November 22, 2021

Quinneys, the film (2021) – the official trailer and introductory short films

Quinneys, the film (2021) is now just weeks away from general release, so do keep your eye on the project blog for details. In the meantime, we have two, invitation only, screenings, one in York (Weds 24th November) and the other in London (1st December) – we still have just a few FREE tickets left for the York Picture House screening (5.30pm-8.30pm) with wine and canapes if anyone is near York on Weds 24th (do email me direct for tickets In anticipation, we have made an Official Trailer for Quinneys, the film (2021) – see the YouTube below.

And for extra context for the film, we have also made 2 short films which explain a little bit about the significance of the Set for Quinneys, as well as outlining some key ideas that underpin how we have positioned Quinneys within the wider Antique Dealer Research Project at the University of Leeds. Here are links to the 2 short films.

Making the film of Quinneys has been a mammoth task, we’ve had to overcome the impact and restrictions of the Covid 19 pandemic, various Lockdowns and constraints, but thanks to everyone associated with the making of Quinneys, the film (2021), we are very near to making the film live again, more than 70 years after Quinneys was last seen as a film.

We do hope everyone will get a chance to see the film, and will enjoy it!


October 30, 2021

Quinneys, the film (2021) coming soon!

Our film of the play Quinneys is very near to being released – the final edits and addition of film credits and music are being completed in the next week or so. As readers of the antiquedealersresearchblog will know, over the past few months we have been busy making a film version of the play Quinneys (1915).

Quinneys, the film (2021), full cast. Photograph, Andrew Mills, 2021.

Indeed, you can trace the genesis and development of our project to recreate the play in our numerous blog posts over the past seven years! (yes, 7 years!). You can trace the journey we have been on with Quinneys, from the initial ideas for the recreated play, the rehearsals for a ‘live’ performance (cut short by the first Lockdown of the pandemic back in March 2020), to the shift to making a film version and the final stages of the making of the film in the posts on the blog – see our posts on 27 July 2014; 6th December 2014; 31st December 2014; 28th November 2015; 23rd December 2015; 26th June 2019; 17th December 2019; 30th January 2020; 9th February 2020; 4th March 2020; 8th March 2020; 27th September 2020; 28th May 2021; 20th July 2021; as you’ll see, it’s been a long journey!

George Rodosthenous (the director of the film) and I had a first look at the completed film this week at the cinema on campus at the University of Leeds (George even brought popcorn!). I must say, it’s looking fabulous! Patrick Bannon (cinematography) and George have done an amazing job on editing the footage and have created a real legacy project for the AHRC Year of the Dealer project.

Here are some exclusive photographs of how the film looks in its final version – taken at the first viewing of the ‘proof’ version screening of the film this week on campus.

Jim (Fergus Johnston) and Posy (Annabel Marlow), Quinneys (2021). Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2021.
Sam Tomlin (Malcom Webb), Quinneys (2021). Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2021
Susan Quinney (Hannah Rooney) and Posy Quinney (Annabel Marlow), Quinneys (2021). Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2021.
Posy Quinney (Annabel Marlow), Cyrus P. Hunsaker (Stephenson Catney), Jim (Fergus Johnston), Quinney (Samuel Parmenter), Dupont Jordan (Sebastian de Pury), Sam Tomlin (Malcom Webb) and Susan Quinney (Hannah Rooney), Quinneys (2021). Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2021.
Mable Dredge (India Walton), Quinneys (2021). Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2021.
Dupont Jordan (Sebastian de Pury), with one of the ‘Chippendale’ chairs. Quinneys (2021). Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2021.
Quinney (Samuel Parmenter) and Susan Quinney (Hannah Rooney). Quinneys (2021). Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2021.

We are planning two exclusive, invitation only, premiere screenings of Quinneys (2021) later in November and early December, before we release the film to the world as a free download on the project websites. I will of course post some updates on the screenings in the coming months, but for the moment I’d like to thank George, Patrick, all the actors, and everyone who helped create Quinneys (2021). It’s a brilliant piece of work!


September 30, 2021

Antique Dealer Catalogues – Rueben Shenker c.1920

Our collections of historic antique dealer catalogues and brochures continues to expand. The latest edition is a rare sales catalogue issued by the antique dealer Reuben Shenker (1872-1952) in c.1920. Shenker was born in Russia and came to England, settling initially in Grimsby, North Lincolnshire with his parents. The family moved to London by 1910, and Reuben, together with his younger brother Isaac (1882-1959) established an antique dealing business, specialising in ‘early oak furniture’.

Rueben Shenker, ‘Genuine Antique Furniture’ dealer catalogue, c.1920. Image, antique dealer research project, University of Leeds.

Isaac Shenker seems to have worked for his brother Rueben – he is recorded as ‘assistant antique furniture’ in the 1910 Census, whilst Reuben is listed in the same Census as ‘antique dealer’. Isaac appears to have left his brother’s business in 1913, first trading from Holland Park Avenue, then, by 1928, from 118 Brompton Road, a location with a very high concentration of antique dealers in the period. Isaac became a BADA (British Antique Dealers’ Association) member by 1932, and seems to have been very successful, ending up with a shop in Old Bond Street by the late 1940s.

