Posts tagged ‘Dealer shops’

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.

vernay dec 1914 sale

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 –

vernay 1929

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 29, 2015

More on early 20th century antique dealers in New York

Following the blog post on ‘searching for Duveen’ in the streets of New York I thought it would be interesting to find the former locations of some of the other antique dealers I encountered in the archives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – it’s also the opportunity to share some of the fascinating archive documents in the archives (thanks again to Melissa Bowling, one of the archivists at the Met Museum for helping with the research for the Antique Dealer project!) Most of the dealer galleries dating from the early part of the 20th century seem to have been demolished in the continual processes of renewal of the architectural landscape of New York city, (as you’ll see in the comments below) – but I did find one building that still remains (although no longer the premises of an antique dealer).

Some of you may know of the dealership ‘C.Charles’ – he was a brother of the famous Joseph Duveen; he was, apparently, not allowed to use the trading name of ‘Duveen’ (there’s only ONE Duveen I guess), so began trading as ‘C. Charles’ in London in the opening decades of the 20th century, and by the 1930s was trading as ‘Charles of London’ in the USA. Here’s a fascinating invoice from ‘Charles of London’ dated November 9th 1936, for an ‘Old 18th Century Mahogany Desk’, sold to the famous American collector Robert Lehman for $550 – (I couldn’t trace this object in the Met Museum collections….).

charles inv 9.11.36

Invoice ‘Charles of London’ November 9th, 1936. Box 37, Folder 12, Robert Lehman Papers, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum Archives.

In my walks around New York searching for the locations of former antique dealer galleries I found Charles Duveen’s gallery at 12 West 56th Street – a very elegant (as one might expect) building, designed in a similar vein to Joseph Duveen’s spectacular purpose built gallery on 5th Avenue (see previous blog post).

Charles 12 west 56th  st NY

Charles of London former gallery at 12 West 56th Street New York. Photo MW March 2015.

There were a few other letters and invoices from dealers I found in the archives, and I managed to find the former locations of the dealers – as I say, sadly the buildings themselves no longer exist. The location of the galleries of the famous antique dealers French & Co at 6 East 56th Street are now (maybe appropriately!) occupied by Armani –

former French and Co 6 East 56th st NY

Former location of French & Co (1916). Photo MW March 2015.

French and Co were at 6 East 56th Street, New York by 1916, as this invoice (again photographed by kind permission of the Metropolitan Museum Archives) demonstrates –

french invoice 7.9.15 det

Invoice, French & Co., 1916. Box 4, Folder 16, Durr Friedley Records, 1906-1918 (1917-1918) The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum Archives.

(I’ll come back to the contents of the invoice itself in another blog post…).

French & Co had moved to 210 East 57th Street by the 1930s, but again the building they occupied no longer remains…..

former French and co 210 East 57th st NY

Former location of French & Co, 210 East 57th Street, New York in the 1930s. Photo MW March 2015.

And here’s the former location of the dealer A.S. Drey, ‘Antique Paintings and Works of Art’, who, according to a note in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives moved to 680 5th Avenue, New York in 1929. The location is now occupied by shops and offices.

former Drey 680 5th Ave NY

Former location of A.S. Drey, 680 5th Avenue, New York in 1929. Photo MW March 2015.

And, just for the record, I also found the former New York locations at 6 West 56th Street for Frank Partridge & Sons (they were at this address from at least the early 1920s until at least the late 1960s – Partridge & Sons, like many of the dealers highlighted in this blog, are no longer trading).

former Partridge shop 6 West 56th st NY

Former location of Frank Partridge & Sons, 6 West 56th Street, New York. Photo MW March 2015.

 

And the locations of ‘Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Company Incorporated’ trading at 7 West 36th Street, New York in 1916, are now shops and offices….

former Seligmann shop 7 West 36th st NY

Former location of Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., 7 West 36th Street, New York. Photo MW March 2015.

Likewise the former location of the antique dealer and interior decorators ‘White Allom’ (led by Sir Charles Allom) at 19 East 52nd Street, New York in 1914, are now occupied by an hotel.

former White Allom 19 East 52nd st NY

Former location of the galleries of White Allom, 19 East 52nd Street, New York in 1914. Photo MW March 2015.

As you can see, the archives at the Met Museum were a catalyst for a fruitful perambulation around a (very cold) New York….
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’.

IMG_5029

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.

IMG_5028

‘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

October 5, 2014

The London trade in microcosm-the changing face of Mount Street

Mount Street in more recent times. The architecture remains but the focus of the street has changed forever.

Mount Street in more recent times. The architecture remains but the focus of the street has changed forever.

You'll have to take my word for it as this is the best image I can find, but most of the shops here, pictured in 1976, are antique dealers.

You’ll have to take my word for it as this is the best image I can find, but most of the shops here, pictured in 1976, are antique dealers.

Located off of Berkeley Square and between Grosvenor Square and Piccadilly, Mount Street is an idyllic location that has long been described as the heart of what estate agent Peter Wetherell still describes as the Mayfair village. Looking at the immaculate rows of late Victorian shop fronts, now largely filled with fashion retailers, clothiers and the like it is easy to forget that this one street alone used to provide the addresses of an extraordinarily high number of dealers at the Grosvenor House Fair.

