Posts tagged ‘Mount Street’

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.

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May 30, 2014

Antique Dealing….and other practices

The history of the trade in antiques is composed of a complex mixture of overlapping practices and activities. In the early 19th century, when we can say that the present trade began, antique and curiosity dealers emerged from the furniture-making community, from the ‘rag-trade’, the second -hand trade more generally, and modern china and glass sellers….amongst others…. ..if you’re interested, see my work A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Antique and Curiosity Dealers (Regional Furniture Society, 2009 & 2011 – copies still available!…£20…(sorry about the advert!….) – But anyway, historically, the trade has always comprised a series of interrelated selling and manufacturing practices.  Indeed, during the course of the investigations for the current project and the history of the antique trade in the 20th century these overlapping practices continued – here’s just one example of the practices of ‘antique dealing’ operating alongside other activities – some of these are obvious (interior decorating for example, and furniture making…which many dealers today are involved in). But antique dealers have also regularly sold a range of ‘modern’ things alongside what one might describe as ‘traditional’ antiques (the notion of ‘antique’ is quite obviously a mutable term!).

Anyway, Martin Levy (of Blairman & Sons, London) sent us this image of a tea-cup and saucer, which was apparently retailed by Blairman, when the firm was then trading in Llandudno, Wales (they had a shop there from the 1880s).

Photograph copyright Blairman & Sons, London

Photograph copyright Blairman & Sons, London

Photograph copyright, Blairman & Sons, London.

Photograph copyright, Blairman & Sons, London.

We reckon the tea-cup and saucer dates from c.1890-1910, so would have been a ‘modern’ thing when sold by Blairman at the time. The retailing of ‘contemporary’ products is interesting, especially given the recent shift to the contemporary and the changes in the activities of, what were often considered to be ‘traditional’ dealerships – it’s now not that unusual to enter an ‘antique shop’ and be confronted by modern and contemporary design amongst the ‘brown furniture’ and ‘antique’ objects…..

There are many other examples of other practices that the antique trade have been involved in over the years and we hope to include information of these activities as part of our ‘cultural geography’ of the antique trade…

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.

Image

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

Image

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.

Image

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

The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

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

H. Blairman & Sons Ltd

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

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'Museum Studies Now?' is an event which aims to discuss and debate museum and heritage studies education provision.

The Burlington Magazine Index Blog

art writing * art works * art market

East India Company at Home, 1757-1857

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