Antique Dealer catalogues

Thanks to our friend and colleague, Chris Jussel, formerly of the antique dealers Vernay & Jussel, in the USA, our archive of historic antique dealers catalogues continues to increase.  Chris very generously send us, all the way from America, a small cache of dealer catalogues from his collection. The catalogues are mostly undated, but appear to be mainly from the mid 1980s, and were produced by a number of well-known antique dealers, some of whom are no longer with us.

Amongst the catalogues are examples produced by the firm of Thorpe & Foster in c.1980-1985, who were trading in Dorking in Surrey in the 1980s; Thorpe & Foster were well-known as ‘specialists in antique walnut furniture’ and advertised extensively in the 1980s.  They appear to have incorporated Hampshires of Dorking and the fine art dealership ‘Dorking Fine Arts’ in the late 1980s. Their shop in Dorking was appropriately located in an historic house – in this case a Georgian House, and such business premises had been a favourite setting for antique dealers since the early 1900s.

Thorpe & Foster catalogue, c.1985.

Some of the catalogues, probably dating from the late 1980s, appear to foreground Hampshires of Dorking as the main business, rather than Thorpe & Foster. It’s not known when the business of Thorpe & Foster was established, nor when the business joined with Hampshires of Dorking, but one of the Thorpe & Foster catalogues, evidently from the early 1980s, indicates that Thorpe & Foster were trading at 49 West Street, Dorking, and by the mid 1980s, when they had incorporated Hampshires of Dorking, the business extended from 48 to 52 West Street.

The Hampshires of Dorking catalogues suggest that the antique furniture on sale was displayed in ‘period room’ settings in the 1980s.

Hampshires of Dorking, catalogue 1980s.

Other antique dealer catalogues in the cache sent to us by Chris Jussel include examples produced by the dealer Brian Fielden, again dating from the 1980s and who was trading from New Cavendish Street, London at the time.

Brian Fielden antiques, catalogue 1980s.

And catalogues, also dating from the 1980s, from the well-known English antique furniture dealers Apter-Fredericks, who are still trading in the Fulham Road in London – Fulham Road was known by many in the antique trade as ‘the brown mile’ because the large number of antique furniture dealers that settled in Fulham Road during the 1970s and 1980s.

There are also a small selection of dated catalogues (dating from 1981, 1982 and 1983) produced by the firm of W.R. Harvey & Co (Antiques) Ltd., (then trading from Chalk Farm Road in North London; the firm is also still trading, now in Corn Street, Witney in Oxfordshire); and a 1980s catalogue produced by Edward A. Nowell Antiques, the well-known dealer in Wells in Somerset.

Edward A Nowell Antiques, catalogue, 1980s.

The antique dealer catalogues are a very valuable resource for the antique dealers research project – they illustrate the kinds of antiques that were most fashionable in the period and also indicate the changing marketing techniques and practices of the antique trade – or at least some key sectors of the antiques trade. These 1980s antique dealer catalogues are highly polished publications, produced as part of sophisticated advertising to promote the businesses.

The practice of antique dealers producing catalogues of their stock has a long history. Indeed, some of the earliest antique dealer catalogues were produced in the 1820s – the dealer Horatio Rodd, who was trading in Great Newport Street in London during the 1820s to 1840s, seems to have regularly produced printed and illustrated catalogues of his stock, two of which (dating from 1824 and 1842) survive in the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum (shelfmark G.31.H and shelfmark II.RC.L.32) – they were both also on display at the recent SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story at the Bowes Museum.

And as previous blog posts have demonstrated, many antique dealers, both in London and in the provinces, continued to produce catalogues of their stock throughout the 19th and 20th centuries (see, for example, recent blog posts on W.F Greenwood & Sons). Some of the most well-known examples are the late 19th and early 20th century catalogues produced by the Nottingham antique dealer Samuel Richards.

Catalogue of stock produced by Samuel Richards of Nottingham, 1890s.

Richards’ catalogues were posted to collectors on a regular basis, apparently every month, from the 1880s until the start of World War I. The S. Richards’ catalogues illustrate the very wide range of antiques and curiosities that a leading dealer sold in the period, from a ‘Fine Chippendale Armchair’ and a ‘Queen Anne Dressing Mirror’ to a pair of ‘Rare Silk work Pictures’ and an ‘Early Worcester Cup and Saucer’. Examples of Richards’ catalogues survive at the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum and in the extensive collections of antique dealer archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

The latest cache of antique dealer catalogues that Chris Jussel has so generously donated to the antique dealers’ research project will provide future researchers will valuable information of the ways in which leading antiques dealers of the 1980s marketed their stock of antiques.

Mark

2 Comments to “Antique Dealer catalogues”

  1. Good to see this Blog. I wonder where all these catalogues are held and is it possible to access them? Have they been digitised for research purposes? I am trying to research a spectacular piece which I believe was sold by Moss Harris in the 60’s and wonder if you have a full run of their catalogues? Thanks! Tim

    • Hello Tim,
      good to hear from you!…the catalogues are in the resaerch library in the Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market at the moment – we’ve not yet got the respurces to digitize them, but hope to apply for some funding to do that…but in the meantime, if you send me (in confidence) an image of the object I’ll check with the Moss Harris catalogues we have…we only have a few catalogues of M Harris though…I think that John Morris has some of the M Harris photo albums?…send me an email antiquedealers@leeds.ac.uk
      very kindest regards
      Mark

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