

FYI – Vernay is also famous for his interest in collecting animal specimens, many of which he donated to the American Museum of Natural History, in New York – indeed the ‘Vernay-Faunthorpe Hall of South Asiatic Mammals‘ named in 1930 after Vernay and his friend and fellow explorer Colonel John Faunthorpe, remains at the AMNH.

The sales ledgers at Wintherthur contain all the sales made by Arthur Vernay from 1914 until the 1960s; from 1940 the business was continued by Chris Jussel’s father, Stephen Jussel, (Chris took over the business in 1972). The business records prior to 1914 were destroyed by fire, but the remaining early business records are a fascinating research resource, and contain detailed stock books and sales ledgers as well as other ephemera.  This example (below) is the 1914 sales ledger, and the copy invoice (image below) is to ‘Mrs J. P. Morgan’ wife of the famous collector; it is dated December 1914 and describes ‘One Chippendale pole screen with petit point frame, circa 1760’…sold for the princely sum of $450.

Vernay 1914 2

Vernay sales ledger, 1914. Coll 739 04×126.37. Courtesy, The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.

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Vernay copy invoice, December 1914. Coll. 739 04×126.37. Courtesy, The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.

Vernay opened his first shop at East 45th Street, in New York in 1906 (the archives at Winterthur have a printed announcement dated March 1906) – his first premises are shown below.

vernay shop e 45th st ny 1910?

Arthur Vernay, first shop (1906) at East 45th Street, New York. Image c.1910. Coll. 739 07×56 Series IV. Courtesy, The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.

The archives also have some photographs of one of the rooms in the interior of Vernay’s first shop, probably taken in c.1910 – which show what must have been a typical assembly of ‘antique’ objects of interest to collectors and furnishers in the period.

vernay 1st int 1910

Vernay shop interior, East 59th Street, New York, c.1910. Coll. 739 07×56 Series IV. Courtesy, The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.

The archives also have a photograph of Vernay’s first delivery van, with it’s own livery! – (Chris Jussel tells me that the van was a Packard type, and was a bespoke model, and quite expensive) – as befitting the culturally significant goods that Vernay sold!

vernay van

Vernay delivery van c.1930s. Coll. 739 04×56 Series IV. Courtesy, The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.

Like many other antique dealers we are studying, (and as previous entries on the Antique Dealer blog have highlighted) Vernay regularly produced catalogues of his stock of antiques, and staged temporary exhibitions to generate interest in particular kinds of objects, or periods/styles and etc. The archive also contains examples of this ephemera, and they clearly demonstrate how sophisticated an operation the Vernay business was. Here’s a selection from the late 1920s –

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Vernay catalogues, 1920s. Coll. 739 04×126.77. Courtesy, The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.

And a selection from the 1940s –

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Vernay catalogues from the 1940s. Coll. 739 04×126.123. Courtesy, The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.

There’s so much more to say about the Vernay, Vernay & Jussel, and the Wolff archives at Winterthur, they are an astonishing survival, and an amazing resource. We certainly hope to do further research on Vernay, and develop this as a potential ‘case study’ for the forthcoming edited book on the ‘British Antique Trade in the 20th Century’ which will be one of the outputs for this AHRC funded research project.

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 14, 2015

Mallett & Son Antiques – dealer ephemera from the 1890s and 1990s.

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A collection of Mallett Antiques sales catalogues, 1990s.

Materials related to the antique trade continue to be donated to the project – thank you again dealers! John Smith, a very good friend to the project, posted us a stack of old dealership catalogues – from the leading London antique dealers Mallett & Sons, and dating from the 1990s. The catalogues are, of course, relatively common, and can be picked up at second-hand book shops (and indeed charity shops) anywhere in the country – BUT, what makes the catalogues that John has kindly posted to us unique is that these are marked and annotated staff copies, with prices marked (and whether the objects were sold) of the objects illustrated. These are a fantastic resource on pricing structures (in the 1990s) for a leading dealership – there are also cost prices and suggested sale prices in some of the catalogues (I’m not revealing those here of course….the analysis of that is part of the research into the history of the discrete (and discreet!) practices of the antique trade itself).

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Mallett catalogue, 1990s.

The pages in the catalogues are fascinating though – here’s a page from one of the catalogues (dated 1997), and labelled in pen, in the top right-hand corner on the cover as ‘Nicholle’s’) – which illustrates as ‘Queen Anne walnut wing chair, c.1710’, and priced at £80,000 – marked in red ‘SOLD’; and a ‘needlework panel, c.1710, framed in a modern low table’, priced at £19,500.

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Mallett catalogue, 1990s.

And, another (above) – left page – ‘French, early 19th century cache pots, 1800/1820’, priced at £15,000 (top) and £24,000 (bottom) – the bottom pair are marked ‘SOLD’; and (right page) a ‘pair of 18th century Chinese parrots’ at £7,500. Changing fashions in antiques, even in so short a time ago as the 1990s, may have made some of these prices look quite ambitious, and some look like bargains…..

