October 30, 2022

A BADA President medal 1962-1964

As part of the Antique Dealer’s research project at the University of Leeds, we are constantly on the look out for rare ephemera and items associated with the history of antique dealing in Britain. Often material is very generously donated to us, but sometimes things appear on the market which we just have to acquire. One such object was this medal (see below), which turned up at auction in August.

The medal is silver-gilt, about 34mm in diameter, and has a pale blue and white silk ribbon attached. I’d never seen one of these medals before, so asked Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of the British Antique Dealers Association (BADA) about it – he tells me that they were awarded to BADA Presidents to acknowledge their work as Presidents of the organisation. The BADA, as many of you will know, was established in 1918. This particular medal was awarded to the antique dealer Nat D. Ayer by the BADA in 1964 in recognition of Ayer’s Presidency of the BADA between 1962 and 1964. The Verso of the medal has the inscription ‘Nat D. Ayer 38th President 1962-1964’.

Nat Ayer was a very well-known character in the British antiques trade in the Post WWII period. He appears to have begun trading in antiques immediately after the end of the Second World War, opening a shop in Quiet Street, Bath by 1946. Nat Ayer is perhaps also well-known as the son of the famous composer Nathanial Davis Ayer (1887-1952) who was also known as Nat D. Ayer; composer of such famous songs as ‘Oh, You Beautiful Doll’ (1911) and ‘If you were the only Girl in the World’ (1916), with the lyricist Seymour Brown (1885-1952), and for his work on the Ziegfeld Follies. Below is a cover for a music sheet for ‘Oh, You Beautiful Doll’.

Nat Ayer Snr. was born in Boston in the USA – below is a photograph of Nat Ayer in 1916. He settled in the UK, becoming very successful in the Music Hall and theatre scene in London in the 1910s and 1920s. Ayer appears to have been less successful in the 1930s; he was eventually declared bankrupt in 1938; he sadly passed away in 1952 aged 65, in Bath, Somerset. Perhaps Nat Ayer Snr was also instrumental in his son Nat Ayer Jnr. opening an antiques shop in Bath in the 1940s?

Nat Ayer Jnr. went on to be a highly successful antique dealer, and as well as being elected the President of the BADA, he moved his business Mount Street in London in about 1964, which was at the time one of the most important locations for high-end antique shops in London. It may have been when Nat Ayer opened his new shop in Mount Street that he met his long-term partner, H. Gustave, who worked as the manager of the Connaught Hotel located in Mount Street.

Nat Jnr., like his father, was also a composer and an accomplished pianist. Indeed, in one of our many Oral History interviews with member of the antique trade – in our interview with the antique dealer John Bly (see Oral History pages on the project website) – John recalls encountering Nat Ayer whilst viewing an auction sale in Bath with his father Frank Bly. John remembers the auction was on view in a cinema building and seeing a tall man with a smart fur collar on his coat, playing a piano – his father Frank told him – ‘that’s Nat Ayer’. And as part of his introduction to the antique trade, John Bly also worked for Nat Ayer, helping him on his stand at the world-famous Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in the 1960s. John recalls that Nat was famous for introducing stage settings on his stand at the GH Fair – in 1969, for example, Nat Ayer backed his stand with a huge photograph of the New York skyline, and created trompe l’oeil effects on the floor, creating diminishing perspective effects like in theatre sets. The result, John tells us, caused a sensation at the Fair. Here’s a photograph of Nat Ayer’s shop window in Mount Street from 1966, demonstrating the flamboyant stock, typical of Nat Ayer’s ‘look’.

Nat Ayer became well-known as an interior decorator as well as a leading antique dealer. ‘Ayer & Co’, as the business became known, continued trading until the mid 1970s, moving his shop to 26 Bruton Street in about 1972, a shop now occupied by one of the leading specialists in antique furniture, Ronald Phillips.

It’s not known how or why Nat Ayer’s BADA medal ended up for sale at auction, but it has now joined the growing collections of antique dealer ephemera at the University of Leeds.

Mark

September 30, 2022

American Antique Dealers – Francis Bannerman & Sons, New York, 1929

Our collection of catalogues produced by antique dealers had another fascinating addition in the last few weeks – a catalogue from Francis (Frank) Bannerman & Sons, dating from 1929. The catalogue is in quite a fragile condition (the paper used for the catalogue is rather thin) but it’s also quite thick, with more than 370 pages, and thousands of objects listed for sale throughout – it’s certainly one of the largest and most extensive antique dealer stock catalogues we’ve seen (so far).

