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Antique Dealers' Archives

The Project is also host to a unique set of art & antique dealer archives, held at the Brotherton Library Special Collections.

We gratefully acknowledge the very generous support of Leeds Art Fund in the development of conservation and cataloguing projects for the Antique Dealer Archives.

We are also very grateful to the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust for supporting the conservation of the Phillips of Hitchin archives.

The archives are the focus of a series of inter-related cross-faculty research projects at Leeds and are also accessible to national and international scholars, researchers and students. The uniqueness of the archives donated to Leeds are that they provide a concentration of ‘antique dealer’ archive material in one place and contain some of the most complete ‘antique dealer’ archives in the public domain.

The Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market at the University of Leeds is also a key research hub for the antique dealer archives.  The focus of the Centre is the broader structures of the art market, with a special emphasis on the history of art and antique dealers. Over time we hope to build a critical mass of art market archival material and make this available to current and future scholars and researchers interested in the history of the Art Market.

We would also like to very gratefully acknowledge the help of Simon Phillips of Ronald Phillips Antiques for so generously transporting the remaining archive photographs belonging to the Phillips of Hitchin archives from London to Leeds.  And through the exceptional generosity of a number of other antique dealers and patrons who have donated, or are donating, their business archives to the Centre we have at present a number of highly significant dealer archives, including:

Phillips of Hitchin (archive dating 1884-2010)

Phillips of Hitchin traded from Manor House, Hitchin from 1884. Jerome Phillips (3rd generation of dealers) retired in January 2015 and very generously donated the complete archive to the University of Leeds. Phillips was one of the most important dealers in the UK, and sold many thousands of objects, many to major national museums in the UK, Europe and the USA. Phillips also was instrumental in the development of the collections of important collectors of Decorative Art such as those of Judge Irwin Untermyer in the USA. The archive consists of a comprehensive run of stock books and sales ledgers, letter archives, and photograph archives. We are pleased to announce that our funding application to the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust for conservation of this archive was successful.

Roger Warner (archive dating 1936-1985)

Roger Warner was one of the most well-known dealer personalities of the recent era; a short autobiography ‘Memoirs of a 20th Century Antique Dealer’ was published after his death in 2003, and an essay by John Cornforth on Roger Warner was published in Country Life in 1992. Roger sold objects to many major museums in the UK and USA, as well as organisations such as the National Trust; he also sold and donated a large amount of objects to Temple Newsam House, including extensive collections of historic textiles. The Warner archive is the most complete archive known, with not just an extraordinarily detailed series of business material (stock books, sales ledgers etc) but also extensive notes books and dairies; as well as more material for his autobiography and audio recordings etc. The archive has been very generously donated to the University of Leeds by Roger Warner's family, Sue Ashton, Hugo Ashton and Deborah Warner.

H.M. Lee & Sons, and R.A. Lee (archives dating 1920-1995)

Henry Morton Lee & Sons were established just after World War I, in premises in Kingston-upon-Thames. They were one of the leading firms of antique dealers in the period; the business was continued by Ronald A. Lee, who joined his father in 1931, before setting up his own business in 1949. Ronald Lee's daughter, Georgina Gough, generously donated the Lee archive to the University of Leeds. The archive consists of stock books, scrap albums of newspaper cuttings, a photographic archive and a complete run of dealer stock cards from the late 1920s to the 1990s. Ronald Lee sold a wide range of antiques, to many of the world's most important museums and collectors.

M.Turpin (archive dating c.1970-2000)

Maurice 'Dick' Turpin (1928-2005) was a leading antique furniture dealer, based in London. 'Dick' Turpin established his business in the early 1950s, trading from Old Brompton Road; he was later joined in business by Colin Hart, the grandson of Moss Harris, of the world famous dealers M. Harris & Sons. The archive was initially donated to Bonhams by Jackie Mann, the partner of 'Dick' Turpin, before being generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections in 2017.  The archive does not contain any stock books or business records and mainly consists of an extensive photographic archive of objects from stock, as well as a fascinating selection of object restoration records. The remaining collection and stock of M. Turpin was sold at Christie's in March 2006.

H.C.Baxter & Sons (archive c.1951-1978)

H.C. Baxter & Sons were established in 1927 by Horace Baxter, the son of a property developer from Clapham, South London. The business was well-known as antique furniture dealers, and especially as a supplier of antique furniture to the London trade.  Their premises in Fulham Road, London SW3 was a key presence in the antique trade for many years.  The partial archive, comprising stock books and sales ledgers provides a fascinating insight into inter-dealer trading in the second half of the 20th century and has been generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections by Gary Baxter, the grandson of Horace Baxter.

Stair & Andrew (Stair & Co.) (archive c.1911-1980s)

We hold a small amount of material related to the dealership of Stair & Andrew (later trading as Stair & Co.).  The material includes a series of scrapbooks dating from the founding of the firm in c.1912, together with some advertising material, as well as an album of press cuttings and advertisements of R.L. Harrington (formerly Christys of Kent), a dealership acquired by Stair & Co in 1968.

Kent Gallery (archive c.1920-1930)

We hold two photograph albums of stock of Kent Gallery (c.1920-1930).  The photograph albums illustrate antique English furniture that Kent Gallery held in stock in the 1920s. Kent Gallery was one a number of antique dealer businesses owned by Lionel Harris and his family in the 1920s and 1930s.

Robin Butler (archive c.1970-2000)

Robin Butler, still trading in Wine-related Antiques; he began trading as a dealer in the 1950s in Bristol, before moving to Honiton in Devon. Robin has very generously a range of material to the Antique Dealer archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections, including manuscripts of his book on English Furniture, an extensive series of photographs of stock and advertising materials, as well as some stock books and associated ephemera.

The archive of the collection of Chinese Works of Art of Anthony J. Evans (1954-2008)

Anthony J. Evans (1954-2008) was a key scholar and leading collector of Chinese Works of Art, particularly in the area of 20th century Chinese ceramics.  His collections were sold at Bonhams auctioneers, London in November 2011.  The archive consists of collecting notes, provenance notes and all the dealer invoices associated with the assembly of his collections, including sales from major dealers such as Bluett & Sons.  The archive was very generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections by the executors of the Estate of Anthony J. Evans and Michael Evans, Anthony's brother, in 2017.

The archive of the collection of Cornelius Medvei (1905-2000)

Cornelius Medvei (1905-2000) was a leading collector of antique silver and founder of the Society of Silver Collectors. The archive consists of a cache of antique dealer invoices, from the 1960s and 1970s, associated with Medvei's collecting activities.  The archive was generously donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections by Cornelius Medvei Jr in 2021.


Future Donations to the Antique Dealer Archives

Charles Lumb & Sons (archive dating 1930-2000)

Charles Lumb & Sons were leading antique furniture dealers, trading in Harrogate since the 1930s. Tony Lumb (3rd generation dealer) recently semi-retired from business and has very generously promised the business archive to the University of Leeds. The archive consists of stock books and an extensive photographic archive. Lumb’s were very high profile antique furniture dealers, especially well known in the provinces.

Bluett & Sons (archive dating 1907-1992)

Bluett & Sons were established c.1884 in London and remained in business until 1992. They were one of the world’s leading dealers in Chinese Works of Art, selling to major collectors and museums in the UK, Europe and the USA. The archive consists of sales ledgers (1928-1970); bought ledgers (1919-1972); Day books (1907-1967); photograph albums (1926-50 & 1961-68); China Letter Books (1921-37) and associated ephemera. The current owner of the archive has very generously bequeathed the Bluett archive to the Brotherton Library Special Collections.