Antique Collecting advice from Quinney

Found- a small, rare pamphlet Don't: some concise and useful hints for the collector by Thomas Rohan (Bournemouth: A. Rohan, 1933). Rohan was a dealer in antiques and wrote many books on the subject (Old Beautiful, Confessions of a Dealer etc.,) He is said to be the original of Quinney the antique dealer hero of the novel and play (and movie) Quinney's by H.A. Vachell. At one point there were 5 antique shops in Britain called Quinney's and there is still at least one. His hints for collectors are still of use:


So many just for the want of thought go wrong in collecting, commiseration is of little help, after the event, so I thought just a few concise words of advice, set forth in brief paragraphs would be of help. Recently a gentleman said to me, 'I shall never forget what you said at your first talk to the Alton Art Society - never purchase anything however old it is, if it has not been beautifully made - Age will not add value to bad craftsmanship.' I suppose I have made this remark hundreds of times. 

DON'T buy anything unless you can always live with it.

DON'T be in a hurry to purchase anything, however pleasing momentarily to the eye - meticulously examine the article whether it be furniture, china or glass.

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Stephen Long bookplate

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]