Posts tagged ‘Duveen’

September 13, 2015

Antique Dealing in Scotland – Rosehaugh auction 1954

I’m on holiday in Scotland, but still thinking about ‘Antique Dealers’! – we are staying in  small cottage, a converted ‘powerhouse’ c.1900 which was formerly part of the enormous late 19th century house ‘Rosehaugh’, on the Black Isle, near Avoch – anyway whilst whiling away the hours in this beautiful place, I came across a little booklet in the cottage on the history of Rosehaugh (Rosehaugh, a house of its time, John Mills, Hilda Hesling, Magdalene MacLean and Kathleen MacLean, 1996). And antique dealers appear quite prominently in the story of the house – inevitably I would suggest!

The ‘big house’ no longer exists, it was extensively remodelled and extended in the 1890s by the architect William Flockhart, and was demolished in 1959.

Rosehaugh House remodelling by W Flockhart 1883

William Flockhart’s presentation drawing for the proposed remodelling of Rosehuagh, 1893. Image copyright Avoch Heritage Association.

 

the demolition 1959 view from west

The demolition of Rosehaugh, 1959. Image copyright Avoch HA.

Both during the assembly and dismantling of Rosehaugh, prominent antique dealers played their role; during the construction of the house, J J Duveen supplied much of the historic panelling to the rooms, including this (seemingly) 18th century boiserie for the Drawing Room.

drawing room Duveen

The Drawing Room, Rosehaugh, c.1900. Panelling supplied by Duveen. Image copyright Avoch HA.

It’s probably no coincidence that William Flockhart, the architect of the remodelling at Rosehaugh, also designed the interiors of the New Bond Street showroom of Duveen. And according to the Rosehaugh booklet, Duveen also supplied some Boucher tapestries for the Drawing Room.

The dispersal auction sale also involved the antique trade; the auction was organised and conducted Thomas Love & Sons, Perth, the well-known antique dealers, house furnishers and, obviously, auctioneers, and took place in 1954. Love’s had consigned most of the more valuable contents to sale in London before conducting the auction on site at Rosehaugh – Love & Sons had been established in 1869, as auctioneers and general house furnishers, but also had a large antiques department as part of their business (the business closed in 2009).

the sale 1954 Tho Love and sons

The auction sale at Rosehaugh, 1954. Image copyright Avoch HA.

At the auction sale, which took place over 8 days in late August and early September 1954, a number of antique dealers made significant purchases. A dealer named John Beadle, from Hounslow, London, bought the French panelling that had been supplied by Duveen, paying £400 for the room and lighting fitments. Another object sold, although not known if it was bought by the trade, was a rare Sevres porcelain and ormolu mounted clock by ‘Kinable’ (lot 572, sold with a pair of pastel burners, for £310).

sale cat French clock by Kinable lot 572

Lot 572 in the Rosehaugh auction sale of 1954. ‘A clock by Kinable’. Image copyright Avoch HA.

Dieudonne Kinable (active c.1780-1825) was one of the most prominent clockmakers in Paris in the period, and examples of this ‘lyre’ model of Sevres clock are in several major museum collections, including the V&A, The Royal Collections, The Louvre and The Walters Art Museum in the USA.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting, if as I say perhaps inevitable, that the antique trade played such a central role in both the assembly and dispersal of what must have been a very significant collection of antiques.

Mark

 

 

 

 

April 1, 2015

The semantics of the antique trade

One (just one) of the research objectives of the Antique Dealers project is to map, analyse and contextualise the changing language of description and classification used by the antique trade over the period 1900-2000 – and our interactive website (soon to be officially launched) will begin the process of tracking the huge variety of classifications and descriptions that reflect, as well as act as catalysts for, the specialist marketing practices deployed by, and developed by, the trade.  So, for example, some of the questions we are thinking about are when, and where, did antique dealers begin to call themselves ‘Old English Furniture Dealers’, and when/where did ‘antique furniture dealers’ emerge to be a dominant trade classification/description…or when/where did ‘Old Chelsea Porcelain’ emerge as a description deployed by antique dealers…or ‘Old Irish Glass’….?

The language of description and layering of classifications suggest subtle (and sometimes less so subtle) positioning within the complex collecting and classificatory structures of the antique markets over time.

Within the archives of the Metropolitan Museum are some interesting examples of the changing landscape of antique dealer descriptions –

french invoice 7.9.15 det

Invoice from French & Co, 1915, Box 37 Folder 40, Robert Lehman papers, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives.

Here, (above) in 1915, the well-known dealers, French & Co, describe themselves as selling ‘Antique Furniture and Tapestries of Guaranteed Authenticity’, and also list ‘Interior Decorators’ as a practice.  Later letterheads and invoices issued by French & Co., in the 1950s, for example, classify them as selling ‘Works of Art’.

