Posts tagged ‘Phillips of Hitchin’

April 23, 2019

Jerome Phillips and Mark Westgarth ‘In Conversation’ at Bowes Museum

This coming Saturday, 27th April, we are running an ‘In Conversation’ event at The Bowes Museum as part of the activities around the SOLD! exhibition – the exhibition closes on 5th May, so still time to see it.

The ‘In Conversation’ is a FREE event, it starts at 2.15pm and will last about an hour or so – you need to book a place though, which you can do at by clicking this link http://portal.thebowesmuseum.org.uk/public/event/eventBooking.aspx?id=EVT03487 

Phillips of Hitchin shop, Hitchin, c.1905. Digital copy of glass-plate negative courtesy of the V&A Museum.

 

Phillips of Hitchin were established in 1884 and remained as a family business until Jerome Phillips, the grandson of Frederick W. Phillips the founder of the business, retired in 2016. I’ll be ‘In Conversation’ with Jerome at the event at The Bowes Museum this Saturday, talking about Jerome’s life as one of the countries leading antique dealers, and about the history of his business, Phillips of Hitchin.

Hope to see you on Saturday at The Bowes Museum!

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 3, 2019

Antique Dealers: Buying, Selling and Collecting opens at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds

We finished the install on our new exhibition on Antique Dealers – called ‘Antique Dealers: Buying, Selling and Collecting‘ at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds – all ready for the opening at 1.00pm on MONDAY 4th March.  This show runs until 25th May, so there’s plenty of time to see it – and it’s FREE.

The theme of this exhibition is on the same subject – antique dealers – but this one has a narrower focus than the SOLD! exhibition at The Bowes Museum.  I’ve decided to focus on the personalities of three of the most well-known dealers and antique dealing businesses of the 20th century – Phillips of Hitchin (established in 1884); Ronald A. Lee (established in 1949) and Roger Warner (established in 1936).  Below is a photograph of the R A Lee and Roger Warner sections of the exhibition, with a display in the glass cases of parts of the Lee and Warner archives, as well as some photos of the respective shops of Lee and Warner; and some associated business ephemera.

The Antique Dealers Exhibition at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds. 2019.

We also have dealer objects in the exhibition of course – and here’s a photograph of one side of the Antique Dealers exhibition with, left to right, a pen and ink drawing by Anne Webb of the library at Garnstone Hall in 1840, given to Temple Newsam, Leeds Museums by Roger Warner on his retirement from business in 1985; an 18th century chimney board, a bequest in 2008 to Temple Newsam, Leeds Museums, from the estate of Roger Warner (1913-2003); and the early 19th century stool by C.H. Tatham, sold to Temple Newsam by Ronald A. Lee in 1975.  The small arched-top framed ‘picture’ is actually a set of 18th century decorative silk trimmings (passementerie) also part of a bequest from the estate of Roger Warner in 2008.  And finally the 18th century chair from Houghton Hall, Norfolk, sold to Temple Newsam by Phillips of Hitchin in 1960.

The display of dealer objects at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery exhibition on Antique Dealers. 2019.

There are also a range of objects on loan from the private collections of the Warner family – the photograph of the display case below shows a selection of 19th century tiles by the Arts & Crafts designer William de Morgan (1837-1917) – Roger Warner’s grandfather was Metford Warner (1843-1930) the owner of the wallpaper manufacturer Jeffrey & Co., who produced the wallpapers for the Arts & Crafts designer William Morris for his company Morris & Co. It’s thought that the tiles on display may have been passed directly down from Metford Warner through the family to Roger Warner – they are now owned by Simon Warner, Roger’s son – and thanks again to Simon for generously loaning them to the exhibition.  The other object in the glass display case is a 15th or early 16th century oak fragment, carved with a depiction of Adam & Eve – also from Roger Warner’s private collection, and now owned by Simon Warner; and a photograph of Roger Warner at one of the Country House auctions he regularly attended during the 1950s and 1960s.

Roger Warner objects on display in the Antique Dealers exhibition at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds. 2019.

There are many other fascinating objects and archives on display, so I hope you get a chance to pop to the University of Leeds to see the Antique Dealers exhibition.  Thanks are due to my co-curator Katie Herrington and to Fred, Eugenie, Laura and the rest of the team at the Brotherton Library Special Collections and the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.  And thanks too to the Leeds Art Fund for so generously supporting the exhibition.

 

 

We are planning to run some events during the run of the Antique Dealers exhibition at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at University of Leeds…I’ll update the blog with details of those once we’ve finished planning them all!

