Archive for October, 2015

October 10, 2015

Yet More Oral History Interviews! – Martin Levy, of H. Blairman & Sons

Our oral history research is really gathering pace now – yet another one ‘in the bag’ – this time with Martin Levy, of the old established antique dealers H. Blairman & Sons (established 1884) – very well known to those interested in the history of the antique trade.

M Levy

Martin Levy, 2015. Image copyright H. Blairman & Sons.

During a fabulously interesting interview Martin outlined the early history of H. Blairman & Sons, from their beginnings in a shop in Llandudno, where, as Martin recently discovered, the business also sold contemporary ceramics alongside antiques – this 19th century cup and saucer, with a back-stamp indicating that it was retailed by H. Blairman is a testament to those trading practices (see our earlier blog entry on these practices too – blog entry for MAY 2014 – and Blairman & Sons website H.Blairman & Sons Limited.

Photograph copyright, Blairman & Sons, London.

Photograph copyright, Blairman & Sons, London.


Photograph copyright Blairman & Sons, London

Photograph copyright Blairman & Sons, London

The Blairman family were originally emigres from Poland in the late 19th century, and initially Harris Blairman (Martin Levy’s great-grandfather) entered into a partnership with a dealer in Birmingham, before establishing the business in Llandudno. For some further detail on the history of H. Blairman & Sons do look at the history of Blairman, composed by Martin, on the Blairman website.

Martin also told us of his interest in 19th century and early 20th century designed objects – in which he has also been something of a pioneer in more recent times – and his memories of working with his father, George Levy (who joined the firm in 1949), as well as Martin’s memories of his own early days after joining the business in the mid 1970s.  Martin also has some wonderfully engaging reflections on the changing taste in antiques, on people that influenced his development as a dealer, and on his passion for objects and their history.

The interview will be soon be made available via the project websites – once we get it edited and etc.


October 7, 2015

More Oral History Interviews – Frank Partridge

We are gathering quite a collection of Oral History interviews for the Antique Dealers project – we now have 19 interviews in our database…with more still to come! Our latest interviewee was Frank Partridge, the great-grandson of the founder of perhaps one of the world’s most famous antique dealing firms, Frank Partridge & Sons, of London and New York. In a really engaging interview, Frank told us about the early history of Partridge & Sons – the family were originally Cobblers in Hertford apparently, before moving into the antique trade in the late 19th century. Here, below, is Frank Partridge, standing in front of a portrait of his great-grandfather – Frank is a very experienced antique dealer, having been in the antique business for almost 40 years….

Frank Partridge

Frank Partridge. Image copyright Frank Partridge Limited.

Robert Partridge, the brother of Frank’s great-grandfather, was the first to set up in business as an antique dealer, in c.1900 – and here’s an image of R.W. Partridge’s shop in c.1910 – ‘Top Red Gallery’ in King Street, St. James’s, London. Robert was one of four Partridge brothers, all involved in the antique trade; Frank senior set up the eponymous firm in c.1905.

Partridge Top Red Gallery

R.W. Partridge, Top Red Gallery. c.1910.

Frank joined the family business in c.1981, before leaving to set up his own antique business in 2004. As readers of the blog will probably know, Frank Partridge & Sons was sold in 2006, and eventually ceased trading shortly afterwards.   During the interview, Frank offers some fascinating reflections of the changes to the antique trade over the last 40 years – as well as observations on the conditions and networks of the various antique markets in Britain, the USA and in France. He also told us about Partridge’s relationships to major collectors, such a J.Paul Getty, and other international dealers such as French & Company, of New York.

As with all of the other interviews we have completed, we are in the process of editing the interview, ready for uploading into the project websites for future generations of researchers and interested parties, to enjoy.



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