• Antiques Research

    Antique watch


On this site you will find both our current and past research within antiques. Many of the areas explored are directly linked to our MA Antiques distance learning course at UCLan, where we cover a broad range of interests. What bonds us together is our belief that quality research offers a substantial route to an informed understanding on practice and theory, which is both of value to the trade as much as the aspiring connoisseur.

In this section of the site you will find our most current research published as part of the MA Antiques. Please contact us if you would like more information: we can arrange contact with the authors and/or provide copies of the work, in most cases, on request.

Expertise and Subject areas

New, Antique, Now: the Desirability of 19th-Century Design (Elizabeth Grenfell)

Antiques cover a huge range of objects and there is an established hierarchy primarily based on condition, rarity, age and desirability. The most sought-after items are expensive or in private or museum collections. Focusing on 19th-century designers the research will tell the story of designs from their conception, into the largely uncovered period when the designer or company no longer exists, to the rebirth of the design on contemporary objects. Significant quantities of modern manufactured items are available. How these modern objects relate to the originals, in design, function and presentation, and their contribution to our understanding of antiques is complex. This research will analyse modern interpretations of 19th-century designers, particularly William Morris, William de Morgan and Louis Comfort Tiffany, to ask what is the appeal of 19th-century designers at the beginning of the 21st-century.

The Celtic Art Revival. How it influenced jewellery design in the late 19th and early 20th century with particular reference to Alexander Ritchie and Archibald Knox (C. Elaine Horton)

This dissertation will discuss how the celtic art revival of the 19th century influenced certain jewellery designs both as a reinforcement of the desire for a national identity in Ireland and Scotland and as inspiration for designers in the arts and crafts movement and beyond. It will focus on the designs of Alexander Ritchie for example whose legacy continues to inspire modern designers in Scotland. His work echoes the desire for a Scottish identity by using celtic designs from artefacts found on the Island Of Iona and from the Book Of Kells. These flowing designs were also influential in the Arts And Crafts movement and can be seen in many pieces by designers of that movement particularly those designing for Liberty And Co for example Archibald Knox. In contrast to the work of Ritchie these pieces take certain elements of celtic design and interpret them in a different way while still retaining the ideas of celtic interlace. Both strands of this celtic art revival jewellery design will be explored in order to examine how much influence the movement had on design and and what if any legacy has it left.

Here we offer a glimpse into research that is still in progress, or in the early stages of development. In most cases this will be ready to publish during the next 12 to 18 months. If you would like to know more, or feel you could contribute to the development of a piece of work, then please contact us for further details.

Regional Variations in Vernacular Stone Chimney-pieces of Georgian England (1714 - 1830) (Gordon Fairclough)

My final year dissertation will focus on English stone country chimney-pieces made between 1714 and 1830. These chimney-pieces were typically made from local stone, carved by local stone-masons and installed by the craftsmen who quarried the material and chiseled the slabs into shape. They are, quite literally, an extension of the local countryside, a reflection of family continuity and a touchstone of our rural history. My initial research suggests that the design elements of these chimney-pieces display regional peculiarities. The materials were usually specific to the locality, the carved detail and motifs that were employed varied, according to the traditions of the local stone-masons, and were influenced by various factors from local folklore to political alliances. There may even be a parallel with the development of vernacular furniture, as distinct design features evolved throughout the regions of England. Little research has been conducted in relation to Georgian vernacular chimney-pieces and this work attempts to investigate whether, and to what extent, a regional style developed in the Georgian era.

19th and early 20th century traditional Japanese toys (Helena Gaudeková)

Japanese traditional toys have always been in tight connection to the local folk arts and crafts. In 1868 Japan opened to the world after a long time of separation. New technologies began to merge with the traditional ways of making and designing. Charmed with the new unexplored world of art, Westerners came to Japan to buy various artistic items, among them traditional Japanese toys. However, practically no research of Japanese toys has been undertaken outside Japan. In my dissertation I am going to examine toys that were brought from Japan to central Europe in the 19th and early 20th century. I will be looking at the traditional technologies used when making the toys as well as stressing the toys´ strong connection to woodcut prints of the period. I will be evaluating the overall aesthetics of Japanese toys and the impact traditional legends and folk tales had on them. I will also try to uncover the identities of the travellers who brought these items to Europe; I will concentrate on defining how they perceived and understood these toys and what was their motivation for buying and presenting toys to cultural institutions in their home country.