Mark

February 27, 2019

Antique Dealers: Buying, Selling and Collecting at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds

The ‘Antique Dealers; Buying, Selling and Collecting’ exhibition at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds is starting to take shape – we’re just doing the final install this week, and the object loans from Temple Newsam, Leeds arrived yesterday. It’s very exciting seeing this exhibition develop – especially as I now feel like an old hand at exhibitions, having done the SOLD! exhibition at The Bowes Museum.  The Leeds exhibition is on a much smaller scale – only about a dozen or so objects, but it will, I hope, be just as engaging, and I hope will also foreground the amazing antique dealer archives we have at the Brotherton Library Special Collections.

The objects from Temple Newsam are being placed back into a dialogue with the original archives from the three of the dealers that are the focus of the exhibition at Leeds – Phillips of Hitchin, Ronald A Lee and Roger Warner. Here’s the first of the Temple Newsam objects arriving at the gallery.

Antique Dealers Exhibition at Leeds University – the packing crates arrive.

The story of the exhibition is on antique dealers buying and selling antiques, and of course and perhaps inevitably, dealers as collectors of antiques – we are using Roger Warner as a key example of the dealer/collector and have been lucky to have a number of objects loans from the private collections of Roger Warner’s family, Sue, Simon and Deborah. Here are a few of those objects, just being installed into the display cases at the gallery – a 19th century mousetrap and an 18th century teacaddy from the collections at Temple Newsam, and some wonderful small objects from Rogers’ personal collection.

Roger Warner objects at the Leeds University exhibition.

We also have an early 18th century chair from Houghton Hall, Norfolk, one of a set of six chairs that Phillips of Hitchin sold to various museums in 1960 – the Temple Newsam chair retains an 18th century green velvet cover.

Phillips of Hitchin chair unpacked and ready for placing in the exhibition at Leeds University.

The install is going well, and Katie Herington (my co-curator on this exhibition) together with Fred, our amazingly helpful gallery technician, and Jill and Laura, have been busy unpacking and placing the objects in the space.

Jill and Fred unpacking objects for the Leeds University exhibition.

Katie placing the 18th century chimney board in the Leeds exhibition.

There’s still lots to do of course, and we are waiting for Eugenie from the Brotherton Library Special Collections team to come by tomorrow to begin to place the antique dealer archive material in the display cases. We have some fantastic antique dealer archives in the exhibition, including some very early stock books, dating from c.1890 from Phillips of Hitchin archives; a fascinating sales book of the 1920s of the dealer H.M. Lee, Ronald A Lee’s father; and Roger Warner’s first sales book from 1936.  As well as a range of intriguing photographs of the dealers’ shops and of their stands at the world-famous Grosvenor House Antiques Fair from the 1950s and 1960s.

I hope that the ‘Antique Dealers’ exhibition at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery will prove to be a success – there’s been a lot of work by a lot of people in the Brotherton Team and the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery to make this happen.

 

I’ll post another blog once the exhibition install has been completed, so you can see what it looks like – it opens on MONDAY 4th March and runs until 25th May 2019 – and it’s FREE!

Mark

 

 

 

 

February 16, 2019

Yet another Exhibition – this time in Leeds, from 4th March at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds

The SOLD! exhibition at The Bowes Museum is going very well; we’ve had lots of very positive and encouraging comments and visitors seem to like the Show – it’s running until the 5th May, so there’s still plenty of time to see the exhibition. But I also thought you would like to know of my parallel exhibition, due to open very soon at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds – I’m keeping myself busy!

This new exhibition, called Antique Dealers: Buying, Selling and Collecting, will open at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds on Monday 4th March 2019 and runs until 25th May 2019. Here’s the gallery –

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds. Photograph, copyright University of Leeds.

– it’s a great space – although we are only going to be using the Education Room Space in the SABG as it’s a much smaller exhibition, but I still hope that it will draw further attention to the significance of the history of Antique Dealers to British cultural life.  I’m still finishing the Text Panels and the object labels for this one, but they will be all ready for the printers this coming week.

The Antique Dealers exhibition is focused on the extraordinary range of antique dealer archives that have been so generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds.  As you may know, we have several highly important antique dealer archives at the University of Leeds library – including the archives of Phillips of Hitchin, Ronald A. Lee, Roger Warner, and H.C. Baxter & Sons.  We’ve focused on just three of the archives for the Antique Dealers exhibition at the University – those of Phillips of Hitchin, Ronald A. Lee and Roger Warner – and have brought a few objects that the dealers sold to Temple Newsam, Leeds, back into dialogue with the original archive material. Just to whet your appetite here’s a few examples of the objects coming on loan from Leeds Museums & Galleries to the Antique Dealers exhibition at the SABG in Leeds.

From Temple Newsam, this historically important early 18th century side-chair from Houghton Hall in Norfolk, sold by Phillips of Hitchin to Temple Newsam in 1960.

Early 18th century Walnut side chair, sold by Phillips of Hitchin to Temple Newsam, 1960. Photograph from the Phillips of Hitchin archives, BLSC University of Leeds.