By contrast, an invoice issued in 1952 by James A. Lewis & Son Inc., the American branch of the London antique dealers, indicated that they were ‘Specialists in Old English Furniture & Porcelains’ –

lewis inv 25.11.52 det

Invoice from James Lewis & Son, 1952, Box 38 Folder 15, Robert Lehman papers. The Metropolitan Museum Archives. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum Archives.

Whereas ‘Charles of London’ (Charles Duveen, we encountered in previous blog entries) described themselves as ‘Dealers in Antique & Decorative Works of Art’ in 1936 – (see below) –

charles inv 9.11.36

Invoice from Charles of London, 1936, Box 37 Folder 12, Robert Lehman papers. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum Archives.

 

And the specialist ceramics (as we might say today) dealer H.R. Hancock described themselves in an invoice of 1934 as dealers in ‘Old Chinese Porcelain, Furniture and Works of Art’ – (see below) –

hancock inv 9.10.34 det

Invoice, H.R. Hancock, 1934, Box 38 Folder 2, Robert Lehman papers. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum Archives.

An investigation of the framework of meanings behind these changes and shifts are a key part of the antique dealer 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 6, 2014

The Architecture of the Trade – The Export Trade

Further to the blog posts on the architecture of the antique trade we’ve been doing some work on the development (and decline) of the trade in importing and exporting antique furniture (often called ‘shipping goods’).  The ‘wholesale’ import and export trade in antiques has a long history – one could, if one adopted certain classificatory frameworks, suggest that such activities began to emerge in the opening decades of the 19th century – there were certainly dealers shipping ‘containers’ of antiques and curiosities between the Continent and Britain just after the Napoleonic Wars, and those import-export activities continued into the early 20th century as part of the transatlantic (UK-USA) trade – the now relatively well-known photograph of Duveen’s ‘storeroom’  is a testament to those practices.

Duveen_storeroom

Duveen’s storeroom, c.1920

But at far as the present project is concerned this particular segment of the trade appears to have taken on a particular form in the decade after World War II.  By the 1960s a specific form of ‘import-export dealer’ emerged – often known as ‘a shipper’- and a certain kind of classification of antique objects, called ‘shipping goods’, also developed as a specific category of antiques.  These ‘trade only’ import and export dealerships often seem to have chosen specific locations and occupied specific building types – they were/are often located on the edge of cities or towns, near major driving routes, sometimes on ‘industrial’ estates; or often could be seen to be occupying redundant barns on farmsteads. They are still a familiar sight today of course.

Alongside the emergence of the ‘shipping dealer’ there developed a whole range of shipping firms, such as Fenton & Co., Gander and White, and Michael Davis – which in the 1970s had offices in London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Melbourne and Johannesburg – indicative of the main trading locations for shipping antiques at the time – now I think China may be top of the list!

Evidence from sources in the 1950s-1970s highlights that the import-export trade can provide fascinating evidence for a number of conceptual notions central to the ‘antique trade’ – one is the shifting definition of ‘antiques’ themselves. In the 1970s for example, in terms of import duties that have been payable on such kinds of objects, certain countries defined antiques as being over 100 years old; such objects would be exempt from any import duty. Some countries had different classifications – in the USA in the 1970s, for example, an ‘antique’ was, according to tax law at least, an object made ‘prior to 1830’ (the notional date of the development of the ‘machine age’). At the same time in the UK, the Board of Trade definition of an ‘antique’ was an object that was over 75 years old.  The age of an ‘antique’ has been constantly in flux of course, but it’s interesting that even if one takes something as ‘solid’ as tax law, one will still see variations in the classifying principles!…

Further evidence from some short articles on ‘Exporting Antiques’ in the Antiques Yearbook (1950) and a summary of export figures published in Antique Finder magazine (1976) there seems to have been an expansion of the export trade between the 1960s and the 1970s.  In 1962 the UK export figures were c.£5 million, rising to £68.5 million in 1975; Import figures from the UK illustrate a similar pattern (in 1962 the UK imported £4 million of antiques, and in 1975 the figures was £33.8 million).  The countries the UK exported antiques to also provide a fascinating picture of the global markets in the 1960s and 1970s. Here’s some figures for 1976:

USA £13.4 million

(West) Germany £7.1 million

Japan £2.2 million

Canada £1.3 million

Netherlands £4.4 million

Australia £3.1 million

Belgium £4.0 million

France £4.3 million

Kuwait/Dubai/Abu Dhabi £0.01 million

I imagine the figures today would be relatively familiar in terms of countries….with more activity in the Middle East; and the absence of China (so important today) in the 1976 figures is very significant of course.

What is also of interest in the market conditions for antiques in the 1970s was the economic crisis of the early-to-mid 1970s (the oil crisis) – the commentary from the Antique Finder suggested that the top of the market (the top 5%) had ‘felt the pinch in 1975’ but that the rest of the trade (95%) had ‘continued to move forward’ – the 1974/75 depression in world industrial prosperity had impacted most on higher wealth purchasing power. In today’s economy, the economic depression of 2007-08, seems to have had limited effect on the top 5% of wealthy collectors.

Mark

 

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

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.

Image

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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