16 November 2017

Old as Time Antiques

Gifts Available 

The last quarter of the year is a time when gifts are hunted down for birthdays, anniversaries and religious celebrations, or just to accompany a special moment.

At A18, The Mews at Grays Antiques we are able to offer a selection of pieces which are not only unique but also have a history. 

These encompass timepieces, clocks, watches and barometers from the early 1800s to mid 20th century. These are all shop ready and have a 12 month support warranty.

Examples from our collection include:

Items from the early 1800s

Gentleman’s Pocket Watches

Japy Freres 8day 1/2hr Garniture Clock

Items from the late 1800s

Japy Freres 8day 1/2hr Mantel Clock
Fusee Wall Dial Timepiece
8day 1/4hr Mahogany Bracket Clock

Items from the early 1900s
Marble ‘Art Deco’ Timepiece

8day 1/2 hour ‘Art Deco’ Mantel Clock
Glass Framed Art Deco Timepiece

8day 1/2 hour Mahogany Balloon Clock

WW11 Land Issue Gents Pocket Watch

Back of WW11 Land Issue Gents Pocket Watch

Items from the mid 20th Century
8day Skeleton Timepiece 
Gilded 8day Carriage Timepiece

All of our collection can be viewed by visiting A18 in The Mews at Grays Antiques, near Bond Street Station, London, or viewing graysantiques.com where some of our collection of clocks and furniture are illustrated and fully described. 

Items can be purchased from ourselves at A18, or if we are not in attendance, by asking Reception to assist you in any query and/or purchase. Items can be shipped by arrangement with either Grays or ourselves.

Unit A18, Grays Mews
Open Monday, Thursday afternoons and all day Friday, or anytime by appointment.

Twitter: @OATantiques
01442 395761 
(ext 6 for the support staff)

9 November 2017

Services at Grays

With  the wonderful Christmas displays popping up across the capital, now is the time for gift inspiration to take hold - with the long lead up to Christmas there's time to really make your presents extra special this year!

At Grays we have our very own specialist craftsmen; Bennett & O'Connell have been freehand quality engravers since 1965. They are highly skilled in hand engraving all precious metals, as well as a wide variety of objects from gold and silver jewellery and watches, to tankards, napkins and umbrellas. Their service now includes leather embossing - gold, silver and blind embossing or hot foil stamping of initials and messages on items such as photo albums, journals, diaries and note books.

Leather embossing by Bennett & O'Connell

Glass engraving at Bennett & O'Connell

Alfred Toro repairs jewellery, specialising in restoring antique jewellery. In addition, Alfred designs and makes his own jewellery and offers a fully bespoke jewellery design service allowing customers to purchase an item tailored to their own specifications. He is also skilled in the age old technique of wax carving - a fascinating way of making silver and gold jewellery by carving jewellery out of wax, then creating a mould to make a solid silver or gold version of the wax mould.

 A detailed wax carving of an animal by Alfred Toro
A bespoke piece by Alfred Toro

Bennett & O'Connell | Stand 109 | Tel: 020 7408 1880
Alfred Toro | Stand 104 | Tel: 020 7495 7068

2 November 2017

Día de los Muertos: The Day of the Dead

El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is a traditional Mexican holiday which begins on October 31st and culminates on November 2nd; when the souls of the deceased are believed to return to visit the living...

Young girls dressed for the Dia de Los Muertos parade in Mexico City

Parades, gatherings, and the preparation of offrendas (altars to the dead)  are designed to encourage these visits by honoring their souls.

The origins of the tradition can be traced back over 3,000 years to ancient Mesoamerican civilisations. Originally celebrated in the summer months, the ancient festival was moved to its current date by Spanish conquistadors to coincide with the Catholic celebrations of All Hallows Tide.

The best known symbol of this celebration is the mischievous skull (calavera) or skeleton, which inspires costumes and decorations. Other symbols include the marigold and the monarch butterfly, a native insect which arrives in Mexico for the winter around 1st November each year.

Whilst the holiday is uniquely Mexican, its customs have spread widely throughout South and Central America and wherever those with Mexican heritage have settled. The spirit of the holiday is one of celebration rather than of mourning; but the joyous festivities are part of a more serious reminder of the nature of life and the inevitability of death.

We've been on the hunt for some Día de los Muertos symbolism at Grays, to help us get into the spirit of this unique celebration...

Enamel butterfly brooch by David Andersen, late 19th century, available at The Antique Jewellery Company
Diamante encrusted skull brooch, contemporary, available at Tings Jewellery Box
Diamante encrusted skull brooch, contemporary, available at Tings Jewellery Box
Gold and black enamel Memento Mori ring with the engraving 'Gone Before, Not Forgotten', c18th century, available at Peter Szuhay
Cicada insect brooch, Art Nouveau. Available at The Antique Jewellery Company
Stag antlers skull with original gold loop, c.1860, available at Peter Szuhay
Black net lace, c.1900, available at Diane Harby - Deekoo

26 October 2017

No Tricks, Just Treats!

Autumn always gets us very excited about cosy evenings at home with a good book and a cup of tea, but the tenth month of the year also means we can finally get dressed up and celebrate Halloween - embrace the dark side!  We spotted lots of spooky accessories at Grays - we can assure you there are no tricks, only frightfully delightful treats! 

