Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Antique dealer

It's a long time ago since I last took the blog to Bristol and told you the tale of my great great grandfather who sailed the high seas. This time we return to Bristol to tell the tales of his son and grandson who were antique dealers from the 1890's through to 1950's.



We move away from the harbour and walk a short distance to Park Street. This street was built from 1761 and was Bristol's earliest example of uniformly stepped hillside Georgian terracing. At the top of the hill is the magnificent Wills memorial building (part of Bristol university) that was completed in 1925.


Their antique business operated from half way up the hill the first few years was before the motor cars had appeared. The rich business men of Bristol, who lived in Clifton would ride their carriages to work, and in the evening walk up the hill to meet their waiting carriages. A few arm chairs near the entrance to the shop would entice them in to rest and browse! Initially buyers were interested in furnishing their homes with antiques, but many then started to build up collections of either china,glass,or furniture.


The terraces of Clifton
The initial stock for the shop included silver items most were of Dutch origin and included fancy spoons,embossed bowls, silver models of windmills, ships in full sail and animals. Each Saturday afternoon the family would gather around the dining room and in my great uncle's words "clean the wretched stuff". He tells the story how his sisters (one of whom was my grandmother) hated these afternoons, even when after the work was done they were paid a penny for their work and given a special tea!

 Many, many years later I remember during school holidays helping my mother cleaning the silver and getting very dirty in the process! At a street market last weekend the decoration on this EPS bowl caught my eye and at the price of £1 I couldn't resist! As I clean it I will think of the previous family silver cleaners!



Georgian House museum Bristol

After the 1st World war there was a boom in the antique business. People had more money to spend and owners of large houses were finding it increasing difficult to employ staff and started to sell off items and down size. This quickly attracted some rogues to the trade and to counter this the "British Antiques Dealers Association (BADA) "was set up  to safeguard the interests of both buyers and sellers. My great grandfather was one of the original members. The Association will be celebrating their hundred year anniversary in 2018.


Georgian House museum Bristol

Many of the antiques were bought at local country auctions in the West Country and Wales. This involved travelling by train,cabs,traps and wagons.  They couldn't help feeling sorry for some of the private sellers who had fallen on hard times and had to resort to selling their possessions.



It wasn't until the 1920's that American dealers and private buyers started to appear. One of these early American customers was Mr Charles Hellen who was one of the top managers of Heinz who was sent to England to develop the English side of the business. He became a regular customer and bought at least one item which Mr Heinz was looking for. He sent them some samples that arrived in a huge wooden box containing over 24 products!

The life of a dealer could be very exciting - they often met famous people, discovered many valuable and interesting pieces and they never knew what delights tomorrow would bring. My great uncle was even visited by Queen Mary and the Duke of Kent (they both purchased some items) and one of their regular visitors in  the 1930's was Rudyard Kipling and his wife.



I wonder what my ancestors would think of Park Street and Bristol today. Our family have on many occasions sub-consciously been attracted to where our ancestors have lived. Have you ever discovered this in your family too?



 I have always felt at home when I have visited Bristol and last year my son and his girlfriend made it their home when they got jobs in the city. They looked at a number of flats and the best one they saw and took on was around the corner from Park Street. My cousin told me that her son had lived in Park Street for a few years too! My son's journey to work takes him down the hill every day to his office overlooking the harbour.

Our son and daughter standing outside the premises of the antique shop - it is now selling futons!

In 1929 there was less passing trade and it was decided to move the business to Bath where it carried on being successful until the 1950's, when retirement and the smell of the sea beckoned....



Do you have any stories like this to tell? I always find it fascinating to discover more details about the life of our ancestors.
Sarah x

52 comments:

  1. What an interesting story, and how lovely to be able to visit places where your predecessors were. I used to live in Clifton and I'm very familiar with central Bristol, although I don't go there very often now. I've acclimatised to small town life, the city is far too lively for me now! CJ xx

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  2. What a wonderful story Sarah. I am looking at a photograph on the wall as I write of a Great Aunt who could remember being a child in a circle of covered wagons in the States surrounded by Indians...How I wish I knew more.

