Posts tagged ‘Phillips of Hitchin’

April 30, 2017

UGRLS Scholarship Scheme

Following Liv Powell’s (our UGRLS, Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship, Scholar) blog post a couple of weeks ago we thought we would tell you a little more about the UGRLS Scheme. Liv will be working with us on the antique dealers research project and the antique dealer archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections over the next 2 years, and we are very pleased indeed to have such an enthusiastic student!

The Laidlaw Scholarship scheme has been developed with very generous support from Lord Laidlaw, the businessman and philanthropist, who was educated at the University of Leeds.  Lord Laidlaw first developed the UGRLS scheme at the University of St. Andrews, and has now rolled out a programme of UGRLS at many more universities, including of course at the University of Leeds. Our Project ‘Objects Trajectories: Archives, Objects, Museums, in the Phillips of Hitchin & Roger Warner Archives’ was one of only SIX projects that were successful in the competitive funding round this year at the University of Leeds – so we are very pleased to have this extra support toward the future development of the Antique Dealers research project.

Liv will be working for 6 weeks each summer over the next 2 years, undertaking research on the Phillips of Hitchin and the Roger Warner archives, as well as working with Tim Proctor, Head of Engagement at the Brotherton Library Special Collections, on cataloguing and conservation and cleaning projects for the Phillips of Hitchin archives. We have lots of exciting plans for Liv – we hope, for example, that she will become a regular blogger on the Antique Dealers research blog, and she will be working with us on a number of developments for the dissemination of the research undertaken so far, and on some exciting projects on antique dealer exhibitions. Liv is also very skilled with Social Media (much more so that I am!), and has some great ideas for our digital media profiles…so watch this space!

Welcome to the team Liv!

Mark

 

 

April 6, 2017

‘Here it is Now!’ – Phillips of Hitchin in the UK, USA and Australia.

As readers of the Antique Dealer research blog will know, we have recently posted more ‘Where is it Now?’ objects, illustrating images from some of the early 20th century photograph stock albums in the Phillips of Hitchin archive, now at the Brotherton Library Special Collections. We thought you would be interested, and amused perhaps, to hear about a kind of reverse of the ‘Where is it Now?’ theme (a kind of ‘Here it is Now!’) – i.e. the catalyst for this blog post was not an illustration of an object in the PoH archive, attempting to set up a link from the archive to the outside world, but rather a photograph of an object in a public museum, that links back to the archive. Indeed, the photograph generated an investigation of other museum collections, which has further demonstrated the international significance of the Phillips of Hitchin archive.

Anyway, the PoH archive was generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections by Jerome Phillips, the 3rd generation of antique dealers associated with the business that has always been located at The Manor House, Hitchin since it was established in 1884. Jerome retired in 2014, and as many of you will know, is still in regular contact with us at the university; we often update him on the progress with his family business archive – Jerome is, after all, a living extension to the archive!

Jerome emailed us recently following an update from us on the archive, and mentioned that his wife, Barbara, was in Australia, and had been to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and whilst there she spotted a pair of chairs that Phillips of Hitchin had sold to the (then) Victoria State Gallery, Melbourne, in 1961.  Here is Barbara’s photograph of the chairs in situ (you can also spot Barbara reflected in the 18th century mirror!).

Pair of Houghton Hall chairs at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Photograph courtesy of Barbara Phillips, 2017.

Houghton Hall chair, Temple Newsam House, Leeds. Photo c.1960, courtesy of Temple Newsam House, Leeds.

The chairs are related to a set of chairs at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, a very large suite of furniture, including 2 settees, made by Richard Roberts in the period c.1720; the chairs were acquired by the Gallery of Victoria through the Felton Bequest in 1961, through Phillips of Hitchin (see here for a link to the museum catalogue entry).

The pair of chairs now in Australia came from a set of six chairs acquired by Phillips of Hitchin in 1960; Jerome tells us that he thinks his father bought the 6 chairs at auction (not direct from Houghton Hall).  PoH then sold the chairs to four different museums in 1960 and 1961. One chair from the set was sold to Temple Newsam House, Leeds in June 1960, for the sum of £275.00, and described, in the PoH archive invoice as ‘a walnut and parcel gilt chair ensuite with chairs at Houghton Hall’. The chair in the first B&W photograph is the Temple Newsam House example, photographed in c.1960.

