Posts tagged ‘BADA’

October 30, 2022

A BADA President medal 1962-1964

As part of the Antique Dealer’s research project at the University of Leeds, we are constantly on the look out for rare ephemera and items associated with the history of antique dealing in Britain. Often material is very generously donated to us, but sometimes things appear on the market which we just have to acquire. One such object was this medal (see below), which turned up at auction in August.

The medal is silver-gilt, about 34mm in diameter, and has a pale blue and white silk ribbon attached. I’d never seen one of these medals before, so asked Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of the British Antique Dealers Association (BADA) about it – he tells me that they were awarded to BADA Presidents to acknowledge their work as Presidents of the organisation. The BADA, as many of you will know, was established in 1918. This particular medal was awarded to the antique dealer Nat D. Ayer by the BADA in 1964 in recognition of Ayer’s Presidency of the BADA between 1962 and 1964. The Verso of the medal has the inscription ‘Nat D. Ayer 38th President 1962-1964’.

Nat Ayer was a very well-known character in the British antiques trade in the Post WWII period. He appears to have begun trading in antiques immediately after the end of the Second World War, opening a shop in Quiet Street, Bath by 1946. Nat Ayer is perhaps also well-known as the son of the famous composer Nathanial Davis Ayer (1887-1952) who was also known as Nat D. Ayer; composer of such famous songs as ‘Oh, You Beautiful Doll’ (1911) and ‘If you were the only Girl in the World’ (1916), with the lyricist Seymour Brown (1885-1952), and for his work on the Ziegfeld Follies. Below is a cover for a music sheet for ‘Oh, You Beautiful Doll’.

Nat Ayer Snr. was born in Boston in the USA – below is a photograph of Nat Ayer in 1916. He settled in the UK, becoming very successful in the Music Hall and theatre scene in London in the 1910s and 1920s. Ayer appears to have been less successful in the 1930s; he was eventually declared bankrupt in 1938; he sadly passed away in 1952 aged 65, in Bath, Somerset. Perhaps Nat Ayer Snr was also instrumental in his son Nat Ayer Jnr. opening an antiques shop in Bath in the 1940s?

Nat Ayer Jnr. went on to be a highly successful antique dealer, and as well as being elected the President of the BADA, he moved his business Mount Street in London in about 1964, which was at the time one of the most important locations for high-end antique shops in London. It may have been when Nat Ayer opened his new shop in Mount Street that he met his long-term partner, H. Gustave, who worked as the manager of the Connaught Hotel located in Mount Street.

Nat Jnr., like his father, was also a composer and an accomplished pianist. Indeed, in one of our many Oral History interviews with member of the antique trade – in our interview with the antique dealer John Bly (see Oral History pages on the project website) – John recalls encountering Nat Ayer whilst viewing an auction sale in Bath with his father Frank Bly. John remembers the auction was on view in a cinema building and seeing a tall man with a smart fur collar on his coat, playing a piano – his father Frank told him – ‘that’s Nat Ayer’. And as part of his introduction to the antique trade, John Bly also worked for Nat Ayer, helping him on his stand at the world-famous Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in the 1960s. John recalls that Nat was famous for introducing stage settings on his stand at the GH Fair – in 1969, for example, Nat Ayer backed his stand with a huge photograph of the New York skyline, and created trompe l’oeil effects on the floor, creating diminishing perspective effects like in theatre sets. The result, John tells us, caused a sensation at the Fair. Here’s a photograph of Nat Ayer’s shop window in Mount Street from 1966, demonstrating the flamboyant stock, typical of Nat Ayer’s ‘look’.

Nat Ayer became well-known as an interior decorator as well as a leading antique dealer. ‘Ayer & Co’, as the business became known, continued trading until the mid 1970s, moving his shop to 26 Bruton Street in about 1972, a shop now occupied by one of the leading specialists in antique furniture, Ronald Phillips.

It’s not known how or why Nat Ayer’s BADA medal ended up for sale at auction, but it has now joined the growing collections of antique dealer ephemera at the University of Leeds.

Mark

July 31, 2022

Charles Morse Antiques

Our corpus of material on the histories of antique dealers continues to increase – thanks to the many, many individuals who very generously send us information about their antique dealing businesses, or information about antique dealers they have known. But of course our richest seam of information on antique dealers from the past comes directly from the relatives and families of antique dealers. And it’s thanks to Charlotte Morse (and her son Ben, and her half-sister Michal), that we have a whole raft of information on her father, the well-known specialist dealer in antique oak furniture and early objects, Charles Morse (1913-1980).

Charles Morse at Colne Priory, Essex, in 1975. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Charlotte very kindly donated some ephemera, photographs, and a couple of the last remaining ‘stock books’ (dating from the 1970s) from her father’s antique dealing business, all of which make fascinating reading and will help the antique dealers’ research project enormously.

