Posts tagged ‘Percy Macquoid’

March 31, 2023

Godfrey Giles & Co – ‘antique dealers’

Yet more examples of historic ‘antique dealer’ booklets and catalogues keep turning up – this time our friend Thomas Lange, researcher at leading London based antique furniture dealers Ronald Phillips very generously send us a copy of a rare brochure from his own collection. Thomas has been a keen supporter of the Antique Dealer Research Project for many years and has often sent us information and historical material on the history of antique dealing – thank you again Thomas!

On this occasion Thomas discovered an antique dealer that had not previously been known to us – Godfrey Giles & Co, 18 Old Cavendish Street, London.

‘Antique Furniture’ – Godfrey Giles & Co. c.1915. Photograph, Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds 2023.

Godfrey Giles were certainly not figured in our Antique Dealer Map website – but their absence can be explained by our research methodology; we have tended to concentrate on information about antique dealers from historic Trade Directories, Antique Dealer Guidebooks and Listings, and antique dealer advertisements etc. But of course such an approach misses many traders who operated at the periphery of the trade in antiques, and in overlapping practices such as furniture makers, decorators and general furnishers etc.

Godfrey Giles appears to have been this type of business. Indeed, they are classified as furniture manufacturers in the Furniture History Society’s ‘British and Irish Furniture Makers Online’ (BIFMO) database. The firm seems to have been flourishing in the 1890s, as ‘Decorators, Cabinetmakers and Upholsterers’, with various retail outlets in Kensington High Street, London (for ‘general furnishings’) and in Queen Street, London and New Cavendish Street, London (for ‘Decorative Furniture’ and ‘Antique Furniture’). Their New Cavendish Street shop was right next to another well-known ‘Decorator and Antique Dealer’ Gregory & Co.

The brochure that Thomas kindly donated to us is undated, but appears to date from c.1915; it’s about 10 inches x 6 inches, contains just 8 pages, and is typical of the types of booklets produced by several antique dealers in the period. It illustrates examples of antique furniture for sale in Giles’ shop.

Godfrey Giles & Co., booklet c.1915 – illustrations of antique furniture. Photograph, Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds, 2023.

That Godfrey Giles, a ‘modern’ furniture maker and retailer, should also be selling antique furniture is no surprise of course, many furniture makers bought and sold antique furniture in the early 1900s as demand for antiques expanded in the period. As the booklet states, ‘The demand for antique furniture shows no signs of abating.’ The booklet has some interesting examples of antique furniture fashionable at the time. ‘Chippendale’ furniture was key of course, such as these ‘Chippendale Chairs’ described as ‘in original condition’ (see below):

Godfrey Giles & Co., booklet c.1915. Photograph, Antique Dealer Research Project, University of Leeds, 2023.

Our these ‘Chippendale’ tables, the right hand one described as ‘of the best period and in exceptionally fine condition’ (see below).

Antique oak furniture was also particularly popular in the early 1900s – the booklet mentions the ‘Oak Room’ at Godfrey Giles’ showroom, ‘unique and full of interest to collectors’. The room itself is described in the booklet as a ‘Fine example of a Jacobean Oak Room taken from Erdington Hall, Birmingham. Circa 1650.’

Godfrey Giles & Co., booklet c.1915. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2023

Erdington Hall was built in the mid 1600s, and was demolished in 1912, so this perhaps gives us a date for the Godfrey Giles & Co booklet.

Erdington Hall in 1879. Illustration from Harrison & Wills, ‘The Great Jennings Case’ (1879) – from

The antique furniture illustrated in the booklet suggests that Godfrey Giles & Co were buying and selling high quality antiques. In fact Thomas Lange has spotted a ‘Queen Anne Mirror’ in the booklet that was later illustrated in the famous 3 volume ‘The Dictionary of English Furniture’ compiled by Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards in 1924. The mirror in Godfrey Giles & Co booklet (see below, shown right) is described as having ‘Original gilding’ –

Godfrey Giles & Co., booklet c.1915. Photograph, Antique Dealers Research Project, University of Leeds, 2023

The same mirror (see below) in ‘The Dictionary’ (see Volume 2, page 325, fig.45) was then owned by Mrs Percy Macquoid – perhaps, as Thomas suggests, Godfrey Giles & Co sold the mirror to the Macquoid’s? Illustrious customers indeed.

Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards – ‘The Dictionary of English Furniture’ (3 vols, 1924) volume 2, p.325.

We are so grateful to Thomas for so generously donating the Godfrey Giles & Co booklet to the Antique Dealer Research Project.


July 27, 2017

Stair & Andrew material comes to the archive at Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds

Following the blog post highlighting the recent donation of the H.M. Lee and R.A. Lee archives (see previous blog post), we discovered that mixed in with the material that Georgina Gough so kindly donated to the University of Leeds was some material related to the well-known antique dealers Stair & Andrew.  Its not known how this material ended up in the Lee archive, perhaps one of the directors at Stair gave Ronald Lee the material when the firm of Stair & Co (as the business was then called) closed in the early 2000s?

Stair & Co album. Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds.

The material is relatively small, comprising  just three albums of press cuttings, advertisements and some brochures, dating mainly for the period from the 1940s onwards; it includes a folder devoted to the firm of R.L. Harrington (formerly known as Christy’s of Kent), trading from 120 & 125 Mount Street, London, which Stair & Co acquired in 1968

Stair & Co album. Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds,

The firm of Stair & Co were highly significant dealers, having been established in London as Stair & Andrew in 1911, before opening a branch in New York in 1914. The business was founded by Arthur Stair and Valentine Andrew, who met at the furniture makers Waring & Gillow, before working for the decorating department at Crawford Company, New York.

The actor-manager and collector Sir George Alexander and the furniture historian and collector  Percy Macquoid  were directors of the firm in the early days of the business; Arthur Stair bought Percy Macquoid’s ‘Yellow House’ in London in the 1920s, retaining some of Macquoid’s furniture collection. Alastair Stair (1913-1993), the son of Arthur Stair, joined the firm in 1935. They traded as Stair & Co after WWII, and was 50% owned by the collector Jules C. Stein (of Music Corporation of America) from 1952. David Murdock, the Los Angeles financier, bought the firm in 1981.

The Stair & Co material will, eventually, be supplemented by some other Stair & Andrew material already promised to the archive – see an early blog post on the antique dealer blog (post July 2014) – here’s an image of one of the two scrapbook albums promised to the Brotherton Library Special Collections.

Stair & Andrew album, c.1915. Private Collection.

This small collection of Stair & Co material will soon be available for research in the Brotherton Library Special Collections.


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