Posts tagged ‘Mark Dodgson’

September 25, 2016

BADA Voices Interviews

Our project to capture the reflections and memories of antique dealers and people involved in the British Antique trade is one of the central research themes in the Antique Dealer project.  And thanks to the British Antique Dealers’ Association, who have very kindly given the project financial support, we are able to continue the oral history interviews – do check out the Oral History pages in the project website for more information of the support from the BADA and the new interviews that we have undertaken as part of the ‘BADA Voices’ initiative, see – Antique Dealer Project Oral History

PrintOf the two most recent interviews we have completed, one focused on the history of the BADA itself, in our interview with Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of the BADA.  The other interview, with the former antique dealer, agent, Forensic Appraiser and Expert Witness, Nicholas Somers, allowed us to capture some of Nicholas’ memories of the history of that most famous of antique furniture dealers, M. Harris & Sons, amongst many other things.

 

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Mark Dodgson, Sec Gen of the BADA. Photo courtesy of the BADA.

Mark Dodgson started at the BADA in 1989, as an assistant to the then Secretary General, Elaine Dean, before succeeding Elaine as Secretary General in 2008.

In this engaging interview Mark tells us about the history of the BADA – which was founded in 1918, and has the exciting prospect of their centenary celebrations coming up in 2018. Mark outlined the wide range of activities and projects that the BADA have been involved with over the years – as many of you will know, the BADA was initially founded by members of the antique trade in 1918 to lobby Government as a response to the proposed introduction of the so-called ‘luxury tax’, and the organisation has continued that tradition.  The BADA has been a central player in many of the most high-profile issues affecting the antique trade, from the introduction of Valued Added Tax and ‘margin scheme’ in the 1970s, the (still contentious) issue of the introduction of auction sales buyers premium in the 1970s, to the lively debates surrounding the restrictions on the sales of elephant ivory – currently animating (excuse the pun!) the art world at present.

Mark also talked about his role as Secretary of the Art Trade Liaisons Committee (The British Art Market Federation), and the history of the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair (founded in 1934 as an initiative by some key BADA members), as well as the more recent BADA Fair (established in 1991) and the BADA relationship with, and support for, the conservation courses at West Dean College. With the centenary of the BADA coming up in 2018, I’m sure the interview will be a valuable resource in those celebrations.

Our other interview in the BADA Voices series was with the retired antique dealer, agent, auctioneer, and Expert Witness, Nicholas Somers.

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Nicholas Somers, at his home in London. Photo Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2016.

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Richard Grose, 8 Exhibition Road, London, c.1950.

Nicholas, currently the Master of the Worshipful Company of Turners (he has also been collecting treen for decades!) and has over 50 years experience of the antique trade.  Nicholas started his career in the world of antiques with the dealer Paul Smith (a BADA member) in 1965, before moving to work for Richard Grose at Exhibition Road in London.

In 1967 Nicholas left Richard Grose and became one of the sales team at the world-famous antique furniture dealers M. Harris & Sons, staying with Harris until 1971, when he set up his own antiques business in Worcester  – ‘Somers at the Sign of the Chair’.

Nicolas had some fascinating memories of working at Moss Harris – with some wonderfully evocative descriptions of the showrooms – the business was already contracting somewhat when Nicholas joined Robert Harris in 1967, and, as Nicholas tells us, the showrooms had been reduced by half, but it still had 80 rooms packed with museum-quality English furniture and objects when he joined the firm. Here is the gallery of Moss Harris, in New Oxford Street, London, in the early 1920s, soon after Moss Harris had taken over the firm of D.L. Isaacs, who established the business in 1868.

M Harris 40 54 New Oxford Street Feb 1921 Conn

M. Harris & Sons, New Oxford Street, London, c.1924.

Nicholas has an exceptionally wide ranging experience of the antique and art world, having been part of the management buy-out at the auctioneers Bearnes in Torquay, from the then parent company Sotheby’s, in 1981, and as a ‘forensic appraiser’  and Expert Witness in legal disputes in the art world.

Both interviews make rich contributions to the growing archive of antique trade interviews that we are assembling as part of the Antique dealer project.

Mark

 

 

 

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June 15, 2015

Project Interactive Website Launched

The project Interactive Website has finally been officially launched!