Rueben established his business in 1911, trading from Red Lion Street, London until 1936. He specialised in ‘early oak’, which was hugely popular for furnishers and collectors in the opening decades of the 20th century. In 1937 Reuben appears to have closed his Red Lion Street shop and became ‘manager’ of an antique dealing business, Coslyn Limited, who were based at St. Mary Abbott’s Terrace, London.

Advertisement, R. Shenker, from Connoisseur, June 1914. Image antique dealer research project University of Leeds.

Rueben’s ‘Illustrated Catalogue of Inexpensive Genuine Antique Furniture’ contains a series of photographs of various examples of 16th, 17th and 18th century furniture, and is dominated by ‘early oak’ specimens.

Rueben Shenker ‘Genuine Antique Furniture’ dealer catalogue c.1920. Image antique dealer research project, University of Leeds.
Rueben Shenker ‘Genuine Antique Furniture’ dealer catalogue c.1920. Image antique dealer research project, University of Leeds.

In his introductory remarks to the catalogue, Shenker draws attention to the popularity of ‘early oak furniture’. He writes, ‘In recent years Genuine Antique Furniture has come into greater favour with buyers of all tastes and classes than heretofore…..The most important and durable pieces are to be found in the early oak examples, which, while being quaint in design and workmanship, are the most useful for country residences.’

‘Old oak’ was indeed amongst the most popular tastes in the opening decades of the 20th century, with many specialist dealers emerging in the market. There was also a thriving trade in the sale of ‘old oak rooms’, recycling 16th and 17th century panelling and fittings into new old-style properties as collectors and furnishers wanted the ‘period room’ look. Dealers such as Lenygon & Morant, Frederick Litchfield, and perhaps most famously, Charles Roberson, did a brisk trade in the sale of period panelling and period rooms. Below is a photograph of a ‘Gothic Oak Room from Boughton Malherbe Manor House, Kent’, from Roberson’s sales catalogue, volume II of three volumes, also, like Shenker’s catalogue, dating from the early 1920s.

‘Gothic Oak Room from Boughton Malherbe Manor House, Kent’, from Roberson, ‘Antique Panelled Rooms, vol II’, c.1921. Image, antique dealer research project, University of Leeds.
Rueben Shenker ‘Genuine Antique Furniture’ dealer catalogue c.1920. Image antique dealer research project, University of Leeds.

Reuben continued in his introductory remarks in his catalogue, highlighting the increasing importance of authentic specimens, which was a special concern for collectors of ‘old oak’ in the period, and of his own his expertise as a dealer. Reuben writes, ‘Having specialised in early oak furniture for many years, I offer intending purchasers the benefit of my experience to guard them against unfair dealing…I may mention that I have a large clientele all over the world, which has been obtained by giving satisfaction and by honest dealing.’

Rueben Shenker ‘Genuine Antique Furniture’ dealer catalogue c.1920. Image antique dealer research project, University of Leeds.

Shenker’s catalogue is a rare survival of an antique dealer’s sales catalogue from the 1920s and will be joining the growing collection of antique dealer catalogues and ephemera and antique dealer archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds in due course.


August 17, 2021

The Generosity of Supporters

I’ve constantly amazed by the generosity of the many, many supporters to the antique dealer research project. Over the years we have had donations of archives, ephemera, books as well as funds, and crucially people’s time, all of which have not only helped the various strands of the research project but have also helped to build a community of interested, and interesting, people.

But I was truly touched when the postie called last week to deliver a parcel from our lead volunteer, Chris Coles. Chris, as many of you will know, has been helping with the project for many years, helping out with many aspects of the projects, from undertaking and transcribing several of our Oral History interviews, sending us data and information on the history of antique dealers, and generally being first in line to help out with project events. When he started as a volunteer on the research project Chris was working in the Prints and Drawings Department at the British Museum, but he has now moved on to be a consultant researcher for the antique furniture trade.

Chris was exceptionally generous to send us this beautiful watercolour design for a needlework top for a period card table, produced for the antique dealers’ Camerons of Mount Street, London in 1940.

Wilfred Stanley Haines (1905-1944) Design for a Needlework Top for a Period Card Table, November 1940 for Camerons (Antiques), London. Photograph, Abbott & Holder.

The design was created by Wilfred Stanley Haines (1905-1944), who worked for his family firm A. Haines & Son, tapestry restorers at 216 Merton Road, Wimbledon. W.S. Haines trained at William Morris & Co and was working at Morris & Co in 1936 but by the time the Second World War broke out Haines was working for his family firm. Chris tells us that there are several watercolour designs by W.S. Haines in the collections at the V&A Museum in London. Sadly Haines was killed in a bombing raid during the Second World War in 1944 whilst working as a fireman.

