Ian Harris - N.Bloom & Son
WELCOME TO N.BLOOM & SON
A brief history of N. Bloom & Son by Ian Harris
N. Bloom & Son was founded by my grandfather, Nathan Bloom, in 1912 N. Bloom & Son was founded by my grandfather, Nathan Bloom, in 1912. He was a silversmith, and the firm traded from a small Georgian house on the border of the City of London, in an extension of Bishopsgate called Norton Folgate. This is a corruption of the Northern Fold Gate; where stray animals were impounded at the northern city gate. I joined the company in 1953 straight from school. My grandfather had by then opened a business in New York. Whilst we still did some manufacturing, mostly we bought and restored in our own workshop large quantities of Sheffield and Victorian plate, which we shipped over to New York for sale. My uncle ran the business in London. We also dealt in fine quality Georgian silver; one of the first things I remember being a magnificent silver-gilt double tea and coffee set by the famous silversmith Paul Storr. Apart from two complete tea and coffee sets, there were toast-racks, egg-cruets, tea and coffee urns, and I can’t remember what else!
It was strictly wholesale, apart from a few friends of my uncle's, whom he had turned into collectors. In the early 60's we opened our first retail shop in Albemarle Street, dealing almost entirely in fine antique silver.
It was an enormously busy period. There was a silver sale every week at the three major auction houses, and lots of minor sales, unlike today, when the major rooms have a sale four times a year. We were amongst the biggest buyers; yet all this vast quantity of silver found a home.
After a little while in the shop, I suggested that some jewellery might be a good idea; silver and jewellery traditionally went together. We started buying jewellery, that mostly being my responsibility. After my uncle died in the 1971 we moved briefly to Bond Street, then to Conduit Street, where we remained until 1993, when the building was re-developed, and we moved to the Bond Street Antiques Centre.
The business had become more jewellery based over the years, and the Antiques Centre space was quite small; so at this point I gave up being a serious silver dealer, and concentrated mainly on jewellery. After several years there, we moved to a small shop in the Piccadilly Arcade and in 2005, having been with the Company for over fifty years, closed the shop and keeping an interest in my old age, continued trading only over the internet. After 2005 I found I was in demand as a lecturer on cruises with an Antiques Roadshow team, and took part in cruises to the Baltic, Mediterranean, the Black Sea, around the Indian Ocean from Sri Lanka to Singapore and the following year from Singapore to Sydney, taking in Bali and Indonesia- a great trip. A stranger one started in Aqaba down the Red Sea, visiting some of the most deprived and civil-war torn cities on earth, but welcomed everywhere, then on to Oman and finally Mumbai, always taking opportunities to arrive a few days before departure, or stay on a few days after arrival, to see the local sights.
In 1973 I became a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, one of the oldest City livery companies, and one of the few still exercising its original function of overseeing the silver and jewellery trades. It is responsible for hall-marking in London, as it has been since 1300 or earlier. Unlike most livery companies, which nowadays consist mainly of professional people, a large percentage of freemen are working craftsmen, who become freemen after serving their apprenticeship.
Membership of a City livery company also made me a Freeman of the City of London, benefits of which include getting drunk in the City of London without being arrested, and driving sheep over London Bridge, which the Goldsmith Company organises for charity once a year.
I was one of the team of experts on the BBC TV "Antiques Roadshow" for 35 years from its beginning, and appeared on other antiques programmes before that. Because of my wide experience over the years, I can talk about jewellery, silver, plate, animalier bronzes, carriage clocks, some watches, micro-mosaics, enamels and other items, all of which I have bought and sold during my fifty-odd years of dealing.
This web-site is a logical extension to the catalogues we mailed out for over thirty years. The reputation we have built up over the last hundred years means you can buy from the web-site with confidence; and we do guarantee satisfaction.
Whether face-to-face - I am available to meet by appointment in London - or over the internet our customers become good friends. It's human nature to want to live with and enjoy (and sometimes even to show off with) beautiful and exclusive pieces, and customers will want to buy from a company in whose knowledge and integrity they have confidence. I would like to think that's us.
Ian Harris - N.Bloom & Son