Francis Bannerman & Sons, catalogue, 1929. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

The catalogue is titled, ‘War Weapons, Antique and Modern – Cannon, Pistols, Muskets, Rifles, Saddles, Uniforms, Cartridges’. The front cover, (shown above), has a photograph of one of the ‘Island Storehouses’ that Bannerman had in New York – and which was, as the catalogue description suggests, ‘one of the sights of New York’ and ‘the finest Military Museum in the City’. It’s certainly a very impressive building, in a ‘Romantic’ Gothic style, obviously deemed appropriate for the stock of antique and modern weapons.

Francis Bannerman (b.1851 in Dundee in Scotland) came to the USA with his parents in 1854 and began in business working with at his father’s ‘junk shop’ in New York, trading in ‘ship chandlery’ and ‘naval auction goods’ (as Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography described it), which had been established in 1865. Bannerman developed the business further, opening his own stores selling antique weapons alongside the naval and army surplus stores he acquired from Government auction sales. Here (below) is Francis Bannerman, photographed in the 1920s.

Francis (Frank) Bannerman, c.1920s. Photograph, Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds.

As a dealer in antique arms and armour, Bannerman continued a tradition that one can trace back into the early 19th century, with famous antique dealers such as Samuel Pratt (d.1849) and his brother Henry, who together with Samuel’s son, Samuel Luke Pratt (1805-1878), who ran a highly successful business trading in ‘ancient armour’ in New Bond Street, London, in the 19th century. Bannerman’s business in the 1920s draws from these traditions, but his business also seems to have acted as a wholesaler and supplier to several National Government’s during times of conflict. Hence, I guess, the large storehouses that Bannerman built in New York. Indeed, the images of the storerooms suggest a wide mixture of antique weapons and objects of antiquarian interest, alongside row upon row of rifles, many from Army and Navy stock from World War I; the weapons were sold for military re-use at the time. Here’s two images of the stores (apologies – the original photographs are very grainy):

Bannerman stores, New York, 1929. Photograph, Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds.
Bannerman stores, New York, 1929. Photograph, Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds.

The catalogue itself contains a mixture of ex-Government rifles, swords, clothing, tents, cannon etc., alongside some fascinating antique weapons, many of European origin from the Medieval Period onwards, including 16th century armour, spears and crossbows. The business also seems to have bought and sold weapons from indigenous (‘native’) populations from both the USA and around the world. Here, for example, is a rather problematically described series of ‘Bows and Arrows from Savage Tribes’:

Bannerman catalogue, 1929. Photograph Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds.

There are also many rare collector’s pieces in the catalogue, some of which, the catalogue suggests, had been exhibited by Bannerman at the ‘British Empire Exhibition 1924’ at Wembley in London. Here (below) are some early wheelock and flintlock pistols from the 1924 Wembley Exhibition. The top image (‘C-WH’) is described in the catalogue as ‘Wheelock Sporting Gun, mid 17th century German’…’from Marquis of Ripon Collection’ and priced at $500.00.

Bannerman catalogue, New York, 1929. Photograph Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds.

As well as photographs, the catalogue has hundreds of line drawings of arms and armour. This powder horn, priced at $250, from the 1812 War between Britian and the USA (1812-1815) is described as ‘Showing engagement June 29, 1813, between the British frigate, Junon, 30 guns, Capt. Sanders, and the Martin, 18 guns, Capt. Stenhouse.’ It was also described as ‘the only illustration known showing the engagement.’ The powder horn was apparently pawned by the descendants of the original owner, but never redeemed, and was sold to Bannerman by the heirs of the pawnbroking business.

Bannerman catalogue, New York, 1929. Photograph, Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds.

The Bannerman catalogue is a rare survival, although I’m aware of the existence of a small number of other editions of the catalogue, and provides a unique insight into some of the intriguing overlaps between ‘antique dealing’ and other commercial operations.

Mark

August 30, 2022

How (of Edinburgh, Limited) – rare antique dealer’s catalogue, 1937

Our collections of antique dealer catalogues have had a few more additions over the past months. The latest example of these rare pieces of ephemera is a catalogue produced in 1937 by the world-famous antique silver dealers How (of Edinburgh, Limited). As early 20th century antique dealer catalogues go, it’s quite a large, and obviously expensive to produce, catalogue of stock; it’s 12 inches high, by about 9.5 inches wide and contains 71 pages of black and white photographs of the antique silver that How (of Edinburgh, Limited) had in stock at the time. I guess such catalogues would be sent out to loyal customers, but you could also buy a copy of the How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue for 5 shillings.