British depictions of China in printed material from 1839 to 1949 (Julian Fisher)

From the First Opium War in 1839 to the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Britain’s relationship with China witnessed the founding and growth of Hong Kong, the Boxer rebellion, the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the subsequent civil war. It also experienced a previously unknown exposure to the country and its visual culture. My dissertation will focus on British depictions of China in printed material from 1839 to 1949 including book illustrations, advertising, movie and travel posters, early comics and other ephemera. This will hopefully provide a systematic method of aging printed material related to China through the symbols and styles associated with it. It will also identify the influences both domestic and Chinese which created the British China-aesthetic, a kind of neo-Chinoiserie, whilst also offering a fascinating insight into the way that the UK visualised China and, by doing so, defined the notion of itself.

The Origins and History of Science Fiction Collectables. From Dan Dare to Doctor Who.

Science Fiction Collectables are big business. No media campaign for the latest fantasy television programme is complete without the marketing strategy of merchandising and collectables to accompany it. But where did this all start? Although there are numerous price guides for individual shows, little has been written on the Origins and History of Science Fiction Collectables. My dissertation will concentrate on the origins and history of science fiction collectables. It will look at different types of collectables from programmes such as Dan Dare and Doctor Who. It will also examine why these pieces have become so sought after and address why collectors have such a passion for this type of collectable. The research will be of great interest to both collectors and historians with an interest in the origins of this popular collectable market. This investigation will examine the link between collectable and consumer and why the toys and merchandising of the past are so desirable in the present. The Science Fiction Toys of the past are the antiques of the future.

Interwar railway poster campaigns (Janet Roberts)

In the early days of British railway travel, advertising posters simply showed routes and services. The introduction of the Bank Holidays Act (1871) and the beginning of paid holiday entitlements for the lower middle and working class brought more custom and increased competition between the various railway companies. This saw an increase in affordable leisure travel. Railway companies began to employ graphic artists and designers to create pictorial posters to entice this new class of traveller. The interwar years saw the climax of railway travel with improved printing techniques and advertising imagery railway poster campaigns became more sophisticated. There is limited literature available on poster propaganda from the interwar years that shows the rivalry and advertising tactics of the differing companies. This dissertation will attempt to explore the use of the posters as a propaganda tool and look at the socio-emotional consequences of advertising during this time and how it has led to the posters becoming highly collectable in the present day.

English Glassmaking from 1918 (Barry Clark)

The art and craft of English Glassmaking reached its zenith in the years before the First World War: wages were relatively low, factories were large and Britain had the most lucrative export trade in its history. Glassmakers started a seven-year apprenticeship at the age of fourteen and became some of the most skilled makers in any discipline at any time. The war led to a period in which skills and traditions were lost along with the generation of craftsmen who were swallowed up by the conflict. From 1918 onward there was a drive toward automatisation, with the introduction of increasingly sophisticated machinery. While hand-made glass and machine made glass are areas that are well documented, this cross-over period is generally neglected. My dissertation will document the development of decorative glass in this period.

Medalta Potteries Ltd [Medicine Hat, Alberta] Art Ware circa 1929- 1954 – Demise by Design (Carol A. Morgan)

Focusing on the longest running ceramic manufacturer in the Medicine Hat, Alberta area, Medalta Potteries Ltd., my research question still concerns the attempts at product diversification by the establishment of an art department in 1929 under the direction of British born Thomas Hulmes, whose career with the Medalta Potteries spanned from his arrival in 1929 until the factory closed for production in 1954. I would like to answer the question of why the pottery failed, and I believe the answer is lack of a well-designed product line.


Below is a selection of works from the MA Antiques. Full details of many works are available, with passwords to allow access to our past research on request. We have also added previous research from other courses within the School of Art, Design and Performance where there is a direct relevance to antiques and collections.

Courses and Postgraduate Study

Our MA Programme

Whether as a leisure activity, to follow your aspiration to be an antique dealer, or as recognition of your professional status in antiques, the MA Antiques offers:

  • A postgraduate qualification in antiques with a proven success rate
  • Marketing advantages for your business, and/or your own career development
  • The opportunity, after the first year, to specialise in a field of your choice
  • Support for students who, after a long period away from formal education, may find postgraduate study daunting at first
  • Encouragement for individuals who may not have formal entry qualifications - experience counts
  • Assessment by 100% coursework in the form of concise project reports or academic papers. So, no examinations, summer school or on campus requirements.