Camerons (Antiques) was established in c.1910 by Beatrice Cameron, initially at 16 Mount Street, before relocating to 67 Duke Street, St. James’s immediately after the Second World War. Cameron’s seem to have specialised in antique tapestries and panelled rooms in the 1930s and 1940s, hence I guess, the commissioning of the design for a needlework top for an antique card table. W.S. Haines produced several designs for needlework tops and covers for antique furniture in the early 1940s, including a design for a needlework cover for a ‘Chippendale chair, circa 1760’ for the antique dealer William Lee of 39 Stonegate, York – (thanks to Chris for sending us all this information!). Below is a photograph of William Lee’s antique shop interior at Stonegate, of c.1949.

William Lee, 39 Stonegate, York, interior, c.1949. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

Chris very generously gifted the watercolour to the antique dealer project, in honour, he tells us, of John Hill (of Jeremy Antiques, formerly of the King’s Road) and (he says) of me (I am truly flattered and honoured). Chris also tells us that Tom Edwards at Abbott & Holder (where Chris purchased the watercolour) was also exceptionally generous with a discount in acknowledgment of the gift of the watercolour to the antique dealer research project.

Thank you to Chris and to Tom for such generous gestures, it is so encouraging, and touching, that you regard the research project so highly.


July 23, 2021

New Oral History Interview – David Love

The various UK Government Lockdowns and Social Distancing requirements over the past 16 months or so have severely restricted our ability to continue with our Oral History of the Antique Trade project. But as we have started to move out of various restrictions we have ‘fired up’ the Oral History project again. And we’re pleased to announce that David Love, of David Love Antiques Limited in Harrogate, generously agreed to be our latest and 43rd interviewee – we interviewed David in late June.

David Love, at his shop in Harrogate, 2021. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

David is perhaps one of the most experienced antique dealers in Britain, having been in the antiques trade for more than 50 years. He started in 1969 with his first shop, which he opened at Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire, but David had initially begun in the trade by helping out at the shop of his mother, Araxie Love, who had established her own antique dealing business in c.1960 in Richmond, North Yorkshire, acquiring the antique shop run by the dealer Kathleen Agar.

In this very engaging oral history interview David tells us about how he relocated his antique business to Swan Road in Harrogate in the early 1970s, before occupying the premises of the well-known dealer Walter Waddingham in Royal Parade in 1975, and remaining there for 45 years. David has fond memories of Walter, and many other well-known dealers in Harrogate and York and the Yorkshire area – dealers such as Frank and Basil Shaftoe and Reg Smith of ‘Smith’s the Rink’ in Harrogate and Charles Morrison in York – and in the interview he gives a real insight into the Northern antiques trade in the period from the 1970s until the decline of the trade across the UK in the late 1990s.

David was primarily an inter-dealer trader in the 1970s and 1980s, often supplying dealers in the South and in London with antique furniture and a wide range of objects. He recalls the numerous local auction sales that kept the supply chains running, and the extensive buying trips that he would make, starting in Newcastle, Sunderland and the North East of England, and extending to Coldstream, Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee and Glasgow in Scotland, before returning to Harrogate via Carlisle, Kendal and Barnard Castle – calling in at many well-known dealers such as the Sydneys (in Newcastle), Owen Humble (in Jesmond) and Bill Beaton (in Perth and Dundee). These were ‘fun days’ as David describes them, when one would not know what would be found in the various antique shops one visited.

David also tells us of some spectacular finds that he has made over the years, including spotting a previously ‘lost’ ormolu tea urn by the great 18th century manufacturer, businessman and designer Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), which he acquired whilst in the USA. He realised it was something special and this was confirmed when he got home and looked up Nicholas Goodison’s magnificent volume on the work of Matthew Boulton (1974) to find that it was listed in the book as ‘lost’.

In this fascinating interview David also reflects on the changes to the antique trade over the past 50 years and the reasons for those changes, as well as reflecting on the what the future might hold for the antiques trade. The interview will join the rest of the Oral History interviews as part of the archive of the history of the antique trade in Britain and will be made available to the public in due course. In the meantime, we have a few more oral history interviews planned, so do keep your eye on the antique dealers research blog and the project research pages.


July 20, 2021

Quinneys (2021)- the film!

As you may know, we have been making a film of the play ‘Quinneys’ (1915) at The Stage on campus at the University of Leeds as part of the Arts & Humanities Research Council funded ‘SOLD! The Year of the Dealer’ project. The filming was completed on 2nd July and we are now in the process of editing all the sections of film and creating the final version of Quinneys (2021). We are aiming to premiere the film later in the year, probably in November or December, at a cinema in Leeds, and, hopefully also in London – do keep you eye on the antique dealer blog and the project website for updates.