Another single chair was sold to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in the same year.

Houghton Hall chair, Victoria & Albert Museum. Photograph c.1960. Copyright V&A Museum.

It seems quite strange perhaps that one of the pair of chairs were split up into single objects, rather than being retained as a pair (or indeed retaining the set of 6 chairs together), but the rationale, in the 1960s, was to distribute key examples of objects across as many museums as possible in order to allow more distributed access – this kind of materiality of things was a dominant idea in a period when object-based study was a key element in the structures of knowledge.

It’s interesting to note that the more recent acquisition by the V&A of the remaining large suite of furniture to which these 6 chairs relate, as part of the 2002 Acceptance in Lieu Scheme for the Inheritance Tax Settlement of the Cholmondeley Estate, has stipulated that the remaining suite of furniture remains in situ at Houghton Hall.

Chair in situ at Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Photograph copyright V&A Museum.

The last pair of chairs from the set of 6 acquired by Phillips of Hitchin were sold by the dealers in 1960 to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, through the Harris Brisbane Dick Fund. Here is a link to the online catalogue for the chairs.

‘Houghton Hall’ chair, c.1720. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photograph, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017.

And so, in this little example of the acquisition and distribution of this suite of Antique Furniture we can see not only the significant role of the antique dealer in the dissemination of objects across three Continents…..but also the shifting significance of the notion of historical context, cultural heritage, and museum collecting policies in the last 50 years or so.  And with that, the growing sense of the significance of the Phillips of Hitchin archive now held at the University of Leeds.

Mark

April 3, 2017

‘Where is it Now?’ – more objects to find

Following the success of the finding of the first of our ‘Where is it Now?’ objects from the Phillips of Hitchin archives, (we found the delftware plate in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, as you will know), we have posted 6 more photographs of objects to find.  You can see the photographs and the archive detail associated with them on the ‘Where is it Now?’ pages on the Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market – click here

Thanks especially to Peter Edwards, Faculty IT support at the University of Leeds for helping to create extra ‘Where is it Now?’ pages! The new objects are, we hope, relatively easy to identify, if they still exist of course – they may have been destroyed?  The photographs all date from the early 20th century, and the attributions in the archive may have been revised in the intervening years….but the objects are still fascinating illustrations of the taste for antiques in the period prior to World War I.

Do check out the ‘Where is it Now?’ pages and if you know where the objects are at present, do email us – antiquedealers@leeds.ac.uk

Mark

March 6, 2017

‘Where is it Now?’ – we found the first one!

Thanks to Simon Spier, one of our Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market PhD students, we have found the first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects. The object in question is a ‘Lambeth’ Delftware plate, dated 1717, with the initials ‘W D C’ painted on the top rim.

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Delftware plate, dated 1717. Phillips of Hitchin Archive MS1999/4/1/52. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, 2017.

The plate was in the stock of the antique dealers Phillips of Hitchin in c.1900, shown above in one of the photograph albums of stock that are part of the Phillips archive at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

We have discovered that the delftware plate is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA. The plate is currently part of the Met Museum’s collections of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts – here’s a link to the Met Museum collections online for the PLATE 

And here’s the plate itself, in full, glorious colour! The plate is on display in Gallery 710 in the Met Museum if you want to go and see it for yourself.

delftware-plate-1717

Lambeth delftware plate, dated 1717, diameter 9 inches.. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 12.279.9 Rogers Fund, 1913. Photograph copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum acquired the plate in 1913 (via the Rogers Fund), through the well-known antique dealer Frederick Rathbone (1837-1919). Rathbone was, by 1913, trading at 20 Alfred Place, South Kensington, London, and would have been in his mid 70s when he sold the plate to the Met Museum. He was an acknowledged expert on antique ceramics, especially on Wedgwood and ‘Old English Pottery’; he was famous for helping to assemble the collections of William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925) 1st Viscount Leverhulme, and the extensive collections of 18th century Wedgwood ceramics assembled by Lord Tweedmouth (1820-1894).

It’s not known when, for how much, or to whom, Phillips of Hitchin sold the plate – it may have been sold direct to Rathbone, we have yet to discover that information, but it will be buried in the extensive archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections.  What we do know is that Phillips bought the plate from the collection of the well-known collector W.H. Booth of Ipswich in Suffolk sometime around 1900.