  • Clive Taylor
  • Jill Newsham
  • Steven Thornton

For an informal discussion contact:

Jill K. Newsham, Associate Lecturer in Antiques
at JKNewsham@uclan.ac.uk

Clive Taylor, Associate Lecturer in Antiques
at CTaylor10@uclan.ac.uk


UCLan’s postgraduate distance learning courses are designed to address the needs of the antiques trade and supporting services and, wherever possible, research topics are chosen to address a specific industry need. Students are encouraged to consult curators, auctioneers, dealers and collectors to gather industry perspectives as they develop their research. This approach helps our students to establish credibility in their chosen field and build a network of contacts to support their future activities within the industry. Here are a few examples of the collaboration between UCLan's students and the antiques industry:

Tatton Park quote Clive Taylor’s research on the Metamorphic Library Chair.

Other useful trade & industry links include:
The Antiques Trade Gazette (ATG) 
The British Antique Dealers Association (BADA) 
The Association of Art & Antiques Dealers (LAPADA) 
The British Antique Furniture Restorer’s Association
Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d'Art 
The Antique Dealers Association of America 
The Society of Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers 
The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies 
International Interior Design Association 
The British Hallmarking Council

The University of Central Lancashire is a keen supporter of academic research in the area of antiques. As a founder member of the Antiques Research Group we provide access to library resources and research that helps its members to investigate topics of interest and publish academic works relating to the study of antiques. By taking an active role in the Antiques Research Group we have developed a growing network of contacts that can be called upon to assist our students as they pursue their specific interests and seek additional support.

Recent discussions have included:

  • The role of the internet in the antiques market
  • Investing in antiques – how to avoid a poor return
  • When and how should antiques be restored?
  • Building a collection – the psychology of a collector

In addition to our academic research links the University of Central Lancashire has also established important relationships within the antiques Trade and Industry. These relationships ensure that most of the research undertaken by our students has a practical application and that specialisations lead to employment opportunities. Students who have completed an antiques course at UCLan are employed throughout the industry running their own businesses, in auction rooms, museums and stately homes.

Other useful research links include:

The Design Museum 
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The British Museum 
English Heritage 
The Royal Collection 
The Bauhaus Museum 
The Clarice Cliff Collectors Club 
The Wedgwood Museum 
The William Morris Society

Additional Information

Sarah Goodman

On-line Bookseller and Owner of Garden City Books 

The purpose of my MA dissertation specialising in the field of antiquarian books was with the idea of one day starting up a business selling such treasures on-line. In October 2007 I launched Garden City Books, selling second hand and antiquarian books on three sites : AbeBooks.co.uk; Amazon and eBay. Not knowing quite how it would go (and what would sell best where) I thought it prudent to tread very slowly and acquire stock gradually. I have now been trading coming up for three full tax years, managing to make a profit and still growing. Our specialist areas are: Vintage paperbacks such as Penguins/Pan/Pelicans/Puffins; Hertfordshire History, and Antiquarian books sold on Commission. I appeared on the Antiques’ Roadshow from Hatfield House, shown in late November 2010, and featured was my map by Louis De Soissons, the original architect of Welwyn Garden City. Yes I have been there, sat next to Fiona Bruce with her hair in rollers etc. The map was bought from a jumble sale for £4, and then valued by Paul Atterbury at £300-£500.

What was most exciting was the second filmed interview with the books’ expert Dominic Winter. I had taken along a selection of books that I was having trouble valuing for a client: the on-line prices seemed to polarise. The crowd gasped at the valuation of 1765 Boswell’s Corsica .....£5,000-£6,000. Sadly this film didn’t make it past the cutting room floor; I know I mentioned I am a newish book dealer therefore this will have gone against the ethos of the programme of amateurs finding treasure etc. But, the story didn’t end there. Dominic came to help value and auction the rest of the clients’ library, which went for £21,000 with some fierce bidding from the internet, phone bids and some human buyers as well. The client was very happy and is sending another crate over from the States with more books from the same library which we will put to auction with Boswell’s Corsica later this year.

David Elstob

Valuer and Auctioneer at Addisons of Barnard Castle

On leaving Staindrop School, near Darlington, at the age of 16, David Elstob went straight to work at Addisons of Barnard Castle – one of the leading auction houses in the North of England. At Addisons, he learnt the practical skills of valuing and selling but in order to consolidate this ‘on the job’ training, he decided to enrol on a distance learning course with the University of Central Lancashire leading to the award of a Masters of Arts degree in Antiques, which he completed (aged 24) in 2009. For his final year dissertation, David chose to study the tradition and craftsmanship of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson (1876-1955) the famous oak furniture maker from Kilburn, near Thirsk. “We get a lot of Mouseman furniture in the saleroom and his work is very popular with our clients,” said David. “It was fascinating to be able to handle actual pieces during the day and then read about them at night.” The course also covered subjects such as collection practice and English decorative arts – all relevant to his work at Addisons, which holds four prestigious Fine Art and Antiques Catalogue auctions a year, together with fortnightly general sales. “Taking the course has proved very worthwhile,” said David. “Often higher degrees are taken purely for the love of the subject but this has had the added bonus of building up a specialist knowledge that benefits my day-to-day work.”