How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue, 1937. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

How (of Edinburgh, Limited) were established in 1930 by Lt-Commander George Evelyn Paget How (Royal Navy, retired) FSA, Scotland. George How was born in Edinburgh in 1894, and spent much of his youth with his uncle, Lord Cuncliffe, who apparently taught the young How about antique silver. He purchased his first piece of antique silver, a George II silver basting spoon for £32 6d in 1911 in Gibraltar, whilst he was a cadet in the Royal Navy; he still had the spoon in 1936, shortly before the issue date of the How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue.

G.E.P. How, perhaps from the 1920s Photograph, Antique Collector Magazine, June 1935.

How (of Edinburgh, Limited) opened their first shop in North Street, Edinburgh, in 1930, before moving to fashionable Charlotte Square, Edinburgh by 1932. The business opened a shop in London by 1933, first in Berkeley Square, then Stratton Street (the location suggested in the dealer catalogue), before settling in Pickering Place, St. James’s after the Second World War.

George’s wife, Jane Prentice How (1915-2004) joined him in the business in the mid 1930s and was herself a leading expert on antique silver, a member of the Plate Committee at Goldsmiths Hall in London, and, by all accounts, a formidable antique dealer in her own right. Jane, known as ‘Mrs How’, continued the business of How (of Edinburgh, Limited) after the death of her husband. Many leading antique silver dealers of the day, including Hugh Jessop, John Bourdon-Smith and Brand Inglis, worked at How (of Edinburgh, Limited) at some stage in their careers as dealers.

The catalogue offers a fascinating insight into a leading antique silver dealer’s stock in the 1930s, including, as one might expect given the status of How (of Edinburgh, Limited) as one of the leading antique silver dealers, some rare and important examples of antique silver. Here, for example, is a rare, early, ‘Tigerware’ jug with silver-gilt mounts, made in London in 1556 – (see below):

How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue, 1937. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

Or this mid 17th century ‘Commonwealth’ period silver salver, made in London in 1657 – (see below):

How (of Edinburgh, Limited), catalogue 1937. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

The stock also included examples of the work of the world famous silversmith Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751), always much sought after. Here, for example, is a silver ‘small dish on four feet’ (it’s actually a silver sweetmeat-dish), dating from 1730 – (see below):

How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue, 1937. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research project, University of Leeds.

This dish, which appears to have been one of a pair, turned up at auction at Christie’s in London on 5th July 2005 (lot 19) in a sale of ‘Important Silver, the property of a European Collector’, when it sold for £7,200 (the Christie’s auction sale catalogue suggested that the engraved Arms in the centre were a later addition – (see below):

Christie’s Auction Catalogue (online), 5th July, 2005. Copyright, Christie’s.

The How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue also illustrates antique silver with very illustrious provenances. These examples, ‘The Lencker Tazza’ (silver-gilt, made by Elias Lencker in about 1570), and the silver-gilt beakers, made in Augsburg in about 1600, were both formerly owned by the Rothschild family – (see below):

How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue, 1937. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.
How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue, 1937. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

However, (I couldn’t resist the pun!) one of the most interesting (to me at least) aspects of the How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue is the inclusion in the catalogue of an example of a ‘Certificate of Authenticity’ issued by How (of Edinburgh, Limited). The certificate also directly relates to some of the suggested categories and classifications beneath each of the photographs of the objects in the catalogue – ‘Quality of Object’ – ‘Condition of Object’ – ‘Condition of Marks’, graded variously as ‘Fair’, ‘Good’ and ‘Exceptional’ throughout the catalogue and, as one might expect, as ‘exceptional’ in the certificate example.

How (of Edinburgh, Limited) catalogue, 1937. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

Many leading antique dealers and trade organisations, such as the BADA (British Antique Dealers Association) and LAPADA (The Association of Art and Antique Dealers) have offered certificates of authenticity, and many continue to do so, but the How (of Edinburgh, Limited) certificates of the 1930s demonstrate the long genealogy and enduring legacy of authenticity in the market for antiques.

Mark

July 31, 2022

Charles Morse Antiques

Our corpus of material on the histories of antique dealers continues to increase – thanks to the many, many individuals who very generously send us information about their antique dealing businesses, or information about antique dealers they have known. But of course our richest seam of information on antique dealers from the past comes directly from the relatives and families of antique dealers. And it’s thanks to Charlotte Morse (and her son Ben, and her half-sister Michal), that we have a whole raft of information on her father, the well-known specialist dealer in antique oak furniture and early objects, Charles Morse (1913-1980).

Charles Morse at Colne Priory, Essex, in 1975. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Charlotte very kindly donated some ephemera, photographs, and a couple of the last remaining ‘stock books’ (dating from the 1970s) from her father’s antique dealing business, all of which make fascinating reading and will help the antique dealers’ research project enormously.

