Antique Dealers: the British Antiques Trade in the 20th Century, a cultural geography

Oral Histories – Voices from the Trade

Welcome to the Antique Dealers Project ‘Voices from the Trade’ Oral History Pages. Here you can view our growing list of oral history interviews with members of the antiques trade. You will soon be able to click and listen to our fascinating interviewees, which are lodged in the project archives at the University of Leeds, and which vary in length from 40 minutes to over 2 hours. The edited audio clips and files, together with short and edited full transcriptions of the interviews, will be available soon – do keep an eye on project  ‘News’ and the project ‘Blog’.

Our Project Co-Investigator, Dr Eleanor Quince, has composed a brief overview of some of the Oral History Interviews we have conducted so far. Eleanor’s essay maps out the rationale for our Oral History interview objectives, and also provides an insight into some of the key themes that have emerged through our Oral History research – you can read Eleanor’s ‘Voices from the Trade’ essay by clicking on this link Voices from the Trade EDIT.

Latest Additions

Our oral history interview with Jerome Phillips, of Phillips of Hitchin (established 1884) is now available to hear – click on the link below:

A conversation between Jerome Phillips and project lead Mark Westgarth [MP3: 42MB]

BADA VOICES – we are very grateful to the British Antiques Dealers’ Association for their support on an extension to the Oral Histories project.  The BADA have facilitated the capturing of a number of interviews over the next two years, focused on the membership of the BADA.  The first of the BADA Voices interviews, with Peter Francis Cheek, took place in June 2016 (see below), and further interviews as part of this Series will appear in the coming months. BADA Voices interviews will have the BADA logo associated with them (see below).

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Harry Apter
of Apter-Fredericks, London, established 1946.

Harry Apter Photo

A conversation between Harry Apter and project research fellow Lizzy Jamieson.

 

Harry told us about the beginnings of Apter-Fredericks, literally a marriage between two dealer families, the Apter’s and the Fredericks’s. Harry began working in the family business at the age of 18, and had some very interesting reflections on the changes to the antique trade in more recent times, as well as observations on the structure of the trade. During the interview Harry also told us about his experiences as a member of vetting committees for several of the major international antique fairs, and the relationships between the antique trade and public museums.

Photograph courtesy of Harry Apter. Copyright Harry Apter 2015.

 

 


 

Philip-Astley-JonesPhilip Astley-Jones
of Roger Warner Antiques, Burford, established 1936.

A conversation between Philip Astley-Jones and project research fellow Lizzy Jamieson.

Philip gave us some absolutely fascinating memories of his time with Roger Warner in his shop in Burford, Oxfordshire. Philip started with Roger Warner in 1965, and he gave us amazingly vivid descriptions of the day-to-day life in the shop, and Roger’s buying activities.

 

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds 2014.


 

Gary Baxter
of H.C. Baxter & Sons, London, established 1927.

Gary Baxter 2015

A conversation between Gary Baxter and project lead Mark Westgarth.

Gary John Baxter is the grandson of Horace, Claude, Montague, Victor, John, Baxter, who established the famous antique furniture dealers H.C. Baxter & Sons in London in 1927. The business was initially a partnership between Horace’s sister, Maude (Mrs Maude Chalmers as she became) and Horace, trading as ‘Chalmers & Baxter’ at 193 Fulham Road. The business was continued by Gary’s father, Terence Baxter, and his uncle, Roy Baxter, before Gary joined the business aged 17 in 1978.

In an extraordinarily detailed interview (Gary should have been an historian!) Gary tells us about the early history of H.C. Baxter & Sons – how his grandfather used to gather old furniture on a cart around Clapham in South London, from their first shop in Northcote Road, Clapham, to H. C. Baxter & Sons becoming one of the most important trade suppliers of antique furniture in Britain.

 

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2015.


 

Bill-BeatonBill Beaton
of Walter Beaton Antiques, Dundee, established 1930.

A conversation between Bill Beaton and project lead Mark Westgarth.

Bill Beaton is in his 80s and retired from antique dealing about 25 years ago. He started his antique dealing activities with his father, Walter Beaton, in about 1946 just after WWII, at his father’s shop at 37 Albert Square, Dundee.  Walter had opened his shop in c.1930, following 10 years working for an antique dealer in Dundee named Norries, and Bill continued the business in Dundee until his father retired in 1963, when Bill took over and subsequently moved the shop to Perth in 1970.