Charles Morse became one of the leading dealers in ‘Early Oak’ in the 1960s and 1970s, trading from very grand country house premises in Essex. He sold some spectacularly rare objects, many of which must remain in leading collections (if anyone recognises any of the objects in the photographs and knows more about them, or where they are, do let us know!). Morse began his life as an antique dealer in the years after the Second World War. He was trained as a journalist, and worked as a War Correspondent during the War, before getting a job with the Glasgow Express in the years immediately after WWII. Charlotte tells us that her father met the Belgian antique dealer George Baptiste during the War, and this must have been the catalyst for his interest in being an antiques dealer.

Morse opened his first antique shop, called, ‘Mr Pickwick’s Antiques’ in Connaught Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex in 1946. Below is an advertisement calendar produced by Morse in 1947, illustrative of the general business marketing strategies adopted by some antique dealing businesses in the decades after WWII.

Advertisement Calendar, ‘Mr Pickwick’s Antiques’ (Charles Morse) 1947. Courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Morse appears to have developed his antique dealing business very rapidly – Charlotte tells us he did good business with the American export trade at the time. He was trading from his home, Groton Manor, Suffolk by 1950, as well as operating a small shop in the village of Boxford, near Sudbury, Suffolk and opening a shop in Great Portland Street, London by the mid 1950s. By 1961 Morse had been elected to the British Antique Dealers’ Association and had a shop in the famous Portobello Road. Throughout the 1960s he was making regular buying trips to Europe, especially to Holland and France, buying early oak furniture and sculpture. Charlotte very kindly shared this photograph of Charles Morse’s VW camper van, loaded up with antique oak furniture, being craned down from the ferry from Amsterdam in 1962.

Charles Morse’s VW camper van, on a buying trip to Holland, 1962. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

But Morse is perhaps most famous for trading from a number of historic properties that he owned in the 1960s and 1970s. He acquired ‘The White House’, Colne, Essex in about 1960, before buying Colne Priory, Essex in about 1967.

Colne Priory, Essex, home and ‘antique shop’ of Charles Morse, c.1967. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Colne Priory was rebuilt in 1825, incorporating elements of an 18th century house and was built in the grounds of a Benedictine Priory dating back to the 12th century. It was a highly appropriate historic property from which to deal in antiques. Indeed, the tradition of antique dealers trading from historic properties can be traced back to the 1920s and continued throughout the 20th century – the tradition also continues to this day of course.

Charles Morse Antiques, Colne Priory, entrance, c.1970. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Morse no doubt saw Colne Priory, and it’s historic interiors, as an effective marketing tool for selling antiques, but also, as Charlotte informed us, the house keyed into his love of history and the material culture of the past. Colne Priory was also a home of course, and below is a photograph the private dining room at Colne Priory, filled with antiques – the borderline between antique collecting and antique dealing has always been porous.

Colne Priory, private sitting room, c.1970. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Morse sold Colne Priory in 1977, moving his home, and business, to Larks-in-the-Wood at Pentlow, Essex. Here, Morse continued to deal in oak furniture and early objects right up to his death in February 1980.

Charles Morse, ‘Larks-in-the-Wood’, Pentlow, Essex. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Morse sold many spectacularly rare pieces of early oak furniture and early sculpture and objects – this early oak hutch for example; the stone head corbel on the top, left, was, so Charlotte tells us, discovered in the lake in the grounds of Colne Priory, and must have come from the Benedictine Priory itself.

Early oak hutch, Charles Morse Antiques. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.
16th century Hammer Beam End, Charles Morse Antiques. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

And (above) this 16th century oak Hammer Beam End, is typical of the quality of the stock of Charles Morse. As is this (below) 15th century Italian wooden painted and gilded Corpus Christi.

Charles Morse, 15th century Italian Corpus Christi. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

Charles Morse offered the sculpture for sale at the Northern Antique Dealers’ Fair in Harrogate in 1979, for the sum of £3,000. One does not get a sense of the size of the sculpture, until one sees Charlotte (then aged 22) carrying the sculpture into the fair.

Charlotte Morse, carrying the 15th century sculpture into the Northern Antique Dealers’ Fair 1979. Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Morse.

We are so grateful to Charlotte and her family for sharing this material, and her memories of her father, Charles Morse.

Mark

December 20, 2018

Progress on SOLD!