Nowadays the exceptional general dealer Kenneth Neame and the Asian art specialist A J Speelman remain the only dealers with ground floor shop fronts in the street (though others do operate by appointment from 1st floor premises) but in the past the street was visited by every serious wealthy collector as a matter of course. As the project continues and more data is gathered then a more complete picture of the sheer numbers of dealers in the street will emerge but my own list comprises the following:

Barling of Mount Street (Oriental art)

R L Harrington (English furniture and related objects)

The dealer R L Harrington at 120-121 Mount Street in 1961

The dealer R L Harrington at 120-121 Mount Street in 1961

John Keil (English furniture dealer with premises in Knightsbridge and, in times past, Bristol and Bath)

Stanley J Pratt (antique fireplaces and accessories)

Trevor (English furniture)

Stair and Co (one of the pre-eminent English furniture dealers-see Mark’s earlier post)

Pelham Galleries (English and French furniture plus Chinoiserie decoration)

H Blairman and Sons (Regency and later furniture and decorative arts)

John Sparks (Oriental art)

Mansour Heskia (rugs and carpets)

Alistair Sampson (early English pottery and country furniture)

Mount Street Galleries (still exists but different scope-the emphasis has switched from furniture to contemporary art)

Patrick Jefferson (English furniture and associated objects)

Walter Waddingham (English furniture)

Gerard Hawthorn (Oriental art)

Marks Antiques(Antique silver and Faberge)

Bruford (jewellery and silver)

Quite a selection I’m sure you’ll agree.

Hopefully the images give something of a flavour of this remarkable street but if you were lucky enough to see the area in its antiques heyday and have images to share then please get in touch.

Nowadays the largest concentrations of dealers in London are in Kensington Church Street, Portobello Road and the Fulham Road. With South Audley Street (at the end of Mount Street and another traditional heartland of the trade) also beginning to attract  fashion brands the Mayfair trade will never quite be the same again. My advice would be to visit whilst you still can, even if just to window shop. There are still some remarkable pieces to see here and who knows-you may be a part of the trade’s fight back against the multinational giants.

Chris Coles,

Project volunteer.

The last paragraph says it all. An undated entry for the street kept in the Westminster Archive.

The last paragraph says it all. An undated entry for the street kept in the Westminster Archive.

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 1914, 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 5 so far; as far as I know there is only one dealership named ‘Quinnney’s’ left trading…in Warwick.

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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

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

May 4, 2014

Entire Stock Sold – Walter Bird 1956

We’re discovering some fascinating stories about the trade as part of the research for the Antique Dealer Project – including some stories that I thought were completely apocryphal……the story of the ‘Rich American’ buying up the entire stock of a dealer, for example. Well, it seems that this did happen (how often, we’ve yet to discover).  In 1956, Walter Bird, who was then trading at 112 Kensington Church Street, London (see the image of the exterior of his shop in blog entry for April 22nd) sold his ‘entire stock’ to an American buyer. Here’s Mr and Mrs Bird, in their shop:

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The Antiques Yearbook 1957-8 recorded the event; ‘It was into this shop last year that an American stranger walked and drawled “Say, Mr Bird, what will you take for the whole lot?” In no time a deal involving many thousands of pounds (and a hundred chandeliers apart from 20 years’ accumulation of china, glass, silver and furniture) was concluded, surely the most remarkable ever’ (AYB, (1957), p.130). Bird, who was then the President of the Kensington Antique Dealers’ Association, reassured his customers that he was still trading, taking an advert in AYB:

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Bird managed to re-stock his shop and continued trading of course.  If anyone else knows of any other instances of entire stock of dealers being purchased in one transaction do let us know!

Mark

April 22, 2014

Dealer’s Shops – images of developing locations and use of historic premises

Our database of images of Antique Dealer shops continues to grow. In the previous post I directed attention to the significances of the changing interior display of dealerships, and in the present post I thought it would be interesting to focus on exterior views and the range of buildings used by the trade; and to direct attention to the significance of the changing locations adopted by the trade over the course of the 20th century…..and some interesting aspects are evident – one is the growth of the ‘Country Antique Shop’.

In my earlier research into the history of the antique and curiosity trade (see publications in my research profile if you’re interested!) I made an observation that in the 19th century the emergence of the antique shop appears to have been almost exclusively an urban phenomenon, and that the ‘country antique shop’ was a later (20th century) development in the history of the trade.  This is also borne out when one investigates the store of images we have as part of this new project.  The Country Antique Shop we are so familiar with appears to have been a first half 20th century development, and here’s a selection of images we have just to give the briefest insight into this history.

Here’s an image, from 1921, of one of the most famous antique furniture dealers, Moss Harris & Sons (est 1868)…at 40-54 New Oxford Strett, London.

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There have been many hundreds of dealers in London of course; here’s just one more, Walter Bird’s shop, Kensington Church Street, London, an image taken in c.1945:

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Beyond antique shops in London and other urban areas such as Manchester and Birmingham, as well as in historic towns such as Bath and Warwick, the ‘country antique shop’ appears to have begun to proliferate from the second quarter of the 20th century – with an increased expansion during the 1940s and 1950s, which seems to have been a particularly important period. Locations such as ‘The Cotswolds’ and tourist towns in Sussex, Devon etc., appear to have been the preferred locations for many dealers during this period.

Here’s Forge House, Broadway, Worcestershire, in 1953; and one can also note that the historical nature of the building itself is a key driver for the appropriate adoption of such premises by the trade:

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Here’s Shirley Brown’s ‘shop’, at Tredington, Warwickshire, also in 1953:

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And, to close, a couple of ‘shops’ in Devon, that illustrate the wide range of buildings, and trading practices, adopted by the trade; here’s A K Halsey, Boffins Boft, Kingsbridge, Devon, also taken in 1953.

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And finally, R. E. Martin, trading from home, as it appears…at ‘Tucketts’, Trusham, near Chudleigh, Devon, in 1961.

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The project will be investigating the history of these locations, changing trading premises, and other developments as part of this broader ‘cultural history’ of the Antique Trade in the 20th century….so watch this space!

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

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