Anyway, we are pleased at least to have found the first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects, and to have provided a little more provenance information to the delftware plate in the collections at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Mark

 

February 6, 2017

Thornton-Smith Antiques – ‘The Georgian House’.

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‘The Georgian House’ – W.& E. Thornton-Smith. c.1910.

Following the very kind donation of antique dealer ephemera by Tim Turner at Sworders Auctioneers we thought we should compose a fuller account of our investigations of the catalogue of the antique dealers W.& E. Thornton-Smith.

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Phillips of Hitchin, ‘The Georgian House’, catalogue, c.1920.

The catalogue is a type that was produced by many antique dealers during the early 20th century.  A key comparison is the catalogue produced by Amyas Phillips, of the firm of Phillips of Hitchin, who also produced a catalogue of stock titled ‘The Georgian House’ (this one c.1920).  The Thornton-Smith’s catalogue appears to date from c.1910, given the suggested information on the back of the catalogue (i.e. that Thornton-Smith had ‘New Premises’ at 11 Soho Square, London); they appeared to have moved to 11 Soho Square in c.1910.

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Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

It must have been quite an extensive business; they state that they had ‘one of the largest stocks of English Antique Furniture in the country’ (but then, many dealers also suggested that at the time, and since). If we are to believe the information in the catalogue, they had 40 four-post beds in stock, all on show ‘in an historic Georgian House, decorated in the manner of that period.’

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Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

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Thornton-Smith catalogue, c.1910.

The catalogue also contains an extensive number of black & white photographs illustrating the range of stock held by Thornton-Smith in the period.

Walter George Thornton-Smith (d.1963) established his antique dealing business in c.1906, with Earnest Thornton-Smith. Like many antique furniture businesses at the time, Thornton-Smith also provided a full interior decoration service for their clients.  Indeed, such was the reputation of Thronton-Smith as decorators that they started the careers of two of the most well-known interior designers of the 20th century – Syrie Maugham (1879-1955), wife of the writer W. Somerset Maugham, and interior decorator par excellence during the 1920s and 1930s (famous for her interior schemes made entirely with shades of white) began her training with Walter Thornton-Smith in the early 1920s, before setting up ‘Syrie Limited’ at 85 Baker Street, London in 1922.  It seems that Thornton-Smith was introduced to Syrie when he was commissioned to decorate her home at York Terrace; she was at the time recovering from her recently failed marriage to the Industrialist Henry Wellcome (1853-1936).

The other key interior decorator associated with Thornton-Smith was John Fowler (1906-1977), of Colefax & Fowler, who briefly trained at Thornton-Smith in the late 1920s.

Thornton-Smith was a highly successful businessman and, like many dealers and collectors of antiques at the time, he also took a keen interest in ‘ancient buildings’. He developed a number of historic architectural projects, often recreating ‘historic homes’ by recycling architectural elements from demolished buildings.  One of the earliest of his projects was the dismantling and re-siting of a 16th century half-timbered building ‘Kingston Hill’, near Woodbridge in Suffolk (it’s not known where he re-sited the building?).  His major project however was Shoppenhangers Manor, Maidenhead, Berkshire.

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Shoppenhangers Manor, Maidenhead, as seen in c.1950. Photograph from Apollo Magazine, August 1956.

Thornton-Smith bought the site of the original manor house at Shoppenhangers (the site had already been cleared of the remains of the original manor) in 1914 and set about recreating a 16th century manor house on the foundations of the original house.  The project seems to have taken 4 years to complete, and was assembled, recreated, using an astonishing range of architectural elements, from a wide geographical area, and made available through a variety of opportunities and events.  Painted glass from Selby Abbey, for example, made available following the major fire at Selby Abbey in 1906, was installed in the ‘Long Room’ at Shoppenhangers; there were ceilings from an ‘ancient inn at Banbury’, and panelling from an ‘old house’ at Faversham, as well as that ‘removed from a Venetian Palace’. Other materials apparently came from West Wycombe Park and from ‘an ancient house in Spain’.  One of the most important rooms in Shoppenhangers Manor, the ‘drawing room’ was lined with panelling from Billingbear Park, Wokingham.

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Shoppenhangers Manor, the drawing room. Photograph from Apollo Magazine, August 1956.