And also from Temple Newsam, this amazing painted stool, designed by C.H. Tatham and painted to imitate marble, which was sold to Temple Newsam in 1975 by the antique dealer Ronald A. Lee –

Painted stool designed by C H Tatham, c.1800; sold by R.A. Lee to Temple Newsam in 1975. Photograph Leeds Museums & Galleries.

We have also had an extraordinary range of objects on loan from the private collections of the Warner family – from Simon Warner, Deborah Warner and Sue Ashton, the son and daughters of the well-known antique dealer Roger Warner (1913-2003) – these are some wonderfully ‘curious’ objects that remained in Roger Warner’s collection until he died in 2003.  We are so grateful to the Warner family for so generously loaning the objects that formerly belonged to Roger Warner – and especially to Simon Warner for so kindly delivering the objects to the University!

I’ll update the Blog on the progress on the exhibition in the coming week – and hope that people get a chance to see the new Antique Dealer exhibition at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds during the period it is on – 4th March to 25th May 2019 – it’s a FREE exhibition!

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

January 24, 2019

SOLD! only 2 more days to go! The install gathers pace!

The installation of SOLD! has been gathering pace the last two days, and with two more install days to go before the Preview Event on Friday the exhibition space has been a place of calm energy!

The loan objects from the Victoria & Albert Museum arrived and have all been placed safely into their respective museum cases and plinths – the consensus was that they all look wonderful – here’s a brief ‘preview’ of just 2 of the V&A’s objects safely installed; the world-famous bronze statuette of Meleager by ‘Antico’ in his case, next too another very famous object, the George III coin and medal cabinet – to the left is the Bowes Museum’s ‘Eleanor Bowes Cabinet’.  They are, of course, left to right – ‘Temple Williams’, ‘H.C. Baxter & Sons’, and ‘Phillips of Hitchin’ (the dealers that SOLD! the objects to the museums). We still have to finish the displays of course and the labels etc…but hopefully it gives you a sense of what the final displays will look like – and will entice you to visit!

Installation of the SOLD! exhibition at The Bowes Museum.

There are also many more spectacular objects in SOLD! – including loans from the British Museum – here represented by one of the key objects, an amazingly rare Ming Dynasty ‘Palace Bowl’ (called the ‘Dragon Bowl’) dating from the 15th century – similar Ming Bowls were SOLD! by the world-famous dealers in Chinese Works of Art, ‘Bluett & Sons’. Here is the bowl, safely in its case. We have placed the case against an interior photograph of the shop of Bluett & Sons in 1926.

The ‘Dragon Bowl’ installed in the SOLD! exhibition at The Bowes Museum.

The exhibition space is looking more and more like it will do when SOLD! is finally completed on Friday; there’s still lots to do, but it’s definitely taking shape – here’s exhibitions assistant Jen, putting up some of the vinyl ‘floating quotes’ on the wall – you’ll have to come and see SOLD! to see the quotes, and their subtle role in the exhibition…

Jen, putting up the vinyl ‘floating quotes’ on the walls for SOLD!

In the photograph, the exhibition space still looks a little bit like a ‘work in progress’, but then that’s exactly what it is!

Today (Thursday) we are completing the ‘stocking up’ of the 1850 Old Curiosity Shop -it was slightly delayed yesterday with the careful unpacking and installing of the major loans from all of our key museum lenders – but we have our first objects in the 1850 shop! You can also see the fabulous range of ‘ancient armour’ ready to be placed in the 1850 shop on the tables outside the shop – the armour has been generously loaned by Preston Park Museum, Stockton – which has a truly amazing collection of arms and armour.

The 1850 Shop in SOLD!

Can you also see ‘Lovejoy’ looking out at us on the right!…

I’m learning an awful lot about Exhibitions through this major exhibition install project – I think, secretly, I might want to be a curator rather than an academic!…(ask me again though, after SOLD! opens!)

 

Mark

December 20, 2018

Progress on SOLD!

SOLD! is coming together very well – we’ve been working at The Bowes Museum on the text panels and object labels all of this week.  They all go off to the designers soon – there’s only about 1 month to go before the exhibition opens on 26th January (and that includes the Christmas break!), so there’s still a lot of work to do.  George Harris (Exhibitions Manager at Bowes), Catherine Dickinson (Exhibitions Officer), Jane Whittaker (Head of Collections) together with the other members of the exhibitions team Vin and Jen, and I have been working on the images and texts we need for the exhibition.  It’s going to be designed around a theme of ‘shopping for antiques over 200 years’….using a cityscape as a main theme, with antique shop fronts, of various periods from 1820s to present day, interspaced with images of antique shop interiors over the same period, so the visitors to the exhibition will get a sense of the changing panorama of the ‘antique shop’.

