Archive for November, 2015

November 28, 2015

Yet more on ‘Quinneys’

Following some earlier blog posts on ‘Quinney’ and the dealer Thomas Rohan (see blog posts December 31st 2014; December 6th 2014; July 27th 2014), I recently came across some more information associated with this fascinating conflation of fact and fiction – as you’ll know, the real antique dealer Thomas Rohan (trading in Bournemouth and Southampton in the period 1903-1937) was the basis for the famous fictional antique dealer ‘Joe Quinney’ in the novel by Horace Vachell (first published in May 1914) – see our interactive research project map site for the entry on Rohan:

Anyway, recently in a couple of antiquarian book dealers I found two further pieces of ephemera associated with the play ‘Quinneys’ (1915) and the novel ‘Quinneys’ (1914). Firstly, I found a rare copy of the playbill for the first staging of the play ‘Quinneys’ on April 20th 1915, at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London – see cover picture:

Quninneys 1915 play

Playbill, ‘Quinneys’, Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 1915. Image copyright, AHRC Antique Dealers Project, 2015.

And secondly a copy of the published script of the play (a later copy, probably from the 1950s?) –

Quinneys play script 1915 reprint

‘Quinneys’, play script (1915) – 1950s edition. Image copyright AHRC Antique Dealers project 2015.

henry ainley

Henry Ainley (1879-1945), British Actor. Image Wikicommons.

The playbill lists the actors in the play – ‘Joe Quinney’ the eponymous antique dealer, was played by the well-known Shakespearian actor Henry Ainley (1879-1945) (see above); incidentally he also played ‘Quinney’ in the 1919 film version of the play…and interesting (as far as we are concerned) Ainley was born in Morley, Leeds, West Yorkshire!. Quinney’s wife, Susan, was played by the British film actress Syndey Fairbrother (1872-1941).

What is also interesting, for the antique dealers project, is that a number of (then) high profile London antique dealers and interior decorators supplied the antique furniture for the play. The dealers listed in the playbill were the interior decorators ‘Thornton Smith Limited, 31 Soho Square’; antique dealers ‘Keeble Limited, 10 Carlisle Street’, ‘Parkenthorpe, Ebury Street’, and ‘Spillmans, St. Martin’s Lane’, who are all listed as supplying the ‘furniture’ and acknowledged for their ‘expert advice in this regard’.

The project interactive map website, at present, includes entries for ‘Keeble’ – and trading at 10 Carlisle Street, indeed we even have an image of the interior of their shop, dated 1927.

Keeble Carlisle House Carlisle Street London Oct 1927 Conn The Oak Room at Carlisle House

Keeble (1914) Ltd, Carlisle Street, ‘Oak Room’, 1927.

Parkenthorpe were trading at the time at 79 Ebury Street, as ‘dealers in antiquities’ – see again our project interactive map.

We can get a sense of the attention to authentic detail in the room settings for the play ‘Quinneys’ from the stage directions in the play script; the play opens in ‘The Sanctuary in Quinney’s house in Soho Square’ (one can note here that there is an extra layer of authenticity here, as the antique dealers Thornton Smith, in real life, also had premises in Soho Square)…and the stage directions continue:

‘The rise of the curtain discloses a beautiful room, filled with rare and costly furniture, prints in colour, miniatures and tapestry. Obviously the room belongs to a collector who is a connoisseur….between the windows is a magnificent Chinese lacquer cabinet, standing on a Charles II gilded and carved stand. On the cabinet is a Kang He mirror-black bottle about twenty inches high. An Adam’s mantelpiece, with dog grate, in which logs are burning….an incised lacquer screen, with a gilded Carolean chair in front of it. Upon the mantelpiece are a set of five blue-and-white jars, Oriental china of the eighteenth century. An old Aubusson carpet is on the parquet floor…..there is not much furniture, but it is of the finest Chippendale period….’

The description suggests a display of all of the most fashionable antiques of the period…the ‘Kang He mirror-black bottle’ was of the, then, hugely expensive, so-called famille-noir Chinese ceramics, collected by major figures such as Lord Lever during the opening decades of the 20th century.

Quinney/Rohan is certainly becoming a fascinating case-study of the evolving social and cultural identity of the antique dealer!






November 23, 2015

New student volunteers for the interactive map

We are very lucky to have some new volunteers for the Antique Dealer project – 5 of our year 2 undergraduates at the University of Leeds have stepped forward to offer help on inputting data into the Interactive Map website for the project.