Thanks to our amazing director of the film, Dr. George Rodosthenous, all the student actors, Samuel Parmenter (as Joseph Quinney); Hannah Rooney (as Mrs Susan Quinney); Annabel Marlow (as Posy Quinney); Fergus Johnston (as James Miggott); India Walton (as Mable Dredge); Malcolm Webb (as Sam Tomlin); Stephenson Catney (as Cyrus P. Hunsaker); and Sebastian de Pury (as Dupont Jordan) – as well as Samantha Willetts (as Theatre Company Manager and lighting design); Andy Mills (as technician) – and our cameraman Patrick Bannon, we managed to get the film ‘in the can’ over an exhausting 5 days (9am-9pm!) – helped by delicious pizza! Here’s the full cast after filming, on the Quinneys (2021) ‘Sanctuary’ set, with George –

Cast of Quinneys in rehearsal with George Rodosthenous at The Stage, University of Leeds. Photograph, Year of the Dealer project, 2021.

Rehearsals were a real challenge, with all the Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing etc. We had to wear masks when not actually on set and about to film – here’s the actors all masked up early on in the rehearsals:

Cast of Quinneys in rehearsal with George Rodosthenous at The Stage, University of Leeds. Photograph, Year of the Dealer project, 2021.

Annabel Marlow, who plays Posy Quinney (Quinney’s daughter) in the film, was still self-isolating on the first day of filming, so we had to do the rehearsals with Annabel on Zoom via a laptop – a very surreal, J.G. Ballard-esque experience! Here’s Samantha Willetts (Company Manager) holding the laptop with Annabel (‘Posy’) on screen.

Samantha Willetts holding ‘Posy’ (Annabel Marlow) – rehearsals for Quinneys. Photograph, Year of the Dealer project, 2021.

Filming Quinneys was a very complex operation, with some very sophisticated technical kit, and it required very detailed planning and execution – here’s a long shot of the setup for filming, with Patrick Bannon (far right) and the team manning the cameras.

Filming Quinneys. Photograph, Year of the Dealer project, 2021.

And another photograph of Patrick checking the camera ready for filming another scene of Quinneys (2021) –

Filming Quinneys. Photograph, Year of the Dealer project, 2021.

As well as the actors ‘starring’ in Quinneys the antiques on Set were also key characters in the film, as they were in the original staging of the play in 1915. All the objects on Set were genuine antiques, and, like the original versions of the play in 1915, were loaned by leading antique dealers. In 1915 dealers such as Walter & Ernest Thornton-Smith and M. Harris & Sons loaned antiques. And below is a photograph of the Set for Quinneys’ ‘Sanctuary’ in 2021.

The Set for Quinneys’ ‘Sanctuary’. Photograph, Year of the Dealer project, 2021.

The antiques for Quinneys (2021) were very generously loaned by David Love Antiques, Harrogate, Simon Myers of R.N. Myers & Sons, Gargrave, and Tony Lumb of Charles Lumb & Sons, formerly of Harrogate. We were very lucky to have such wonderful antiques for the Set, and would like to say thank you again to David, Simon and Tony for all their help and support.

Here is a final photograph of all the cast of Quinneys (2021) on Set in Quinneys’ ‘Sanctuary’. We very much look forward to welcoming everyone to the premiere of Quinneys later in the year. Keep you eye on the project website for more details.


Cast of Quinneys (2021). Photograph, Year of the Dealer project, 2021.

May 28, 2021

Quinneys – re-booted – we’re making a film!

We are delighted to announce that the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project, ‘Sold! The Year of the Dealer’ has emerged from hibernation and we have started rehearsals again for the restaging of the play ‘Quinneys’ (1915). Thanks to a further extension to the Year of the Dealer project from the AHRC we can now continue the project, which now ends on 31st December 2021. We will update you on the remaining proposed events and the museum trails later in the summer, but for now, we are all really excited to announce that Quinneys is alive and well.

Rehearsals are currently taking place online via TEAMS – which makes it an interesting if somewhat challenging experience, but our actors and George Rodosthenous, our Director, are doing brilliant work in this virtual space. Here’s a screen shot of the most recent rehearsal, with George (top left) directing the actors, and with Samantha Willetts (top middle) our new Theatre Company Manager and Lighting Designer. The actors are – Stephenson Catney (top right) who will be playing the part of the American millionaire collector Cyrus P. Hunsaker; Sebastian du Pury (bottom left) one of our new actors, playing the part of the American millionaire collector Dupont Jordan; India Walton (centre middle) playing the part of Mabel Dredge, Quinneys’ typist and a love interest of James Miggott in the play; Malcolm Webb (right middle) another of our new actors, playing the part of the antique dealer Sam Tomlin; Samuel Parmeter (left) and Fergus Johnston (right) (centre bottom), playing the parts of the antique dealer Joseph Quinney and James Miggott, Quinney’s workshop foreman, respectively; and Hannah Rooney (left bottom), playing the part of Mrs Susan Quinney. We are missing Annabel Marlow is this photograph (who plays Posy Quinney, the daughter of Susan and Joseph Quinney, and the other live interest of James Miggott) – and there’s a tiny image of me (Mark) in the bottom right corner, taking the photograph!

Quinneys rehearsal on TEAMS at the University of Leeds.