Photo c.1965. Copyright Perthshire Advertiser. Courtesy of Bill Beaton. Bill Beaton (right) with Henry Fothringham.


 

Martin-BeazorMartin Beazor
of John Beazor & Sons Antiques, Cambridge, established 1875.

A conversation between Martin Beazor and project lead Mark Westgarth.

Martin Beazor is the third generation of his family to run the antique business, which was established in Great Yarmouth in 1875. The Beazor family are one of a small number of dealers still trading that were established in the 19th century. Martin’s grandfather, John Beazor moved the business to their current location in Regent Street, Cambridge in 1940 – taking with them, so Martin recalls, a very smart 18th century grand entrance door salvaged from a merchant’s house in Great Yarmouth.

Martin had very fond memories of working with his father, Keith Beazor, during the 1970s and 1980s – Martin joined the firm in 1973, when he was in his early 20s – including a fascinating anecdote about how his father managed to acquire an important ‘Hepplewhite’ partner’s desk from another dealer, which was eventually sold by Keith Beazor to Asprey in London.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2014.


Daniel Bexfield
of Daniel Bexfield Antique Silver Limited, London, established 1980.

DANIEL01

A conversation between Daniel Bexfield and project volunteer Chris Coles.

Daniel’s father, Arthur Bexfield, opened an antique shop in Hitchin, Hertfordshire in 1962, and Daniel told us about his own early beginnings as a dealer in antique silver trading in the famous antique markets at Bermondsey and Portobello Road in London.

In a detailed discussion Daniel also reflected on the practices of dealing in the antique markets in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as how he established his first ‘permanent’ antique shop in the Bond Street Silver Galleries. He also told us how he came to lease a shop in the famous Burlington Arcade, London in the late 1990s. As well as describing how the antique silver market operates, Daniel had fascinating reflections on some famous members of the antique silver trade and memories of the some well known collectors of antique silver.

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Bexfield Antique Silver Limited, 2014.

 


John Bly
of John Bly Antiques, Tring & London, established 1891. john bly 2016

A conversation between John Bly and project lead Mark Westgarth. This interview is the third interview in an extension to the Oral Histories project, called ‘BADA Voices’, and which is supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

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John’s great-grandfather, William Bly, started the business in the 19th century, before his grandfather moved to trading in second-hand and modern furniture in 1891.  The business was continued by Frank Bly, John’s father, before John joined the firm in 1960.

In a series of fascinating and infectiously enthusiastic reflections on more than 50 years in the antique business, John tells us about when he started working with his father at the age of 21, following a short spell at Sotheby’s, and his memories of key characters in the trade.  John also gives us insight into his experiences of antiques in the media, starting with a T.V. programme in 1970 called ‘Looking at Antiques…’ through his work on a programme called ‘Heirlooms’ in the mid 1970s, to his appearances on the popular BBC T.V. programme ‘Antiques Roadshow’, which he joined in 1980.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2016.


Andrew-BurneAndrew Burne
of W.G.T. Burne (Antique Glass) Limited, London, established 1936.

A conversation between Andrew Burne and project volunteer Chris Coles.

Andrew Burne told us about the early history of W.G.T. Burne – his father initially worked for the well-known specialist glass dealer, and author, Arthur Churchill, before setting up on his own in 1936. Andrew also shared his memories of other specialist glass dealers, including Delomosne and Maureen Thompson.

There were also fascinating stories about buying trips taken with his father, and the early morning starts to buy in the antique markets at Bermondsey and Portobello in London, as well as an occasion when the actor and singer Dean Martin came into the shop. W.G.T. Burne sold many things to major collectors and museums, and also sold chandeliers to The White House and Buckingham Palace.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2014.


robin-butlerRobin Butler
of Robin Butler Antiques, Honiton, established 1963.

A conversation between Robin Butler and project lead Mark Westgarth.

Robin was born into the antiques trade, the son of another well-known dealer G. Noel Butler, who began trading in Honiton, Devon in 1936. Robin and his brother Roderick, also an antique dealer, opened their own shops in Devon in the early 1960s, before Robin moved his business to Bristol in 1981.