SOLD! is coming together very well – we’ve been working at The Bowes Museum on the text panels and object labels all of this week.  They all go off to the designers soon – there’s only about 1 month to go before the exhibition opens on 26th January (and that includes the Christmas break!), so there’s still a lot of work to do.  George Harris (Exhibitions Manager at Bowes), Catherine Dickinson (Exhibitions Officer), Jane Whittaker (Head of Collections) together with the other members of the exhibitions team Vin and Jen, and I have been working on the images and texts we need for the exhibition.  It’s going to be designed around a theme of ‘shopping for antiques over 200 years’….using a cityscape as a main theme, with antique shop fronts, of various periods from 1820s to present day, interspaced with images of antique shop interiors over the same period, so the visitors to the exhibition will get a sense of the changing panorama of the ‘antique shop’.

Simon Spier (Project Assistant on the recreating the 1850s Shop) has also been helping with engaging with the local community of dealers and collectors to gather appropriate objects for the shop (see Simon’s ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ Twitter feed).  Simon and I were searching the Bowes stores this week for suitable objects for the 1850 shop…together with Howard Coutts, (the Curator of Decorative Art) – it is interesting that Howard is not the curator of ‘Antiques’ – but then, antiques’ are not what the museum contains I guess?

Over the course of the research project we’ve gathered hundreds and hundreds of images of exteriors and interiors of antique shops.  These two photographs, of F.W. Phillips’ (Phillips of Hitchin) antique shop in about 1905 and the interior photograph of the shop of C. Charles (Charles Duveen, J.H. Duveen’s brother) in New Bond Street, London in c.1903, are just examples of several hundred we have to choose from, so it’s been quite a task to find the right kind of image for the exhibition interpretation.

Phillips of Hitchin shop, c.1905. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

 

C Charles, New Bond Street, c.1903. Photograph, Connoisseur, September 1903.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve also had some excellent pre-publicity for SOLD! this week – the exhibition was featured on the front page (and on page 4) of the Antiques Trade Gazette – see the web version HERE and SOLD! is also on the British Antique Dealers’ Association website (thank you as always the BADA!).

The objects coming to SOLD! cover quite a range of object types (and dealers of course) – we have this wonderful ‘majolica’ dish, from Deruta in Italy, and dating from c.1530, on loan from the V&A Museum.

Dish, c.1530, sold by Henry Durlacher to the SKM in 1854. Image courtesy of the V&A Museum, copyright the V&A Museum.

It was sold to the South Kensington Museum in 1856 (as the V&A Museum was called in the 19th century) by the well-known 19th century antique dealer Henry Durlacher (b.1826) for £5 and 5 shillings – quite a meagre some, even in the context of the market for such objects in the 19th century.  The market for ‘Raphaelware’ (as this kind of object would have been categorized in the 19th century) was very strong in the middle decades of the 19th century, so perhaps Durlacher was hoping to encourage more purchases from the South Kensington Museum?

SOLD! also has several objects from the collections at The Bowes Museum on display of course, including this spectacular 18th century Bronze fountain mask, which was sold to The Bowes Museum in 1966 by the dealership ‘David Tremayne’ – one of the directors of ‘David Tremayne’ was David Salmon, a member of the family that owned J. Lyons & Company, of ‘Lyons Tea Rooms’ fame.  ‘Tremayne’ traded from the King’s Road in London, which in the 1960s was the epitome of Swinging, Fashionable London, with the antique dealers patronised by Film Stars and Rock Groups such as the Rolling Stones.

Bronze Mask, sold by ‘David Tremayne’ to The Bowes Museum in 1966. Photograph courtesy of The Bowes Museum.

 

In SOLD! we also have a number of objects from Temple Newsam, part of Leeds Museums & Galleries, including the famous black lacquer secretaire, formerly supplied by Thomas Chippendale for Harewood House in the 1770s.

Secretaire, c.1770, sold by Hotspur to Temple Newsam, Leeds Museums & Galleries in 1999. Photograph courtesy of Leeds Museums & Galleries, copyright Leeds Museums & Galleries.

Of course, for SOLD! this is not a ‘Chippendale’ , it was sold to Leeds Museums & Galleries by the well-known Antique English Furniture specialist dealers Hotspur in 1999, who were then trading in London.  Indeed, the secretaire’s dealer biography can be traced to 1946 when it was acquired by the London dealer Jesse Botibol, probably direct for the auction sale of some contents of Harewood House sold at Christie’s in London that year.

There are many more well-known and world-class museum objects in SOLD!, But of course the purpose of SOLD! is to highlight their ‘hidden histories’ and to retell the history of the antique dealers that are such a fundamental part of their object biographies.

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 22, 2017

New Oral History Interview – John G. Morris

Our ‘Voices from the Trade’ oral history interviews continue to make progress, thanks again to the BADA for their generous support towards the Oral History project. 

