Archive for March, 2014

March 29, 2014

Project Advisory Board Meeting at Temple Newsam House, Leeds

We had our 2nd Advisory Board meeting at Temple Newsam House in Leeds on Friday 28th March. Thank you to our Advisory Board members (Reinhold Behringer, Georgina Gough, Martin Levy, James Lomax, Camilla Nichol, Judith Phillips, Emma Slocombe, and Christopher Wilk) for their continued support, advice and counsel for the Antique Dealers project. We thank James Lomax and Martin Levy, who did a little ‘trade tour’ of the collections at Temple Newsam House –


Temple Newsam House

James is emeritus curator of Temple Newsam, and Martin is the director of H. Blairman and Sons and they both talked so engagingly about the decorative and fine art objects that entered the collections via the antiques trade and are on display at Temple Newsam. Indeed, Martin had many personal recollections of the acquisition stories of many of the objects on display, including a set of 4 giltwood torcheres (see below) which Martin discovered in an auction in Switzerland in 2007 and negotiated their return to Temple Newsam House – they were originally supplied to Temple Newsam by James Pascall, for the Picture Gallery, in the 1740s, but sold from the house in 1922.


Giltwood Torcheres by James Pascall, c.1746

There were lots of fascinating anecdotes from James and Martin, stories that one never hears about – especially when one considers  the acquisition of museum objects! Some of the stories of the acquisition of objects at Temple Newsam are public knowledge – (for example, the then, in 1965, world record price of £43,050 for the Chippendale Library Table, formerly at Harewood House in Yorkshire) –


Library Table, by Thomas Chippendale, c.1771.

But Martin also told us that his father, George Levy, who bid at auction for the table, only just managed to acquire the table on behalf of Leeds City Collections (of which Temple Newsam House is a part) – George Levy managed to persuade the consortium of philanthropists who wished to buy the table for Leeds to allow him to go just one extra bid over their suggested limit for the table… very nearly got away!

There were so many more fascinating stories about the acquisition of some of the objects at Temple Newsam…part of the research project is to investigate these ‘hidden histories’!





March 27, 2014

Portobello Road

We were very interested to read the letter from Kathleen Skin (aged 93)! published in the letters column of the Antiques Trade Gazette this week. See ATG 22nd March 2014. Kathleen briefly outlined her memories of her time as a dealer trading in the famous Portobello Road during WWII, with some absolutely fascinating reflections – we’re hoping to interview Kathleen as part of the oral history parts of the Antique Trade research project.

And thanks to Editor of the ATG, Ivan Macquisten for sending us the PDF of the letters page, and for writing to Kathleen on our behalf to try to set up a meeting (Thanks Ivan!)

here’s the PDF of the letter – Kathleen Skin letter ATG

As part of the project we will be investigating the history of Portobello Road Antiques markets in more detail, so keep your eye on the developments.




March 23, 2014

Phillips of Hitchin – more images of dealer shops

In anticipation of my visit tomorrow to speak to Jerome Phillips, of Phillips of Hitchin – (founded by Jerome’s grandfather Frederick William Phillips in 1884) I thought I’d post an image of the interior of Phillips’ ‘shop’….The Manor House, Hitchin….


….which they have occupied since the 1880s – this photograph dates from c.1910. Phillips had (still have) the advantage of course of being able to display their antique furniture etc in an appropriately historic setting. In the early decades of the 20th century such strategies also keyed into the increasing numbers of publications on historic houses (Muthesius etc) and furniture history (Macquiod, Edwards, Cescinsky etc etc) and the fashion for recreated interiors. Indeed F.W. Phillips could not only furnish your home with appropriate antiques, they could also build an ‘antique’ home for you…as this advertisement from c.1910 suggests…


…as the caption states…’A modern house built by Messrs Phillips from old materials. Estimates for this half-timber work maybe be had on application…’……A very ‘Modern Antique’.


