Posts tagged ‘Dealer shop interiors’

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!

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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 –

vernay 1944

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 26, 2014

Tourism and the Interwar Antique Shop

* Guest Post by Heidi Egginton, University of Cambridge *

As Mark very kindly said in his previous post, I am currently doing a PhD on amateur antique and curiosity collecting in Britain from the 1870s to the 1930s. In the course of my research I’ve become a bit obsessed with looking for old postcards and other bits and pieces relating to antique shops and collections, and when I came across some intriguing postcards apparently designed by two antique dealers themselves – Mr. F. G. Halliday of Fore Street, Taunton, and G. A. Parkhurst of Crawley – I decided to find out more…

During the early twentieth century, the new antique shops springing up in towns and villages all over England seemed to be instantly recognisable to amateur collectors and lovers of the antique – they tended to inhabit old, crooked buildings and played on their historical associations. This could mean simply affixing ‘Ye Olde’ to the name of the shop, though in some instances, the building itself was even promoted as a tourist attraction in collectors’ magazines, and through the use of promotional postcards. Many shops included cafés, and were evidently intended to cater for day-trippers and motorists.

F. G. Halliday, 'Ye Olde Tudor House'

One of a series of phototype postcards printed by Raphael Tuck & Sons to advertise F. G. Halliday’s ‘Ye Olde Tudor House’, Taunton (c. 1920s)

These two dealers, like many of their contemporaries, made much of their shops’ romantic (and probably spurious) connections with illustrious visitors. [1] Halliday portrayed his ‘Tudor House’ – now acknowledged as one of the oldest surviving domestic dwellings in Taunton – as being ‘rich in historical interest from its association with the notorious Judge Jeffreys and other celebrities’. [2] Parkhurst maintained that, in his shop’s previous life as an inn on the road to Brighton, ‘many noted personages’ had undoubtedly stayed there on their progress to and from London, ‘including Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Anne’.

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Map showing location of antique shops and Taunton Castle, in ‘The Quest of the Antique at Taunton’, The Bazaar: Our Saturday Issue for Collectors and Connoisseurs (8th October 1927)

One of the main attractions of these shops, however – perhaps even more so than the antiques and curios offered for sale – were their original architectural and interior features. In the summer of 1914, the newly-opened ‘Hatfield Gallery of Antiques, Ltd.’ placed an advertisement in the Connoisseur proclaiming that the firm had been established in Goodrich House, a ‘fine specimen of English domestic architecture’ with ‘25 spacious rooms, many fitted with rare Adam mantelpieces’. ‘The furniture and other antiques for sale, instead of being huddled together, as is generally the case in a shop, are judiciously placed about the various rooms as in a private house, and purchasers thereby are best able to judge how they would look in their own homes’. All of this was described as ‘in itself well worth a visit’, as there was much to ‘interest the antiquarian or artist’. This firm even employed its own ‘Curator’, a Mr. Horace Hall, who had previously worked in ‘the Antique Department of Harrods’ Stores’ [3]

Ye Olde Tudor House, Taunton postcard

The impressive ‘Banqueting Hall’, with a first-floor balcony, inside the Tudor House (c. 1920s)

In the following decade, Halliday and Parkhurst were suggesting that their shops could be visited as part of a day out in the countryside or market town, almost in the same way as historic houses. On his postcard, Halliday called his shop a ‘fine’ specimen of ‘Tudor architecture’ and ‘a striking example of the old world town of Taunton’; still of ‘undoubted antiquity’. Inside the shop, as well as some ‘well-preserved old timbering and some excellent panelling’, several rooms contained ‘examples of Adam work’ from the end of the eighteenth century. The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart’s special Saturday issue for antique collectors described the Tudor House in October 1927 as being full of ‘splendid “period” rooms where each piece has its place, and the galleries have the air and appearance of a particularly “intimate” museum’. [4]

Ye Ancient Prior's House, Crawley

Souvenir postcard showing exterior of G.A. Parkhurst’s ‘Ye Ancient Prior’s House’ (postmarked 4th January 1917)

On the first floor of the ‘Ancient Prior’s House’, which dated from ‘1150’, Parkhurst said that he had found ‘two secret chambers’ – no doubt once used by ‘highwaymen, who were the terror of the road in the old days’. Although he insisted, rather sheepishly, that he had most definitely not attempted to ‘verify’ the rumour that his cellars contained the entrance to ‘a secret underground passage leading into the Church’, he had also found ‘several old smuggling chambers’ underneath his front room.