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    1. What a shame that you Don't know the story of your Great Aunt's childhood. It is so easy to question the older generation. We often Don't think of the questions until they are no longer there. Sarah x

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  3. I can't say I know a great deal about my ancestors (sadly - I'd love to discover one day!) but what an interesting post and a great family story too.

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  4. I love your family history! and the photos of Bristol, too. xo

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  5. I enjoyed this story about your family, Sarah! The story about one of my ancestors is in part why I am typing to you now. My mother's maiden name was Bradstreet. Her ancestress, Ann Bradstreet, immigrated from near Boston, Lincolnshire, to the area near Boston, Massachusetts, America, in the early 1600s with her husband Simon Bradstreet. Ann was the first published woman poetess in America. I was born near Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and most of my Bradstreet relatives still live in that area. When I was about ten I had been told about Ann and shown an article in our encyclopedia about her, but one day when I was in my mid teens I was in American Literature class. I turned the page in the text and read an article about Ann and her writing and I felt so....connected all those years later even though I was sitting in a classroom near Kansas City, Missouri, USA :) As an adult I learned that Ann received part of her education at Tattershall Castle not too far from Boston, Lincolnshire. In the last ten years through my computer I have been trying to learn more about Boston, Lincolnshire, and Tattershall Castle. I started visiting British blogs and find myself now enjoying getting to know you and other bloggers from around the world..... The land I live on now near Portland, Oregon, reminds me of the land near Boston, Massachusetts, but I have not seen enough of the Boston, Lincolnshire area to know if the land is similar.

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    1. That must have been so exciting Gracie turning that page at school and learning about your ancestor.I am imagine how excited you must have been going home with your exciting news. I will have to see if there are her poems on the internet. Sarah x

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  6. Dear Sarah,
    First, what a great photo of your children! I really enjoyed this story... Thank you so much for sharing.
    blessings,
    Penny

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  7. What a beautiful story - I love silver like you, my grandfather was a silversmith. And it is like you tell - I have so much questions and never asked. In the generation of my parents and grandparents there often where not much words - and it was forbidden to ask some things.

    Sigrun

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    1. You are so right Sigrun, previous generations unlike us weren't so keen to talk! Sarah x

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  8. I love this post! Such an interesting story and so beautifully told! Here in Israel all the kids in Year 7 across the country do a big roots project. When my eldest son did his, we ALL learnt so much!

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  9. When we visited relatives in Kjerringoy, Norway, I discovered that my great great grandfather had actually moved from Germany to Norway and that my grandfather had been the Captain of a ship in Norway.

    The only other interesting tidbit is that my grandmother, whose maiden name was James, was a cousin of the outlaw Jesse James - definitely not something to be proud of.

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    1. That is the danger of researching family history, you can discover things that may have been hidden from the family for generations! I discovered my Great grandmother had run away to Canada and remarried. The family thought she had died in a carriage accident. There is lots of information about ships on the internet have you look to see if you can get any further information about the ship where he was captain?

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  10. Gosh, those were the days. I have a small antiques/collectables/militaria business and things are very different now to the days of your antecedents (proper antiques then!)

    I am a family historian too, but sadly so many of my Devon folk worked on the land and left little evidence behind them - not even a gravestone as they were so poor.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed some tales of the antique business from the past. I found it fascinating reading all about it. What a shame you haven't found much evidence of your family. I have been so lucky discovering many details from 3 branches of the family. Sarah x

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  11. A lovely story...and beautiful pictures!
    Have a great week, take care...
    Titti

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  12. A lovely story to start me week Sarah, and great pictures of Bristol, which I have yet to visit properly.

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  13. Sarah, your travels, your tours where you take us, all of it is so enchanting! I LOVE YOUR WORLD! And to make connections with family and ancestors, how rich this is. Enjoy your day!

