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.

Mark

4 Comments to “Emergence of the Antique & Curiosity Dealer book published”

  1. Dear Mark –

    Bravo!  Well done. Writing a book like this IS truly a long, long process – at times a slog – yes?  With our book, we are now at seven years and counting. But we are closer and closer to the finish line. The foundation which underwrote the whole project are negotiating with publishers now & hopefully thinking of a pub date in 2022. It will also be expensive for, as you rightly say, a limited run of copies for a limited audience.  However, most gratifying to write & see in print.

    Congratulations,

    Chris

    From: antiquedealersblog Reply-To: antiquedealersblog Date: Monday, June 29, 2020 at 1:17 PM To: Subject: [New post] Emergence of the Antique & Curiosity Dealer book published

    antiquedealersahrc posted: “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 realised from the warehouses that”

  2. Your right about the cost, it is somewhat inhibiting. Happily, I recommended it to our library (Newcastle University) this morning and they have bought an e-book copy. I’m looking forward to reading it,

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