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A poster for ‘Quinneys’ from 1920.

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The one-off performance is part of SOLD! The Year of the Dealer: Antique Dealers, Art Markets and Museums, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. It takes place on Saturday, March 28, at The Witham in Barnard Castle, County Durham.

It is performed by eight students from the University of Leeds’ theatre and performance course. Tickets for the show, including a drinks reception, are available now on The Witham website for £5. 

English author Horace Vachell introduced the fictional dealer Joseph Quinney in 1914. The title character is thought to be based on Thomas Rohan (1860/1-1940), who traded in Bournemouth and Southampton from the early 1900s-30. Rohan was also a writer, publishing Confessions of a Dealer in 1927, among other works.

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Thomas Rohan, on whom the character of Quinney is thought to be based.

Quinneys was popular and was performed regularly until the 1950s. Two films based on the headstrong dealer were released, and at least 20 real dealerships of the same name sprang up across the country (one is still trading in Warwick).

The Year of the Dealer aims at sharing the history of the antiques trade through public events and is helmed by Mark Westgarth of the University of Leeds. Some of his research into the play is published on his blog, and includes more information about the life of Rohan as well as the original staging of the play, for which a number of London dealers of the day provided furniture and antiques for the set.