March 15, 2014

More photographs of dealer shops

Following the last blog entry on images of dealer shops I found some more photographs of R.W. Partridge’s shop in St. James’s Street, London.  They really do give a flavour of the ways in which antiques were displayed (in the top market London trade at least) in the opening decades of the 20th century. Here’s the ‘Interior of the shop’: Image

Still quite a crowded space….and here’s the ‘Second Floor Gallery’: Image

Which illustrates the range of art and antiques offered for sale.  And the ‘Top Red Gallery’: Image

I assume it was the ‘red’ gallery because the wallpaper was red?….As part of the project we are assembling an image database of dealer’s shops, interiors and exteriors, they provide such a fascinating picture of the changing fashioning in displaying, selling and marketing antiques over the course of the 20th century.


March 9, 2014

Images of dealer shops

We’re compiling a database of images of dealer shops…interior and exterior photographs. Here’s an example of the interior of R.W. Partridge’s shop at 19 St James’s Street, London, in c.1910.  It was, interestingly, called ‘Chippendale Gallery’…it looks rather stacked out…..Image

…..a bit like a warehouse, rather than a swish emporium in St. James’s…..!

The images (subject to any copyright restrictions of course) will be archived in the interactive project website…so if you do come across any images of dealer shops (especially prior to the 1950s) do send them on to us at

Make sure you send all associated information with any images though (date, name of dealer, location etc etc)…


March 7, 2014

Dealer information from the other side of the World!

Thank you to Mabel Jowsey, from Dunedin, New Zealand, who very kindly send us family history information on the antiques dealer John (Jack) Craggs – youngest brother of Mabel’s husband’s grandmother. John Craggs (1881-1969) traded from a shop at 3 High Street, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, and apparently he sold objects to the London trade, including Mallett….it’s great to know that the project is making connections over 11,000 miles away!


March 7, 2014

Dealer history – submitted information: Arthur Kauffmann

Thank you to Michael Kauffmann, who sent us a little booklet on the history of his father Arthur Kauffmann, the well-known art dealer trading in Grafton Street in London (1939-77) and later in Knightsbridge. Image

Arthur famously sold the Master of Flemalle’s ‘Entombment of Christ’ to the collector Count Seilern – it’s now at the Courtauld Gallery in London. Arthur sounded like a real character – as Michael says, ‘he was still bidding at the sale of the Robert von Hirsch collection at Sotheby’s in 1978 when he was 91 years old.’

Thanks Michael for sending this information.


March 6, 2014

Interactive project website – with real data!

Mark (Sparky) has now begun to populate the interactive project website with real data, and we can begin to see what the website might look like (still work in progress) but it does give you a sense of how the data will be visualised….Image

The small coloured circles are all numbers of dealerships in particular towns and cities..we will have literally tens of thousands of data sets we reckon, by the end of the project in a couple of years!….


March 6, 2014

New volunteer researcher

We have a new volunteer research helping on the Antique Dealer Project – Alix Brodie-Wray, has been doing fabulous work on gathering data on dealer names and addresses ready to upload into the interactive website….here’s Alix!Image


Alix is a part-time PhD student at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, and an experienced Higher Education Administrator.  Her PhD research examines the production of ‘Vintage’ as part of larger markets in second-hand clothing, motivations of second-hand and vVintage shoppers, and the cultural implications of Vintage in an age of austerity (so she is already keyed into aspects of the current Antique Trade project!)….Alix has considerable experience of working with data and spreadsheets, and has all the right skills we need from project volunteers…Thanks again Alix…fabulous work!


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March 6, 2014

Interactive Website making progress!

We are making good progress on the project interactive website.  ‘Sparky’ (Mark) has been building and testing the website during the past few weeks and he’s composed a short video to illustrate how the site might work….

More updates soon.


Home Subjects

a working group dedicated to the display of art in the private interior, c. 1715-1914

The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

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

H. Blairman & Sons Ltd

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 19th & 20th centuries

Museum Studies Now?

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

The Burlington Magazine Index Blog

art writing * art works * art market

East India Company at Home, 1757-1857

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 19th & 20th centuries