Images of Dealer shops

Recently been gathering more and more images of antique dealer shops, interior photographs as well as exterior photographs, so I thought I’d share a few images – we will be creating a database of images for the interactive website, and once that goes ‘live’ everyone will be able to see all the images we have to date – we’ve only just started to scratch the surface here, so there will be many, many more images to come, but at present I reckon we have a few hundred images….

Anyway, here’s some to whet the appetite – they are actually quite revealing about display practices in the antique trade at various points in the 20th century. Here’s ‘C. Charles’ shop – (this is J. Duveen’s brother, Charles Duveen, who was paid by his brother not to use the surname Duveen..); the date of the image is c.1903, when C. Charles traded at 27-29 New Bond Street, London.


The stock seems typical for a ‘high-end’ dealer, selling mainly to ‘Gilded Age’ American clients.  The display seems to be sightly more dispersed than many of the packed-out displays in antique and curiosity shops of the 19th century, but there’s still a fairly random jumble of various objects; there’s certainly no attempt here to replicate a ‘historic room’ display, or to theme the objects in any recognizable sense.

Contrast Charles Duveen’s gallery with a display of c.1903 of the house furnishers, furniture makers, and antique dealers, ‘Gillows’, 406 Oxford Street, London; Waring and Gillow was established in 1897, following the merger of Gillows (Lancaster), (est c.1730) and Waring of Liverpool. As ‘house furnishers’ Gillows have chosen to create a ‘room set’ effect; there’s also an obvious mixture of ‘antiques’ with reproductions made by the firm itself.


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


The photograph is of their shop interior in c.1922 – quite a packed-out display, which must have been typical of many antique shops in the period – they have resonance to the displays of antique shops in the 19th century, and we still encounter such modes of display today of course.

Some, specialist dealerships, required different, discrete modes of display – this astonishing (to me anyway) image of the interior of the famous dealer in Chinese Works of Art, John Sparks, of c.1937, when Sparks was trading at 128 Mount Street, London (still a very smart address), is indicative of specialist methods of display, illustrative of the potential modes of engagement with the objects themselves.


The display obviously keys into the evolving aesthetic of British Modernism at the time, but also nods towards the specific modes of engagement, and the significance of the optic and the haptic in the appreciation of such works of art; it’s also worth pointing out that the display also keys into the stripped back, minimalist aesthetics of Chinese and Japanese art works themselves.  John Sparks had created a very carefully planned, very thoughtful response to the objects that they sold, and produced a display that does look astonishingly modern.


15 Comments to “Images of Dealer shops”

  1. Interested in knowing much more about Sparks, the dealers he worked with in China etc.

    His archives are digitized but not available online.. Any ideas on how to access or are you aware of any papers written on him and his business dealings in China.


    • Hi Valerie,
      thanks for the comment – as far as I know the Sparks archive is at the Percival David Collection in London? I’m not aware of any writings by John Sparks, other than exhibition catalogues etc…but someone else may know!
      best wishes from UK…and thanks for continuing to follow the project….

  2. Hi, love the photos. Do you happen to have anymore of C.Charles’ shop?

  3. Excuse me, whose shop is the last photo?

  4. Hello, I have just stumbled across this and wondered if you had any pictures of the gallery of Roy Grosvenor Thomas (Thomas and Drake)? They were dealers in stained glass in New York.

    • Hi,
      sorry, haven’t (yet) found any images of Drake’s galleries….if we find anything will post it!…Did you know that the Burrell archives in Glasgow have a huge amount of letters and etc from Drake?….
      Thanks for looking up the Blog!

  5. Oh and their gallery in London was at Holland Park and Kensington.

  6. Hi Mark,

    Do you have any images from Joseph Duveen’s showrooms, especially the one on Old Bond Street? I am doing some research on these and would like any advice…

    Thank you,


    • Hi Emily,
      sorry for such a long delay in replying!…I’m currently a bit swamped with various projects, and not checking the blog as much as I should! I’m afraid I don’t have any images of Duveen’s Bond Street showroom – but there must be some somewhere?…have you tried the Duveen archives at The Getty and elsewhere in the USA? Sorry I’m not much help..

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