Our most recent interview was with John G. Morris (and his wife Lorraine).  John established his own business, John G. Morris Limited, in Petworth, West Sussex, in March 1963, and will be very well known to many readers of the antique dealers blog. John was a specialist in antique English Furniture and his shop in Petworth was a regular feature in the country antique trade for more than 35 years, until his eventual retirement in 1996.

John G. Morris, photographed for the Voices from the Trade research theme, as part of the Antique Dealers Research project. Photograph copyright Antique Dealers Project, University of Leeds, 2017.

John is now 87 years of age, and as well as some fascinating reflections on his own antiques business, he also had some astonishingly vivid memories of the time he began his career in the antiques trade, starting with the world-famous antique dealers M. Harris & Sons on 4th November 1946. During this enthralling interview, peppered with delicious anecdotes of his time at Moss Harris, John recalled with amazing clarity the characters he encountered during an astonishing 70 years experience of the antique trade!

John started with Moss Harris & Sons, aged just 16 years of age – working in workshops at M. Harris, at 27 Little Russell Street, near the British Museum. The main showrooms for M. Harris were in New Oxford Street (shown below, in c.1921); John recalled a different shop front when he joined the firm in 1946 – and thinks that the shop front was changed sometime in the late 1930s, just before World War II.

M. Harris & Sons, New Oxford Street, London, in 1921.

M. Harris were perhaps the leading antique furniture dealers in the world and when John joined the firm in 1946 they had been trading for 80 years.  The business had roots back to 1868, with the firm of D.L. Isaacs. Moss Harris, who made his first fortune as a dealer in horsehair, recycling this material back into the furniture trades for upholstery work, acquired the D.L. Isaacs business around the time of World War I and established M. Harris & Sons. They published a celebratory publication in their centenary year 1968. When John worked at the firm, he recalled that they still had more than 100 rooms filled with antique furniture.

John initially worked under the then office manager, Harold Dawson, and was tasked with booking in goods that constantly arrived in the yard behind the New Oxford Street shop – he remembered that in those days there was often so much stock that they had trouble getting it into the store rooms in time before closing the yard. John was paid £2.0.0 per week when he started, but obtained a pay rise of 5 shillings a week within a few months.

John’s memories of the business in the 1940s and 1950s will, I’m sure, be a rich resource for future scholars; he remembers, for example, one of the old retainers from the D.L. Isaacs business deal (there was an agreement, apparently, that a member of the Isaacs family was to be attached to the business until the last member of the family died out) – and John remembers ‘Old Ick’, resplendent in top hat, walking the floor of the M. Harris galleries. John also remembered the sad day when George Harris (one of two sons of Moss Harris) died suddenly of a heart attack; George was found dead in his Bugatti in Mecklenberg Square at 4am.  John recalls having to steer George’s Bugatti back into the yard at M. Harris as the police removed the car back to the shop. One of the lighter memories John recalled, was the time in 1947 when Sidney Harris (the other son of Moss Harris), was entertaining some important clients at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, but had inadvertently left the shop without his wallet.  John was immediately dispatched to the Grosvenor House Hotel with £100 in crisp £5 notes, and was allowed by Sidney to wander the stands at the Grosvenor House Fair during the afternoon – the first time that John had seen Grosvenor House, which was then the premier event in the antiques calendar.

M. Harris & Sons; one of the showrooms in 1948.

John also recalled that in 1946, when John joined the firm, business was booming, but after John did his National Service in 1948, and returned to M. Harris in the Spring of 1950, he remembered that the business had changed; George had died in 1947, and Sidney, his brother, also died in the late 1940s, leaving the firm with significant Death Duties to pay.

There are many other more amusing, and illuminating anecdotes of John’s time at Moss Harris – memories of visits by Queen Mary and the Princess Elizabeth in the early 1950s (Moss Harris were granted Appointment to Queen Mary as  ‘Dealers in Antique Furniture & Works of Art’), as well as many other well known personalities and V.I.P.s.

John’s memories of his own business, which he started, with his wife Lorraine, in 1963, were equally fascinating. He recalled the antiques scene in Petworth – which when he opened his shop in 1963, had just 4 antique businesses; 2 of which were cabinetmakers and antique dealers (Ron Denman and Mr Collingham)….

Lorraine Morris, wife of John Morris. Photograph 2017. Photograph copyright Antique Dealers project, University of Leeds.

…. and 2 antique dealers proper (Bill Boss, and Miss Streeter, of Streeter & Daughter). As the antique business boomed during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Petworth became home to at least 15 dealers, eventually becoming a key location for the trade.  During the interview John also recalled his memories of some of the ‘old characters’ of the antique trade, now long gone – people such as Sam Wolsey, Claude Partridge, J. Rochelle Thomas, and ‘Jippy’ Botibol (J. M. Botibol), as well as more recently departed dealers such as the legendary Dick’ Turpin.