Simon Spier (Project Assistant on the recreating the 1850s Shop) has also been helping with engaging with the local community of dealers and collectors to gather appropriate objects for the shop (see Simon’s ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ Twitter feed).  Simon and I were searching the Bowes stores this week for suitable objects for the 1850 shop…together with Howard Coutts, (the Curator of Decorative Art) – it is interesting that Howard is not the curator of ‘Antiques’ – but then, antiques’ are not what the museum contains I guess?

Over the course of the research project we’ve gathered hundreds and hundreds of images of exteriors and interiors of antique shops.  These two photographs, of F.W. Phillips’ (Phillips of Hitchin) antique shop in about 1905 and the interior photograph of the shop of C. Charles (Charles Duveen, J.H. Duveen’s brother) in New Bond Street, London in c.1903, are just examples of several hundred we have to choose from, so it’s been quite a task to find the right kind of image for the exhibition interpretation.

Phillips of Hitchin shop, c.1905. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

 

C Charles, New Bond Street, c.1903. Photograph, Connoisseur, September 1903.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve also had some excellent pre-publicity for SOLD! this week – the exhibition was featured on the front page (and on page 4) of the Antiques Trade Gazette – see the web version HERE and SOLD! is also on the British Antique Dealers’ Association website (thank you as always the BADA!).

The objects coming to SOLD! cover quite a range of object types (and dealers of course) – we have this wonderful ‘majolica’ dish, from Deruta in Italy, and dating from c.1530, on loan from the V&A Museum.

Dish, c.1530, sold by Henry Durlacher to the SKM in 1854. Image courtesy of the V&A Museum, copyright the V&A Museum.

It was sold to the South Kensington Museum in 1856 (as the V&A Museum was called in the 19th century) by the well-known 19th century antique dealer Henry Durlacher (b.1826) for £5 and 5 shillings – quite a meagre some, even in the context of the market for such objects in the 19th century.  The market for ‘Raphaelware’ (as this kind of object would have been categorized in the 19th century) was very strong in the middle decades of the 19th century, so perhaps Durlacher was hoping to encourage more purchases from the South Kensington Museum?

SOLD! also has several objects from the collections at The Bowes Museum on display of course, including this spectacular 18th century Bronze fountain mask, which was sold to The Bowes Museum in 1966 by the dealership ‘David Tremayne’ – one of the directors of ‘David Tremayne’ was David Salmon, a member of the family that owned J. Lyons & Company, of ‘Lyons Tea Rooms’ fame.  ‘Tremayne’ traded from the King’s Road in London, which in the 1960s was the epitome of Swinging, Fashionable London, with the antique dealers patronised by Film Stars and Rock Groups such as the Rolling Stones.

Bronze Mask, sold by ‘David Tremayne’ to The Bowes Museum in 1966. Photograph courtesy of The Bowes Museum.

 

In SOLD! we also have a number of objects from Temple Newsam, part of Leeds Museums & Galleries, including the famous black lacquer secretaire, formerly supplied by Thomas Chippendale for Harewood House in the 1770s.

Secretaire, c.1770, sold by Hotspur to Temple Newsam, Leeds Museums & Galleries in 1999. Photograph courtesy of Leeds Museums & Galleries, copyright Leeds Museums & Galleries.

Of course, for SOLD! this is not a ‘Chippendale’ , it was sold to Leeds Museums & Galleries by the well-known Antique English Furniture specialist dealers Hotspur in 1999, who were then trading in London.  Indeed, the secretaire’s dealer biography can be traced to 1946 when it was acquired by the London dealer Jesse Botibol, probably direct for the auction sale of some contents of Harewood House sold at Christie’s in London that year.

There are many more well-known and world-class museum objects in SOLD!, But of course the purpose of SOLD! is to highlight their ‘hidden histories’ and to retell the history of the antique dealers that are such a fundamental part of their object biographies.

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2, 2018

SOLD! A Major Exhibition at The Bowes Museum

As some of the readers of the Antique Dealers Blog already know, for the last 18 months I’ve been very busy working as ‘guest curator’ on an exhibition called ‘SOLD!’ at The Bowes Museum based on over 10 years of research on the history of Antique Dealing in Britain – and we can now announce the forthcoming opening (on 26th January 2019) of the exhibition!  Here is the poster, with the stunning bronze by Antico of c.1490-1500, acquired by the V&A Museum through the dealer Horace Baxter in 1960, as the ‘poster boy’.