On Monday 15th June, with a major publicity push from the University of Leeds and the University of Southampton, the two collaborating universities involved in the Antique Dealers project, and with a forthcoming announcement in the Antiques Trade Gazette – we’ve made the interactive website available to the wider public. You can read the University of Leeds Press Release here – Mapping%20the%20history%20of%20antiques%20dealers%20FINAL Thanks to Gareth Dant, Press Officer at University of Leeds for composing the Press Release.

And the University of Southampton Press Release here –Mapping%20the%FINAL SOTON

The Interactive website is one of the 3 main outputs of the AHRC funded Antique Dealers research project – the other outputs will be an edited book (edited by Westgarth, Quince and Jamieson), and the end of project Conference, (and for which we thank again the support from Leeds Museums & Galleries), which will take place next Spring at Temple Newsam House, Leeds (keep your eye on the blog for more details on the conference).

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Screen Shot of the Interactive Website. Copyright, University of Leeds 2015.

The website has been long in development and thanks to Mark Wales (‘Sparky’) of Small Hadron Collider, who has been working on the software programming for the site for the past 18 months, we now have an amazing research database, and research resource, for future investigations into the history of the Antique Trade in Britain, in the 20th century.

Using the search engine embedded within the site, or clicking on the DOTS on the map, you can find information on Antique Dealers trading in the 20th century. Below is a screen grab for a dealer trading in Southampton (see little red dot on the map) – Thomas Rohan, who was trading at 105 High Street, Southampton in the period c.1903-1918.slide700-3

The interactive website is still in development, and we’ve launched it as BETA version (i.e. we are testing it for feedback and suggestions on functionality and ease of use etc). At present, at least, there’s not that much data in the site…only c.2,100 entries…and we reckon there should be, eventually, about 100,000 entries in the site.  But we hope that the site will give people a sense of the amazing possibilities that emerge when one thinks about what it COULD do.

We eventually hope that each Dealership will  have a mini-biography, such as that in the Rohan entry already in the site – see below:

rohan-bio-screengrab

 

The site uses GPS (Google Maps) technology to track the changing locations of Antique Dealers, based in Britain, over the period 1900-2000 – but it is more, much more, than just a geographical mapping site.  We have built a temporal-spacial tracking system in the site that will trace the genealogy of not just Antique Dealers, but also the objects that they sold, and which, at the same time, establishes a whole series of spacial-temporal networks and relationships between, people, things, and ideas – this, we think, is the uniqueness of the website resource!…

We’ve had fantastic support from various people and organisations as we have developed the project and the interactive website; here are just a few examples of messages of support:

Project Advisory Board member, Christopher Wilk, Keeper of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at The Victoria & Albert Museum, said “This is an important and innovative project which points the way towards a serious consideration of modern antique dealing. The methodology of the project is innovative, not least in its mixture of oral history, archival research and cultural geography.”

And Chris Jussel, an interviewee of the Oral History part of the Antique Dealer project (see earlier posts) and formerly of the major international antique dealers, Verney & Jussel, and well-known as a former Presenter for the US version of the Antiques Roadshow, said: “Throughout most of the 20th century the British Antiques Trade was the driving force in presenting what were originally termed ‘old things’ to the public. Collectively the appreciation for, the collection of, the scholarship and knowledge of antiques largely emanated from the trade. That was where the expertise resided. No major private or museum collection of antiques was formed without the trade. This long overdue academic study is a testament to that era.”

And finally, Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of The British Antique Dealers’ Association, said: “The concept of an interactive website charting the historical locations of antiques shops and the movement of beautiful objects from collectors to dealers and into museum collections should prove fascinating for anyone interested in the history of the decorative arts.
“The UK has always been one of the world’s most significant locations for the trade in antiques, whether English furniture or Chinese ceramics. It is therefore fitting that a British university should have undertaken a study into this important aspect of our national life.
“I know that antiques dealers are often keen to check the historical ownership of important items they sell – referred to in the trade as the “provenance” – to back up their own judgements about the age and origin of pieces. The new website will provide them with an excellent tool for checking where and when dealers were trading in the past, so adding to the information they can provide to antique collectors about their purchases.”

