Research project

Antique Dealers: A cultural geography of the twentieth century British antiques trade

  • Lead researcher:
  • Research funder:
    Arts & Humanities Research Council
  • Status:
    Not active

Project overview

Dr Eleanor Quince is working with colleagues at the University of Leeds to investigate the history of the trade in antiques in 20th century Britain. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the project aims to map dealerships, identify the objects which passed through their hands, and track the relationship between the trade and public museums.

The last few years of the 20th century saw a rapid transformation of the antiques trade in Britain. It was a turbulent time for the trade, with large numbers of antique dealers closing their shops, retiring, or modifying their trading activities. In a bid to understand how and why this happened, this project will study the evolving structures of the antiques markets through detailed case study investigations of some prominent dealerships operating at the top of the trade. It will also include selective investigations of key supply chains in order to better understand the structures and networks of the British antiques trade. The project will deal primarily with the trade in decorative art (furniture, ceramics, glass, textiles etc).

Antique Dealers will assemble a large corpus of quantitative and qualitative data which will form the base for an interactive website with an evolving dealer database and a virtual map of Britain highlighting the locations of dealerships over time. The project will also assemble an oral history archive based on interviews with retired and semi-retired prominent members of the British trade. Previously unexplored archival material will form the base for a volume of critical essays, an academic conference on the trade and a series of public workshops and talks.


Lead researcher

Dr Eleanor Quince

Principal Teaching Fellow

Research interests

  • The history of shopping
  • The reception, collection and display of cultural artefacts with particular reference to period rooms and the Country House
  • The decorative art and antiques market.   Art and architectural history and theory    The role of women in furniture design, manufacture and consumption in the eighteenth century  
Connect with Eleanor

Research outputs