Archive for July, 2015

July 29, 2015

Antique Dealers Project Conference April 2016

We now have the dates for the Antique Dealers Project conference – it will take place on Thursday 14th April and Friday 15th April 2016, at Temple Newsam House, Leeds.


Temple Newsam House, Leeds

We hope to use the fabulous, and famous, Long Gallery at Temple Newsam, as the conference space. If you have never been to TN, then the venue itself is a reason to come!


The Long Gallery, Temple Newsam House, Leeds.

We will be posting a ‘Call for Papers’ shortly – We intend the conference to be an interactive, discussion-based, ideas laboratory for the Antiques Trade/Antiques Market, drawing from the rich history of the British Antiques Trade in the 20th century. So do keep following the project blog and the project websites for more detail as we work towards April 2016!


July 17, 2015

The Antique Business (in 1966).

In amongst the archive materials that our friend Robin Butler kindly donated to the research project (thank you again Robin!) I discovered something I’d been searching for for the last 3 years – Howard Coutts (curator at The Bowes Museum) mentioned an interesting Sunday Times Supplement from the 1960s, which was, so Howard remembered, devoted to the ‘Antique Trade’.  I’d been struggling to find a copy of the Supplement since Howard mentioned it to me, as they were not part of the extensive (and so useful) digitization project of The Times online (which I have access to at the University). Anyway, I’d almost given up ever finding a copy of this elusive, but potentially fascinating, publication.

And then….Robin had kept a copy of it in amongst the ephemera in his archive! And it was worth saving. Here’s the front cover of the Sunday Times Supplement, August 14th 1966. Sunday Times 1966 ‘Special Insight Analysis: The Antique Business’ – it does not appear to have named authors and appears to have been composed by a team of Sunday Times journalists over a period of 6 months of investigation. It’s structured around a kind of ‘how to deal with dealers’ series of short articles, starting with ‘Plain Man’s Guide to the Dealers and the Deals’, with ‘buying guides’ and ‘How to Sell’ etc etc.

It also, inevitably I suppose, has a salacious tale of fakes and forgeries – ‘A Cautionary Tale of Two Blackamoors’; supposedly a cache of ’18th century’ figures, which were, according to the reporters, recently made in some studios in Homer Street, London W1 – I’m very interested in this trope of the ‘antique dealer’ associated with fakery and forgery….and keen to unpack this cultural stereotype further – I’ve been working on a text on the social and cultural identity of the antique dealer in the 19th and 20th centuries for a number of years…..

Anyway….if you are interested you can read that part of the Sunday Times Supplement here:  Sunday Times 1966 1 and here: Sunday Times 1966 2

What is also interesting, for us, on the project, is that the journalists also interviewed a small number of then prominent members of the antique trade in the 1960s; including, Lionel Geneen, Edward Nowell, Charles Thornton, and Claude Bornoff. As you know, we are also undertaking interviews with a wide range of antique dealers as part of the current research project – see our ‘Oral History’ pages on the project website. For your interest, here’s a copy of the fascinating interview that the Sunday Times journalists did with Claude Bornoff – he used to trade in Westbourne Grove, London, and sadly died only recently. Sunday Times 1966 3

We will be making more use of the Sunday Times Supplement as part of out research, but it was such a brilliant thing for Robin Butler to keep safe….thanks again Robin!



July 11, 2015

New Project Volunteer Researchers

We’ve had a great response to our renewed call for project volunteer researchers – thank you again to the Antique Trade Gazette and the Press Team at the University of Leeds for their help in promoting the project. Our latest volunteer researcher is Patricia Walsh, who is helping to gather information on Antique Dealers from the historic trade directories in the North West of England. These research activities are invaluable to the project and will help to contribute to the massive amount of data we need for the interactive project website….so thank you Patricia!