SOLD! Poster

SOLD!, which opens on 26th January 2019, brings together more than 40 world-class objects, from various museums, including the V&A, the British Museum, The Royal Armouries, Royal Collection, The Lady Lever Art Gallery and Temple Newsam, as well as objects from the collections at The Bowes Museum itself, and loans from private collections never seen in public before, to tell the ‘hidden histories’ of the objects with a focus on the history of antique dealing.  One of my PhD students (Simon Spier) is working as the project research assistant helping with the assembly of the recreation of an ‘old curiosity shop’ which will be part of the display and interpretation for SOLD! – you can follow Simon’s activities in the special Twitter feed we have developed – see  https://twitter.com/Bowes_GBAS

Besides ‘Antico’ from the V&A Museum…(which I have been calling a ‘Horace Baxter’ – indeed, I have been calling all the objects in the exhibition by the name of the dealer who sold them which has been very confusing for many museum curators! – so the ‘Antico’ is a ‘Horace Baxter’; we also have a ‘Henry Farrer’ (a very rare 16th century Venetian glass goblet – sold by Farrer to the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A Museum) in 1854 for £30.0.0) – you can just see the edge of the green glass goblet to the right of the ‘Baxter’ in the poster above; and a ‘David Tremayne’ – the wonderful 18th century bronze mask, sold to The Bowes Museum by David Tremayne in 1966 – you can just the bronze mask to the left of the ‘Baxter’ (sorry, the ‘Antico’) in the poster.

We have a wonderful range of objects in SOLD!, including this amazing demilance suit of armour of c.1620 from the Royal Armouries, (Tower Armouries Collection in London), which was acquired via the well-known specialist dealer in ‘ancient armour’ Samuel & Henry Pratt from their ‘The Gothic Hall’ just off New Bond Street in 1840.

S. & H. Pratt – (1840) – Demilance suit of armour, c.1620. Photograph courtesy of The Royal Armouries.

As part of SOLD! we have objects that passed through the hands of major 19th century dealers such as E.H. Baldock, John Webb and George Durlacher; and in the 20th century, major dealers such as Frank Partridge, M. Harris & Sons, H. Blairman & Sons, Mallett & Son, Wartski, Hotspur, S.J. Phillips, and Bluett & Son…plus many more besides.

One of the major dealers we have focused on is Phillips of Hitchin; mainly because we have the Phillips of Hitchin archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds. And here’s a very rare photograph of the Phillips of Hitchin shop in c.1905, with Frederick W. Phillips (centre) the chap that established the firm in 1882, and Hugh Phillips (his brother) to the right (we don’t know who the third person is) – the photograph was taken just a few years before Frederick Phillips bought the ‘Gothic Cupboard’ and sold it to Robert Mond (see below).

F.W. Phillips (Phillips of Hitchin) shop, Hitchin, c.1905. Digital copy of glass-plate negative courtesy of the V&A Museum.

Jerome Phillips, the grandson of Frederick Phillips, kindly identified the people in the photograph – and Kate Hay at the V&A Museum and her volunteers generously made a digital copy from the original glass-plate negative (part of the Phillips of Hitchin material that is, at present, at the V&A stores).

There are also couple of objects from the V&A Museum in the exhibition that were sold by Phillips of Hitchin – this Gothic cupboard (known as ‘Prince Arthur’s Cupboard’ in the early 20th century when it was acquired by the V&A Museum) was sold by F.W. Phillips (Phillips of Hitchin) to the well-known collector Robert Mond in 1912 for £220.0.0. – Mond donated it to the V&A in the same year.

F.W. Phillips (Phillips of Hitchin) ‘Gothic Cupboard’ c.1500-1600. Sold by F.W. Phillips in 1912. Photograph courtesy of the V&A Museum.

 

The other Phillips of Hitchin object in the exhibition is the famous ‘Medal Cabinet’ by the 18th century cabinetmaker William Vile (c.1700-1767), of c.1760, which was sold by PoH to the V&A in 1963 for £10,000.

Phillips of Hitchin (1963). George III mahogany medal cabinet, c.1760. Photograph courtesy of the V&A Museum.

 

The exhibition will also have a wide range of exceptionally rare antique dealer archives, and a range of dealer ephemera, to bring to life the history of the antique trade.  But there are also some spectacularly rare objects in SOLD! – indeed, one of the key premises of the exhibition is to show some very familiar, world-class museum objects, but to ‘reframe’ them through the narrative of the art market; and to bring the previously marginalized story of antique dealing more directly, and more explicitly, into the spaces of the public museum – and to provoke us all (museum curators, academics, and the public) to reflect on why the art market has often been suppressed and dislocated from the narratives of the history of art that the museum presents us with.

We hope that the ‘SOLD!’ exhibition will be a catalyst for increased public engagement with these previously marginalized stories.

I’ll be updating the blog with regular progress reports on SOLD! as we move towards the opening of the exhibition on 26th January 2019 – I do hope that we will see as many people who can make it to SOLD! at Bowes Museum and I hope to say ‘hello’ if I am about at the exhibition.