Charles Morse became one of the leading dealers in ‘Early Oak’ in the 1960s and 1970s, trading from very grand country house premises in Essex. He sold some spectacularly rare objects, many of which must remain in leading collections (if anyone recognises any of the objects in the photographs and knows more about them, or where they are, do let us know!). Morse began his life as an antique dealer in the years after the Second World War. He was trained as a journalist, and worked as a War Correspondent during the War, before getting a job with the Glasgow Express in the years immediately after WWII. Charlotte tells us that her father met the Belgian antique dealer George Baptiste during the War, and this must have been the catalyst for his interest in being an antiques dealer.

Morse opened his first antique shop, called, ‘Mr Pickwick’s Antiques’ in Connaught Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex in 1946. Below is an advertisement calendar produced by Morse in 1947, illustrative of the general business marketing strategies adopted by some antique dealing businesses in the decades after WWII.

Advertisement Calendar, ‘Mr Pickwick’s Antiques’ (Charles Morse) 1947. Courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Morse appears to have developed his antique dealing business very rapidly – Charlotte tells us he did good business with the American export trade at the time. He was trading from his home, Groton Manor, Suffolk by 1950, as well as operating a small shop in the village of Boxford, near Sudbury, Suffolk and opening a shop in Great Portland Street, London by the mid 1950s. By 1961 Morse had been elected to the British Antique Dealers’ Association and had a shop in the famous Portobello Road. Throughout the 1960s he was making regular buying trips to Europe, especially to Holland and France, buying early oak furniture and sculpture. Charlotte very kindly shared this photograph of Charles Morse’s VW camper van, loaded up with antique oak furniture, being craned down from the ferry from Amsterdam in 1962.

Charles Morse’s VW camper van, on a buying trip to Holland, 1962. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

But Morse is perhaps most famous for trading from a number of historic properties that he owned in the 1960s and 1970s. He acquired ‘The White House’, Colne, Essex in about 1960, before buying Colne Priory, Essex in about 1967.

Colne Priory, Essex, home and ‘antique shop’ of Charles Morse, c.1967. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Colne Priory was rebuilt in 1825, incorporating elements of an 18th century house and was built in the grounds of a Benedictine Priory dating back to the 12th century. It was a highly appropriate historic property from which to deal in antiques. Indeed, the tradition of antique dealers trading from historic properties can be traced back to the 1920s and continued throughout the 20th century – the tradition also continues to this day of course.

Charles Morse Antiques, Colne Priory, entrance, c.1970. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Morse no doubt saw Colne Priory, and it’s historic interiors, as an effective marketing tool for selling antiques, but also, as Charlotte informed us, the house keyed into his love of history and the material culture of the past. Colne Priory was also a home of course, and below is a photograph the private dining room at Colne Priory, filled with antiques – the borderline between antique collecting and antique dealing has always been porous.

Colne Priory, private sitting room, c.1970. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Morse sold Colne Priory in 1977, moving his home, and business, to Larks-in-the-Wood at Pentlow, Essex. Here, Morse continued to deal in oak furniture and early objects right up to his death in February 1980.

Charles Morse, ‘Larks-in-the-Wood’, Pentlow, Essex. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Morse sold many spectacularly rare pieces of early oak furniture and early sculpture and objects – this early oak hutch for example; the stone head corbel on the top, left, was, so Charlotte tells us, discovered in the lake in the grounds of Colne Priory, and must have come from the Benedictine Priory itself.

Early oak hutch, Charles Morse Antiques. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.
16th century Hammer Beam End, Charles Morse Antiques. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

And (above) this 16th century oak Hammer Beam End, is typical of the quality of the stock of Charles Morse. As is this (below) 15th century Italian wooden painted and gilded Corpus Christi.

Charles Morse, 15th century Italian Corpus Christi. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Charles Morse offered the sculpture for sale at the Northern Antique Dealers’ Fair in Harrogate in 1979, for the sum of £3,000. One does not get a sense of the size of the sculpture, until one sees Charlotte (then aged 22) carrying the sculpture into the fair.

Charlotte Morse, carrying the 15th century sculpture into the Northern Antique Dealers’ Fair 1979. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

We are so grateful to Charlotte and her family for sharing this material, and her memories of her father, Charles Morse.

Mark

June 29, 2022

More Oral Histories go Live!