The pandemic has of course meant that we have had to rethink our plans to restage a performance of the play in a theatre – but the exciting news on the Quinneys project is that we are making a film of the play instead. We will be filming Quinneys at the University of Leeds in early July and following that we are planning to have a ‘premiere’ of the film at a cinema later in the year – so do look out for updates on the antique dealer project website and on this Blog of course.

In the meantime, here’s another photograph of the Quinneys rehearsals on TEAMS, with all the actors – and this time including Annabel Marlow (left centre), who pays Posy Quinney in the play/film.

Quinneys rehearsals on TEAMS at the University of Leeds.

We very much look forward to welcoming everyone to the World Premiere of our film of Quinneys later this year.


May 8, 2021

‘She is now of the family of Champcommunal and other money makers’: women, antiques and interiors in mid twentieth-century London

[our friend and colleague, Dr Clare Taylor, from Open University, is our guest blogger again for this blogpost – thank you again Clare for taking the time to share your research – you can also read Clare’s other blogpost from 19th Feb 2021, HERE].


Here’s Clare Taylor’s blogpost:

‘Many of the names behind leading antique dealers were men, but women’s role in the business equally deserves to be uncovered and celebrated, as Mark’s 2015 posts on the early B.A.D.A. member Clara Millard revealed [HERE & HERE]. Women, too, have a long association with the trade [Mark – indeed they do, the dealer Jane Clarke (c.1794-1859), who specialised in ‘antique lace’, was a major dealer in the middle decades of the 19th century – see also my dictionary of 19th century antique dealers – White Rose Depository ] and at least one female dealer looked back to the eighteenth-century to advertise her shop. Anne Austen adapted the c.1754 trade card of James Wheeley, a paper hanging warehouseman on Aldersgate Street, for her own business on New Bond Street, which was visited by Prince Henry of Battenberg in 1912 [Mark – see Anne Austin in the Antique Dealer Project Map website too – HERE ]. Austen kept Wheeley’s cartouche and shop scene but changed the name and address. She also adapted the wording, removing the wallpaper manufacturing element from Wheeley’s card and substituting ‘common papers’ with the presumable more valuable ‘Chinee papers’ or Chinese wallpapers, adding ‘New Chairs & Horse Glass designs by the ingenious Mr. Chippendale’ to the list of items she sold.

Trade Card for Anne Austin’s gallery, c.1913. Copyright Trustees of the British Museum. Courtesy of Clare Taylor.

Austen’s card suggests she was fitting up interiors, and decorating was frequently thought of as the preserve of amateurs who gave ‘advice’, but became nevertheless an important area for women seeking work (and an income) in the early years of the twentieth century and often went hand in hand with the trade in antiques. Sybil Colefax (1875-1951) was in just such a position in the 1920s. These women trod a difficult path, as Virginia Woolf’s description of Sybil in a letter of 1930 to Vanessa Bell conveys, since in Woolf’s view Sybil ‘is now of the family of Champcommunal and other money makers’, ‘a hardened shopkeeper’, whose society life of leisure has been replaced by a working life such as that of Elspeth Champcommunal (1888-1976), the then Editor of Vogue magazine.

Trade Card for Sybil Colefax Limited, n.d. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Image courtesy of Clare Taylor.

Sybil’s name is now synonymous with the decorators Colefax & Fowler, and although her role in that firm might have been short lived (1938-46) and her contribution since eclipsed by those of John Fowler and Nancy Lancaster, Sybil’s knowledge of antiques was built up over a much longer timeframe. She had started out before the Second World War working for Stair & Andrew, establishing their decorating department on the first floor at Bruton Street, so her early knowledge may well have been gleaned from working with their stock, although according to her biographer later ‘forays into Bond Street…brought her into contact with many London dealers’. Her trade card certainly highlighted that she supplied ‘Antique furniture, glass, china with a special feature of Regency pieces’ and it was a lighter version of Edward Knoblock’s Regency taste which she promoted with painted and gilded chairs, console tables and textiles in plain satin or printed with Regency-style motifs such as bay leaf circlets and lyres.

Drawing Room at Sybil Colefax’s home on Lord North Street, London, photographed after 1941. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Image courtesy of Clare Taylor.

Her own manuscript, ‘On Houses’, also signified the importance of the setting in which antiques were placed, warning that ‘ You lose half the effect of a fine Queen Anne writing table or bookcase or walnut chairs…when they’re set among some dull creton [sic] or linen covers of poor design and washy colour’. It also seems that clients recognised her expertise in antiques as well as interiors. During the War she kept her business going whilst helping out at the Red Cross depot and in May 1940, a desperate Marquess of Anglesey, for whose wife, Marjorie Manners, Sybil had decorated a bedroom at Plas Newyyd, wrote that he had no money and no jewels (‘except as will belong to the children, as they want them’) to send to the Red Cross sale. He sought Sybil’s advice to authenticate a piece of furniture, asking, ‘What about the Empire piece. Do you think it has a History? Or can you say with authority that it comes from Malmaison? Can you advise me whether it could be written over as famous and historical and sent to the Lord Mayor?’