Robin developed a specialism, selling wine-related antiques, which he cultivated in the late 1970s with an exhibition of wine-related antiques at his shop in Honiton as part of the British Antique Dealers’ Association 60th anniversary celebrations. Our interview with Robin also includes reflections on dealing in the 1960s and 1970s, Robin’s memories of some of the major Country House auction sales in the same period, including the famous Mentmore sale of 1978. Robin is also a successful author, with books on English Furniture and a major catalogue of a private collection of silver.

Photograph, Antique dealer project, 2013.


Lennox Cato
of Lennox Cato Antiques, Edenbridge, established 1978.

Lennox cato 1

A conversation between Lennox Cato and Project Lead Mark Westgarth.

Lennox was born in Grenada and came to the UK with his natural parents in the early 1960s. He was adopted at a very early age by the well-known Brighton antiques dealer ‘Dicky’ Compton. Lennox opened his first antique shop in The Lanes, Brighton, in 1978, before expanding the business throughout the 1980s, moving to Lewes, before settling in Edenbridge in 1997.  Lennox is well-known for his appearances as one of the furniture experts on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

In this highly engaging interview Lennox told us about his early beginnings in Brighton, his memories of his father and the antique businesses in Brighton in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as personal reflections on his own history in the ‘trade’.

Photograph, Copyright Lennox Cato Antiques, 2015.


Christopher-Claxton-StevensChristopher Claxton Stevens
of Norman Adams, London, established 1923.

A conversation between Christopher Claxton Stevens and project research fellow Lizzy Jamieson.

Christopher joined Norman Adams Antiques in 1981, after beginning his career at Christie’s – and joined Stewart Whittington in running the business, which was then, unusually, a trust, following the death of Norman Adams in 1979.

Norman Adams was well known for his ‘eye’ for colour and the patina of antique furniture, and this concentration on the aesthetic, over the privileging of provenance or history of antique furniture, placed Norman Adams in a particular tradition of dealers – and it was pleasing to hear that this particular tradition was continued by Christopher and Stewart.

Photograph courtesy of Christopher Claxton Stevens


Tim Corfield
of Corfield of Lymington, established 1966. Tim Corfield

A conversation between Tim Corfield and project lead Mark Westgarth.

Tim joined the family antique business of Corfield of Lymington, Hampshire, in 1984, which had been established by his parents in 1966.

Tim tells us about his salesman father setting up the business following a career in the army, after working for Bibby’s, the agricultural food company and then as a leading salesman for an American company in the UK. In this very detailed interview, Tim reflects on his own route into the antique trade, the history of Corfield of Lymington, and the antique trade post World War II, as well as the changes in the trade that led to the establishment of Corfield Morris Limited, Tim’s new venture as an art and antiques agent.

Photograph courtesy of Tim Corfield



Peter Francis Cheek
of Peter Francis, established 1949. Peter Cheek 2016

A conversation between Peter Cheek and project lead Mark Westgarth. This interview is the first of an extension to the Oral Histories project, called ‘BADA Voices’, and which is supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

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Peter began his career working for his father’s second-hand and antiques business in North London in 1947, before opening his first shop in Bowes Park, London in 1949.

In this fascinating interview, Peter tells us about how he started in the antiques business, and describes his various shops in London, at Beauchamp Place in London, and at Museum Street (occupying the former shop of the well-known dealers ‘Cameo Corner’). Peter reflects on his experiences on the vetting committees at the Grosvenor Antiques Fair (from 1983), and as an expert vetting panel member for the BADA on the export panel from 1972 until 2000. Peter retired from dealing in 1999.

We are very sad to announce that Peter sadly passed away on the 17th February 2017.  Our thoughts are with Peter’s family and friends.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2016.



Mark Dodgson
of The British Antique Dealers’ Association London, established 1918.

A conversation between Mark Dodgson and project lead Mark Westgarth. This interview is the fourth interview in an extension to the Oral Histories project, called ‘BADA Voices’, and which is supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association. Mark Dodgson 14A

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Mark Dodgson is Secretary General of the British Antique Dealers’ Association and in this fascinating interview Mark tells us about the history of the BADA and some of the key events in the history of the art trade and the role that the BADA played in those events.  Mark joined the BADA in 1989 as assistant to then Secretary General, Elaine Dean, before taking over as Secretary General in 2008.