Mark

 

June 25, 2018

Antique Dealers from the 1920s – Ropley of London

Archive material relating the the history of antique dealing in Britain continues to come to the University of Leeds – this time whilst it may be only a very small amount of photographic material, (some 40 black and white photographs relating to the London based antique dealer ‘Ropley’), it is nonetheless a fascinating set of photographs that provide further insights into the cultural history of the antique trade; they also complement the extensive photographic archive material in the Phillips of Hitchin, M. Turpin and Roger Warner archives already at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at University of Leeds.

At present we don’t know that much about the dealer ‘Ropley’ but in the 1920s they were trading at 35 Duke Street, Manchester Square, and at 19 Mount Street, London (see www.antiquetrade.leeds.ac.uk). Here’s an old advertisement by Ropley, undated, but probably from c.1920?

Ropley, advertisement, c.1920.

‘Antique incised lacquer cabinet’, Ropley Antique Dealers, c.1920.

Just like Phillips of Hitchin, and many other antique dealers during the opening decades of the twentieth century, Ropley sold a wide range of antiques and also supplied fabrics – Phillips of Hitchin, for example, as earlier posts on the antique dealers blog have indicated, produced and supplied reproductions of historic textiles (see blog posts for July and August 2017). The set of Ropley photographs date from the period c.1910-1920, and were taken by the firm of Sydney Newbery, of Brixton; many of the photographs have pencil annotations on the back, with several marked ‘Ropley’ in pen in the top left and right-hand corners.

This photograph of a Chinese lacquer cabinet on stand is annotated on the back ‘Antique incised lacquer cabinet on gilt stand; height with stand 4ft 1in, width 2ft 1in’, and is inscribed ‘Ropley’ in the top left-hand corner of the back of the photograph.

And the pair of eighteenth-century hall chairs, shown in the next photograph, are described on the back of the photograph as ‘Pair of antique Queen Anne mahogany hall chairs with decorated coat of arms in the backs. Over 100 years old. 3ft 1in x 1ft 2in.’ They were available for the price of 13 guineas at the time (one guinea was equal to 1 pound plus 1 shilling; 1 pound contained 20 shillings).

‘Pair of Antique Hall Chairs’, Ropley Antique Dealers, c.1920.

We now know of course that the hall chairs do not date from the period of ‘Queen Anne’ (i.e. the opening decades of the eighteenth century), but perhaps we can excuse Ropley in their error.  Other photographs in the small amount of Ropley material illustrate the range of ‘antiques’ that a dealer such as Ropley sold in the period; including (left), ‘a pair of pole screens with wood panels on dull green ground..£19 the pair.’ together with an ‘Antique Mahogany Workbox on stand…£21 10 Shillings.’  And (right) a selection of eighteenth-century torcheres (there are no annotations are on the back of the photograph of the torcheres, other than what appear to be stock numbers of the objects – it would be fantastic if the Ropley stock books still existed).

‘Pole Screens and Workbox’, Ropley Antiques, c.1920.

Torcheres, Ropley Antiques, c.1920.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Chippendale’ furniture was one of the most desirable antique furniture during the 1920s (as it is today of course), and the photographs from Ropley also include examples of the ‘Chinese Chippendale’ furniture, which was extremely popular at the time.

‘Chippendale fret table’, Ropley Antiques, c.1920.

‘Antique Mahogany Chippendale side table..’ Ropley Antiques, c.1920.

The ‘Chippendale fret table’ is annotated on the back of the photograph, ‘A Fine Old Chippendale fret table, 3ft 7 and a half inches long, 19 and a half inches wide, 24 inches high’ and was priced at £50.10 shillings – quite a price at the time.

Verso of the ‘Chippendale fret table’ photograph. Ropley Antiques, c.1920.

Other annotations on the back of the photographs indicate that they were to be used in advertisements by Ropley – the pencil inscriptions suggest the size of the image in the advert (3 and 3 eighths inches wide) and have instructions to the publisher to edit the image ‘Background Away’.

Finally, a few of the photographs also indicate if the objects had been sold; with annotations in red ink on the front of the photographs, and similar annotations on the back of the photographs – the chair (below) had been sold to ‘E.J. Stirling Esq.’

Stock of Antique Furniture from Ropley Antiques, c.1920.

 

And the tables in the photograph below, had been sold to ‘Miss Wood, Ontario, Canada’ – an indication of the significance of the transatlantic antiques trade in the period.

Antique tables, from Ropley Antiques, c.1920.

 

This small archive of dealer photographs offer further fascinating insights into trade practices in the 1920s and will be a very useful resource in the continued study of the history of the antique trade in Britain.