Mallett of course are still trading (see Mallett Antiques) – they were established in 1865, in the West Country (in Bath, Avon….Mallett’s are now, as many readers will know, owned by Stanley Gibbons Group, and celebrate 150 years this year!…I hope there’s a party?) – anyway, I thought it would be interesting to show some early ephemera associated with Mallett.

Here’s an invoice (below) from ‘Mallett & Son’, dated 1900, to ‘H.F. Swann Esq.’ The invoice describes, amongst other things, a ‘Chest of Chippendale drawers’, sold for ‘£2’, together with ‘a Chippendale table’, (£5). Mallett were at this date trading from 36, 37 & 43 Milsom Street, Bath, and described themselves as ‘Dealers in New and Antique English and Oriental Jewellery, Plate & Objets d’Art’.

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Invoice from Mallett & Son, dated 1900. Copyright Private collection.

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Invoices from Mallett & Son, c.1899-1920. Copyright Private collection.

The invoice is one a small cache of invoices (see above) from Mallett dating from c.1899 to c.1920 that are currently part of a private collection – but will be donated to the antique dealer project in due course. This small collection also gives a fascinating insight into the early history of one of the world’s most important ‘Antique Dealers’.

Mark

January 27, 2015

Art Dealers & Antique Dealers – James Connell & Sons, Glasgow

As followers of the Antique Dealers Project blog will already know, one of the problems we’ve encountered as the project has developed is where to draw the line around ‘antique dealers’ as a practice (or profession).  Earlier posts have pointed towards the overlaps between the antique trade and the second-hand trade – the shift between ‘antique’ and ‘second-hand’ is always a moveable feast!

One of the decisions we took early on in the development of the research questions for the project was that we were not going to focus on the ‘Fine Art’ trade – the history of the Picture Dealer is already a well mapped out research area, and we thought we would leave to other scholars – (many of which, I count as good friends and colleagues actually!)

Anyway, as we already knew, things are complicated! This was brought into sharper focus when I recently acquired a little catalogue of an exhibition held at James Connell & Sons, in Glasgow.

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James Connell & Sons, Exhibition Catalogue. c.1910

Connell is well known amongst art historians as a ‘Fine Art’ dealer – one who emerged from the picture frame making trades in the middle decades of the 19th century – for more specific detail on Connell do take a look at the excellent research projects on the Art Trade (Dr Pamela Fletcher’s fab site at Bowdoin College) The London Gallery Project

Or the large research project ‘Mapping the Profession and Practice of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951

Connell in these projects is located in the boundaries of the picture trade – and I expect that is where they properly reside – however, as you’ll see by the title of the little exhibiton catalogue (above) Connell also, occasionally I imagine, sold ‘Antique Furniture’ (or ‘Old Furniture’ as their catalogue suggests) – which (for us, at least) further complicates the boundaries of the antique trade – not that they are ever defined so clearly anyway, we know that!

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to show the Connell catalogue – it’s a small ‘souvenir’ (as they state) of an undated exhibition, but certainly seems to date from c.1910.

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Connell catalogue, c.1910

The introductory page states that Connell ‘have been fortunate in acquiring recently superb examples of Chippendale, Adam, Sheraton, and Hepplewhite furniture from well-known collections. Those beautiful specimens form a most interesting exhibition. which is presently being held at their galleries, 31 Renfield Street, Glasgow.’

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‘Satinwood Commode’ from Connell catalogue, c.1910

There are perhaps a dozen individually photographed pieces of furniture, ranging from 16th/17th century oak, to late 18th century satinwood furniture – not sure that some of the pieces would pass the ‘authenticity test’ today, but that’s beside the point.  The real interest here, as far as the current research project in the ‘antique trade’ in concerned, is that catalogues such as Connell’s demonstrate the blurred boundaries of the history of the ‘art’ market.

Mark

 

July 4, 2014

Antique Dealer archives – Stair and Andrew c.1910-1915

We have also recently discovered 2 volumes clippings and photographs of antique furniture, ceramics, glass and silver etc that came from the antique dealers Stair & Andrew.  The volumes appear to have been visual resources for the directors of Stair & Andrew, and bear several stamps ‘Stair and Andrew Ltd., Director’. The volumes are undated, but appear to date from the period around 1910-1915.

100_2914 This volume, titled, ‘Furniture, 21 Manchester Square, Vol.1.’ contains a whole range of clippings from publications such as Country Life, and Connoisseur. They appear to have been used by the Directors of Stair & Andrew to identify and date objects. The earliest date recorded in the clippings in the volumes is 1904.

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We’re also doing further research on this album….!

Mark

July 4, 2014

Antique Dealer photograph album 1940s, 1950s

As part of the research project we’re looking at a whole range of dealer material in national and regional archives, and we have been working through material in various locations.  We are always on the look out for interesting antique dealer related archive materials that also occasionally come onto the market –  and recently, at Mellors & Kirk’s auction sale in Nottingham, I managed to acquire this fascinating photograph album. Greenwood archive cover

The album appears to date from the 1940s and into the 1950s (one of the photograph captions in the first few pages is dated 1949) and is full of B&W photographs of ceramics, all, apparently antique dealer stock.  Greenwood archive photo 1They provide a fascinating insight into dealer practices in the 1940s and 1950s – with, as is usual practice, prices (probably prices paid?) in code penciled in next to the descriptions.  This page (above), shows a ‘Staffordshire double tea caddy, screw caps, decorated in underglaze high temperature pigments, Blue , Orange, Yellow, Green,and Maganese.’