During the interview mark tells us about the history of the BADA, and his other role as member of the Art Trade Liaison Committee (later known as the British Art Market Federation). Mark outlines the wide range of activities that BADA have been involved with over the years, from the negotiations that surrounded the debates on the introduction of VAT in 1974, to the support work that the BADA were engaged with following the contentious introduction of the auction ‘buyers premium’ in the late 1970s and beyond.

Mark also tells us of the day-to-day business of the Association, running workshops, working with HM Customs on Export certificates, lobbying Central Government Departments on issues such as the recent discussions on the restrictions on the trade in elephant ivory, as well as the BADA support of the educational programmes at West Dean College.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Dodgson and The BADA 2016.



Georgina Gough
of R.A. Lee, London, established 1949.

A conversation between Georgina Gough and project lead Mark Westgarth. This interview is the fifth interview in an extension to the Oral Histories project, called ‘BADA Voices’, and which is supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

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Georgina Gough is the daugther of the well-known antique dealer and former BADA member Ronald A Lee, and started working for her father in 1976.  Ronald Lee was the son of the antique dealer Henry Morton Lee, who established an antique dealing business in the 1920s, trading as H.M. Lee & Sons in Kingston-on-Thames, before Ronald Lee began trading on his own in 1949; Ronald was later joined by his brother Charles Lee in the late 1960s.

During this fascinating interview Georgina tells us about the history of the Lee family of antique dealing businesses, how her grandfather, Henry Morton Lee, began as a hairdresser to King Edward VII in c.1904, before starting his antique dealing business with his brother Morton Henry Lee. Georgina’s father, Roland Lee, was one of the most influential antique dealers of his generation, as well as being one of the leading experts on the Knibb family of clockmakers.

Georgina calls on her wealth of experience of working in the antique trade, having worked for several high-profile dealers such as Brand Inglis and Stair & Company during the 1990s and early 2000s, recalling her memories of major members of the trade and of working with her father and brother during the 1970s and 1980s.

Photograph courtesy of Georgina Gough, 2016.


John Hill
of Jeremy Limited , London, established 1946.

A conversation between John Hill and project lead volunteer Chris Coles. This interview is the seventh interview in an extension to the Oral Histories project, called ‘BADA Voices’, and which is supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

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John Hill, together with his brother Michael Hill, ran the well-known antique furniture dealer ‘Jeremy Limited’ at 255 King’s Road in London, which had been established by their father Geoffrey Hill in 1946.

In this absorbing interview John recalls the history of the firm ‘Jeremy Limited’, with fascinating detail, including how the firm got it’s name; his father, Geoffrey, was always known as ‘Jerry’, hence the eponymous name of the dealership.  Geoffrey Hill was incarcerated in the famous Colditz Castle during the Second World War and began his career in the antiques trade in partnership with another dealer called Tug Wilson before opening his shop in the King’s Road in 1946.

John tells us of his father’s buying trips to New York in the 1950s, and of his own memories of a wide range of other antique dealers such as John Partridge, Pelham Galleries, Horace Baxter and Blairman & Sons.  As well reflections on key characters from the trade such as Francis Egerton at Mallet & Son, John also recalls the famous Mentmore auction sale of 1977 and memories of working with his father and his brother Michael – shown in the photograph (right), John, Geoffrey and Michael Hill.

Photograph courtesy of John Hill, copyright Jeremy Limited.


Dominic Jellinek
of Bluett & Son, London, established 1884.  Dominic Jellinek

A conversation between Dominic Jellinek and project lead Mark Westgarth.

Dominic joined the world famous Chinese Works of Art Dealers Bluett & Sons in 1978, and stayed with the firm until it closed in the mid 1990s.

In this wonderfully detailed interview Dominic tells us the history of Bluett & Sons, from their beginnings in Oxford Street, London, in the late 19th century to their shop in Davies Street, London.

Drawing from his extensive knowledge of the Bluett archive (part of which is pictured here, right, with Dominic), Dominic reflects on the role of major collectors and dealers of Chinese Works of Art in the 20th century, including the key role Captain Collins in the importation of Chinese ceramics into Britain in the early 20th century.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2015.