Our interview with John makes an absolutely fascinating addition to our corpus of interviews with members of the antique trade, and like all of our interviews, will, once edited, be available on the project website in due course.

Mark

September 25, 2016

BADA Voices Interviews

Our project to capture the reflections and memories of antique dealers and people involved in the British Antique trade is one of the central research themes in the Antique Dealer project.  And thanks to the British Antique Dealers’ Association, who have very kindly given the project financial support, we are able to continue the oral history interviews – do check out the Oral History pages in the project website for more information of the support from the BADA and the new interviews that we have undertaken as part of the ‘BADA Voices’ initiative, see – Antique Dealer Project Oral History

PrintOf the two most recent interviews we have completed, one focused on the history of the BADA itself, in our interview with Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of the BADA.  The other interview, with the former antique dealer, agent, Forensic Appraiser and Expert Witness, Nicholas Somers, allowed us to capture some of Nicholas’ memories of the history of that most famous of antique furniture dealers, M. Harris & Sons, amongst many other things.

 

mark-dodgson-14a

Mark Dodgson, Sec Gen of the BADA. Photo courtesy of the BADA.

Mark Dodgson started at the BADA in 1989, as an assistant to the then Secretary General, Elaine Dean, before succeeding Elaine as Secretary General in 2008.

In this engaging interview Mark tells us about the history of the BADA – which was founded in 1918, and has the exciting prospect of their centenary celebrations coming up in 2018. Mark outlined the wide range of activities and projects that the BADA have been involved with over the years – as many of you will know, the BADA was initially founded by members of the antique trade in 1918 to lobby Government as a response to the proposed introduction of the so-called ‘luxury tax’, and the organisation has continued that tradition.  The BADA has been a central player in many of the most high-profile issues affecting the antique trade, from the introduction of Valued Added Tax and ‘margin scheme’ in the 1970s, the (still contentious) issue of the introduction of auction sales buyers premium in the 1970s, to the lively debates surrounding the restrictions on the sales of elephant ivory – currently animating (excuse the pun!) the art world at present.

Mark also talked about his role as Secretary of the Art Trade Liaisons Committee (The British Art Market Federation), and the history of the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair (founded in 1934 as an initiative by some key BADA members), as well as the more recent BADA Fair (established in 1991) and the BADA relationship with, and support for, the conservation courses at West Dean College. With the centenary of the BADA coming up in 2018, I’m sure the interview will be a valuable resource in those celebrations.

Our other interview in the BADA Voices series was with the retired antique dealer, agent, auctioneer, and Expert Witness, Nicholas Somers.

n-somers-2016

Nicholas Somers, at his home in London. Photo Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2016.

richard-grose-8-exhibition-rd-london-sw7-ayb1950

Richard Grose, 8 Exhibition Road, London, c.1950.

Nicholas, currently the Master of the Worshipful Company of Turners (he has also been collecting treen for decades!) and has over 50 years experience of the antique trade.  Nicholas started his career in the world of antiques with the dealer Paul Smith (a BADA member) in 1965, before moving to work for Richard Grose at Exhibition Road in London.

In 1967 Nicholas left Richard Grose and became one of the sales team at the world-famous antique furniture dealers M. Harris & Sons, staying with Harris until 1971, when he set up his own antiques business in Worcester  – ‘Somers at the Sign of the Chair’.

Nicolas had some fascinating memories of working at Moss Harris – with some wonderfully evocative descriptions of the showrooms – the business was already contracting somewhat when Nicholas joined Robert Harris in 1967, and, as Nicholas tells us, the showrooms had been reduced by half, but it still had 80 rooms packed with museum-quality English furniture and objects when he joined the firm. Here is the gallery of Moss Harris, in New Oxford Street, London, in the early 1920s, soon after Moss Harris had taken over the firm of D.L. Isaacs, who established the business in 1868.

M Harris 40 54 New Oxford Street Feb 1921 Conn

M. Harris & Sons, New Oxford Street, London, c.1924.

Nicholas has an exceptionally wide ranging experience of the antique and art world, having been part of the management buy-out at the auctioneers Bearnes in Torquay, from the then parent company Sotheby’s, in 1981, and as a ‘forensic appraiser’  and Expert Witness in legal disputes in the art world.

Both interviews make rich contributions to the growing archive of antique trade interviews that we are assembling as part of the Antique dealer project.