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  14. It's brilliant that you know so much about your family history, Sarah. I find the whole thing totally compulsive and am lucky to know a bit about some of my ancestors, the most famous of which (as far as I know!) was John Stow who wrote A Survey of London and Chronicles of England in the 16th Century. He lived in Lime Street in City of London and my grandmother, Georgina Stow (born in Bermondsey), was a direct descendant. A copy of the original Survey is held in the British Library as it's the only record of daily London life at that time and there's a statue of John Stow outside a church in the City of London. I remember coming across the statue when I had a temping job on first coming to London; I was utterly thrilled to find a piece of my personal history there! My grandmother started to write a fictional account of John Stow's personal history in her later years - and here I am, living in London and writing my blog! 'What goes around, comes around' - maybe that's one cliché that's true! Caro x

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    1. As I was reading your first few lines it occurred to me that your ancestor sounded a bit like recording your London garden on your blog! We have also found that the same occupations or interests occur again and again so I do think that cliché is true! Sarah x

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  15. What a vastly interesting story! SO nice to know about where your ancestors came from and to meet many important people through their work! It's interesting to hear how the profession developed!x

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  16. Such an interesting visit to Bristol and to find out more about your family history! It must be wonderful to know so much about your families past occupations! xx

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  17. What a fascinating story! Thank you so much for sharing that. One side of my family were involved in dress making for the aristocracy - something that's been so interesting to discover.

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  18. What a lovely post to read Sarah, thank you too for sharing some lovely photo's.

    The BBC Antiques Roadshow is a popular programme, I just wondered if you may watch it.

    Hope your week is going well.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Hi Jan, Yes I do watch the Antique Road show sometimes. It always interesting finding out about the items especially when they are of high value and the owners didn't realise it! Sarah x

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  19. OOOhhhhh, that was so interesting, and lovely photos too. My mother lived in Bristol during the war, during her early teenage years. I think my grandfather (the son of Adeliza) worked for the Board of Trade at the docks. One night, they watched from a hill outside the city where they lived, as Bristol was flattened by German bombers and the sky glowed red from the fire. She hated the sound of low flying aircraft for the rest of her life. Maybe my grandfather visited your grandfather's shop - he loved antiques!

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    1. It would be lovely to think that your grandfather may have visited the antique shop. Bristol did suffer during the war. I know my family were relieved that they had moved to Bath and other locations by then. Sarah x

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  20. A most interesting post Sarah,
    You have quiet a family history there.
    I am very interested in my family background.
    This post brings to mind the story of my great grandfather, who left Yorkshire to find his fortune in America.
    He did just that.. He started one of the original Calico factories somewhere near Boston or thereabouts.
    My mum often used to say " wonder,what it would be like to meet the family".. we never got that far. On one of my last visits to the UK. I went to the house where I was born. I felt very mixed emotions. It brought back so much to mind.
    I am here in the Alentejo, As it was where Manuel was born..(about an hour from here) and he wanted us all to know his roots and himself return to them. Hence one of the reasons for leaving South Africa.
    Its all so interesting.
    Your heading is stunning Sarah. I have always said, that you live in a beautiful part of the UK.
    wishing you a happy week.
    Val x

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    1. Dear Val, Lovely to read about your ancestors too. Sarah x

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  21. What a fascinating post, Sarah! Your point about being drawn to a place our ancestors lived is an interesting one. I wonder if that's one of the reasons Scotland holds such a grip on my heart.

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  22. I enjoyed looking at the photos of Bristol, and thank you for naming the Bristol University tower - I never knew it was called the Wills Memorial - even though my graduation ceremony was there in 1971. Is the last photo a picture looking up the Fowey River? It definitely looks like a Cornish ria to me.

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      Well spotted the last picture was from Fowey -that's another instalment to the story one day! It must have been a great place for your graduation. I also discovered in writing this post that there are tours up the tower and in the Great Hall on selected days.. Sarah x

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  23. Hi Sarah, what a wonderful story, so nice to hear all about your history. I LOVE antiques and charity shops and finding something special, even though it might not be expensive, the thrill of having something that belonged to someone else hundreds of years ago! I really enjoyed this post and I love the photos too! Sharon x

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  24. Wow!! I have only just found your blog - a friend sent me a link - it is fantastic!! I will be following you from now on from down under!!! Helen F

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    1. Hi Helen, I'm glad you like it,welcome! Sarah x

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  25. Hi Sarah. I moved to Maryland in 1969 from the Mid-west and spent some time in the South. It wasn't until 1996 that I discovered that my ancestors had lived here in the 1780's before the son in my line moved on to the South. In fact, I'm in the same County! This fellow married a woman who had been born here in 1766. My youngest son was born in this County in 1988.