Dated ‘c.1775’, with a pencil code Y/-/-. Obviously pounds, shillings and pence. The right-hand photograph has a range of English ceramics.

Many of the photographs have the stamp of ‘Will Acton A.R.P.S. Photographer, 3 Kings Sq. York’. One photograph has a pencil inscription ‘W.E.(sic) Greenwood’  and another is stamped verso with the dealer stamp of W.F. Greenwood and Sons, Stonegate, York. The photographs certainly appear to be one of the stock books of W.F. Greenwood & Sons, the very well known antique dealers trading from York and Harrogate in Yorkshire throughout the 20th century. Greenwood was established in the mid 19th century, initially as cabinetmakers and gradually moved to trading in antique furniture and other objects. The firm ceased trading in antiques about 10 years ago, but their Stonegate shop still exists in York – with a framed photograph of a visit by Queen Mary fixed to the exteriors of the shop!

I’m aware of some other archive material from Greenwood and Sons, located in Yorkshire and will soon be checking this present album with the photo archive already located.

Greenwood archive photo 2 Some of the photographs, such as this one (above) also record the prices the object was sold for – the photograph on the left here, ‘Rare Bow Group of the Sailors Farewell…c.1760’, with pencil code ‘QL/C/-, was recorded as ‘sold for £185’ – the caption is dated 1956.  Greenwood archive photo 4

 

 

 

 

 

We will be doing some more detailed investigation of this album over the coming months, and will post a summary of the results on the project blog…so watch this space!

Mark

June 21, 2014

Dealer Catalogues – S. Richards, Antique Dealer, Nottingham c.1900

As some of the older blog posts have highlighted, antique dealers have been producing catalogues of stock since the late 19th century  (see blog posts).  We have been gathering various examples as part of the research project;  amongst the most interesting are those produced by the dealer S. Richards in the late 19th and early 20th century. S. Richards traded in Nottingham in the period c.1880-1920 and his catalogues, published monthly, offer a fascinating insight into the taste, classifications, descriptions, and prices for antiques in the period. Richards seems to have produced these hand-drawn catalogues from the 1880s up until the end of the First World War, posting them out to collectors. He sold a very wide range of antiques and ‘curios’ and the pages illustrate what remain as standard ‘antique’ collectable objects.

Here are a few examples of Richards’ catalogues – in this one, (below) dated August 1913, Richards has hand-drawn objects from his stock and provided descriptions and prices for his customers.  (top left in the catalogue) is a drawing ‘No.1’ of what Richards describes as ‘a pair of figures of a king and queen in flowing robes, finely carved in wood…..Early 17th century.’ they were priced at £12.10.0. Below those are ‘a pair of candlesticks, well modelled in Bronze….Good patina. Italian workmanship of the early 17th century’, and priced at £7.0.0. ‘No.5’ is an interesting carved wooden box, which Richards states is made by ‘Bayarre (?) of Nancy’, and priced at £10.0.0. He also illustrates some Battersea enamel candlesticks (£8.0.0.), a Battersea enamel box, ‘slightly repaired’ (£7.10.0.) and a carved and silver-mounted coconut shell £3.10.0.

S. Richards catalogue 1913

S. Richards catalogue 1913

Below is the title page from an earlier issue of August 1893, showing his shop in Friar Lane, Nottingham.

S. Richards catalogue, 1893; private collection.

S. Richards catalogue, 1893. Private Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The catalogues appear to of a regular and similar format – small objects on the opening pages, followed by larger objects and furniture towards the end. There are some very interesting examples of the antique furniture – here is a page, again from a catalogue issued in 1913. The ‘Chest of Drawers’, (No.24), described as ‘walnut wood’ with ‘the top inlaid with pieces of ivory’ was priced at £18.10.0. – although I’m not sure it would  pass the current standards for authenticity!

S. Richards catalogue April/May 1913; private collection.

S. Richards catalogue April/May 1913. Private collection.

What is equally interesting (I think!) is that the other shop that Richards occupied in c.1900, located at 77 Houndgate, Nottingham, looks almost exactly the same as it did when he sketched it for his catalogues. Here’s Richards’ hand-drawn image from 1891. –

S. Richards catalogue 1891; private collection.

S. Richards catalogue 1891. Private collection.

And here’s my photograph of the shop in Houndgate (now the Castle Public House) in June 2014.

Houndgate, Nottingham, 2014

Houndgate, Nottingham 2014. Photograph MW.

Mark

November 9, 2013

Antique Dealer Histories

We are finding some fabulous published resources for the Antique Dealer project – much of which is very kindly being sent into the project by the trade itself!…here’s some fantastic early 20th century dealer catalogues from Phillips of Hitchin

thank you Jerome Phillips!Image

The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

An International Conference hosted by The Bowes Museum and The University of Leeds

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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