Leeds Uni UG volunteers

University of Leeds student volunteers – left to right – Henry, Konstantinos, Matilda, Wing, and Minty.

All of the students are taking the undergraduate module ‘The Art Market: Moments, Methodologies and Meanings’ as part of their BA (Hons) programmes in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds – so they have specific expertise in the history of the art market!

It’s great to welcome Henry Dowson, Konstantinos Michailidis, Matlida Humphreys, Wing Li, and Araminta Martin to to the project – they will be adding new dealerships and locations into the interactive website, as well as editing existing locations and correcting incorrect locations of dealerships – so really, really important work!

Thank you to the extraordinary generosity of our UG students at Leeds…they join a growing band of volunteers on the AHRC Antique Dealers project!


November 3, 2015

BADA Commemorative Plates 1919

Whilst having a meeting with Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of the British Antique Dealers’ Association, on Friday last week (regarding the Antique Dealer project conference in April, amongst other things), I noticed a small display of 6 plates on the windowsill of Mark’s office.

Stoner plate 1919

BADA Commemorative Plate, c.1918-19. Photograph copyright AHRC Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds.

All of the plates had the same painted inscription ‘Success to the BADA’ at the top edge, and each had a separate, individual inscription on the lower edge.  This one (above) has ‘Stoner for ever. 1919.’ on the bottom edge.  The plates themselves are relatively inexpensive, mass-produced objects – (Mark kindly told me they have a printed mark ‘Crown Staffordshire’ on the back) – so they are pretty common everyday ware. Three of the plates have printed decoration of a small bird in a branch of a tree – the style keys into the Chinoiserie revival of the 1910s and 1920s; the other three had similar, but hand-painted, decoration.

Andrade plate 1919

‘Andrade for ever 1919’. Comemmorative plate. Photography copyright AHRC Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds.

The inscriptions on the plates refer to the foundation of the BADA, which began just a year earlier, on May 7th 1918. The story of the founding of the BADA is by now very well known I guess, but one of the reasons for the founding of the Association was as a response to the proposed Luxury Duty that was to be introduced in the Finance Act of 1918.

The plates are variously inscribed – the one above is inscribed ‘Andrade for ever. 1919.’ Other plates are inscribed ‘Mrs Astley for ever, 1919.’ (below); ‘Thomas for ever. 1919’; ‘Law for ever. 1919.’; and ‘Evans for ever. 1919’.

Astley plate 1919

‘Mrs Astley for ever. 1919.’ Commemorative plate c.1919. Photograph copyright AHRC Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds.

The plates obviously celebrate founding members or early members of the BADA – Stoner, for example, probably refers to George Stoner, who was one of founder members of the BADA in 1918.  Sadly George Stoner, a Vice-President of the BADA, and the father of Frank and Malcolm Stoner, died aged 50 in 1920, shortly after the foundation of the Association – the dealership was named ‘Stoner & Evans’, and was trading at 3 King Street, St. James’s, London at the time.

‘Andrade’ would be Cyril Andrade, then trading in Duke Street, St. James’s, London; ‘Mrs Astley’ would be Florence Astley, also trading in Duke Street, St. James’s in the same period. There were three further plates – one inscribed ‘Evans for ever. 1919.’ – probably for the Mr Evans who was partner in Stoner & Evans, although there was also a silver dealer, ‘Evans & Co’, but I’d think it was for the chap from Stoner & Evans.

The other plates were inscribed ‘Law for ever. 1919’ for Charles Law, of the dealers ‘Law, Foulsham & Cole, then trading from 7 South Molton Street, London, and ‘Thomas for ever. 1919.’ – Thomas was the formidable dealer C. Rochelle Thomas, the President of the BADA for 1919, and then trading at ‘The Georgian Galleries’ 10, 11 & 12 King Street, St. James’s, London, along with his sons, Victor Joseph Rochelle Thomas and Alfred William Rochelle Thomas.

The plates are fascinating pieces of ephemera associated with the founding of the British Antique Dealers’ Association – I just wondered if there were any more of these plates surviving?…there appear to have been 16 founder members of BADA in 1918, so maybe there are at least another 12 plates somewhere?… but the 6 plates here also include members who were not listed as founders, such as Florence Astley, who must have joined sometime after March 1918 and before the plates were inscribed in 1919… perhaps there are scores of them out there!





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