Jonathan Harris
of Phillips & Harris, London, established 1967.  J Harris

A conversation between Jonathan Harris and project lead Mark Westgarth.

Jonathan started as a dealer in antiques in the mid 1960s, before forming a partnership with Henry Phillips, in a shop in Kensington Church Street in 1967.

In this thoughtful and reflective interview Jonathan tells us about his life as a dealer, and his passion for collecting. Jonathan talks about what the antique trade was like in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, as well as his views on the trade today and it’s future.

Phillips & Harris were well known for buying spectacular objects from a very wide range of periods and places, in a form of antique dealing that harked back to older, romantic antiquarian traditions.  Phillips & Harris supplied major museums all over the world – as Jonathan said, he liked to buy the very best of anything that was available.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2016.


Andrew Jenkins
of Avon Antiques, Bradford-on-Avon, established 1963.  andrew and Vibeke Jenkins

A conversation between Andrew Jenkins and project lead, Mark Westgarth.

Andrew began his career in antiques working for the dealer David Tron, in the Kings Road, London in 1962, where he was ‘tested’ regularly on the history of the objects that Tron sold – and also supplemented his learning with visits to the furniture galleries at the Victoria & Albert Museum.  Andrew opened his own antique dealing business in Bradford-on-Avon in 1963 and remained there for almost 50 years.

In this fascinating interview, Andrew tells us about the structure of the antique trade in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as his dealings with the San Francisco antique dealer Williams Sonoma in the late 1960s – who later went on to found the famous ‘kitchen ware’ business throughout North America. We also hear about Andrew’s role in the establishment of the West of England Antiques Fair, held in the Assembly Rooms, Bath from 1976.

Photograph of Andrew and Vibeke Jenkins,courtesy of Andrew Jenkins


Chris-Jussel-MarchChristian Jussel
of Vernay & Jussel, London & New York, established 1906.

A conversation between Chris Jussel and project lead Mark Westgarth.

As well as being one of the most prominent antique dealers in America, Chris was also formerly the presenter on the USA version of ‘Antiques Roadshow’, as well as Vice President of Sotheby’s Trust and Estates Division (1999-2003) and Vice President of Samuel T. Freeman & Co auctioneers between 2007-2009. He is currently a private art and antiques consultant

Chris told us about the early beginnings of Arthur Vernay, who opened his antique gallery in New York in c.1906; by 1925 Vernay had a 5 storey building filled with antiques and was one of the most important dealers in New York in the period.  Vernay was actually born in England, in Weymouth we believe, so the links to the British trade here are important.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2014.



Robin Kern
of Hotspur, London, established 1924.

A conversation between Robin Kern and project lead volunteer Chris Coles. This interview is the sixth interview in an extension to the Oral Histories project, called ‘BADA Voices’, and which is supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

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Robin Kern, who together with his brother Brian Kern are the sons of Rob Kern, who established the well-known Antique English Furniture dealers, Hotspur Limited in 1924 – Robin and Brian are pictured here right in 1999 at their former business premises in Lowndes Street, London, together with the famous black lacquer secretaire, formerly at Harewood House, and made by Thomas Chippendale (now at Temple Newsam House, Leeds).

During this illuminating interview Robin tells us about the history of Hotspur, which began in Richmond, South West of London in the early 1920s, before moving to Lowndes Street, London in the early 1950s.  Robin joined his father in 1957, aged just 17, and after a short spell in the army on National Service, remained with the firm for the next 50 years.

Robin’s earliest memories are of driving the famous antique oak furniture specialist Sam Wolsey, together with his father Rob, to their respective shops in the West End of London, with the regular stops at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction sales. Robin also recalled memories of some of the major antique collectors that Hotspur sold to, including Judge Untermeyer and John Bryan in the USA, and Noel Terry in York, as well as memories of many of the high profile antique dealer businesses in the period, such as Mallet, Partridge, Pelham Galleries and Jeremy. Robin also reflects on the significance of the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair and the importance of the transatlantic trade in antiques.

Photograph courtesy of Robin Kern, (1999).


Martin Levy
of H. Blairman & Sons, London, established 1884.

M Levy

A conversation between Martin Levy and project lead Mark Westgarth.

