Alfred Bullard Inc.,- further reflections on changing practices

The recent shifts in the taste for ‘antique furniture’ continue to impact on the changing landscape, and practices, of the trade in antique furniture – of a particular type anyway….the ‘new antiques’ such as Danish Designer furniture continues to thrive…illustrative of the shift to the contemporary that is the driver for the market at present.  The announcement of the auction sale by Stair, Auctioneers and Appraisers in the USA of the ‘Collection and Inventory’ of Alfred Bullard Inc., in their auction on 25th & 26th October 2014, draws further attention to the significance of these shifts in taste.


Alfred Bullard shop interior, c.1930.

Bullard are just one of a number of antique furniture dealers that have either changed their patterns of trading, downsized, or ceased trading altogether in the last 10 years or so – and, as you may know, part of the catalyst for the current investigation of the history of the antique trade is to track, assess and critically analysis this shift.

Alfred Bullard may be an American firm of antique dealers (and therefore seemingly outside the remit of the present research project), but they were originally established in Britain in the 1920s (and therefore part of the ‘cultural geography of the British trade). They have been trading in 18th and early 19th century English Furniture since the 1950s in Philadelphia, USA. According to our research Bullard was established in Newport Pagnell, Wales by the early 1920s, before moving to premises off Park Lane in London by 1925. They already had a branch in Philadelphia USA by 1950, and consolidated both the UK and USA operations in Philadelphia by 1965.  The firm is a testament to the importance of the transatlantic antiques trade throughout the 20th century and were one of a number of dealers operating at the very top of the trade in antiques in the period.

We should say that whilst the shop of Bullard Inc., may disappear from the high street, the firm itself will continue through Bill Bertolet, who will now continue to act as ‘advisor’ to clients – but the shift in practice is also a further testament to the changing panorama of the antique trade in the late 20th and early 21st century.


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