As well as helping with the research on the project Patricia is also a multi-media artist, working with audio, video and photography. She creates atmospheric and reflective art-works, that feature music, voice, found sounds, texts or composite imagery, all of which attempt to bridge the shifts of time. Her works often suggest the possibility of other dimensions, unseen presences and immeasurable distances, and have resonance too with unruly, fractured or discordant recollections. Most recently she contributed to and curated a Circuit Bridges/Vox Novus sound-event in Preston, which brought together new works from selected audio artists based in the USA, UK and Europe. The culminating creative exchange concert will also be presented at MC Gallery, New York, in September 2015.

patricia walsh

Patricia is also a graduate of the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston, and has a BA in Fine Art. She is currently studying on the MA Antiques course, at UCLan, where her fascination with the world of antiques, dealers and collectors finds connections with her interest in archives and the documenting and recording of history.

Thank you again to Patricia…we could not make progress on the project without this very generous help.


July 3, 2015

Information from the Public!

Following the publicity about the interactive project website launch on 15th June we’ve had scores of messages of support…Thank you all who sent us a note, it was very much appreciated!

And a few very generous individuals sent us specific information about antique dealers to help build the website – thank you!

Jason West sent us some fascinating information and detail on his great grandfather, Charles Clayden, an antique dealer trading in London between 1919 and 1926. Here is Charles Clayden (below) in the entrance to his antique shop at 320 Euston Road, London – thank you again to Jason for also emailing us this photograph.

Charles Clayden's Shop - 320 Euston Road

Charles Clayden, 320 Euston Road London, c.1920. Photograph Copyright Jason West.

The shop window is packed with a wide variety of antique (and, it looks like, some modern/2nd hand) ceramics…I’m sure someone will be able to identify some of the objects? The figure of the the female Saint(?) is intriguing too….perhaps a carved oak Flemish piece, which were so popular amongst the 19th century curiosity trade?….how old it actually is, who knows?

As well as helping to identify the other addresses at which Charles Clayden traded (24 & 55 Park Crescent West, London) Jason also provided Charles’ place of birth (Saffron Walden, in 1871) and his full name, Charles Ernest Thomas Clayden, and some information on his great grandfather and his business culled from the memoirs of his great grandmother, Molly Mulford. Jason tells us that Molly died in the 1980s, and composed her memoirs as notes, which were typed up by her son Bill in 2013. Molly’s reminiscences give a fascinating insight into the life and business practices of an early 20th century antique dealer.

Molly writes:

‘My father was an antique dealer who had a shop in Euston Road, Marylebone, London. My mother kept the shop whilst my father was attending sales. He also had a weekly store (Friday) in the Caledonian Market and another one (Saturday) in Blandford Street, Marylebone. The shop had a room off from the shop in which we lived and upstairs there were two bedrooms – boys in one and I shared my parents’ bedroom.I can see it now – the big double bed took up all the room with a small cupboard and my small bed alongside.Step out of bed and you were on the landing. Every Saturday morning we had to clean the brass and silver ready for the evening trade in the shop. Those days shop would remain open until 10pm. There were a lot of items to do. My father would make chests and belt them with chains. We children could jump on them in our boots. The chests would be sold as antiques. One thing my father could be sure of making money at was from the ladies of the night (prostitutes) who would come in with their man.The men would buy them whatever took their fancy and the next day the ladies would return the goods and my father would buy back the goods at a discount. The police were a great nuisance. They would come and ask for something and if my father refused, they would stand outside the shop and then the customers would not come in. Before I started school I used to go to the auctions with my father.He had a Tin Lizzie, one of the first Fords.He taught himself to drive and was not a good driver. Everyone else on the road was wrong but him! One day I was playing in the shop, which I was forbidden to do, when a customer came in. I hopped in an Egyptian Mummy to hide when it feel over with me inside. The customer fled from the shop and I was given a hiding.
My life changed dramatically when I was ten years of age. My brothers, except one, had left home. My father went into the shop one night and a picture had fallen from the wall.Glass from the picture pierced his leg right through his pants.Septicaemia set in and he was taken to Middlesex Hospital, London, where he died in seven days.’

Jason tells us that the business was continued after the death of Charles in 1926 by his wife Mary Elizabeth Clayden; the business ceased trading by 1928.

We would like to thank Jason for so generously sending this information to us….it’s a major help to have new locations for dealers in the interactive website and so interesting to have such a rich description of Charles Clayden.


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