This modest bookplate pasted into a copy of The New Forget Me Not (1929), a miscellany of entertaining short pieces by contemporary authors, including Belloc, Beerbohm, Harold Nicholson, J.C.Squire, Vita Sackville West and Hugh Walpole, with superb decorations by Rex Whistler, came from the estate of the interior designer and antiques dealer Stephen Long, who died in his eighties in 2012.
From all that has been said about him since his death Long, a specialist in early nineteenth century china, whose eclectic shop in the Fulham Road was for decades a Mecca for lovers of the unusual and 'shabby-chic', seems to have almost single-handedly invented the modern taste for interiors of painted furniture, naïve artifacts and stylish, if sometimes distressed ceramics. Indeed, a profile of his shop featured in the very first issue of The World of Interiors.
I attended the memorable sale at which the contents of Long’s shop and flat were dispersed ,and as with other sales of iconic figures in the world of design and lifestyle—Andy Warhol and Elizabeth David come to mind—the prices paid by many punters (dealers included) for cracked pots and framed prints-- seemed to be greatly inflated. I was not tempted by most of the lots, but did buy some books, among which was this Forget-Me-Not.
There is no doubt that this dealer of the ‘old school’ possessed an extraordinary ‘eye’. I wish I’d met him. [RMH]