Mark

 

 

 

July 9, 2016

First of the ‘BADA Voices’ oral history interviews – Peter Francis Cheek

We did our first in the ‘BADA Voices’ oral history interviews the other week. As you may have heard, or read in the Antiques Trade Gazette, the British Antiques Dealers’ Association have very generously sponsored the capture of a series of new oral history interviews, as a discrete extension to the Oral History research for the Antique Dealers project. Thank you again to the BADA for this generous support. Print

The first in the new series of ‘BADA Voices’ was with Peter Francis Cheek, formerly of ‘Peter Francis Antiques’.  Peter is now 94 years of age, and it was a fantastic opportunity to capture his reflections on more than 60 years in the antique trade.

Peter Cheek 2016

Peter Francis Cheek, at his London home, in 2016.

Peter started his life as an antiques dealer in 1949, following service in the army in World War II, after training as a carpenter in the late 1930s, and working for his father in his father’s second-hand and antique furniture business (his father’s business was called W. Johnson, after the previous owner of the firm) in the period 1947-1949. His father, interestingly, had been a Foreman for the firm of Howard & Sons, before setting up on his own in the late 1920s.

In this very engaging interview, Peter reflects on the changes to the antiques trade, and his experiences on the vetting committees at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair during the 1980s, and as a member of the review committee for the export of antiques for the BADA during 1972-2000. And here is Peter’s stand at the 1984 Grosvenor House Antiques Fair.

Peter Francis stand GH 1984

Peter Francis’ Stand at Grosvenor House 1984. Courtesy of Peter Cheek.

Peter’s first shop was in Bowes Park, North London, before he purchased his father’s shop in Winchmore Hill (North London) – and as many of you will know, Peter Francis were located in Beauchamp Place, SW3 for 25 years, from 1954 until 1979, when Peter moved the business to 26 Museum Street, the former home of the equally well-known antique dealers, ‘Cameo Corner’ – indeed, it’s quite curious, although obviously understandable, how many antique dealers move into premises formerly occupied by other dealers – Peter’s shop in Beauchamp Place, for example, was also the former shop of the dealer Josephine Grahame-Ballin, who also had a shop in St. Albans.

Peter had many fond memories of life in the antiques trade, including the time when the actor Robert Lindsay (himself now portraying an Antique Dealer called ‘Mr Bull’ in the TV comedy ‘Bull in a China Shop’!) attended the opening of the Grosvenor House Antiques fair in 1985, and was photographed sitting in an antique Invalid’s Chair on Peter’s stand – (Robert Lindsay was dressed as a character from the musical ‘Me and My Girl’, in which he was then starring…)

Peter C and R Lyndsay 1985

Peter Francis, with Robert Lindsay at the GH Antiques Fair 1985. Copyright untraced. Courtesy of Peter Cheek.

As with all of our Oral History interviews, including these new ‘BADA Voices’ extensions, our interview with Peter Cheek will appear on the Antique dealer Research project website in due course.

Mark

 

 

April 9, 2016

Project Conference

We are on the final straight for the AHRC Antique Dealers project Conference – which takes place at Temple Newsam House, Leeds on Thursday 14th & Friday 15th April – this coming week!

project posterWe are also very pleased to announce that the British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA) have very generously sponsored the conference – Print The BADA are sending their Chief Executive, Marco Forgione, and their Secretary General, Mark Dodgson, to the conference, as a further demonstration of their commitment and support to the project – thank you BADA!

Our conference preparations are going well, with all of the Temple Newsam House tours now finalised – we are taking an unusual (for a museum anyway) tour through the spectacular museum objects on display at Temple Newsam – the narrative will be objects that have entered the collections via the Antiques Trade, or through the auspices of Antique Dealers – so that’s just about every object at TN of course, but we are highlighting particular objects and their history in the antique trade as part of the tours.  The tours will be led by museum curators, and antique dealers, so we hope that there will be lots of things to discuss!

We are also showing various antique dealer related archives, and ephemera associated with the Antique Trade as part of the activities on the first day of the conference – much of the material is exceptionally rare. And as well as all these tours, and behind the scenes activities, we are also having a wine reception in the early evening, with very talented pianist playing the historic Broadwood piano in the Great Hall at TN…what’s not to like!

And on the Friday we have some leading Antique Dealers talking about the history of their dealerships, and some of our Oral History Interviewees, ‘In Conversation’ – as well as some ‘Sandpits’ at the end of the conference, where the whole conference can get involved in discussing the issues raised and history of the antique trade – we hope that the conference will be a fully immersive and participatory event!

There are still a few places left for the conference if you are thinking of attending – you can book via the weblinks in the Antique Dealer project websites.

We very much look forward to welcoming everyone to Temple Newsam!

Mark

November 3, 2015

BADA Commemorative Plates 1919

Whilst having a meeting with Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of the British Antique Dealers’ Association, on Friday last week (regarding the Antique Dealer project conference in April, amongst other things), I noticed a small display of 6 plates on the windowsill of Mark’s office.

