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.
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).