A key element of the Regency Revival taste for which Sybil Colefax was admired was decorated and painted furniture, a taste which is still with us today. From the early 1920s such pieces were sold by the decorator Syrie Maugham (1879-1955) from her shop on Baker Street, who had a reputation for ‘pickling’, bleaching and painting in white pieces from eighteenth-century commodes to mirror frames.

Sketch of Syrie Maugham at work from Cecil Beaton’s The Glass of Fashion 1954. Image courtesy of Clare Taylor.

Liberty’s, Heal’s and Peter Jones on Sloane Square also sold painted pieces, supplied in the case of Peter Jones not only by Maugham but by the artists Ambrose Thomas (‘The Marquis d’Oisy’) and Margaret Kunzer. By 1930 Kunzer had been recruited to head a Department of Decorative Furniture for the shop, and during the early 1930s a painting studio was established in nearby Ixworth Place to feed in stock, run by a young John Fowler. Stock sold out at the first exhibition held in the Department and demand continued to grow. One determinant was clearly price. Kunzer went on buying trips and had a regular supplier in Suffolk who repaired pieces ready for painting (a Mr Head in Sudbury) but she also bought pieces closer to home once paying £10 in the Caledonian market (also a source of pieces for Syrie Maugham) for ‘a small pine tallboy, a writing table, several chairs and a tray’ which all needed only minor repairs before being painted. However, Kunzer also had a keen eye for what would sell, recalling in 1982 that at an exhibition held early in 1935 it was Regency pieces that were most in demand as they were suited to customers who were increasingly living in smaller scale flats and houses.

These examples, of Anne Austen, Sybil Colefax, Syrie Maugham and Margaret Kunzer, illustrate some of the different ways in which women contributed to the trade in antiques in the interwar years and after, and offer tantalising glimpses of the networks within which these women operated and their role in promoting new tastes.

Clare Taylor.

April 29, 2021

Antique Dealing & Department Stores

One of the latest acquisitions to the growing archive of antique dealer ephemera is a rare sales brochure, dating from c.1900, from Hampton & Sons Limited, Pall Mall East, London, of ‘Antique Embroideries, Furniture, Silver, Porcelain and other Art Objects’. It’s a very elaborate brochure, with a colour printed and embossed cover and full of black and white, and some colour photographs, of the stock of antiques that Hampton had for sale.

Hampton & Sons Ltd., Sales Brochure, c.1900. Image Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

Hampton & Sons were established in 1830 by William Hampton, trading in Cranbourne Street, London, selling general household items and furniture and expanded to a large general furnishing and department store in East Pall Mall, London, in 1869. Many department stores in London in the period c.1900, such as Debenham & Freebody, the 19th century department store business that eventually became Debenhams, and the furnishing store Maple & Co. Ltd., of Tottenham Court Road, developed ‘Antique Departments’ within their stores – here, for example, is a sales brochure produced by Maple & Co in c.1915, also in the Antique Dealer Research Project archives.

Maple & Co. Ltd., sales brochure for antiques, c.1915. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

(For more on antiques and department stores see also our blog post on November 2nd 2014 by Chris Coles). Like these other department stores, Hampton & Sons antiques department sold a wide range of antiques. They described themselves as ‘Decorators, Furnishers’ and ‘Dealers in Antiques’ in the frontispiece to their sales brochure – with ‘Antique Furniture’, ‘Old Tapestries’, ‘Embroideries and Laces’, ‘Old Arms and Armour’, ‘Old Silver’, Sheffield Plate and Porcelain, ‘Old Copper Ware’ and ‘Curios’ all listed in the contents of the brochure.

Hampton & Sons Ltd., Sales Brochure, c.1900. Image Antiques Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

In the Introduction to the brochure Hampton & Sons write that ‘The steady and continuous growth of the Department…rendered it absolutely necessary to make extensive additions to the Show-rooms’ that they had ‘recently constructed for the display of Antiques’ (Hampton & Sons, brochure, p.1). The sales brochure illustrates the very wide range of antiques that the business sold in the period around 1900. Here is a page showing ‘Old Arms and Armour’, including ‘A Demi-Suit of Bright Steel Armour…of the XVIIth century, from the celebrated Melges collection’, (Brochure, p.4) – numbered as item ‘O1.’ in the photograph.

Hampton & Sons sales brochure c.1900. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

Among the photographs of antique furniture is this page, showing 18th century English and French antique furniture and clocks, is a fascinating cabinet on stand (right side of photograph, numbered ‘O71.’), described as ‘an old cabinet, of rosewood, richly inlaid with conventional representations, in ivory, of trees and flowering plants….’; and an equally interesting ‘Old English Miniature Bureau Bookcase’ (show top left, numbered ‘O67’)…an ‘Important example’ as the caption states. This, of course, as we now know, is a late 18th century example from Vizagapatam, India.