It’s not actually clear how Thornton-Smith acquired the panelling from Billingbear Park – given that the house was still occupied until a devastating fire in 1924 (some 6 years after Thornton-Smith supposedly completed his house), but it may be that Billingbear Park was refurbished/remodelled sometime in the 1910s, or that Thornton-Smith acquired the panelling in 1924 and continued to construct his ‘new-old’ house? If you are interested in reading more about Thornton-Smith’s project at Shoppenhangers, it was the subject of a short essay by Horace Shipp, in Apollo Magazine in August 1956, pp.41-45 – ‘A Home and it’s Treasures, Shoppenhangers Manor and the Collection of Walter Thornton Smith’.  After Thornton-Smith died, Shoppenhangers Manor was sold to the Esso Petroleum Company in 1965, when there was also an auction sale of the contents; it was converted into an hotel in the late 1960s, and was eventually demolished in 2007.

Which brings us back to the Phillips of Hitchin ‘The Georgian House’ catalogue.  The antique dealers Frederick W. Phillips and Amyas Phillips have been the subject of earlier blog posts in the antique dealers blog (see Phillips of Hitchin posts), but one of the interesting aspects about the Phillips family business is also their architectural projects, which are in direct correlation with those of Walter Thornton-Smith (they must have known each other I’m sure!).  Phillips’ major project (one of many, that also included the dismantling and sale of the London home of Sir Isaac Newton in the 1910s) was the reconstruction of Baliffscourt in Sussex.

bailiffscourt-hotel-spa-exterior-photo

Baliffscourt, West Sussex. Wikicommons.

Amyas Phillips was engaged by Lord Moyne in 1927 to recreate a late Medieval manor house, and, like Thornton-Smith, he began assembling the ‘ancient manor house’ by scouring the country for historic architectural elements, creating a house that is a poem of romantic architectural fragments.

Whatever the real stories behind the provenance of the architectural elements that eventually made their way to these ‘new-old’ homes, these architectural projects illustrate the significance of the key roles that the antique trade played in these romantic recreations of the past, providing the perfect back-drop for the assemblage of antique furniture and objects that the dealers also supplied.

Mark

December 17, 2016

‘Where is it Now?’

As part of developing the rich potential of the wide variety of Antique Dealer archives that we now have at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds we have developed a ‘Where is it Now?’ project. The project aims to reconnect some of the objects in the archives with their current owners, if they still exist in public museums or private collections anywhere.  We are choosing objects that are relatively easy to identify, and objects that we believe are (still) of some historical significance.

The photographs of the objects will be initially from the Phillips of Hitchin archive photograph albums, which appear to date from c.1900.  Phillips of Hitchin were established in 1882 at the Manor House, Hitchin, and remained there for over 120 years. The business sold antique objects to museums and collectors from all over the world, so we are hoping that some of the objects will speak of their travels!

The first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects is this Lambeth (London) delftware plate, dated 1717, and with the initials ‘C W D’ painted on it. If you know where it is now do let us know by emailing antiquedealers@leeds.ac.uk

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Lambeth delftware plate, 1717. Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, MS1999/4/1/52. Photograph courtesy Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, 2016.

Happy Hunting!

Mark

December 15, 2016

Another ‘BADA Voices’ oral history interview

We’ve been busy this last month with our Oral History interviews with members of the antique trade – and the latest in our continuing series of ‘BADA Voices’ was with one of the leading members of the Antique English Furniture trade, Robin Kern, of Hotspur Limited.  We would like to thank Robin, and Chris Coles, our Lead Volunteer for the Antique Dealers Research project, for undertaking the interview. Print

And continued thanks to BADA for their support!

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Robin and Brian Kern, of Hotspur Limited, standing next to the famous black lacquer secretaire, made by Thomas Chippendale for Harewood House in the 1770s (now at Temple Newsam House, Leeds). Photograph courtesy of Robin Kern, 1999.

The business of Hotspur began in 1924 in Buckingham Palace Road, London, established by Frederick Kern, before moving to Frith Street in Soho, London just before the Second World War, then Streatham Lodge, Twickenham during the War, and finally to Lowndes Street, London from 1951.  The business was continued by Robin Kern’s father, Rob Kern, before Robin and his brother Brian joined the firm in 1957 and 1963 respectively.

Our interview with Robin adds critical mass to the wide range of complementary oral history interviews we have already completed – including those with Jerome Phillips, of Phillips of Hitchin, who was, as Robin tells us in his own interview, a key travelling companion during their formative years in the antique trade in the 1950s and 1960s.