Our project to make all our Oral History interviews live on the project website continues to gather pace. We have now uploaded another 3 of our archive of interviews – thanks to Patrick Bannon, who is editing and creating visual files for the interviews. Our latest editions to the ‘live’ versions of the interviews are Peter Cheek (who traded as Peter Francis in London); David Fileman (from the famous antique glass specialists, Fileman Antiques), and Jerome Phillips (of the well-known antique dealers Phillips of Hitchin).

Peter Francis Cheek, in 2016. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

Peter Cheek, very sadly passed away in 2017, and we again pass our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

The newly edited versions of our Oral History interviews have been created as audio and image files, and we have managed to find relevant photographs of some of the objects and/or events that our interviewees mention in their discussions. So, you can both listen to, and sometimes see, objects or events that are highlighted in the interviews. We hope this will make the interviews a more engaging experience.

Screen Capture from David Fileman Oral History Interview page on Project Website.

You can listen/watch the latest interviews on the ‘Oral History’ pages of the Antique Dealer Research Project website – Click Here

With the help of Patrick Bannon, we aim to have all the remaining Oral History interviews edited and with photographs embedded in the coming months – so do keep your eye on the Blog and the Oral History pages on the project website.

Mark

May 30, 2022

Another of our Oral History Interviews goes ‘live’

We are very pleased to say that we are making steady progress with making our rich series of Oral History interviews publicly available. The very latest interview to be edited, formatted and uploaded to the Oral History pages on the project website was launched a few days ago – thanks to Patrick Bannon, who is editing and formatting the raw interviews and creating short films with embedded visual material from the archives.

Our interview with Gary Baxter, the grandson of Horace Baxter, founder, in 1927, of the well-known antique furniture dealers, H.C. Baxter & Sons, of the Fulham Road in London, is now available on the website – see antique dealer project Oral Histories

Gary Baxter, photographed in 2015. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

In the interview, Gary tells us about the early history of H.C. Baxter & Sons – how his grandfather used to gather old furniture on a cart around Clapham in South London, from their first shop in Northcote Road, Clapham, to H. C. Baxter & Sons becoming one of the most important trade suppliers of antique furniture in Britain. Below is a photograph of Horace Baxter, taken in about 1950 we think (thank you to Gary Baxter for allowing us to us this photograph).

Horace Baxter, c.1950. Photograph courtesy of Gary Baxter.

Gary also tells us about his own involvement in H.C. Baxter & Sons in the interview – he joined the business in 1978, aged just 17 years of age – as well as many other aspects of the history of the antiques trade. You can also listen and watch some of the other oral history interviews we have edited and uploaded to the project website – Philip Astley-Jones (click here); Kathleen Skin (click here); Jerome Phillips (click here). We are currently working on editing, formatting and uploading all the remaining oral history interviews in the coming months.

Mark

April 30, 2022

More Antique Dealer Catalogues – Herbert Sutcliffe 1968

The most recent addition to the growing collection of catalogues issued by antique dealers is this rare copy of Antiques Wholesale to the American Trade by the dealer Herbert Sutcliffe, dating from 1968.

Catalogue, ‘Antiques Wholesale to the American Trade’ Herbert Sutcliffe, 1968. Photograph, Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

Sutcliffe appears to have established his antique dealing business at Ing Hey, Briercliffe, Burnley in Lancashire in the late 1940s, expanding the business in the 1960s and 1970s to be a major player in the then very lucrative ‘Shipping Goods’ business, trading mainly with the USA and Canada. The catalogues, aimed specifically at the North American antique trade, were issued regularly by Sutcliffe to American customers for $3.50 subscription per copy. The issue we have is Catalogue No.22, and whilst undated, the information in the catalogue describing details of parcel post and surface and air freight shipping mentions USA Customs duty, stating that ‘items manufactured prior to 1868 are duty free’ – i.e. items over 100 years old, indicating the catalogue must date from 1968.

There are some fascinating photographs of the Sutcliffe business operation, with images of the offices – the catalogue mentions that there were 5 office staff looking after the orders. According to the catalogue, ‘telephoned, cabled and letter orders are received, upwards to 100 per day, to about 15 days after issue [of the catalogues], when most of the individual items are sold out.’

Herbert Sutcliffe Antiques, office, 1968. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

There are also some photographs of the Packing and Shipping Department at Herbert Sutcliffe (see below). The catalogue also contains extensive information on packing and shipping costs and the various methods of transport etc.

Herbert Sutcliffe Antiques, Packing and Shipping Office, 1968. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

Images of the storerooms at the business reveal the enormous quantities of antiques that the business sold, with storerooms for antique glass, ceramics, metalwork, furniture, and extensive storerooms full of various types of antique clocks, from mantle clocks and wall clocks to longcase examples.