Set the scene for Halloween with these creepy curiosities our dealers have on offer... 

Pumpkin punch bowl. Available from Evonne Antiques

Vintage bats headband. Available from Linda Bee

Left - Early black and red cat. Middle - Léa Stein owl. Right - French resin modern cat. All available from Gillian Horsup

Mid Century propelling pencil. Available from Gillian Horsup

Vintage pierrot brooch. Available from Gillian Horsup
Vintage gold plated insect brooch with glass stones. Available from Arabella Bianco

20 October 2017

Shades of Autumn

Autumn, the time of year that Keats called the 'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'. It is a season famous for its harvest time, cooling temperatures and darkening nights and, most notably, for its  Autumn leaves - a spectacular transformation from lush greens to stunning displays of red, gold and brown. It's no wonder that writers, poets and artists throughout history have found it such an abundant source of inspiration. Autumnal celebrations include the  Harvest festival - a gladness for the fruits of the earth mixed with a certain air of melancholy linked to the imminent arrival of bleak weather.

Embrace the crisp air and celebrate with our top Autumnal finds at Grays.

Carved agate maple leaf adorned with lapis lazuli buds and a diamond covered stem, offered by Michael Longmore

Wooden harvest brooch, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Bakelite brooch, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Bakelite beaded necklace, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery
Topaz brilliant and tapered baguette diamond ring, c1950s, offered by Havlik Fine Jewels
18ct Twin leaf brooch by Yard, c1960s, offered by Wimpole

12 October 2017

Maiolica : Art of the Renaissance Potter

Maiolica is the name given to the tin- glazed earthenware which flourished in Renaissance Italy...
Maiolica wet drug jar, Montelupo, Italy, 17th Century. Available at Guest and Gray

In the early 1400’s, fine ceramics from Moorish Spain began to reach Italy, mainly through the trading port of Majorca, from which ‘Maiolica’ is thought to derive its name.

The Spanish ceramicists had mastered the art of the tin glaze, whereby tin oxide (purchased as a powdery white ash) is applied to kiln-fired clay. The glaze produces the characteristically opaque white background, to which other colours are delicately applied. 

 Maiolica was used for a variety of practical wares such as plates, bowls, tiles and drug jars; but it is perhaps best known in the form of the show dish.

Large decorative dishes in the Istoriato style, (translated literally as ‘painted with stories’) became popular in the 1500’s. Historical, biblical and mythological scenes inspired their decoration.

The chemical qualities of the tin glaze protect and preserve colour and line with a glass-like finish. The technique has ensured that over hundreds of years the distinctive designs of Maiolica appear much as they did when they were first produced, offering a fascinating insight into the visual world of Renaissance Italy.

Maiolica is produced in Italy to this day and workshops throughout Europe have sought to revive it's unique aesthetic since the Renaissance. If you are enchanted by the beauty of this fascinating ceramic, we've selected some original antique and revival style pieces available at Grays...
Maiolica plate, Castelli Italy, c.1700. Available at Guest and Gray.

Maiolica 'Istoriato' dish, Urbino, Italy, c.16th century. Available at Guest and Gray
Maiolica Apothecary Jar, Montelupo Italy, c17th-18th century. Available at Guest and Gray.
'Istoriato' Show Dish, Continental Revival, c.1800. Available at Patrick Boyd Carpenter
Maiolica Armorial Jar, Montelupo, Italy, c.1500-1520. Available at Guest and Gray.

6 October 2017

Birthstone of the month: Opal & Tourmaline

October's birthstone is considered one of the most desirable because it has two stones to choose from - opals which are famous for their "play on colours", and tourmaline known for its wide array of colours.  

Through the ages, Monarchs have treasured opals, both for their beauty and their protective powers.  Traditionally set into crowns and necklaces they were worn to repel evil and protect the eyesight.  The opal has certainly had a reputation over the centuries from the time of The Black Death, when they mainly believed the gem to be the cause of death, thus losing its buying appeal. Then in the Elizabethan period it was deemed a treasured beauty, which was further expressed during Queen Victoria's reign when she gifted opal  jewellery to her children, thus recreating an increase in popularity again.  However, the stone continued to have a mixed reputation, no thanks to the novel Anne of Geuerstein - written by Sir Walter Scott in 1887 - who depicted the opal as an evil stone.

Tourmaline, the alternate birthstone for October, is a gemstone that displays a vast spectrum of colours and is often misidentified as ruby, emerald or sapphire.

Here at Grays you will find a wonderful display of opal and tourmaline pieces waiting to be discovered.

Edwardian 18ct gold, four stone opal & diamond ring. Available at The Antique Jewellery Company

Edwardian 18ct gold, large opal & rose diamond cluster ring. Available at The Antique Jewellery Company

Victorian tortoise opal brooch dated 1870s, with cahonsion eyes set in silver and gold. Available at DB Gems

Opal cufflinks. Dated 1890. Available at DB Gems

1920s Mexican fire opal platinum ring. Available at DB Gems

Opal and heart brooch. Dated 1890. Available at DB Gems

1930s Suite, 70ct green tourmaline rose gold and diamonds. Available at Bellum Antiques

A very high quality white oval opal ring surrounded by 1.0 ct diamonds. Available at S.Greenstein
18ct Gold mounted wood opal and ruby stone set lady's tortoise brooch, c1960s. Available at Shapiro & Co

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