Dealer’s Shops – images of developing locations and use of historic premises

Our database of images of Antique Dealer shops continues to grow. In the previous post I directed attention to the significances of the changing interior display of dealerships, and in the present post I thought it would be interesting to focus on exterior views and the range of buildings used by the trade; and to direct attention to the significance of the changing locations adopted by the trade over the course of the 20th century…..and some interesting aspects are evident – one is the growth of the ‘Country Antique Shop’.

In my earlier research into the history of the antique and curiosity trade (see publications in my research profile if you’re interested!) I made an observation that in the 19th century the emergence of the antique shop appears to have been almost exclusively an urban phenomenon, and that the ‘country antique shop’ was a later (20th century) development in the history of the trade.  This is also borne out when one investigates the store of images we have as part of this new project.  The Country Antique Shop we are so familiar with appears to have been a first half 20th century development, and here’s a selection of images we have just to give the briefest insight into this history.

Here’s an image, from 1921, of one of the most famous antique furniture dealers, Moss Harris & Sons (est 1868)…at 40-54 New Oxford Strett, London.


There have been many hundreds of dealers in London of course; here’s just one more, Walter Bird’s shop, Kensington Church Street, London, an image taken in c.1945:


Beyond antique shops in London and other urban areas such as Manchester and Birmingham, as well as in historic towns such as Bath and Warwick, the ‘country antique shop’ appears to have begun to proliferate from the second quarter of the 20th century – with an increased expansion during the 1940s and 1950s, which seems to have been a particularly important period. Locations such as ‘The Cotswolds’ and tourist towns in Sussex, Devon etc., appear to have been the preferred locations for many dealers during this period.

Here’s Forge House, Broadway, Worcestershire, in 1953; and one can also note that the historical nature of the building itself is a key driver for the appropriate adoption of such premises by the trade:


Here’s Shirley Brown’s ‘shop’, at Tredington, Warwickshire, also in 1953:


And, to close, a couple of ‘shops’ in Devon, that illustrate the wide range of buildings, and trading practices, adopted by the trade; here’s A K Halsey, Boffins Boft, Kingsbridge, Devon, also taken in 1953.


And finally, R. E. Martin, trading from home, as it appears…at ‘Tucketts’, Trusham, near Chudleigh, Devon, in 1961.


The project will be investigating the history of these locations, changing trading premises, and other developments as part of this broader ‘cultural history’ of the Antique Trade in the 20th century….so watch this space!


2 Comments to “Dealer’s Shops – images of developing locations and use of historic premises”

  1. Reblogged this on The Burlington Magazine Index Blog and commented:
    Another very interesting post on exteriors of antique dealers’ shops from the antiquedealers blog.

  2. Thanks Barbara!….I think the next post we’ll do pictures of dealers themselves…I only got a few at present…but they are so interesting!

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