ARMORIAL ANTIQUES : A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO HEIRLOOM & HOWARD
In 1973 in Hay Hill, Berkeley Square, London, a large basement beneath a hairdresser and an estate agent was redecorated and filled with small 17th – 19th century antiques with crests and coats of arms. The only sign was a photograph in a small advertising case outside the hairdresser, aided by a string of whimsical advertisements in the personal columns of The Times. This worked well for a while, but the newspaper finally objected to 'Heirloom & Howard, Hay Hill, Harmorial Hantiques' because the last two words were 'not in the Oxford Dictionary'. We were faced with dropping our ‘H’s or our advertisement, and chose the latter.
Although after three years we moved to the premises upstairs, it was not until ten years later that we bought the lease of No.1 Grafton Street, a spacious gallery at the corner of Hay Hill and Dover Street. Finally, in 1989, we left London and moved to Bath – a new adventure. Today, after 43 years and the sale of over 43,000 armorial objects, many of which have returned to the families for whom they were once made, or to collectors interested in heraldry and in porcelain, this company still offers similar antiques from a farmhouse in Wiltshire.
The focus today is directed more towards the Chinese export porcelain which was made during the 18th century and emblazoned with the arms of British families. In the years since 1973 this porcelain has been comprehensively catalogued and illustrated by the late David Sanctuary Howard, founder of this company, in the two volumes of his standard reference work Chinese Armorial Porcelain. The business is today run by his wife, Angela Howard, who has been with the company herself for 35 years.
However, other armorial antiques have not been forgotten and we also stock items ranging from library paintings to grants of arms, embroideries, coach panels and other smaller decorative pieces. We keep an ongoing register of family interests so that we may inform people when an appropriate armorial turns up.
It is hoped that this website will be informative and interesting as well as being able to offer the unusual and often the rare. We will be including from time to time short articles or excerpts from some of the books written by David Howard, whose research work continues today and whose enthusiasm for both heraldry and Chinese export porcelain is shared by collectors in many parts of the world.