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    1. Hi Cathy, It's good to hear we are not the only family drawn back to locations where our ancestors lived! Sarah x

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  26. It is lovely that you have been able to find locations for your ancestors, and also that you are sharing your great interest and love with your son and daughter too.
    As you were wandering around up here - Bristol is only 25 miles from me, I was wandering around your area!
    I too have grown to love Bristol, it has a great atmosphere and zest about it. Last month my granddaughter moved there too. It is lovely to know that she is now nearby.

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    1. Hope your daughter is enjoying Bristol S much as my son and his girl friend. They love the different areas each with their unique village feel and independent shops. The music scene is also more lively. It will be lovely to have your grand daughter closer to you too. Sarah x

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  27. What a lovely post Sarah. :) Thank you for taking us to Bristol and sharing both your own family history and the history of Bristol. When I was a child I loved hearing my grandfather talkig about WW II and his time as a soldier. He was a keen photographer and had taken so many photos during the war. Pictures my grandmother sadly threw away after his death in the late 80's.

    Thank you so very much for your always kind and warm words on my blog. It means so much sweet Sarah♥

    Charlie
    xx

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  28. Oh how interesting Sarah - I did enjoy reading about your ancestors and the lives that they led. No wonder you are proud of them. I have never been to Bristol and enjoyed seeing the pictures too.

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  29. I can smell the silver polish as I read your post...it was fascinating..while we are in Cornwall we visited Talland bay. Evidently my husbands relatives come from this area. As you walk up roads that they would have travelled you definitely have a tingly feeling of the past. We spent an interesting hour looking at gravestones and looking down at the stunning view of the bay. They would have been exhausted just climbing up the lane to church! B X

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    1. My family ended up in Fowey which is not far from Tall and Bay. I hope you found the gravestones on your husband's family. Some often it is quite difficult to find and the writing has been wooden down by the elements. Sarah x

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    2. Lots of the gravestones were made of slate and really clear to read unlike usual stones. They were also intricately patterned particularly those around the 1820's

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  30. That's so interesting Sarah. I remember a TV series set in Bristol about the early shipping trade. Some wealthy Bristolians had slaves !
    I had a day in Bristol a few years ago & enjoyed it very much.

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  31. I enjoyed reading about your family history. Lovely photo's of Bristol. I never realised it had such elegant buildings.

    Lovely photo of your son and daughter too. It must have been fun spending the day there together!

    Happy weekend ahead Sarah.

    Madelief x

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  32. Fascinating post. Love the photos as always. I too love silver, but not so much the cleaning. As I work on learning more about my family history, I've discovered a lot of repeated behaviors, locations dates of births, names and occupations I find it very interesting. I felt quite at home when we visited Germany - my ancestral home. Lovely post.

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  33. A fascinating post, thank you Sarah! My ancestors were farmers so our family history would sound rather modest compared to this. Of course, there is this distant forefather who was born in Venice in 1734...

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  34. My grandmother moved from London to Cornwall to Winterbourne Down outside Bristol. She enjoyed looking for treasure in junk shops. I have a very old hallmarked silver tea caddy spoon in the shape of a leaf that I cherish!

    https://eefalsebay.blogspot.co.za/2015/01/my-fathers-birthday-Twelfth-Night.html

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    1. Wouldn't it be wonderful if your grandmother had visited by great uncle's shop. My grandfather went to South Africa to fight in the Boer War. He decided to stay on and joined the South African Mounted Police. It was the First World War that brought him back to England. I have never been able to find out anything about his time in South Africa. Sarah x

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    2. My uncle, who lived with granma, was interested in the Anglo-Boer War.
      Too late to ask him now sadly.

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    3. The younger generation never realise at the time how much more information the older generation can tells us. It's only after they have gone that you realise that there are so many unanswered questions.
      Sarah x

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