We have move oral history interviews planned for 2017, so do keep an eye on developments.

Mark

 

August 28, 2016

Final Day in ‘Action Week’ on Phillips of Hitchin archives

‘Action Week’ at the Brotherton Library Special Collections came to a close on Friday – it was an exhausting, but very productive week of cleaning and cataloguing – and thank you again to everyone that helped out with the Phillips of Hitchin archives – to the team at Brotherton Special Collections – Sharon, Francis, Tim and Joanne, (and everyone else!); and to the volunteers in the archives Helen, Matt and Riza, and our Antique Dealer project volunteers, Heather, Pauline, Sue and Yiwen – it was such a great team effort!…. here’s four of the happy volunteers (see also pictures of the volunteers in previous blog posts) –

archive action week

Action Week volunteers – L-R, Yiwen, Pauline, Heather & Sue.

There’s still an awful lot of cleaning and cataloguing to do, but we made great progress on the Phillips of Hitchin archives – and made some new discoveries…the archive is certainly beginning to reveal the rich potential that we always knew it had. And from the huge variety of materials (sales ledgers, day-books, photograph albums, correspondence files, etc etc) some fascinating stories are emerging.

One of  the tasks we undertook was the cleaning and cataloguing of some of the scores of small (6 inch high) ‘photograph albums’; they appear to date from the early 20th century, and contain a huge variety of black & white photographs of antiques – the condition of the albums is mostly fair, but many of them need a little bit of care and attention; see below for an image of the cover of one of the albums –

photo album c1910

Photograph Album, c.1900, Phillips of Hitchin archives MS/1999/4/1. Photograph courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

They contain fascinating images of the type of stock that Phillips of Hitchin traded in during  the late 19th and early 20th centuries; and there are some interesting objects – such as this late 17th century armchair, seemingly still with it’s original upholstery, but with a fascinating repair-job to the feet, which appears to have been added in the late 18th or early 19th century?

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Photo Album, Phillips of Hitchin archives, MS1999/4/1/15. Photograph courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections.

The pencil annotation below the photograph states ‘Sold’, but I wonder how long the chair retained it’s subsequent, practical, additions…and how long before it had a much more historically ‘sympathetic’ repair – if I’m honest, I quite like the old repair, it is, after all, a testimony to the history of the object.

Within the Phillips of Hitchin archives, as one would expect, there are thousands of transactions with hundreds of other antique dealers – including the most high-profile dealers at the time – as well as all the major collectors and museums one could think of……..the archive also contains a wide range of photographs of the interior displays at Phillips of Hitchin. The especially interesting images are those taken during the late 19th and early 20th centuries – including this amazing image of the ‘Corner of the English China Room’ (c.1900), showing a wide range of antique ceramics, including some (now) seemingly exceptionally rare things!

PoH English Ceramics room MS1999.4.1.17

Phillips of Hitchin archives, photo of ‘Corner of English China Room’. MS1999/4/1/17. Photograph courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections.

As I say, there is an exceptionally rich potential for further research into the Phillips of Hitchin archives – and, as followers to the Antique Dealer Research Project will know, we also have an oral history interview with Jerome Phillips, the 3rd generation of the family business, and donator of the archive to the Brotherton Library Special Collections; if you would like to hear about the history of the firm from the person that really knows about it do have a listen to the interview Here’s a link to the interview –

Interview with Jerome Phillips

We are continuing to clean and catalogue the Phillips of Hitchin archives in the coming months, and will post information on any interesting discoveries, so do keep your eye on the Research Blog.

Mark

 

 

August 25, 2016

More ‘Action Week ‘ work on the Phillips of Hitchin archives

We are making steady progress this week on the enormous task of cleaning and cataloguing the Phillips of Hitchin archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds. The Brotherton Library drafted in their Special Collections team, and extra volunteers, for the rest of the ‘Action Week’ project on the archive – special thanks to the hard work of Francis (conservator at the Brotherton Library), together with Sharon, (head conservator) and our team of volunteers, Sue, Pauline, Heather, Matt, Helen and Riza – we are getting through the masses of material now. Here’s the team in the Special Collections archive room at the Library, busy cleaning, all masked-up – it’s dangerous work!