Stoner plate 1919

BADA Commemorative Plate, c.1918-19. Photograph copyright AHRC Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds.

All of the plates had the same painted inscription ‘Success to the BADA’ at the top edge, and each had a separate, individual inscription on the lower edge.  This one (above) has ‘Stoner for ever. 1919.’ on the bottom edge.  The plates themselves are relatively inexpensive, mass-produced objects – (Mark kindly told me they have a printed mark ‘Crown Staffordshire’ on the back) – so they are pretty common everyday ware. Three of the plates have printed decoration of a small bird in a branch of a tree – the style keys into the Chinoiserie revival of the 1910s and 1920s; the other three had similar, but hand-painted, decoration.

Andrade plate 1919

‘Andrade for ever 1919’. Comemmorative plate. Photography copyright AHRC Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds.

The inscriptions on the plates refer to the foundation of the BADA, which began just a year earlier, on May 7th 1918. The story of the founding of the BADA is by now very well known I guess, but one of the reasons for the founding of the Association was as a response to the proposed Luxury Duty that was to be introduced in the Finance Act of 1918.

The plates are variously inscribed – the one above is inscribed ‘Andrade for ever. 1919.’ Other plates are inscribed ‘Mrs Astley for ever, 1919.’ (below); ‘Thomas for ever. 1919’; ‘Law for ever. 1919.’; and ‘Evans for ever. 1919’.

Astley plate 1919

‘Mrs Astley for ever. 1919.’ Commemorative plate c.1919. Photograph copyright AHRC Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds.

The plates obviously celebrate founding members or early members of the BADA – Stoner, for example, probably refers to George Stoner, who was one of founder members of the BADA in 1918.  Sadly George Stoner, a Vice-President of the BADA, and the father of Frank and Malcolm Stoner, died aged 50 in 1920, shortly after the foundation of the Association – the dealership was named ‘Stoner & Evans’, and was trading at 3 King Street, St. James’s, London at the time.

‘Andrade’ would be Cyril Andrade, then trading in Duke Street, St. James’s, London; ‘Mrs Astley’ would be Florence Astley, also trading in Duke Street, St. James’s in the same period. There were three further plates – one inscribed ‘Evans for ever. 1919.’ – probably for the Mr Evans who was partner in Stoner & Evans, although there was also a silver dealer, ‘Evans & Co’, but I’d think it was for the chap from Stoner & Evans.

The other plates were inscribed ‘Law for ever. 1919’ for Charles Law, of the dealers ‘Law, Foulsham & Cole, then trading from 7 South Molton Street, London, and ‘Thomas for ever. 1919.’ – Thomas was the formidable dealer C. Rochelle Thomas, the President of the BADA for 1919, and then trading at ‘The Georgian Galleries’ 10, 11 & 12 King Street, St. James’s, London, along with his sons, Victor Joseph Rochelle Thomas and Alfred William Rochelle Thomas.

The plates are fascinating pieces of ephemera associated with the founding of the British Antique Dealers’ Association – I just wondered if there were any more of these plates surviving?…there appear to have been 16 founder members of BADA in 1918, so maybe there are at least another 12 plates somewhere?… but the 6 plates here also include members who were not listed as founders, such as Florence Astley, who must have joined sometime after March 1918 and before the plates were inscribed in 1919…..so perhaps there are scores of them out there!

Mark

 

 

 

June 15, 2015

Project Interactive Website Launched

The project Interactive Website has finally been officially launched!

On Monday 15th June, with a major publicity push from the University of Leeds and the University of Southampton, the two collaborating universities involved in the Antique Dealers project, and with a forthcoming announcement in the Antiques Trade Gazette – we’ve made the interactive website available to the wider public. You can read the University of Leeds Press Release here – Mapping%20the%20history%20of%20antiques%20dealers%20FINAL Thanks to Gareth Dant, Press Officer at University of Leeds for composing the Press Release.

And the University of Southampton Press Release here –Mapping%20the%FINAL SOTON

The Interactive website is one of the 3 main outputs of the AHRC funded Antique Dealers research project – the other outputs will be an edited book (edited by Westgarth, Quince and Jamieson), and the end of project Conference, (and for which we thank again the support from Leeds Museums & Galleries), which will take place next Spring at Temple Newsam House, Leeds (keep your eye on the blog for more details on the conference).

Screenshot 2014-01-30 15.10.18

Screen Shot of the Interactive Website. Copyright, University of Leeds 2015.

The website has been long in development and thanks to Mark Wales (‘Sparky’) of Small Hadron Collider, who has been working on the software programming for the site for the past 18 months, we now have an amazing research database, and research resource, for future investigations into the history of the Antique Trade in Britain, in the 20th century.