Herbert Sutcliffe Antiques, Storerooms for antique glass, ceramics and clocks, 1968. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

Below is a photograph of the storeroom for antique longcase clocks, which seems to have been a specialism of Herbert Sutcliffe Antiques. The catalogue usefully mentions that buyers should think about including small items that can be packed inside the cases of longcase clocks to save on shipping costs – freight shipping was costed by space, not weight.

Herbert Sutcliffe Antiques, Storerooms for antique glass, ceramics and clocks, 1968. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

The catalogue itself is quite heavy, with more than 100 pages of antiques for sale, with each page illustrating dozens and dozens of antiques in various categories. The introductory information in the catalogue confidently states that each catalogue has ‘over three thousand individual offerings’, and that the business itself has ‘about one hundred and fifty thousand quantity lines’. Here are some examples of the category pages illustrating antiques for sale.

Herbert Sutcliffe Antiques, catalogue page for antique ceramics, 1968. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

‘China ‘D’ (above), illustrates one page of antiques for sale, with each item having a number, so that customers could order by telephone or post; for example ‘D6315′ (which is the bowl, top row, middle, with ’15’ written on it) – in the catalogue list this is described as ‘Flo blue bowl by ‘Malkin’, Burslem 16” di.[diameter] From a chamber set. Perfect.’ ‘$15.00’. Most of the antique ceramics appear to be of relatively low quality and value, all appropriate for ‘Shipping Goods’. There are dozens of pages devoted to the sale of antique clocks – here’s just one example (below), mostly priced at between $9.00 and $20.00. The most expensive antique clock on the page is no.17, (row three, middle) priced at $55.00 and described as ‘Fine quality 19th c. Bracket clock 18” high. Casing richly decorated with brass-work. Bevelled glass to bezel. Ornate silver and brass dial. Mach [machine] for time and strike in good order. Casing has side handles and is dark patina. Gen.[generally] Snd. [sound].

Herbert Sutcliffe Antiques, catalogue page for antique clocks, 1968. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

There are only 7 pages devoted to illustrations of antique furniture, I guess the Sutcliffe business was more interested in volume sales of smaller antiques. The antique furniture is again generally of lower quality and value, mostly Victorian and Edwardian. Here is one of the pages of antique furniture (below).

Herbert Sutcliffe Antiques, catalogue page for antique furniture, 1968. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

The antique furniture item ‘F 10510’ (top left) is described in the catalogue as ‘Cancelled’ – i.e. is must have been sold whilst the catalogue was in production; but looks like a mid-19th century Continental piece. Item ‘F 10511’ is described as ‘A pretty art nouveau style mahogany display cabinet. 45” wide 62” high. Note very pretty marketry [sic] panel to centre. of a stylised peacock. Rich colourful inlaid various woods with some oyster shell inserts. Ex. [excellent] patina. Very cln [clean] and snd [sound] cond.’ [condition]. It is priced at $85.00. The final item, ‘F 10512’ which looks like an early 18th century oak side table, but heavily re-carved in the 19th century, is described as ‘A pretty Victorian 17th century style carved oak loobey [sic]. 33” wide 29” high. 3 small drawers to the front. Richly carved front freeze [sic]. Exce. [excellent] patina. Very cln [clean] and snd [sound] cond.’ [condition]. It is priced at $175.00.

The Herbert Sutcliffe catalogue gives a fascinating insight into the Antique Shipping Goods trade in the 1960s and 1970s, which was of course a major part of the British Antique Trade in the Post World War II period. The catalogue will be making it’s way to the Brotherton Library Special Collections in due course.

Mark

March 16, 2022

Oral History Interviews – going Live!

Our Antique Dealer Research project Oral History Interviews are finally being fully rolled out into the project website. It’s been a long time coming but we are now starting to upload all of our 40 plus interviews into the Oral History pages – with Philip Astley-Jones and Kathleen Skin the first to join our existing oral history interview with Jerome Phillips (of Phillips of Hitchin). The interviews all need editing before they can be made public, which is both time-consuming and, crucially (given funding is always an issue in research projects!) costly. But, as part of the Year of the Dealer project we have managed to devote time and resources to ensuring that the rich series of oral histories that we have assembled as part of the antique dealer research project can now start to be made available to the public – and big thank you to Patrick Bannon (Patrick Bannon Photography) for all his hard work on editing and creating new visual files for the interviews. Patrick is creating video files for each of the audio interviews, with images of the interviewees and any contextual photographs, so that listeners to the audio files can feel more in the presence of the speaker, and we are embedding the files into the Oral History pages in the project website. Here’s how they look on the Antique Dealer Research Project website:

To actually listen to the interviews you need to go to the Oral History pages in the project website – here is a LINK for Philip Astley-Jones (who very sadly passed away in August 2021) ; and here is a LINK for Kathleen Skin.

