The 20th Century Antique Trade: a cultural geography

Mark Westgarth

The ‘Antique Dealers’ project is the first time that the history of the modern antiques trade has been subject to sustained academic study. This 30 month research project, which began in September 2013, was funded (£231,592) by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) one of the leading research funding bodies in the UK.

The project was based at the University of Leeds, and led by Dr Mark Westgarth as Principal Investigator (PI), with Dr Eleanor Quince, University of Southampton,as Co-Investigator (CI) and Elizabeth Jamieson, Research Fellow (RF) University of Leeds.

The project sought to map, contextualize and critically analyze the antiques trade as it has evolved and developed in Britain in the 20th century.

The project assessed the cultural geography of the trade in antiques in a British context, with consideration of its international dimensions and the relationships to European and North American markets.

Using previously unexplored archives, the project to investigated the evolving business practices of the trade, placing these practices into social, economic and cultural contexts and mapping these practices against the changing landscape of the broader consumption of antiques.

The project assembled a large corpus of quantitative and qualitative data, with the help of crowd-source research, and mapped the changing locations of dealers and the relationships between various segments of the trade.

It also mapped the trajectories of the objects that passed through the trade, tracking, where possible, the current locations of those objects in public museums in the UK, Europe and North America. As a result of the research ‘Antique Dealers’ compiled an evolving database and an interactive website with potent visualisations of key relationships between dealers, objects, and museums.

For more information, see the the project website: http://www.antiquedealers.leeds.ac.uk/