Using the search engine embedded within the site, or clicking on the DOTS on the map, you can find information on Antique Dealers trading in the 20th century. Below is a screen grab for a dealer trading in Southampton (see little red dot on the map) – Thomas Rohan, who was trading at 105 High Street, Southampton in the period c.1903-1918.slide700-3

The interactive website is still in development, and we’ve launched it as BETA version (i.e. we are testing it for feedback and suggestions on functionality and ease of use etc). At present, at least, there’s not that much data in the site…only c.2,100 entries…and we reckon there should be, eventually, about 100,000 entries in the site.  But we hope that the site will give people a sense of the amazing possibilities that emerge when one thinks about what it COULD do.

We eventually hope that each Dealership will  have a mini-biography, such as that in the Rohan entry already in the site – see below:

rohan-bio-screengrab

 

The site uses GPS (Google Maps) technology to track the changing locations of Antique Dealers, based in Britain, over the period 1900-2000 – but it is more, much more, than just a geographical mapping site.  We have built a temporal-spacial tracking system in the site that will trace the genealogy of not just Antique Dealers, but also the objects that they sold, and which, at the same time, establishes a whole series of spacial-temporal networks and relationships between, people, things, and ideas – this, we think, is the uniqueness of the website resource!…

We’ve had fantastic support from various people and organisations as we have developed the project and the interactive website; here are just a few examples of messages of support:

Project Advisory Board member, Christopher Wilk, Keeper of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at The Victoria & Albert Museum, said “This is an important and innovative project which points the way towards a serious consideration of modern antique dealing. The methodology of the project is innovative, not least in its mixture of oral history, archival research and cultural geography.”

And Chris Jussel, an interviewee of the Oral History part of the Antique Dealer project (see earlier posts) and formerly of the major international antique dealers, Verney & Jussel, and well-known as a former Presenter for the US version of the Antiques Roadshow, said: “Throughout most of the 20th century the British Antiques Trade was the driving force in presenting what were originally termed ‘old things’ to the public. Collectively the appreciation for, the collection of, the scholarship and knowledge of antiques largely emanated from the trade. That was where the expertise resided. No major private or museum collection of antiques was formed without the trade. This long overdue academic study is a testament to that era.”

And finally, Mark Dodgson, Secretary General of The British Antique Dealers’ Association, said: “The concept of an interactive website charting the historical locations of antiques shops and the movement of beautiful objects from collectors to dealers and into museum collections should prove fascinating for anyone interested in the history of the decorative arts.
“The UK has always been one of the world’s most significant locations for the trade in antiques, whether English furniture or Chinese ceramics. It is therefore fitting that a British university should have undertaken a study into this important aspect of our national life.
“I know that antiques dealers are often keen to check the historical ownership of important items they sell – referred to in the trade as the “provenance” – to back up their own judgements about the age and origin of pieces. The new website will provide them with an excellent tool for checking where and when dealers were trading in the past, so adding to the information they can provide to antique collectors about their purchases.”

We hope that you will enjoy using the Interactive Website – (click HERE to go to the site)

Do send us feedback on what you think about the site, and any teething problems.

Mark

 

May 31, 2015

Antique Dealers Project presented at BADA Regional Meeting

I forgot to mention, due to the increased activities on the oral history interviews front, that we were very kindly invited by The British Antique Dealers’ Association to give a presentation about the various initiatives of the AHRC Antique Dealers Project at the BADA Northern Regional Meeting of BADA in Yorkshire on Friday 15th May.

Mark Dodgson, the BADA Secretary General, has been following the project with considerable interest – and indeed has been very supportive, he even provided us with a copy of BADA catalogue of the Art Treasures Exhibition (1932), which has been a valuable resource for our ongoing research into the history of the British Antiques Trade. We were also very warmly received by members of the BADA meeting, which included Tony & Mary Lumb (with whom we have already undertaken a fascinating oral history interview – thanks again Tony & Mary!); present were also Louise Phillips (of Elaine Phillips Antiques); Holly Johnson & Benjamin Aardewerk (of Holly Johnson Antiques); Simon Myers (of the old established dealers R.N. Myers & Son); Philip Carrol; Paul Beedham (of Paul Beedham Antiques); Helen Sutcliffe (Sutcliffe Galleries); and Chairman of the Council, Michael Cohen (together with his wife Ewa, of Cohen & Cohen Antiques).

After a fabulous lunch, I presented a short(ish) presentation, outlining the project and it’s objectives, and demonstrated the (still in development, but very soon to be launched…really…within weeks now!) interactive project website.

It was great to have such a keen interest in the project from members of the trade, and the premier trade body – thank you for the lunch, and for your ears!

Mark

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