We are creating new files for all the Oral History interviews over the coming months – with regular updates on the Oral History pages in the project website – we will have our interviews with Peter Cheek and Gary Baxter available soon, so do keep your eye of the Oral History pages.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank all our interviewees (past, present and future!) for so generously participating in the Antique Dealer Research Project Oral History theme.

Mark

February 27, 2022

Dealer Catalogues – A.W. & F. Little, c.1890-1900

Old catalogues illustrating antiques for sale produced by antique dealers give a fascinating insight into how dealers described, classified and marketed antiques. The antique dealers research blog has showcased a number of antique dealer catalogues over the years – see, for example, our recent entry on the catalogue ‘Genuine Antique Furniture’ produced in c.1920 by the London based dealer Rueben Shenker (Blog Post, 30th September 2021). Our latest antique dealer catalogue is a very rare printed example produced by A.W. & F. Little of Bristol, dating from c.1890-1900.

A.W. & F. Little catalogue, c.1890-1900. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

The catalogue is in a fragile state, as you can see – the cover has a section missing, bottom right corner, and there are a number of tears throughout, but it is a remarkable survival given the ephemeral nature of these things. According to his own publicity A.W. Little established his antique dealing business in Bristol in 1865. By the time the catalogue was produced, A.W. & F. Little, ‘Dealers in Antiquities of Every Description’ were trading from two shops in Bristol, one in Narrow Wine Street and the other in Castle Hill. Frederick Little (perhaps a son or brother?) produced this edition of the A.W. & F. Little catalogue in c.1890-1900 (this edition is number 16) – it is inscribed ‘FRED LITTLE fecit’ on the final page (see bottom right in the image below).

A.W. & F. Little catalogue, c.1890-1900. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

Frederick Little’s association with print media and design seemed to have continued, as by 1902 he was listed as ‘newsagent’ in Narrow Wine Street, Bristol, and as a ‘Commercial Photographer’ at 16 Castle Mill Street by 1914; so perhaps Frederick had left the antique dealing business early in the 20th century? Certainly, by 1924 A.W. Little was in a new partnership with T.G. Smith, at 20 Castle Green, Bristol, but Frederick Little seems to have held onto the Castle Mill Street shop.

The catalogue itself has rather crudely drawn, lithographic, illustrations of various antiques that the business had for sale. The cover (page 1 above) shows a ‘Rare Old Japanese Vase, 24 ins High’, and priced at £10.’ Together with an ‘Old English Roasting Jack, complete with a pair fine fire dogs 28 ins High, Steel Spit and Jack, all in…’ (next words un-decipherable). The final page (page 16 above), also illustrates a variety of 17th and 18th century antiques, including a ‘Chippendale’ chair (£5), a ‘Sheraton’ ‘work table’ (11 shillings?), and a ‘Jacobean’ oak table (42 shillings and 6 pence). There are 16 pages in the catalogue, each one filled with little drawings of antiques for sale. Below is page 2, which rather neatly captures

A.W. & F. Little catalogue, c.1890-1900. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

the wide range of antiques that a dealer of c.1890-1900 would have for sale. Pottery and porcelain, in the form of an ‘Old Davenport Broth Bowl’ (20 shillings), ‘Three quaint Delft Pottery Animals….’ (5 shillings each), plus what looks like a rare maiolica ‘jardinière’ – described as ‘Beautiful Italian Jardinere, Hand Painted Colours on White’ (£4); ‘Old Bristol Wine bottle…date about 1650’ (5 shillings); an ‘Ancient Greek Bronze Jug’ (30 shillings); ‘a pair of Old Flintlock horse Pistols’ (10 shillings); an ‘Old Carved Oak Chest’ (£6, 10 Shillings); and a ‘Beautiful Indian Execution Sword…Engraved with Verses From the Koran’ (£2, 2 shillings). Page 15 in the catalogue (below) shows a ‘Curious Little Cabinet Made of Mahogany and Satin-wood’ (£3, 10 Shillings), as well as a ’17th [sic] century Card Table’ (actually an early 18th century example).

A.W. & F. Little catalogue, c.1890-1900. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

The other pages in the catalogue are similarly packed with illustrations of a wide range of antiques for sale, including this page (page 10, below), with a ‘Very Handsome Ebonized Cabinet’ inlaid with ‘Pewter’ and ‘Steel’ (£4) – perhaps an example of ‘Boulle work’?

