Archive for August, 2015

August 22, 2015

Summer Competition – WINNERS!

Our Summer Competition closed yesterday – thank you to all who sent entries and tried to guess the top THREE locations for Antique Shops in Britain in 1976.  We had entries from all over the UK, we also had one entry from the USA! Thank you to all of those that entered the competition….we hope you enjoyed trying to work out the top three locations.

We are very pleased to announce that we have TWO winners!

Patricia Walsh, from Lancashire, and Tony Loftus, from Yorkshire: well done to both of you – we will be posting your prizes – copies of ‘A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Antique & Curiosity Dealers’ – to you this week. Well done both!


The competition seemed to have been quite tough as none of the entries actually guessed all THREE of the top THREE locations for antique shops in 1976.  But of all the entries, Patricia and Tony both managed to guess TWO of the top THREE (Brighton & Bath), and we thought that they both deserved to win.

And so, you will all want to know the correct answers of course –

The TOP TEN locations (Cities/Towns) for antique shops in Britain in 1976 are:

  1. Brighton (96 dealers)
  2. Bournemouth (61 dealers)
  3. Bath (51 dealers)
  4. Bristol (50 dealers)
  5. Manchester (37 dealers)
  6. Nottingham/Chester (36 dealers)
  7. Harrogate (35 dealers)
  8. Sheffield/Birmingham (32 dealers)
  9. York/Leeds/Glasgow (30 dealers)
  10. Oxford/Windsor (29 dealers)
August 20, 2015

Even More Oral History Interviews! – Gary Baxter

Our busy schedule of Oral History interviews continues apace this week – on Monday 16th August we interviewed Gary Baxter of the well-known Antique English Furniture specialist dealers H.C. Baxter & Sons. In an absolutely exemplary interview, full of rich historical detail, Gary told us about the beginnings of H.C. Baxter & Sons, established in the late 1920s in Chelsea, London. Here’s Gary in his new shop in Lewes, East Sussex, which he now shares with his sister.

Gary Baxter 2015

Gary Baxter, in Lewes, East Sussex, 2015.

Gary is one of the last in a generation and tradition of antique dealers that stretches back into the opening decades of the 20th century – something that the current research project is keen to map and investigate.

Horace Baxter

H.C.M.V.J. Baxter, c.1950s. Photograph courtesy and copyright of Gary Baxter.

Gary told us about his grandfather, the marvelously named, Horace, Claude, Montague, Victor, John, Baxter – who established the business in 1927. H.C. Baxter – here (above) in a photograph kindly loaned to us by Gary. Horace began the firm in partnership with his sister Maud – (Mrs Maud Chalmers), in a business initially called ‘Chalmers and Baxter’. Indeed, it was as ‘Chalmers and Baxter’ that they showed as one of the antique businesses at the inaugural Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in 1934; as this photograph (again kindly loaned to us by Gary) of their stand at Grosveonr House in 1934 illustrates –

Chalmers and Baxter stand GH 1934

Chalmers & Baxter at Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, 1934. Photograph courtesy and copyright Gary Baxter.

Maude, who was, Gary tells us, much more interested in antique jewellery, opened her own separate antique jewellery shop in Knightsbridge by the mid 1930s, leaving Horace in the antique shop in Fulham Road, London.  Horace was joined in the business by his wife (Gary’s grandmother) Florence Ann Baxter, and later by Gary’s father, Terence Baxter, and his uncle, Roy, before Gary joined the business aged 17 in 1978.

In an interview full of absolutely fascinating detail (Gary should certainly have been an historian!) Gary told us about his memories of being taken around the antique shops and auction rooms of Brighton in the early 1960s, and of the extensive buying trips undertaken by his grandfather and father as they sought antique furniture for their dealer customers in London. H. C. Baxter, as many of you will know, were one of the leading trade suppliers of fine quality English 18th and early 19th century antique furniture during the second half of the 20th century. In our interview, lasting over 2 hours (thanks again Gary for your patience!), Gary described the structure of the antique trade and how it operated, changed, and declined during the course of the late 20th century – the interview will be of considerable interest to our research project, as well as being an exceptional resource for future historians of this fascinating cultural phenomena.






August 20, 2015

More Oral History Interviews – Daniel Bexfield

We are having a busy few weeks with the Oral History Interviews – as well as our recent interview with Lennox Cato, we’ve also completed an interview with the well-known Antique Silver specialist Daniel Bexfield. The interview was conducted by our Project Lead Volunteer, Chris Coles, at Daniel’s shop in London.


Daniel Bexfield. Photograph courtesy and copyright of Daniel Bexfield. 2015.