H. Blairman & Sons were originally established in Llandudno, North Wales, in c.1884, before opening galleries in various locations in London, Harrogate and New York. Martin joined the family business in the 1970s and in this engaging, and fascinating interview, Martin outlines the history of this famous firm of dealers, and his own family history – connections in the antique trade that go back into the early nineteenth century.  The interview also contains Martin’s thoughtful reflections on the changing taste for antique furniture during the last 50 years or more.  Martin also speaks about his own interests in designed objects, his passion for knowledge about little studied, and little understood objects, and his life as an antique dealer and author.

 

Photograph courtesy of Martin Levy, 2015.

 

 


Mary-and-Tony-LumbTony and Mary Lumb
of Charles Lumb & Sons, Harrogate, established 1907.

A conversation between Tony & Mary Lumb and James Lomax, emeritus curator Temple Newsam House, Leeds, and project lead Mark Westgarth.

During the interview Tony recalled the history of the firm of Charles Lumb & Sons, from the early beginnings of his grandfather, Charles Lumb, who established the business in Harrogate in 1907, to when his father (Frank Lumb) and his uncle (Reg Lumb) joined the business before WWII, and when Tony first joined the business in 1956, aged just 20.

We learnt that Tony’s grandfather trained as a cabinetmaker in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, and started a furniture making and restoration business in Harrogate in 1907, in a workshop in what is now Montpellier Mews, before opening an antique shop at 34 Montpellier Parade in 1947. The firm expanded into further premises in Montpellier Parade in the 1960s and remained in Harrogate until it closed in 2012.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2014.


Felicity Marno & Antonia Agnew
of Stockspring Antiques, London, established c.1980

Stockspring

A conversation between Felicity Marno & Antonia Agnew and project Lead Mark Westgarth.

Felicity and Antonia began trading in antique ceramics in the early 1980s, before establishing Stockspring Antiques in Kensington Church Street in 1987. In this engaging interview, packed with fascinating detail about the world of antique ceramics, Felicity and Antonia reflect on a wide range of topics from the expansion of the USA Decorator market in the 1980s and its decline c.2000, to the psychology of collecting.   From their respective beginnings in the trade – Felicity at Gray Antiques Centre in London, and Antonia at Portobello Road – they developed one of the most significant antique porcelain dealerships in Britain, settling in Kensington Church Street in the 1980s – as Antonia recalled, the location had so many high profile antique ceramic dealerships that it came to be known in the trade as ‘Crocky Alley’.

Photograph courtesy of Stockspring Antiques. Copyright Stockspring Antiques.

 

 


John Morris
of  John G. Morris Ltd, established 1963, and M. Harris & Sons, established 1868

 A conversation between John Morris and project lead Mark Westgarth. This is the tenth interview in the extension to our Oral History project, called BADA Voices, and generously supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

John Morris joined the world famous antique dealers M. Harris & Sons in 1946, before setting up his own business, John G. Morris Ltd at Petworth, West Sussex in 1963, with his wife Lorraine. John retired from business in 1996.

In this absolutely fascinating interview John reflects on his first introduction to the antique trade, obtaining a job with Moss Harris & Sons aged just 17 after WWII. John recalls with amazing clarity the firm of M. Harris, recounting his memories of Sidney and George Harris (the sons of Moss Harris), on the interior arrangement of their well-known shop in New Oxford Street, how the business was organised, as well as the wide variety of characters employed by the firm during the 17 years he was employed by M. Harris & Sons. He also recounts enthralling stories of the clientele of Moss Harris & Sons – Lord Kitchener (apparently the only client allowed to wander the galleries unaccompanied) as well as Queen Mary – Moss Harris was Queen Mary’s ‘antique dealer’.  John’s own business, set up in Petworth on 4th November 1963, remained in the same location for over 30 years. Our interview with John also includes his memories of some now long gone members of the antiques trade, including ‘Jippy Botibol (J.M. Botibol), ‘Dick’ Turpin and Sam Wolsey.

Photograph copyright Antique Dealers Project, University of Leeds.

 

Frank Partridge
of Frank Partridge & Sons, London, established c.1905

Frank Partridge

A conversation between Frank Partridge and project lead Mark Westgarth.