Rachel Ingram

Events Executive at Somerset House

Antiques have been a significant part of my life for as long as I can remember. From attending auctions with my Father, visiting junk shops with my Mother and of course being brought up to the tune of the Antiques Roadshow. This developed interest eventually lead me to follow my passions and achieve an MA in Antiques. Since graduating I have had the pleasure of working in my chosen field in all manner of ways. Firstly I stepped out of university into a job working hands on with antiques with the National Trust for several years which I loved and taught me a lot about the value and care of historical items. I have also undertaken work experience for Home & Antiques Magazine and have worked at the Antiques Roadshow, further to this I have had much joy and experience working at antiques and arts fairs national and hope to continue to do so.

Edward Rycroft

Valuer and Cataloguer at Gerrards Auction Rooms

I became interested in antiques at the age of 13 when I developed an appreciation for antique furniture. This was my main area of interest in antiques and this continued throughout secondary school. I started a Cabinet Making course at Burnley College in 2002 and this allowed me to gain an understanding and an appreciation of furniture construction and design. The following year in 2003, I carried on and pursued a City and Guilds Furniture Restoration course and worked as a volunteer at Towneley Hall cataloguing selected pieces of museum furniture. At the end of 2004 and during the first half of 2005, I worked at The 50’s Furniture Warehouse in Haslingden, where I gained invaluable experience in the buying and selling aspects of antique furniture. In 2005, I applied to UCLan to do the BA Antiques and Design studies course. I was accepted and produced pieces of work on Hepplewhite, Carlton Ware, Silver Wine Labels, the Gothic Style and various others.

For my final Dissertation I wrote about Empire furniture of the early 19th century which was designed by the English designers, Charles Heathcote Tatham, Thomas Sheraton, Thomas Hope and George Smith. I finished University in 2008 and gained a First Class Honours. I was offered a scholarship to undertake a Masters degree. Again, I chose the MA Antiques course, which furthered my understanding of antiques at a more academic and critical level. For my Masters dissertation I wrote about the Aspects of Interwar Revival style furniture and this gave me a Masters with Distinction. I found the whole course thoroughly enjoyable and for those who wish to pursue their interest in antiques to an academic level, I would highly recommend it. Whilst working towards my Masters, I also worked at Gerrards Auction Rooms as a Porter on a part time basis, before becoming more involved and becoming responsible for the furniture cataloguing and valuing. I now catalogue and value the furniture, but I’m also assisting with the cataloguing of clocks, boxes and other associated items. I am now furthering my study in Silver and Glass.

Sabrina Kerim

MPhil/PhD commenced 2010

Sabrina graduated with a Master of Arts degree (with Merit) in 2009 from the University of Central Lancashire MA Antiques Programme. This Internet distance learning programme provided Sabrina with the flexibility of working full-time while studying toward living her passion, gaining essential knowledge, understanding and insights within a credible, rigorous and enjoyable academic programme which prepared her for her subsequent doctoral studies. The distance learning element of the MA programme provided Sabrina with the additional benefit of introducing her to an international community of students addressing differing disciplines within the antique culture. Sabrina commenced an Art Historian MPhil/PhD in 2010 with Loughborough University under the supervision of Dr. Clive Edwards, and her dissertation will address how Japan influenced the arts in Britain, France and the United States of America, 1868-1912.

Clive Taylor

Antiques Retailer & Auctioneer 

Clive graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering during 1977 and has worked for more than 30 years in the IT industry. His interest in antiques started when he collected a few small pieces of pottery during business trips to the Far East. As a keen reader of history and a regular viewer of most antiques television programs he started to dream of the day when he could retire and spend more time developing his hobby. In 2006, at the age of 52, Clive made the decision to turn this dream into a reality and he applied for a place on the eMA antiques course at UCLan. The internet-based course allowed Clive to continue working while he gained a better understanding the subject and in 2009 he graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Antiques. His final year dissertation entitled The Regency Period Metamorphic Library Chair helped him to gain a reputation in the industry and his written work on interior design is often cited by the trade. His antiques retail business, Parbold Antiques, focuses on Georgian period furniture, iconic 19th and 20th century decorative arts and rare collectables and he has recently opened an auction house in Southport near Liverpool in the UK. As Clive comments, ‘Without the UCLan MA course I would still be working away from home. I may have fewer air miles but I now have the time and energy to use them’. Clive has recently joined the UCLan team as an Associate Lecturer to help students with their coursework and dissertations.

