Archive for May, 2016

May 15, 2016

New Oral History Interview – Jonathan Harris, of Phillips & Harris

The latest in our series of Oral History Interviews with members of the Antique Trade was recorded last week. Our interviewee was the well-known antique dealer Jonathan Harris, formerly of Phillips & Harris, of Kensington Church Street, London. In an absolutely fascinating interview, full of personal reflections on his life as an antique dealer, Jonathan told us about how he started in the trade in the mid 1960s, following a brief spell at the auctioneers Christie’s, before he entered into partnership with Henry Phillips in Kensington, London in 1967.

J Harris

Jonathan Harris, at his London home. May 2016.

Jonathan’s eclectic interest in antique objects shaped the acquisitions for the business of Phillips & Harris – the shop in Kensington Church Street was always full of an amazing mixture of spectacular objects, from 16th century sculpture, to early 20th century furniture.  An example of Jonathan’s taste for the historically significant, and the visually stunning, is the centre table designed by the architect William Burges in c.1867, for Burges’ own home in Buckingham Street, London.

Jonathan sold the table to Lotherton Hall, part of Leeds Museums & Galleries, in 1971 (a similar table in is the collections at Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum).

burges table

Table, designed by William Burges, c.1867. Sold by Phillips & Harris to Leeds Museums & Galleries in 1971.

During the interview with Jonathan we had the pleasure of taking a brief tour of some of the objects that he had collected over the years; it was fascinating to hear what had interested Jonathan about the objects and why he had acquired them – Jonathan belongs to that great tradition of antiquarian collecting, where the discrete history of the objects is a rich catalyst for the deeper traditions of story-telling, and served to remind me of the importance of the ‘oral history’ research as a key part of the broader Antique Dealer project research activities.

As with all of our Oral Histories, our interview with Jonathan will soon be made available via the Antique Dealer project websites.



May 8, 2016

Conference ‘Impact’ – Temple Newsam staff….and the REF

The Antique Dealer Project Conference generated a great deal of positive discussion and feedback – thank you again to everyone that participated and contributed during the 2 days – and to those that helped with the organisation….we could not have delivered the conference without so much help and enthusiastic interest from everyone involved.

We are working on some analysis of the conference, summaries of the sandpits and etc – and our team of Postgraduate students who worked so hard during the conference are also hard at work compiling the analysis…that should be ready soon and will be distributed to all conference delegates, and uploaded to the project website.

The project conference was also a strategic part of the Antique Dealer research project itself, and so as part of the analysis we are also continuing to evaluate the research ‘Impact’ of the project.  Research Impact, as those in the world of academia will know, is now a key aspect of all university research projects – and is a fundamental part of the REF (Research Excellence Framework).  The REF is the quality assessment mechanism that all UK research intensive universities participate in, every 5 years or so – the next REF exercise is due to be in 2020. Anyway, as part of the research impact for the Antique Dealers project we are keen to capture and assess how the research has effected (impacted upon) anyone outside of the world of academia.

And talking to Bobbie Roberton (Keeper) and Rachel Conroy (Curator) at Temple Newsam House, they mentioned how much the staff at Temple Newsam House enjoyed the conference, and how many new things about the collections at Temple Newsam they had learned as a result of the conference – so this was an opportunity made in heaven for our Research Impact! I hot-footed it to Temple Newsam last week to have a chat with the TN staff.  We staged an informal ‘focus-group’ feedback session, with tea and cake generously provided by Temple Newsam! Here are some of the staff who give their time so generously too – left to right – Michael Clark, Lyn Crispin and Helen Clayton (who’s father is also an antique dealer!…) – also present was Debra Crossley, but she had to leave before I took the photograph….

tn focus group

Temple Newsam House staff – Michael Clark, Lyn Crispin and Helen Clayton.

There were so many positive comments from Michael, Lyn, Helen and Deborah – they tell me that it was so illuminating having Antique Dealers talking about the objects at Temple Newsam, and that they had not realised how significant the antique trade had been in the development of the collections. One of the really positive outcomes of the conference is that Michael, Lyn, Helen and Deborah have all indicated that they will share their new knowledge with the public visitors coming to TN….now that IS a real result!

Thank you again to all the staff at TN for all their help and enthusiastic support to the Antique Dealers Research project.


May 2, 2016

3 New Oral History Interviews – plus ONE goes LIVE!

Following the very positive comments from the conference delegates about our oral history interviews, we have now had time to update the Oral History Interview pages on the Antique Dealer project website – see Antique Dealers Website

Our updates include three recent interviews -first, we interviewed Andrew Jenkins, of Avon Antiques, Bradford-on-Avon.  Andrew came up to Leeds to see us, and we unusually conducted the interview in our offices at the University of Leeds.  Avon Antiques was established by Andrew in 1963; in a fascinating interview Andrew gave us his reflections on his considerable experience of over 50 years in the antique trade.

Andrew and Vibeke Jenkins, Avon Antiques.

Andrew and Vibeke Jenkins, Avon Antiques.

Our next interviewee was Tim Corfield, formerly of Corfield of Lymington, Hampshire, which was established by Tim’s father in 1966.  Tim told us about his life in the antique trade and of his work as an art and antiques agent through his new business of Corfield Morris Limited.

Tim Corfield, of CorfieldMorris. Photograph courtesy of Tim Corfield.

Tim Corfield, of Corfield Morris Ltd. Photograph courtesy of Tim Corfield.

And our third interviewee as part of our recent activities was with Dominic Jellinek.  Dominic, as some of your will know, worked at the world-renowned Chinese Works of Art dealers Bluett & Sons, London.  Dominic started with Bluett & Son in 1978, and stayed with them until they business eventually closed in the mid 1990s.

Dominic Jellinek, of Bluett & Sons, pictured with the Bluett archive.

Dominic Jellinek, of Bluett & Sons, pictured with the Bluett archive.

Dominic gave us a thoroughly detailed account of the history of Bluett, based on his extensive knowledge of the Bluett archive, as well as his many memories of the antique trade in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

As usual, all of these interviews will be available to hear, once we have edited them and formatted them, so do keep your eye on the project websites.

ONE piece of GREAT NEWS, is that we have (thanks to the brilliant work of Matt Robson and Peter Edwards at the University) edited and formatted our interview with Jerome Phillips, of the famous dealership Phillips of Hitchin……the first of MANY!….do take a look at the ORAL HISTORY pages on the project website and have a listen…!


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