To provide beautiful and interesting pictures affordable from income was the aim of Robert Abbott and Eric Holder’s partnership when they first dealt in 1936 during the Depression. For over seventy-five years it has remained our policy to stock pictures that are within the means of as broad a section of the population as possible. The equation between quality and price is a delicate one, and one that Abbott and Holder is constantly trying to balance. Most of our stock which includes work from 1750 to the present day is priced between £100 and £5000. Occasionally we put out a £50 and Under box, direct descendant of the 1950s Five Shilling box.
The first of our Lists was issued in 1942 as a means of introducing and publicising new acquisitions and our dealing style really found its feet after World War II when Abbott and Holder bought a large Castelnau Road house. This acted both as home to Robert Abbott and gallery for the rapidly increasing stock so the informal, domestic display of pictures became established as our house style. In the days when supply outstripped demand and watercolours and drawings, now forming the core of distinguished collections, could be had for a few pounds, the house became something of a Mecca for enthusiasts. Customers were and are encouraged to take their time over decisions and to make as many visits as they need, getting to know us and the stock.
The Partnership remained a family matter with the founder’s nephew, John Abbott, joining Eric Holder from 1971-81 until Philip Athill, already an assistant having read Art History at the University of East Anglia, became a partner in 1984. We moved to the four floor Museum Street building in 1987 and added a Paper Conservation Studio to the business. On the retirement of John Abbott in 2001, Abbott and Holder became a Limited Company of which Philip Athill is Managing Director. Tom Edwards joined the company in 2003 and is now also a Director.
There are always over 1000 pictures, all are marked and priced, arranged on view over three floors of galleries. While it is necessary to ring the door bell, once admitted and our layout briefly explained, visitors are left to explore at will. We are always on hand to answer any of the many questions that everyone considering a picture should ask, such as: Who is this artist? How do we know it is by him? Is it a good example? What is the condition? Why do we price it thus?
All our attributions are of course guaranteed and, should an attribution prove inaccurate, we still offer not only a complete refund but also, as offered on the first List, a box of Black Magic chocolates by way of compensation.