Daniel and Chris had a fantastically interesting discussion on life as an antique silver dealer – and Daniel recalled his early career as a dealer in the antique markets at Bermondsey and Portobello Road, before he established his first permanent shop in the famous Burlington Arcade in the West End of London. The interview, as with all our project interviews, will soon be available via the project website – just need to edit them etc….

We now have an expanding range of interviews with specialist dealers – antique furniture dealers, antique textile dealers, antique silver dealers, antique glass specialists, wine antiques specialists….we’re on the hunt for an antique ceramics specialist at present!

Thanks again to Daniel, and to Chris, for such an interesting interview.


August 15, 2015

Oral History Interviews – Lennox Cato

We did another of our growing corpus of antique dealer project Oral History interviews the other week – and with another ‘BBC Antiques Roadshow‘ presenter – this time with Lennox Cato of Lennox Cato Antiques in Edenbridge, Kent.

Lennox cato 1

Lennox Cato. Photograph courtesy and copyright of Lennox Cato Antiques, 2015.

In a fascinating and wide-ranging interview, recorded at his antique galleries in Edenbridge, Lennox told us of his very early introduction to the antiques trade – he was adopted at an early age by the well-known Brighton based antique dealer ‘Dicky’ Compton and his wife – as well as the history of his own time in the business since he opened his first shop in The Lanes, Brighton, in 1978.

As many of you will know, Lennox has become a regular expert (especially on antique furniture) on the popular BBC programme ‘Antiques Roadshow’, as well as being a very active member of the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

Lennox Cato

Lennox Cato in investigative mood. Photograph courtesy and copyright of Lennox Cato Antiques, 2015.

In our interview Lennox reflected on his 35+ years in the trade, and had some enlightening observations of the structure of the antique trade and his perspectives on being one of the very few (the only?) Black ethnic members of the antique trade (at least at this senior level of the trade).  This, for us involved in the research project, is particularly interesting; our study is of what one might call the ‘ecology’ of the antique trade, and is one of the key research themes within the AHRC funded project. Indeed, whilst we are not explicitly tracing the quantitative metrics of the Black and other ethnic demographics of the trade (we’ll leave that for an extension to the current research project), our interactive website is tracking the shifting gender composition of the antique trade over the course of the 20th century – so we will have some data on the changing patterns of men and women dealers 1900-2000.

But anyway, our interview with Lennox has yet to be edited, but will, like all of our oral history interviews, be available for everyone to listen to through our project websites – keep your eyes on the ‘News’ from the ‘Antiques Dealers’ project.

Thank you again to Lennox for taking time out of his very busy schedule to do our research interview.





August 2, 2015

A Summer COMPETITION – the top Towns in UK for Dealers in 1976

We have been doing some preliminary work of the changing demographics of the antique trade in the 20th century, looking, initially, at the shifting locations in British cities, towns and villages occupied by antique dealers – this will be something that is much easier to do once the Antique Dealer Project Interactive Website has greater concentrations of data (we are working on that!).

We thought however, as it’s the summer and many of us are winding down, having a holiday or generally relaxing (supposed to be anyway), we would have a little SUMMER COMPETITION – based on hard academic research of course!

So we have devised a Competition, and everyone can join in –

THE COMPETITION: You must correctly LIST the TOP THREE town/cities in Britain in 1976 that had the MOST NUMBER of ANTIQUE DEALERS. Please exclude CAPITAL CITIES of the COUNTRIES making up the UNITED KINGDOM. So do not include LONDON (which had 1,233 dealers in 1976); or EDINBURGH (which had 105 dealers in 1976); or CARDIFF (which had 21 dealers in 1976); or BELFAST (which had 8 dealers in 1976).

We even have a PRIZE for the WINNER. A copy of ‘A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Antique & Curiosity Dealers’ (written by our own Project Lead, Mark – published by the Regional Furniture Society (2009; republished 2011) – this copy is unsigned, and they are the rare ones!


The COMPETITION is open all – anyone, anywhere in the WORLD – it is OPEN NOW (1st August 2015) and closes on 6.00pm on FRIDAY on 21st August 2015.


You need to email your entries to  -please include your name and address in the email.

Only ONE prize is available, so it will be on the FIRST CORRECT ENTRY LISTING THE TOP THREE LOCATIONS FOR DEALERS IN 1976 drawn at random from all correct entries received by the closing date. If there are no correct entries the submitted entry that is nearest to the correct answer will be given the PRIZE. We will post the Dictionary to the WINNER on MONDAY 24th AUGUST.

We will reveal the TOP TEN towns/cities with concentrations of dealers in Britain in 1976 on FRIDAY 21st AUGUST 2015.




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