We hope that you will enjoy using the Interactive Website – (click HERE to go to the site)

Do send us feedback on what you think about the site, and any teething problems.

Mark

 

May 31, 2015

Antique Dealers Project presented at BADA Regional Meeting

I forgot to mention, due to the increased activities on the oral history interviews front, that we were very kindly invited by The British Antique Dealers’ Association to give a presentation about the various initiatives of the AHRC Antique Dealers Project at the BADA Northern Regional Meeting of BADA in Yorkshire on Friday 15th May.

Mark Dodgson, the BADA Secretary General, has been following the project with considerable interest – and indeed has been very supportive, he even provided us with a copy of BADA catalogue of the Art Treasures Exhibition (1932), which has been a valuable resource for our ongoing research into the history of the British Antiques Trade. We were also very warmly received by members of the BADA meeting, which included Tony & Mary Lumb (with whom we have already undertaken a fascinating oral history interview – thanks again Tony & Mary!); present were also Louise Phillips (of Elaine Phillips Antiques); Holly Johnson & Benjamin Aardewerk (of Holly Johnson Antiques); Simon Myers (of the old established dealers R.N. Myers & Son); Philip Carrol; Paul Beedham (of Paul Beedham Antiques); Helen Sutcliffe (Sutcliffe Galleries); and Chairman of the Council, Michael Cohen (together with his wife Ewa, of Cohen & Cohen Antiques).

After a fabulous lunch, I presented a short(ish) presentation, outlining the project and it’s objectives, and demonstrated the (still in development, but very soon to be launched…really…within weeks now!) interactive project website.

It was great to have such a keen interest in the project from members of the trade, and the premier trade body – thank you for the lunch, and for your ears!

Mark

February 22, 2015

More on Connell & Sons, Glasgow – and BADA

We’ve discovered a bit more about James Connell & Sons (the ‘Art Dealers’) in Glasgow (see earlier blog post on Connell).  Thanks to Mark Dodgson, Secretary General, and Riley Grant, membership Secretary, at The British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA) who very kindly emailed us a PDF copy of the full catalogue for the ‘Art Treasures Exhibition 1932’. The exhibition, ‘under the auspices of The British Antique Dealers’ Association’, was held at Christie’s auction rooms in King Street, London, October 12th to November 5th, 1932.

There are lots of fascinating things in the catalogue itself, not least the kind of stock that antique dealers sold in the 1930s – but there’s too much to outline here in a short blog post! However, amongst the exhibitors was our friend ‘James Connell & Sons’ – at this date trading at 26 Old Bond Street, London, and also at 75 Vincent Street, Glasgow.

As readers of this Blog will know, we regularly highlight the overlapping trading practices of the ‘Antique Trade’, and drew attention to the fact that James Connell & Sons, were, conventionally at least, classified as ‘Picture Dealers’ – and you’ll know that we disrupted the smoothness of such classificatory parameters in our earlier Blog post on an exhibition catalogue of ‘A Few Examples of Old Furniture of Fine Character and Quality’ that Connell & Sons staged at their Glasgow gallery in c.1915 (see earlier blog post).

In the ‘Art Treasures’ exhibition of 1932 Connell also exhibited objects…but again, not paintings, but ‘antiques’ – including ‘A George II stool c.1745’; See image here – sorry about the poor quality- connell

They also exhibited ‘A George II mahogany chest of drawers, c.1755’, and ‘A Balloon bracket clock, c.1790’ – and despite there being a small section at the exhibition devoted to pictures, Connell & Sons did not contribute to that section of the exhibition. So, it seems, on this evidence at least, that Connell & Sons continued to trade in antique furniture from at least c.1915, up to the 1930s, and whilst all the time classified at ‘art dealers’.

This is not to say of course that other ‘picture dealers’ did not also sell ‘antiques’, nor of course that ‘antique dealers’ did not sell pictures….but maybe it points towards a more complex network of overlapping practices that are not captured by the trading classifications of ‘art dealer’, ‘antique dealer’ and etc…and, as you know, part of the objective of the current research project is to explore these shades of grey (there’s an up to date allusion for you!) –  the umbra, penumbra and antumbra of the antique trade…

Mark

 

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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

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A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century