Frank comes from one of the most important and influential antique dealing firms of the 20th century, Frank Partridge & Sons, which eventually closed in 2006 after over 100 years of trading. The interview captures Frank’s memories working in the family business, which he joined in the early 1980s. Frank has fascinating observations on the history of Partridge & Sons, as well as insightful reflections on the wide range of social changes in the late 20th century and their impact on the British antique trade.

Photograph courtesy of Frank Partridge.

 


Christopher PayneChristopher Payne
of Wylton Antiques, Melton Mowbray, established c.1950

A conversation between Christopher Payne and project research fellow Lizzy Jamieson.

Christopher Payne, who has been a regular presenter on the BBC Antiques Roadshow since 1985.

In an absolutely fascinating interview, Christopher told us about his grandfather’s Antiques and Modern furniture business, which began in the 19th century, and by the 1960s was employing 100 people. The business was continued by Christopher’s father, Tony Payne, who in 1968, decided to close the furniture-making and retail business and concentrate on the antiques side of the business, focused at ‘Wylton Antiques’ in Melton Mowbray.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2014.


Jerome-PhillipsJerome Phillips
of Phillips of Hitchin, Hitchin, established 1884.

A conversation between Jerome Phillips and project lead Mark Westgarth.

We interviewed Jerome Phillips of the well-known dealers ‘Phillips of Hitchin’, established in the 1880s, and still trading from the same address at the Manor House in Hitchin.

The firm of Phillips of Hitchin was begun by Jerome’s grandfather, F.W. Phillips in c.1884, and Jerome told us about the history of the business, and his experiences since he joined the firm in the early 1960s.

Listen to the full conversation here (MP3: 42MB)

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2013.


Michael Pick
of Stair & Co established 1911, and Partridge & Co established c.1905

 A conversation between Michael Pick and project volunteer Chris Coles. This is the nineth interview in the extension to our Oral History project, called BADA Voices, and generously supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

Michael Pick, joined the well-known antique dealers Stair & Company in 1978, before becoming a Director of Partridge & Co in 2001, formally retiring from the Partridge & Co business in 2008.

In this highly engaging interview Michael reflected on his beginnings in the antique trade – starting with an introduction to the world of antiques through the writer and collector Bevis Hillier, before joining Stair & Co., working with Mary Holder in 1978. With recollections on the importance of key antique trade locations in London and America in the period 1970s-2000, and the significance of dealer locations such as Mount Street, London, and importance of Claridges Hotel to the American collectors, Michael reflected on  the significance of the UK-USA transatlantic antique trade and the shifting taste for English Antiques during the 1970s and 1980s.

Photograph courtesy of Michael Pick.

 


leon-sassoonLeon Sassoon
of C. John, London, established 1933.

A conversation between Leon Sassoon and project volunteer Chris Coles.

Leon Sassoon, of the specialist textiles and antique carpets and rugs dealer C. John are now trading in South Audley Street, Mayfair, London.

In an absolutely fascinating interview Leon told us about the beginnings of the firm of C. John, which was started by Leon’s uncle in Oxford in 1933. Their shop in Oxford was eventually closed in 1976, to allow concentration on their shop in London.

Leon reflected on the changing landscape of the antique trade, and on his relationships with some major collectors of carpets, and with museums, over the last 50 years. The interview is a fascinating insight into a very specialist area of the antique trade.

Photograph courtesy of Leon Sassoon.


Kathleen-SkinKathleen Skin
of Portobello Road, London, established c.1950.

A conversation between Kathleen Skin and project lead Mark Westgarth.

Kathleen Skin talked about her time at Portobello Road antiques market during the 1950s and 1960s, and her time at Grays Antiques market in the 1980s. Kathleen is 93 years old, and has absolutely fascinating memories about buying and selling a whole range of things.

Kathleen told us about life on Portobello Road, antique dealing for ‘fun’, and some extraordinary things she bought – including a silver belt with Wedgwood ‘Jasperware’ plaques and a rare 18th century doll (which she sold to the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood now the V&A Museum of Childhood). Kathleen began to specialize in buttons, (she still loves buttons!), and continued her trading at Grays Antiques Market in the 1980s, as ‘Kath’s Button Box’.

Photograph, Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2013.