Mark

 

June 14, 2018

Antique Dealer Exhibitions & new material in the Phillips of Hitchin archives

As followers of the Antique Dealer blog will be aware, one aspect of the continued development of the Antique Dealer research project has been an investigation into the emergence and role of themed exhibitions staged by antique dealers over the course of the 20th century.  Indeed, as a platform for dissemination of information on antiques and as a mechanism for the marketing of antiques, these exhibitions very usefully draw attention to the deep synergies between structures of knowledge and the art market.  Dealers have regularly organised selling exhibitions of course – the famous ‘Summer Exhibitions’ held by the leading New Bond Street dealership Frank Partridge & Sons from the 1950s to the 1980s, were opportunities to showcase new stock and for the swish private preview parties for the exhibitions, which were significant events in the social calendar.  Such exhibitions were attended by the most influential collectors, museum curators, interior decorators and antique dealers.   But what is of particular interest to the research project are the more scholarly, thematic exhibitions that antique dealers have staged over the years. These exhibitions, which remain a regular part of the current practices of antique dealing at the top of the antique trade, demonstrate the discrete, focused and scholarly contributions that many antique dealers have made to the knowledge of antiques – such exhibitions have often been accompanied by museum-type catalogues composed by antique dealers who are acknowledged as leading specialists in their field.

We are very fortunate that in the recent additions to the Phillips of Hitchin archive (again very generously sent up to us in Leeds by Jerome Phillips, who found the extra material whilst tidying up some stores – thank you again Jerome!) we now have a range of material that illustrates the detailed planning and execution of a range of ground-breaking exhibitions held by Phillips of Hitchin during the 1970s and 1980s.  Jerome organised these immensely influential selling exhibitions on specific furniture types – a model, unsurprisingly, that was also being adopted in public museums such as Temple Newsam in Leeds at the time (see, for example the exhibitions on ‘School Furniture’ organised by the furniture history scholar Christopher Gilbert at Temple Newsam in 1978 and a similar exhibition at Temple Newsam on ‘Common Furniture’ in 1982).

The Phillips of Hitchin exhibitions in June 1981 and June 1984 (staged to coincide with the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair held each June (except 1981) in London) are key examples of these types of antique dealer exhibitions.  In 1981 the exhibition on ‘Dining Room Furniture 1730-1830’ was a scholarly project, with antique furniture placed in rooms to mirror the social use of the objects at the time they were made – rather like a ‘period room’ setting that was also so popular in museums at the time.

Phillips of Hitchin exhibition ‘Dining Room Furniture 1730-1830’ June 1981. Photograph Phillips of Hitchin archives, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

Here’s another room at The Manor House, Phillips of Hitchin’s shop, with the assembly of some furniture suggestive of a more rustic dining space. The exhibition had a fully illustrated catalogue – Jerome remains a leading scholar on antique furniture and wrote many essays on the subject that appeared in publications such as Antique Collector; it’s also worth mentioning that in 1978 Jerome composed the new Introduction to the reprint of R.W. Symonds Masterpieces of English Furniture and Clocks (first published in 1940).

Phillips of Hitchin exhibition ‘Dining Room Furniture 1730-1830’ June 1981. Photograph, Phillips of Hitchin archives, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

Phillips of Hitchin’s exhibitions on dining furniture might be considered as relatively conventional, and of course they were more than just museum-type scholarly projects and also offered the opportunity for potential buyers to imagine new schemes for their dining rooms.   Jerome’s next exhibition, in June 1984, was of a type that was more ground-breaking, for the antique trade at least (as I mentioned, museums such as Temple Newsam were already organising exhibitions focused on specialist furniture types in the 1970s).  The ‘Travelling and Campaigning Furniture 1790-1850’ exhibition in 1984 involved considerable primary research and was again accompanied by a catalogue with a discursive essay on the historical development of travelling and campaigning furniture.

Phillips of Hitchin catalogue for Exhibition of Travelling and Campaigning Furniture 1790-1850.

 

The Travelling and Campaigning Furniture exhibition was obviously more specialist in nature, as I imagine was the audience for the exhibition – specialist collectors of ‘metamorphic’ furniture and museum curators perhaps? But the exhibition itself was a considerable success, according to the detail in the Phillips of Hitchin archives on the exhibition.  Indeed, reading the archive one cannot but admire the research and the time and effort that went into the planning and delivery of these exhibitions.

Phillips of Hitchin exhibition ‘Travelling and Campaigning Furniture 1790-1850’ June 1984. Photograph, Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

The new parts of the Phillips of Hitchin archive contains numerous photographs of the actual exhibitions, together with correspondence and supplementary detail on the planning of the exhibitions themselves – it’s a wealth of material that helps us to understand the objectives and complex nature of these scholarly and selling events.

Phillips of Hitchin exhibition ‘Travelling and Campaigning Furniture 1790-1850’ June 1984. Photograph, Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

One further thing, and something that also demonstrates the richness of the archives that Jerome so generously donated to Leeds University, is that Jerome also saved the object labels from the exhibition! …..and here’s just one of a number of those labels from an object from the ‘Travelling and Campaigning Furniture 1790-1850’ exhibition.

