Archive for December, 2014

December 31, 2014

Even more on Thomas Rohan!

The blog posts on the antique dealer and author Thomas Rohan (see previous posts) are becoming quite a theme – thanks again to John Cresswell who very kindly posted photocopies of some newspaper clippings reporting the death of Rohan in 1940, as well as some photos of the house that Rohan lived in during his time in Bournemouth in the 1930s.

This Christmas, one of my presents (thank you Clara!) was a small (tiny actually!) booklet entitled ‘The Origin of Quinneys’ (by E. Montefiore) – it is undated, but perhaps c.1940 when Rohan died? The little booklet, which came all the way from a book dealer in the USA, rehearses the story of Rohan being the basis for the character of ‘Joe Quinney’ in Horace Vachell’s novels (see earlier blog entries for details on this).


quinneys booklet 1quinneys booklet 2

The booklet, as you can see, really is a tiny thing – here photographed next to a UK pound coin.

One thing that is interesting to note about Rohan is that for his first shop, located in High Street, Southampton, from c.1903, Rohan traded as ‘Thomas Rudd’. He tells us, in his autobiographical book Confessions of a Dealer (1924) how he came to trade as ‘Rudd’, and how he eventually renamed the business (actually called A. Rohan – after his wife Alice Rohan) by 1919. As Rohan writes;

‘How I took the trading name of Rudd was in this fashion. For family reasons I was asked not to use my own name as a dealer. I rather resented this, but for peace and quietness agreed. Just before opening my little shop, I went to a sale, and bought a grandfather clock. The auctioneer asked, “What name?” I called out my own name of Rohan. He said, “Rudd?” I said, “Yes, put it down R U double D” and from that time for fifteen years I was known as Rudd.’ Confessions of a Dealer, p.71.

Newspaper reports on the death of Rohan in 1940 suggest that he was ‘the scion of the noble family of France, the Prince and Ducs de Rohan’ (Bournemouth Echo, 27.1.1940) – so it may have been that associations with the ‘trade’ were not seen to be appropriate when Rohan first set up as a dealer in 1903. Whatever the reason, Thomas Rohan is a fascinating example of an early 20th century antique dealer!


December 31, 2014

Oral History Interviews – Tony Lumb

We continue with our Oral History Interviews – the latest dealer to be in the spotlight is Tony Lumb, 3rd generation antiques dealer of the firm Charles Lumb & Sons, of Harrogate.

Tony Lumb (Dec 2014)

Tony Lumb (Dec 2014)


Mary Lumb, with Tony Lumb, 2014


James Lomax and Tony Lumb. 2014

For this interview Tony was also joined by his wife Mary Lumb who worked with Tony at their antique shop in Harrogate. We also had excellent help for the interview by James Lomax, curator emeritus, Temple Newsam House, Leeds, who acted as 2nd interviewer.  James posed some great questions and also had fascinating memories of the relationships between Temple Newsam House museum and the antique trade.

During the interview Tony recalled the history of the firm of Charles Lumb & Sons, from the early beginnings of his grandfather, Charles Lumb, who established the business in Harrogate in 1907, to when his father (Frank Lumb) and his uncle (Reg Lumb) joined the business before WWII, and when Tony first joined the business in 1956, aged just 20. We learnt that Tony’s grandfather trained as a cabinetmaker in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, and started a furniture making and restoration business in Harrogate in 1907, in a workshop in what is now Montpellier Mews, before opening an antique shop at 34 Montpellier Parade in 1947 – the firm expanded into further premises in Montpellier Parade in the 1960s and remained in Harrogate for the whole history of the firm.

The interview provided fascinating insights into the history of Charles Lumb & Sons, the changing practices of the antique trade, and Tony’s memories of other antique dealers, and the long list of international clients, collectors and museums that the firm supplied. Charles Lumb & Sons eventually closed their Harrogate business in 2012 – after over 100 years of trading in Harrogate – and as Tony said – ‘in 100 years, they moved 100 yards’! – they must have enjoyed Yorkshire!

As with the other oral history interviews, once we get around to editing and etc., the interview with Tony, Mary and James, will be made available via the project websites, sometime during early 2015.



December 6, 2014

More news on Thomas Rohan


Thomas Rohan (1860/1-1940)

Thanks to the generosity of John Cresswell, we know quite a lot more about the early 20th century antique dealer Thomas Rohan (1860/1-1940). John very kindly sent us the fruits of his own research into Rohan, including the fascinating fact that Rohan appears to have had a role in the design of his own house, in Bournemouth – John actually lived there for a time.

Rohan, as previously indicated in earlier posts in the project blog, has been suggested as the model for the antique dealer ‘Joe Quinney’ in Horace Annesley Vachell’s novel Quinneys (1914), and was also the author of several books on collecting, and on the antique trade itself – Confessions of a Dealer (1924); Old Beautiful (1926); In Search of the Antique (1927); Old Glass Beautiful (1930); and Billy Ditt, the romance of a Chippendale chair 1760-1925 (1932) – but John also tells us that Quinneys was made into a film, twice – in 1919 and 1927 – we are currently trying to find copies of these rare films, so if anyone knows of a copy do let us know!

John also tells us that Rohan married twice – and one of his wives was the daughter of William Robertson, J.P. D.L. of Pembrokeshire, and that he had three children (2 sadly died early), and was survived by his son Robert Rohan. Thomas himself died on 13th January 1940 and was buried at Westbury in Bristol. There are many other details on the life of Thomas Rohan that John shared with the project, and we are populating Rohan’s biography on the interactive project website, so keep your eye on that when we launch the site.

In the meantime we would like to say a big thank you to John Cresswell for his generosity!


December 6, 2014

Camilla steps down from Advisory Board

Our project Advisory Board member Camilla Nichol, formerly Head of Collections at Leeds Museums and Galleries, has a new job – she is now the Chief Executive of the Arctic Heritage Trust in Cambridge – well done Camilla! This means though that she has had to very regrettably step down from her role as a member of the project Advisory Board.  We are very sorry to see Camilla leave the AVB, but obviously very much wish her well in her new role – we’re told she is at the moment (November/December 2014) on her way to Antarctica to see Shackleton’s shed!

Camilla was a member of the project AVB right from the start of the project in September 2013, and officially stepped down from the AVB in November 2014 – we would like to thank Camilla for all her help and advice during the first year of the project – Thank you Camilla!

We hope that the new incoming Head of Collections at Leeds Museums and Galleries will join the Advisory Board – we will keep you posted.


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