Kate-ThurlowPeta Smyth & Kate Thurlow
of Peta Smyth Antique Textiles, London, established 1976, and Gallery Forty One, London, established c.1980.

A conversation between Peta Smyth and Kate Thurlow and project advisory board member Emma Slocombe.

This is a fascinating triangular conversation between Emma, a senior curator at The National Trust, and the dealers Peta Smyth and Kate Thurlow.  Peta started trading from a stall in the famous Portobello Road market, before sharing a shop in Kensington Church Street in London, and then opening her shop in the 1980s. Peta developed a specialist interest in antique textiles and recalls memories of other leading specialist textile dealers such as Cora Ginsberg, of New York. We also hear her memories of Roger Warner’s shop in Burford (see also interview with Philip Astley-Jones). Kate Thurlow began her business in the late 1980s; her interests were initially in Chinese porcelain before she moved to selling early furniture.  During the interview Kate has some interesting reflections on the relationships between dealers and collectors.

Photograph courtesy of Kate Thurlow.


Nicholas Somers
of Moss Harris & Sons, London, established 1868, and Somers at the Sign of the Chair, Worcester, established 1971.

A conversation between Nicholas Somers and project Lead, Mark Westgarth. This interview is the second interview in an extension to the Oral Histories project, called ‘BADA Voices’, and which is supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association. n-somers-2016

PrintBefore establishing his antique business in Worcester in 1971, Nicholas Somers began his career in the antique trade working for some high-profile antique dealers; starting with the well-known dealer Paul Smith, in Ludlow in 1965, then working for Richard Grose in London, before Nicholas eventually worked at the world-renowned English Furniture dealers Moss Harris & Sons, from 1967. In this interview Nicholas recalls his memories of Robert Harris and the firm of M.Harris & Sons, and on his extraordinarily rich and varied life in the antique trade from the 1960s to the present day.  As the interview reveals, as well as being a succesful antique dealer, Nicholas also worked in the auction world, and was part of the management buy-out team that acquired the auctioneers Bearnes, Torquay, from the firm of Sotheby’s during the 1980s.  Nicholas also operated as an antiques agent, and more recently as a ‘Forensic Appraiser’ and Expert Witness for art and antiques legal cases in the Law Courts.  This is a fascinating interview with someone with an astonishingly varied career in the world of antiques.

Photograph Antique Dealer project, University of Leeds, 2016.


Lanto Synge
of Mallett & Sons, London, established 1865.

A conversation between Lanto Synge and Project Lead Volunteer Chris Coles. This interview is the eighth interview in an extension to the Oral Histories project, called ‘BADA Voices’, and which is supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association.

PrintLanto joined the world-renowned English Furniture dealers Mallett & Sons in 1969, staying at the firm for almost 40 years and eventually rising through the ranks to become Chief Executive of the firm in 1997. In this fascinating interview Lanto outlines the history of Mallett & Sons and his reflections on the changes in the antiques business since the 1960s.  Lanto recalls memories of the various individuals associated with the firm, as well as some memories of key members of the antique trade. Lanto is well-known as a leading expert and author on the subject of antique textiles and tapestries and the interview reveals this deep interest and enthusiasm.  Lanto also reflects on the recent changes in the antique trade and offers some thoughts on the future development of the trade.  This is another of our fascinating interviews with one of the key individuals in the history of the antique trade in Britain.

Photograph courtesy of Lanto Synge.

 


Simon Spero
of Simon Spero Antiques, and China Choice,, London, established 1964.

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A conversation between Simon Spero and project volunteer Chris Coles.

An intriguing interview with the leading specialist ceramics dealer/scholar/collector Simon Spero, who began his dealing career in the early 1960s. Simon tells us about his early memories of collecting, and his recollections of other leading antique ceramic specialist dealers, such as Reg Andrade, Arthur Filkins and Robert Williams, as well as his dealings with leading collectors in both the UK and USA. Simon also tells us about some of the auctions of significant collections over the years, including those of the ceramics scholar and collector Bernard Watney, sold in 1999 and 2000, and has reflections on some earlier auctions, such as that of Frank Arnold, sold in 1964 and 1965. There are also Simon’s observations on curatorship and museums, as well as his own work as a dealer-scholar and his publications on 18th century English ceramic factories.

Photograph courtesy of Simon Spero.

 



 

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