Phillips of Hitchin exhibition ‘Travelling and Campaigning Furniture 1790-1850’ June 1984, object label. Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

There’s more to say about the significance of these scholarly selling exhibitions organised by dealers such as Phillips of Hitchin and we are fortunate to have such archive material to help us to continue to explore and analyse the cultural history of the British antique trade.

Mark

 

March 30, 2018

Additions to the Phillips of Hitchin archives

A couple of weeks ago our Phillips of Hitchin archive had some very significant additions. Thanks to the support and generosity of Simon Phillips and Thomas Lange at Ronald Phillips antiques, London, who very kindly sent, via their driver and courier, a very large number of archive boxes full of photographs, glass-plate negatives and associated marketing ephemera that Jerome Phillips, of the antique dealer firm of Phillips of Hitchin, had deposited with them in London.

The new additions to the PoH archive include 15 large archive boxes of glass-plate negatives and 17 smaller archive boxes with similar contents.  Both sets of glass-plate negatives appear to date from the 1920s-1950s and comprise PoH images of stock, plus glass-plate negatives of photographs of some other well-known antique dealer firms, including Hotspur, Ronald Lee, Stuart & Turner, Mallett and Frank Partridge.  There are also some glass-plate negatives related to the antique furniture collector and author R.W. Symonds – perhaps for the publication of Masterpieces of English Furniture and Clocks (1940), which was republished in 1986 with an Introduction by Jerome Phillips.

Boxes of glass-plate negatives, part of the PoH archive. University of Leeds.

There is also one fascinating box of glass-plate negatives labelled ‘Arundel Paintings, 1912’ – which seems to relate to the famous Arundel Society (founded in 1849, for the dissemination of artworks via their reproductions).  As well as these extensive sets of glass-plate negatives there are also 49 blue plastic albums packed with photographs of the antique furniture stock of PoH (dating c.1920s-1970s) organised by object type – ‘chairs’, ‘desks’, ‘tables’ etc; and a box of loose photographs dating from the very beginnings of PoH c.1900.

 

PoH photograph albums. Phillips of Hitchin archives, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

The photographs in the albums clearly illustrate the exceptionally high quality of antique furniture that passed through the hands of PoH – as the examples of the ‘chairs’ album of photographs, and the ‘commodes’ album demonstrate.

PoH archive, ‘Commodes’ photo album. Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

 

PoH ‘Chairs’ photo album. Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

Amongst the photograph albums are two albums dedicated to the PoH stands at the world-famous Grosvenor House Antiques Fair; with photos of the PoH stands from the early 1950s up to the 1970s.  The photographs illustrate the changing methods of display adopted by PoH over the period – it’s interesting to note that PoH had also, from the earliest days of the business, produced reproduction wallpapers and textiles, and the PoH stands at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair always appeared to have been decorated with PoH reproduction wallpapers.

Here is the Phillips of Hitchin stand at Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in 1951.

PoH stand at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, 1951. Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

PoH photo archive ‘ A rare old carved oak Vestry chair with marquetrie panel in back’, ‘circa 1650’. PoH archives, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

Perhaps the most fascinating photographs in the archive are those dating from the very earliest days of the PoH business, when the antique shop was then run by the founder of the firm Frederick W. Phillips, the grandfather of Jerome Phillips who so generously donated his family business archive to Leeds University. These early photographs, dating from c.1900-1910 are dominated by examples of oak, walnut and mahogany furniture, which was so fashionable in the early 20th century.

The ‘rare old carved oak Vestry chair..’ shown here, is inscribed on the back of the photograph in a contemporary hand, ‘this we have reproduced’ – a further demonstration of the breath and depth of the business of F.W. Phillips (as it was then) in the period around 1900.  Indeed, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts on the antique dealer firm, F.W. Phillips was not only an ‘antique dealer’, but was also a complete home furnisher and interior decorator – he would also, if you so desired, build you an ‘ancient house’, (using recycled ancient materials) so fashionable in the period around the First World War.

Other interesting photographs in the recent additions to the PoH archive include this ‘carved mahogany settee, c.1760.’

PoH archives, ‘a carved mahogany settee, c.1760, upholstered in crimson damask’. Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

The back of the photograph has the inscription ‘carved mahogany settee…’ and also the price – ‘£95.0.0.’, which was quite a sum in c.1900.

We are so grateful to Simon Phillips of Ronald Phillips Antiques for so generously paying for the transport of this large corpus of PoH archive material – they are a great addition to the PoH archive we already have at the University of Leeds and the addition of the photographs will allow us to match up the stock books that we already have with these fascinating images of the enormous variety of antiques that PoH sold over more than 100 years.

Mark

 

 

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