G. A. Parkhurst postcard

Promotional postcard showing the ‘Entrance Hall’ to Parkhurst’s shop (c. 1910s)

G. A. Parkhurst died in 1920 and the shop briefly passed to a ‘J. Wyndham Parkhurst’, probably a relation. Some antiques were later transferred to ‘The Carlton Galleries’ in Tunbridge Wells, which dealt in ‘Authentic Antique Furniture’ as well as offering decoration services for period and modern room schemes. [5] By the end of the 1920s, the shop itself had been converted back into an inn, ‘furnished with the old beautiful’, by Trust Houses Ltd., a company who ran a number of “old English” hotels and historic public houses.

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‘The Motorist Antique Collectors’ Guide’, showing the locations and opening times of antique shops and other attractions between Brighton and London in The Bazaar: The Popular Weekly for Connoisseurs and Collectors (27th April 1929)

Halliday moved out of the Tudor House and into another shop in 1946, at which point it became a restaurant; its new owners assured a local newspaper that they would retain the interior’s original features. [6]

 

Heidi

 

[1] Deborah Cohen, Household Gods: The British and their Possessions (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006), pp. 152-53.

[2] R. J. E. Bush, ‘The Tudor Tavern, Fore Street, Taunton’, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History, 119 (1975), pp. 15-21.

[3] Advertisement: ‘Now Open: Visit Historical Hatfield and The Hatfield Gallery of Antiques, Ltd., Founded to Encourage the Collecting of Genuine Antiques’, Connoisseur (May 1914), p. xxvi. For Harrods’ antique department, see: Julia Petrov, ‘“The habit of their age”: English Genre Painters, Dress Collecting, and Museums, 1910-1914’, Journal of the History of Collections, 20 (2008), p. 241.

[4] ‘The Quest of the Antique at Taunton’, The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart, 9 October 1927, p. 380.

[5] Advertisement: ‘The Carlton Galleries’, Kent & Sussex Courier, 28 February 1936, p. 11.

[6] ‘A Historic Tudor House: No. 15, Fore Street, Taunton, To Change Hands’, Somerset County Herald, 26 January 1946, p. 3.

October 12, 2014

Alfred Bullard Inc.,- further reflections on changing practices

The recent shifts in the taste for ‘antique furniture’ continue to impact on the changing landscape, and practices, of the trade in antique furniture – of a particular type anyway….the ‘new antiques’ such as Danish Designer furniture continues to thrive…illustrative of the shift to the contemporary that is the driver for the market at present.  The announcement of the auction sale by Stair, Auctioneers and Appraisers in the USA of the ‘Collection and Inventory’ of Alfred Bullard Inc., in their auction on 25th & 26th October 2014, draws further attention to the significance of these shifts in taste.

Bullard-London-Shop-Interior-1

Alfred Bullard shop interior, c.1930.

Bullard are just one of a number of antique furniture dealers that have either changed their patterns of trading, downsized, or ceased trading altogether in the last 10 years or so – and, as you may know, part of the catalyst for the current investigation of the history of the antique trade is to track, assess and critically analysis this shift.