Hampton & Sons, Sales Brochure, c.1900. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

Another of the pages devoted to antique furniture includes another cabinet on stand, this time described as ‘A Very Fine Old Ebony Cabinet….Formerly the property of Oliver Cromwell. From Olivers Stanway, once the residence of the Eldred family’; (numbered O78.’) – the cabinet is also illustrated in Arthur Hayden Chats on Old Furniture (1905), p.99, where it is reproduced by ‘permission of Messrs. Hampton & Sons’ and obviously from the brochure here.

Hampton & Sons, Sales Brochure, c.1900. Image, Antiques Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

There is also an extensive selection of antique textiles and lace in the sales brochure; antique textiles and lace were highly fashionable at the time, but antique lace in particular had also been a key part of the antique markets since the early 19th century, perhaps most famously with Jane Clarke, who operated the ‘Antique Lace Warehouse’ at 154 Regent Street, London in the 1830s and 1840s. In the Hampton & Sons brochure there is a fabulous ‘Banner of Old Italian Lacis’, ‘dated 1606’, ‘a very fine and interesting specimen’ as it was described; (numbered ‘O130’).

Hampton & Sons, Sales Brochure, c.1900. Image, Antique Dealers Research project, University of Leeds.

There is also a page devoted to the ubiquitous ‘Curios’, which included an ‘Elizabethan Brown Glazed Ware Jug’ (numbered ‘O211’) top right in the photograph below, together with ‘Ivory Tankards’, ‘Silver and Metal Gilt Monstrances’, and ‘a Pair of Chinese Carved Cylindrical Spill Vases’ (numbered ‘O212’) top centre – these are carved Bamboo brush pots which appear to have been later mounted in silver, probably in Europe.

Hampton & Sons, Sales Brochure, c.1900. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

And finally, no antique department store would have been complete at the time without some collections of antique Chinese ceramics, and here are a couple of pages from the brochure illustrating Hampton & Sons collections of ‘Old Chinese Porcelain’. This page (below) showing 18th century polychrome porcelain, including an interesting vase ‘on Imperial Yellow Ground’ (centre, numbered ‘O272’):

Hampton & Sons, Sales Brochure, c.1900. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

And this page (below), showing ‘Old Nankin Porcelain’, from the extensive collections of blue & white Chinese porcelain at Hampton & Sons.

Hampton & Sons, Sales Brochure, c.1900. Image, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds.

The Hampton & Sons sales brochure is a rare and fascinating survival of antique dealing in the period c.1900, and will be making its way to the antique dealer archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds in due course.


March 31, 2021

More Antique Dealer Archives – Kent Gallery Ltd albums

The collection of antique dealer archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections (BLSC) at the University of Leeds has a new donation – two fascinating photograph albums, dating from c.1920-1930, illustrating the stock of the well-known and highly important antique dealer furniture dealers’ Kent Gallery Ltd. The albums have been generously donated to the BLSC by the V&A Museum – thanks to Kate Hay, Assistant Curator, Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A and her colleagues Leela Meinertas (Senior Curator of Furniture at the V&A) and Christopher Marsden (Archivist at the Archive of Art & Design) – and thank you to Karen Sayers, archivist at the Brotherton Library Special Collections, for accepting the donation!

Kent Gallery photograph albums, c.1920. Photograph courtesy of Kate Hay, 2021.

Kate and I came across the photo albums back in 2017 when I was with Kate at Blythe House (the V&A Museum stores) whilst we were looking over some other antique dealer related material, and I immediately had a sense that the albums were created by the antique dealers’ Kent Gallery. I’d seen Kent Gallery photographs many times previously and, like many leading antique dealer photographs, they have a very distinctive appearance – often the objects are photographed against particular backgrounds or are framed in a particular way. Here’s some examples of the photographs in the Kent Gallery albums – the albums are quite large format (c.20 inches high); they are (despite looking a bit shabby at present) quite grand leather finished and gilt-tooled albums. The photograph albums were used by Kent Gallery as inventories of stock, as well as perhaps to show customers what was available for sale, and acting as catalysts for asking customers what kinds of antique furniture they might be interested in purchasing.

Kent Gallery Album, c.1920-1930. Photograph courtesy of Kate Hay, 2021.

The 18th century chair in the photograph (above), from one of the albums, has an annotation indicating that it had been ‘Sold’ and includes a negative number for the photograph. The photograph below, shows an 18th century giltwood mirror (also indicated as ‘Sold’), and the negative number, but in this page the object is also inscribed with a stock number.

Kent Gallery photograph album, c.1920-1930. Photograph courtesy of Kate Hay, 2021.

Photograph albums such as these seem to have been relatively common among leading dealers from the early 1900s until the 1960s. I’ve seen examples created by several well-known dealers, such as Mallet & Son, M. Harris & Sons and W.F Greenwood & Sons – indeed, I posted a blog entry on the W.F. Greenwood & Sons photograph album on this blog in July 2014 – see earlier blog post here.

Kate Hay did some further research on the albums and discovered that they had been given to the V&A Museum by the antique dealer Ronald A. Lee in 1973, but had never been accessioned into the V&A collection – it’s fitting therefore that the albums are coming to the BLSC, which, as you may know, also has a collection of R. A. Lee material donated by Ronald Lee’s daughter Georgina Gough.

