Archive for June, 2020

June 29, 2020

Emergence of the Antique & Curiosity Dealer book published

I thought you may be interested to hear that my new book, The Emergence of the Antique & Curiosity Dealer in Britain 1815-1850: the commodification of historical objects has finally been published, and it has now been released from the warehouses that have been holding it (in India I think?).  The book has been a very (very) long time in gestation – 10 years in fact, and I won’t bore you with the complicated history of its genesis – suffice to say that I have been busy with many, many other things.  And, for all those that are sitting on what they think are long dead book projects, the Emergence is a testament to keeping faith, and a testament to the many people who have supported me over the years; and of course to my publisher, Routledge (who were ‘Ashgate’, when I signed the contract back in the day!) for keeping faith too – and a special thanks to all at Routledge for their patience.  I can’t say what people will think of the book of course, but I hope someone out there likes it, or at least appreciates the effort!

Here’s the blurb for the book, in case you wonder what it’s actually about – Rather than the customary focus on the activities of individual collectors, The Emergence of the Antique and Curiosity Dealer in Britain 1815-1850: The Commodification of Historical Objects illuminates the less-studied roles played by dealers in the nineteenth-century antique and curiosity markets. Set against the recent ‘art market turn’ in scholarly literature, this volume examines the role, activities, agency and influence of antique and curiosity dealers as they emerged in the opening decades of the nineteenth century. This study begins at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, when dealers began their wholesale importations of historical objects; it closes during the 1850s, after which the trade became increasingly specialized, reflecting the rise of historical museums such as the South Kensington Museum (V&A). Focusing on the archive of the early-nineteenth-century London dealer John Coleman Isaac (c.1803-1887), as well as drawing on a wide range of other archival and contextual material, Mark Westgarth considers the emergence of the dealer in relation to a broad historical and cultural landscape. The emergence of the antique and curiosity dealer was part of the rapid economic, social, political and cultural change of early-nineteenth-century Britain, centered around ideas of antiquarianism, the commercialization of culture, and a distinctive and evolving interest in historical objects. This book will be of interest to scholars in art history, histories of collecting, museum and heritage studies, and nineteenth century culture.

I’m sorry it’s rather expensive – at £120 it’s quite a whack (as they say!), but that’s academic publishing for you I guess; the economic model must take account of the fact that only half a dozen people will actually buy it!?…My other book (SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story) by contrast, is FREE, as you may know (thanks to the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art).

Anyway, if you are at all interested in this arcane subject, then Emergence may be one for you.


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