Jill K. Newsham

Antiques Retailer

I was lucky enough to be brought up in a house full of antiques avidly collected by both my parents however bringing up a family and a busy career in food and retail training management meant that my interest in antiques was side lined for several years. It was chance visit to an antique shop in Ironbridge and the purchase of a piece of, then a very cheap, Clarice Cliff ceramics that set me off on a path to collecting 20th century design especially Art Deco. With my husband Mike I began to stand regularly at Antique, Art Deco and Glass fairs all over the country specialising in ceramics and trading as Barbola Art Deco. In 2003 after randomly picking up a leaflet at an antique fair I enrolled on a Bachelor of Arts course in Antiques and Design at Uclan graduating with a first class Honours degree in 2005. Whilst working for the degree an opportunity arose to take over the running of a large antique fair which we continued to do for the next four years even playing host to Bargain Hunt! By now the studying bug had truly bitten and so in 2006 I enrolled on the MA course in Food Styling again at Uclan The course allowed me to combine my knowledge of the food industry and my love of antiques. My final dissertation project entitled “Modern Art for the Table, The Harrods Exhibition 1934” looked at the relationship between Art and Industry in the 1930s in the context of ceramics and glass. Carrying out the research for the dissertation gave me the chance to work with curators and archivists from large companies such as Wedgwood, Waterford Crystal and Harrods itself who still use my work for reference. I have since given talks at Wedgwood and taken part in a small exhibition for Harrods. I am delighted to be an Associate Lecturer on the MA course in Antiques as part of a small team that supports the MA distance learning students.

The University of Central Lancashire is the only university in the UK offering a Masters Degree in Antiques. The MA course successfully combines the benefits of an off-campus, part-time studying environment with the academic rigour of a British university. British degrees are respected throughout the world and UCLan is proud of its reputation for ground-breaking, high quality research. A university education offers many benefits over a commercially-sponsored course and here are some of the advantages of completing your Masters Degree at UCLan:

  • As a higher-education institute with degree-awarding powers the course content and the quality of its academic leadership must meet the exacting standards of The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).
  • The academic community within the university ensures that all of the research undertaken by its students remains objective and independent and that it reflects the most recent developments within a chosen subject area.
  • As a member of the university network UCLan provides online access to several hundred electronic databases containing digitised books, research papers, academic journals, high-resolution images and many more sources of useful research data.
  • The University of Central Lancashire is acknowledged as one of the UK’s most entrepreneurial and business friendly universities and every effort is made to ensure that areas of research are relevant and accessible to the Antiques trade and its supporting services.
  • UCLan is one of the top five universities in England for supporting start-up businesses and advice is readily available to help students connect with their chosen market(s).
  • UK universities are a major participant in the publishing process and UCLan’s MA graduates are encouraged to share their research and seek out opportunities to publicise the results of their investigations.
  • UCLan is home to students and staff from many different social and ethnic backgrounds across the UK, and from almost every country in the world. Our online chat rooms for the Antiques Alumni group offers an excellent opportunity to share ideas and extend your network.

Related Research Groups

Collaborative Engagements

Related Projects

Since 2003 the MA Antiques (Distance Learning) course has been inspiring researchers and practitioners; individuals who want to develop a specialised interest in antiques without the necessity of on-campus attendance, and who wish to do so on a part-time basis.

One Day Workshop

On October 15th 2011 we ran a new, fun and informative antiques workshop based loosely on the antiques programme ‘Bargain Hunt’, working to a fixed budget delegates took part in mock auctions and valuation games throughout the day: providing a great 'taster session' in MA Antiques. Experts came in the form of two Associate Lecturers from our MA Antiques course, and alumni- Jill Newsham, antiques dealer, collector and specialist in 20th Century ceramics and glass and Clive Taylor, antiques dealer, auctioneer and specialist in Georgian period metamorphic furniture. Advanced booking was essential, as this was a sell out event, with a waiting list. All proceeds from the event went to charity – to the Harris Bursary Fund which helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds continue their studies here at UCLan.

For further information, or if you would like to print out our promotional material, see below:

A3 Brochure (.pdf 184KB)
A4 Flyer (.pdf 603KB)
A4 Poster (.pdf 585KB)