Antique Dealer Project Conference – Day One summary & photos…

The Antique Dealer project conference, which took place last week, seemed to go very well – everyone seemed to enjoyed themselves anyway…Thank you to everyone that came along and participated – there was a real community spirit!…I’m posting here a summary of DAY ONE, and will post DAY TWO separately…


Some Conference Delegates arriving at Temple Newsam House.

It was an exhausting programme of talks, tours, object and archive sessions, oral history ‘in conversation’ sessions and ‘sandpits’!….but we had lots of refreshments (and wine and canapés) to keep us all going!

ATG and Dealers

Alex Puddy, Frances Allitt, Mark Bridge, Andrew Jenkins, Tim Corfield, at the Conference.


Dominic Jellinek and Jerome Phillips at the conference.

We began the day with an opening address from Mark Bridge, editor-at-large from the Antiques Trade Gazette, who reflected on his experience of 35 years at the ATG.  Mark provided a stimulating start to the proceedings with beautifully observed summaries of the changes to the antique trade through the pages of the ATG. Following Mark Bridge, yours truly gave a (relatively lucid) overview of the project so far – there was an awful lot to say about the research activities over the 32 months of the project, condensed to 30 minutes!…But I gave it a shot anyway – here’s the spectacular venue too – the famous Picture Gallery at Temple Newsam House, with some of the conference delegates…


Mark W with the conference delegates in the Picture Gallery at Temple Newsam House

And then Eleanor Quince (Co-Investigator) from the University of Southampton, presented a brilliant summary of the 50 hours of oral history recordings we have done so far – an edited version of Eleanor’s talk will be posted into the Antique Dealer project website – as an introduction to the Oral History Pages on the site, so do take a look!

conf 5

One of the tea breaks at the conference, in the Great Hall at Temple Newsam House.

After a break for tea, coffee and amazingly tasty cookies (thank you to Salts Catering!), Lizzy Jamieson, our project research fellow, gave a fascinating presentation on just one of the many antique dealer archives that we have been investigating – that of Crowther & Sons, the well-known architectural salvage dealers, trading in various locations in South West London.

Following a delicious lunch, we began our ‘Hidden Histories’ tours of Temple Newsam House – the aim here was to ‘re-wire’ the museum by focusing on the objects in the collections and their history as objects that had entered the museum through the auspices of the antique trade. We had four discrete, but related tours, all led by a combination of curators, academics, and, importantly for the project, Antique Dealers – for each tour we highlighted key museum objects, and rather than doing the more conventional museum tours that focus on the art historical aspects of the museum objects, we directed attention to the art market history of the objects (quite a contentious thing to do in a museum of course!…).

And so, the history of famous Library Writing Table, made for Harewood House by Thomas Chippendale in the 1770s, was re-routed through the history of the art market – here the object was part of a complex network of collectors, philanthropists, curators and dealers (specifically the famous London antique dealers, H. Blairman & Sons) in the mid 1960s. The table was sold at Christie’s, London, on 1st July 1965 (lot 57) and purchased on behalf of Leeds Museums & Galleries by George Levy of H. Blairman & Sons for the then world record price for a piece of English Furniture, at 41,000 guineas (a guinea was/is £1 & 1 shilling) or £43,050.

harewood table

Library Writing Table, c.1770, by Thomas Chippendale, made for Harewood House, Yorkshire. Acquired for Temple Newsam House in 1965, through Blairman & Sons, for £43,050. Photograph courtesy of Leeds Museums & Galleries.

Part of the objectives of the Antique Dealer research project has been to foreground the art market history of objects in public museums, and to further reflect on the displacement of these highly significant stories from museum histories….

object session

Ian Fraser, conservator at Temple Newsam House, demonstrates the complex series of secret drawers in the famous ‘Murray Cabinet’ (made by John Channon in c.1750) to some of the conference delegates.

After the Tours we had some more conventional objects sessions, where some interesting objects at temple Newsam were the focus of small group, specialist-led, sessions; including the famous ‘Murray Cabinet’, made c.1750 by John Channon – but also, and importantly as far as the research project is concerned, sold to Temple Newsam in 1986 through the English Furniture specialists Norman Adams Limited, London.

After the objects sessions we arranged for all of the conference delegates to see some of the amazing antique dealer archives and related ephemera that have been donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds, which were on display in the Still Room at Temple Newsam. We had displays of archive material from Phillips of Hitchin (and with Jerome Phillips himself on hand to explain the material!), as well as archive material from Roger Warner (with Sue Ashton (and Hugo, her husband) the daughter of Roger Warner on hand to comment on the archive material) – as well as some archive from Charles Lumb & Sons, that Tony and Mary Lumb very kindly brought over to the conference, and again were on hand to explain the documents!


Mark W, Nick Pearce, Mingyuan Hu, Mary Lumb and Nicolas Oddy, exploring the antique dealer archives.

archives 2

Various discussions in the ‘archive session’ in the Still Room at Temple Newsam House. In the foreground, John Hudson, Tony Lumb and Robin Butler.

Cato and Dodgson

Lennox Cato & Mark Dodgson.

We also had some archive material dating from c.1915 from Stair & Andrew, the early 20th century antique dealers, as well as a wide range of antique dealer ephemera – dealer catalogues from Charles Duveen, A.W. Little, Edgar Gorer, S. Richards, Partridge & Co etc etc….. The archive session proved to be a huge success I think, judging from the many animated discussions in the Still Room.


Caroline McCaffrey & Deborah Jussel


Mo Westgarth & Eleanor Quince


Francis Allitt & Chris Jussel

And so the first day ended with our wine reception in the Great Hall – with lots of chatting and etc –

We also had a very generous speech from Marco Forgione, the CEO of the British Antique Dealers’ Association.


Marco Forgione, CEO of BADA at the Conference reception.

The first day of the conference ended with the playing of the spectacular 18th century Organ Clock, made by George Pyke in the 1740s – which fascinated the conference audience!

jl clock

James Lomax, explaining the George Pike organ clock to the conference delegates.

I’ll post a blog about an equally fascinating DAY TWO of the conference shortly – the DAY OF THE DEALERS!




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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

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'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

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