Alfred Bullard may be an American firm of antique dealers (and therefore seemingly outside the remit of the present research project), but they were originally established in Britain in the 1920s (and therefore part of the ‘cultural geography of the British trade). They have been trading in 18th and early 19th century English Furniture since the 1950s in Philadelphia, USA. According to our research Bullard was established in Newport Pagnell, Wales by the early 1920s, before moving to premises off Park Lane in London by 1925. They already had a branch in Philadelphia USA by 1950, and consolidated both the UK and USA operations in Philadelphia by 1965.  The firm is a testament to the importance of the transatlantic antiques trade throughout the 20th century and were one of a number of dealers operating at the very top of the trade in antiques in the period.

We should say that whilst the shop of Bullard Inc., may disappear from the high street, the firm itself will continue through Bill Bertolet, who will now continue to act as ‘advisor’ to clients – but the shift in practice is also a further testament to the changing panorama of the antique trade in the late 20th and early 21st century.

Mark

August 16, 2014

Frank Partridge & Sons – donation of materials

The antique trade continues to be exceptionally generous to the research project – Anthony Smith, formerly with the well-known dealers Frank Partridge & Sons (Partridge Fine Arts) serving as accountant, company secretary and finance director for almost 28 years, very kindly donated a whole stack of Partridge catalogues (1974-2007) to the project – as well as other ephemera, including a photocopy of Memoirs of the late Frank Partridge (published in 1961) and a copy of the prospectus issued at the time of the company’s flotation on the Stock Market in 1989.

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These materials are a fantastic resource for the project, so we owe a big thank you to Anthony!

One of the interesting aspects that have emerged in the initial investigation of the catalogues is the presentation of the Partridge business in the early and late 20th century. This follows on from some of the earlier posts on the Antique Dealer project blog (see entries on images of dealer shops) – here, again, is the photograph of the shop of ‘R.W. Partridge’ in 1914 – R.W. Partridge, was Robert Partridge, the elder brother of Frank Partridge, who established his antique business in the 1890s, prior to Frank opening his own shop in King Street, St James’s, in London in 1900.

 

Partridge second floor gallery

Robert’s shop, in the early 20th century, one can see, is arranged in much the same way as that of the more recent displays at Frank Partridge – here is an image of the antique business of Frank Partridge & Sons (then called Partridge Fine Arts) in c.2007 – perhaps Robert’s is a little more packed with material, but the general arrangement is similar at least…

 

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And below that image is a further photograph of Partridge’s galleries in the same brochure of c.2007, this time with a showroom arranged as a room setting. This is a subtle marketing technique, and one wonders when this kind of display was adopted by the antique trade?….perhaps it crossed from house furnishers? Perhaps from museum displays? But either way, there’s a distinctive marketing narrative being set up here….a subtle projected imagining.

There’s much more to say about these arrangements of objects….objects on the syntagmatic plain…the arrangement of objects in real space….they tell a story, and the project will be investigating these dynamics over the next few years…

Mark

April 6, 2014

Images of Dealer shops

Recently been gathering more and more images of antique dealer shops, interior photographs as well as exterior photographs, so I thought I’d share a few images – we will be creating a database of images for the interactive website, and once that goes ‘live’ everyone will be able to see all the images we have to date – we’ve only just started to scratch the surface here, so there will be many, many more images to come, but at present I reckon we have a few hundred images….

Anyway, here’s some to whet the appetite – they are actually quite revealing about display practices in the antique trade at various points in the 20th century. Here’s ‘C. Charles’ shop – (this is J. Duveen’s brother, Charles Duveen, who was paid by his brother not to use the surname Duveen..); the date of the image is c.1903, when C. Charles traded at 27-29 New Bond Street, London.

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The stock seems typical for a ‘high-end’ dealer, selling mainly to ‘Gilded Age’ American clients.  The display seems to be sightly more dispersed than many of the packed-out displays in antique and curiosity shops of the 19th century, but there’s still a fairly random jumble of various objects; there’s certainly no attempt here to replicate a ‘historic room’ display, or to theme the objects in any recognizable sense.