A.W. & F. Little catalogue, c.1890-1900. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

Similar examples to the A.W. & F. Little catalogue were produced by the antique dealer Samuel Richards of Nottingham in the period 1880s-1920s (see blog post on 21st June 2014), see example below dating from April/May 1913.

S. Richards catalogue April/May 1913; private collection. Photograph Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

The A.W. & F. Little catalogue will, like the other antique dealer catalogues illustrated in the research blog, be making its way to the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds in due course.

Mark

January 29, 2022

More Antique Dealer Ephemera – Mary Bellis Antiques photo albums 1940s-1950s

The collections of antique dealer ephemera and archives gathered as part of the on-going research into the history of the antique trade in Britain continues apace. The latest additions are two unique photograph albums of stock of the well-known dealer in antique oak furniture and early objects, Mary Bellis (c.1896-1897). Bellis opened her first antique shop in Bournemouth in 1943, and the photograph albums appear to date from an early period in the history of Mary Bellis Antiques.

Photograph Album (album 1), c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

The two albums, both comprising bound leaves of thick black card, mounted with dozens of black and white photographs of various antiques that Bellis had in stock, unfortunately have no metadata; no prices, dates, or provenance information about the objects depicted in the photographs. But all of the photos are numbered, in sequence, so I guess they would relate to a stock book (if one still exists?). The first album (above) 12 inches x 10 inches in size, has a hand-painted title ‘Antiques by Mary Bellis’, whereas the second album (slightly larger at 14 inches x 10 inches) has a cover embossed in gilt lettering, ‘Photographs Mary Bellis of Bournemouth Antiques’.

Photograph Album, (album 2) c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

‘Mary Bellis of Bournemouth’ continued to be a trading name of Mary Bellis Antiques for sometime after Bellis moved her business from Yelverton Road in Bournemouth to Charnham Close in Hungerford, Berkshire in 1952, so the albums could date into the 1950s. The business had an international reputation for early oak furniture and associated objects and this is reflected in the array of antiques illustrated in the photo albums. Mary, together with her husband Eric (d.1976), who was a chartered accountant and company director, amassed an important collection of early furniture and objects during the 1920s and 1930s, before Mary began trading as an antique dealer in the early 1940s. After her death in 1987, Christie’s held an auction sale of their collection (Christie’s 21 May 1987, London).

Photograph Album (album 1), c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

The photograph above, (from album 1) illustrates a range of antiques that Bellis sold, including non-European objects, such as what is described as ’16th cent candle’, and which appears to be from the African continent? Several of the photographs have these short descriptions, in pen, but frustratingly none have any provenance detail or information on prices at which they were bought and sold.

Photograph Album (album 1), c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

The page (above) indicates that Bellis also sold ceramics – the photograph shows an English 18th century salt-glaze jug (with a description, in pen, ‘Salt Glaze Jug’ and ‘(see 8)’ and which refers to a photograph of the reverse side of the jug in photograph 8 on the opposite page in the album. Also included are photographs of some of the early paintings that Bellis sold, including one, (photo no.12 bottom right) inscribed ‘Van Kessel’ in pen. Jan van Kessel (1626-1679) was a leading Flemish painter of the 17th century – if anyone recognises the painting, or the other paintings in the album, do let us know.

Photograph Album (album 1), c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

Album no.1 also contains some photographs of what looks like interiors of Mary Bellis’ shop? (see top two photos in the photograph above); perhaps illustrating how Bellis arranged and displayed her shop.

Album no.2 contains similar photographs, again mostly numbered in sequential order, but with emphasis on 16th and 17th century British oak furniture. This page from album no.2 (see below), shows a range of oak cupboards and an oak coffer/chest.

Photograph Album (album 2), c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

Album no.2 also includes dozens of photographs illustrating the wide range of trading stock; paintings, sculpture, textiles, metalwork, stained glass and ceramics – including (in the second photograph below) a collection of 18th century English pottery figures.

Photograph Album (album 2), c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.
Photograph Album (album 2), c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

Given the quality of many of the antiques in the photographs, it may still be possible to see if the antique still exist in private or public collections? These examples of 16th an 17th century stained and painted glass, for example, associated with the Verney family? If anyone does know where these objects are now, we would be very interested to hear from you.

Photograph Album (album 2), c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.
Photograph Album (album 2), c.1940s-1950s, Mary Bellis Antiques. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2022.

The albums are an increasingly rare survival of business ephemera associated with the British Antiques trade, and give us invaluable insights into the history of the trade. The albums will eventually make their way to join the rest of the antique dealer related material in the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

Mark

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