Kent Gallery were one of the leading dealers in antique furniture in the opening decades of the 20th century, trading from various locations in London – the main headquarters of the business was in Conduit Street. The business was established by Edward Horace Benjamin, who, by the early 1920s had been joined by Lionel Harris Junior (b.1903) and Maurice Harris (b.1900), the sons of the well-known dealer Lionel Harris (1852-1943). The Harris family had extensive antique dealing interests – they owned ‘The Spanish Gallery’, (aka ‘The Spanish Art Gallery’) one of the leading dealers in Spanish work of art in the period; and Lionel Jnr and Tomas Harris (1908-1964) also operated their own antique dealing businesses in the 1920s and 1930s.

Kent Gallery was one of the Harris families’ specialist antique dealing businesses – with a speciality, from the 1920s, for selling antique English furniture. The business was one a number of antique dealers in the period that seem to have focused on selling English furniture, no doubt spurred on by the publication of key texts such as Percy Macquiod’s A History of English Furniture (1904-1908) and Macquoid and Edwards’ Dictionary of English Furniture (1924-1927). Indeed, many of the photographs in these volumes were supplied by dealers such as Kent Gallery, Moss Harris & Sons and Frank Partridge & Sons.

Some other Kent Gallery material which I’ve collected over the years or which has been kindly sent to the antique dealer research project also demonstrates the tightly imbricated relationships between the development of scholarship on English furniture and the market for antiques in the period. For example, our friend Chris Jussel, formerly of the leading dealers Vernay & Jussel, sent us an invoice back in 2019 which records the sale of a ‘Sheraton mahogany two-door bookcase’ sold by Kent Gallery to Arthur S. Vernay Inc (a precursor to Vernay & Jussel), in September 1931 for £1,120.

Invoice, Kent Gallery, 1931. By kind courtesy of Chris Jussel.

The bookcase, as the Kent Gallery invoice highlights, was formerly in the collections of the well-known American collector of antiques Francis P. Garvan (1875-1937), as well as that of the collector F.C. Hunter; but had also been previously illustrated in Percy MacQuoid’s A History of English Furniture (1904-1908) in the volume titled, The Age of Satinwood, ‘figure 185’. Illustrated below is the very bookcase.

‘Mahogany and Satinwood Book-case. Property of F.C. Hunter’. Percy MacQuoid, A History of English Furniture, The Age of Satinwood, (1904-1908), figure 185.

In the antique dealer project archives we also have a very small cache of loose photographs from Kent Gallery – I picked these up about 10 years ago, from Ebay, in a small collection of photographs of antique furniture which includes photos from the dealers Basil Dighton, G. Jetley, Robersons and Gill & Reigate. The Kent Gallery photographs have a distinctive style, as I mentioned. This ‘George I’ chair, for example, (see below) from the cache of photographs, is similarly framed and has the same background to the Kent Gallery album photograph of the mahogany chair (see above).

Photograph of a ‘George I mahogany + gilt wig chair’; photograph c.1927. Kent Gallery. Antique Dealer Archive.

The verso of the photograph of the ‘George I’ chair has a Kent Gallery stamp. Thanks to Chris Coles, who kindly send us a photograph of the advertisement in The Connoisseur in 1927 from Kent Gallery, which illustrates the chair and which helps us date the Kent Gallery albums to c.1920-1930.

Kent Gallery advertisement, The Connoisseur 1927. Courtesy of Chris Coles.

Thanks also to Chris Jussel and Chris Coles, who both pointed out to me that this chair is one of a set – there are two from the set in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and another pair are also in the collections at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, near Liverpool. One of chairs was also illustrated in Macquoid and Edwards Dictionary of English Furniture (vol I. 1924), p.227, (which is also mentioned in the Kent Gallery advert) where it had a provenance to the collection of Sir George Donaldson (1845-1925). The Kent Gallery chair is evidently from the same set, with some minor differences (the Kent Gallery chair has brass studs to the seat covering for example).

The photograph of the lacquer table, (below), is also from the small cache of photographs from Kent Gallery.

Photograph of lacquer table, ‘c.1710’: Kent Gallery. Antique Dealer Archive.

The verso of the photograph also shows the Kent Gallery stamp and with an inscription (in pencil) indicating that the photograph was being used in some publication (perhaps as part of an advertisement in Apollo or The Connoisseur magazines?). The inscription in ink describes the object – ‘Red and Gold lacquer table in the later manner of the Queen Anne period c1710’.

Verso of photograph of lacquer table, ‘c1710’; Kent Gallery. Antique Dealer Archive.

As you can see, Kent Gallery dealt in the highest quality antique English furniture in the period. The Kent Galley photograph albums are a rare survival of material from one of the leading antique dealers of the early 20th century – we are so grateful to Kate and the V&A for their very generous donation of the albums to the Brotherton Library Special Collections – once they have been quarantined, cleaned and conserved the albums will be available for researchers – I for one, can’t wait to have another look at them!


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