Contrast Charles Duveen’s gallery with a display of c.1903 of the house furnishers, furniture makers, and antique dealers, ‘Gillows’, 406 Oxford Street, London; Waring and Gillow was established in 1897, following the merger of Gillows (Lancaster), (est c.1730) and Waring of Liverpool. As ‘house furnishers’ Gillows have chosen to create a ‘room set’ effect; there’s also an obvious mixture of ‘antiques’ with reproductions made by the firm itself.

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To set these metropolitan dealer shops in a contrast, here’s a provincial dealership, Perry and Phillips, trading in Bridgnorth, Shropshire –

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The photograph is of their shop interior in c.1922 – quite a packed-out display, which must have been typical of many antique shops in the period – they have resonance to the displays of antique shops in the 19th century, and we still encounter such modes of display today of course.

Some, specialist dealerships, required different, discrete modes of display – this astonishing (to me anyway) image of the interior of the famous dealer in Chinese Works of Art, John Sparks, of c.1937, when Sparks was trading at 128 Mount Street, London (still a very smart address), is indicative of specialist methods of display, illustrative of the potential modes of engagement with the objects themselves.

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The display obviously keys into the evolving aesthetic of British Modernism at the time, but also nods towards the specific modes of engagement, and the significance of the optic and the haptic in the appreciation of such works of art; it’s also worth pointing out that the display also keys into the stripped back, minimalist aesthetics of Chinese and Japanese art works themselves.  John Sparks had created a very carefully planned, very thoughtful response to the objects that they sold, and produced a display that does look astonishingly modern.

Mark

March 23, 2014

Phillips of Hitchin – more images of dealer shops

In anticipation of my visit tomorrow to speak to Jerome Phillips, of Phillips of Hitchin – (founded by Jerome’s grandfather Frederick William Phillips in 1884) I thought I’d post an image of the interior of Phillips’ ‘shop’….The Manor House, Hitchin….

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….which they have occupied since the 1880s – this photograph dates from c.1910. Phillips had (still have) the advantage of course of being able to display their antique furniture etc in an appropriately historic setting. In the early decades of the 20th century such strategies also keyed into the increasing numbers of publications on historic houses (Muthesius etc) and furniture history (Macquiod, Edwards, Cescinsky etc etc) and the fashion for recreated interiors. Indeed F.W. Phillips could not only furnish your home with appropriate antiques, they could also build an ‘antique’ home for you…as this advertisement from c.1910 suggests…

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…as the caption states…’A modern house built by Messrs Phillips from old materials. Estimates for this half-timber work maybe be had on application…’……A very ‘Modern Antique’.

Mark

March 15, 2014

More photographs of dealer shops

Following the last blog entry on images of dealer shops I found some more photographs of R.W. Partridge’s shop in St. James’s Street, London.  They really do give a flavour of the ways in which antiques were displayed (in the top market London trade at least) in the opening decades of the 20th century. Here’s the ‘Interior of the shop’: Image

Still quite a crowded space….and here’s the ‘Second Floor Gallery’: Image

Which illustrates the range of art and antiques offered for sale.  And the ‘Top Red Gallery’: Image

I assume it was the ‘red’ gallery because the wallpaper was red?….As part of the project we are assembling an image database of dealer’s shops, interiors and exteriors, they provide such a fascinating picture of the changing fashioning in displaying, selling and marketing antiques over the course of the 20th century.

Mark

March 9, 2014

Images of dealer shops

We’re compiling a database of images of dealer shops…interior and exterior photographs. Here’s an example of the interior of R.W. Partridge’s shop at 19 St James’s Street, London, in c.1910.  It was, interestingly, called ‘Chippendale Gallery’…it looks rather stacked out…..Image

…..a bit like a warehouse, rather than a swish emporium in St. James’s…..!

The images (subject to any copyright restrictions of course) will be archived in the interactive project website…so if you do come across any images of dealer shops (especially prior to the 1950s) do send them on to us at antiquedealers@leeds.ac.uk

Make sure you send all associated information with any images though (date, name of dealer, location etc etc)…

Mark

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