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Cleaning the Phillips of Hitchin Archives. L-to-R, Helen, Pauline, Heather and Matt (left-hand table) and Riza, Sue and Francis (right-hand table).

Considering that the archive had been stored in a garage in Hitchin for most of it’s life, (it dates from c.1880s-to present) the archive arrived at the Brotherton in generally good condition, although parts of the archive had been subject to damp and mould and pest – hence the need for masks and gloves for the cleaning.  The process of cleaning and cataloguing is a huge task though, and at present we are only able to undertake brief cataloguing – we’re hoping for some funding to extend and complete the task!

As one would expect, given the significance of the history of the business of Phillips of Hitchin, the archive is absolutely packed with fascinating information on high profile transactions – all yet to be discovered!…but we thought we’d give you a flavour of the kinds of material that is buried in the archive –

The client lists of Phillips of Hitchin is a veritable ‘who’s-who’ of major collectors of antiques, and hundreds of sales of museums world-wide – here’s just one of many sales of antique furniture to the American collector Henry Ford II – for the sale of an 18th century English commode in the French taste, c.1770 – sold in 1957 for the sum of £2,750 –

H Ford II 1957

Copy Invoice, to Henry Ford II (21/10/1957) Phillips of Hitchin archive MS1999. Courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

Other, perhaps more surprising discoveries, include sales of antique furniture to the British Modern Sculptor, Henry Moore (1898-1986).  Moore was buying a wide range of 18th century antique furniture from Phillips of Hitchin in the late 1970s for his home/studio at Perry Green in Hertfordshire.  All of the furniture in the selection of sales invoices we’ve seen so far in the archive is for what one would consider to be ‘country furniture’ (18th century ‘fruitwood’ chairs; an early 18th century walnut side chair; an 18th century oak hanging cupboard; an 18th century ‘Yew wood’ settle, etc).

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Copy Invoice, Phillips of Hitchin, to the sculptor Henry Moore, 1978. Phillips of Hitchin archive, MS1999. Courtesy of The Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

This is not out of keeping with Moore’s interest in ‘crafts’ of course – and no doubt the tactile nature of country-made antique furniture resonated with Moore – but it’s fascinating to see evidence of these sales of antiques to the great ‘Modernist’ sculptor.

The archive of Phillips of Hitchin covers over 120 years of antique dealing, and we are so grateful to Jerome Phillips, the last surviving member of this famous antique-dealing dynasty, for generously donating the archive to the Brotherton Library Special Collections, and the Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market at the University of Leeds. It will, once we’ve finished cleaning and cataloguing it, be an astonishingly valuable resource for future researchers and scholars.

Mark

 

August 22, 2016

Phillips of Hitchin archives – action week at the Brotherton

At long last, we have started to catalogue and clean the Phillips of Hitchin archives – the archives, as you know, have been very generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds by Jerome Phillips, the last owner of the world-famous antique dealers ‘Phillips of Hitchin’.  The business was established in the early 1880s, and remained at the Manor House, Hitchin since that time.

The archives will be a tremendous resource for scholars and researchers, but we have to get them catalogued and cleaned before we make them accessible – and that all takes time and funds!…We are making a start though, and this week The Brotherton Special Collections have devoted a whole week, and significant resources, to begin to clean and catalogue the extensive archives – there are at least 50 archive boxes to clean and catalogue…with thousands of individual items.

We have a team of archive specialists (including Sharon and Karen, the conservation and cataloguing experts) and a few eager volunteers working on the project – here are the volunteers (Yiwen, Pauline, Heather & Sue), working away, cleaning the materials –

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Archives Volunteers – L-R, Yiwen, Pauline, Heather and Sue.

As you can see, this is dangerous work!…the archives had been stored in a garage at The Manor House for decades, and require delicate cleaning and conservation – once this task is done, they are passed over to the cataloguers for basic level cataloguing – we are hoping for some funding for item level (i.e. individual letter/invoice/item) cataloguing…but at least we are making a start!

Even on this first day of cleaning and cataloguing the sheer quality of the Phillips of Hitchin archive is being revealed…and from these brown paper packages, treasures are emerging!

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Phillips of Hitchin Archive

 

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A parcel of letters from the Phillips of Hitchin archive

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ll update on progress and discoveries during this exciting ‘Archive Action Week’

Mark

 

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