23 September 2016

Ceramics in the City

Ceramics in the City at the Geffrye Museum is a popular three-day selling event which attracts potters, collectors, design and craft enthusiasts and museum visitors from across London and the UK. The annual celebration will run until 25 September, bringing together the work of 55 potters from across the UK in a riot of colour, style, texture and technique. Now in its 14th year, the show is also part of the annual London Design Festival.

At Grays we have a beautiful selection of ceramics, here's our current top picks...

Pair of fine quality 19th century Meissen cache pots, offered by K&M Antiques

19th century Japanese Satsuma vase by Unzan, 22.5cms circa 1880, offered by K&M Antiques

Meissen Cup and Saucer with a Panel of the Penitent Magdalene, c.1850, offered by Serhat Ahmet 

Meissen Large Vase with Pink Rose Bouquets, c.1890 - 1900, offered by Serhat Ahmet

Coalport Pair of Vases with Scenes of The Grampians, c.1885, offered by Serhat Ahmet

15 September 2016

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

For this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year Award you can expect to see outstanding feats of astrophotography. The winners will be declared today, 15 September, and a free exhibition of the winning pictures will be displayed at the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Centre from 17 September.

The images are created by dozens of professional and amateur photographers competing in numerous categories including ‘Planets, Comets and Asteroids,’ ‘Stars and Nebulae,’ ‘Galaxies’ and ‘Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ for under-16s. This year the competition received a record number of over 4,500 entries from both passionate amateurs and skilled photographers from over 80 countries.

Ascent of Angels, Brad Goldpaint
The photographic subject isn't just limited to our own planet. Photographers have also captured pictures from across our solar system and the universe. From visible storms across the face of Jupiter, to the glowing heart of a supernova and the starburst galaxy of M82 based some 12 million light years away from our planet.

To celebrate this exhibition, we have found a selection of wonderful space inspired objects available at Grays.

Astronomy book. 950, available from Al Khatib Antiques

Brass sun and moon face necklace, inspired by vintage Joseff of Hollywood jewellery, available from Arabella Bianco

Butler and Wilson, gold plated "man in the moon" brooch with diamante trim, available from Unicorn

Star hair pin in cut steel together with two Victorian brooches, available from Gillian Horsup

Very rare Bronze Age gold sun disc, c. 2500 - 1200 BC, available from Ancient-Jewellery

A stunning Victorian diamond Crescent shaped Brooch. c1870, available from Robin Haydock

8 September 2016

Totally Thames

The Totally Thames festival is an annual celebration of the River Thames. It is a month-long party running from September 1 to September 30 and is full of arts festivals, community events, regattas, river races, foreshore archaeology and environmental activities.

The River Thames

Being the longest river in England, the Thames has 45 locks and over 25 species of fish and is the only river in Europe to have a national trail follow its entire length. The River Thames travels over 210 miles through the heart of England, right into the centre of London and eventually, out into the North Sea.

The river's position has put it at the centre of many historical events, which has lead it to be referred to as 'liquid history' by John Burns. Some of the earliest written references to the Thames (Latin: Tamesis) occur in Julius Caesar's account of his second expedition to Britain in 54 BC.

There is also evidence of human habitation living off the river dating back as far as the Neolithic times, together with a number of Bronze Age sites and artefacts discovered along the banks of the river, including settlements at Lechlade, Cookham and Sunbury-on-Thames.

Even here at Grays a vein of the River Thames can be seen - the hidden Thames tributary, the famous River Tyburn. It rises at Shepherds Well in Hampstead and flows through Regents Park and the West End, and reaches the Thames via the basement of Grays Mews.

Below we display some Thames inspired objects to celebrate the occasion.
Roman billon tetradrachm coin of Emperor Trajan Decius, 2nd century AD, avaliable from Eastern Satrapy

Gold painted rare Vienna bronze otter with a fish in its mouth, circa 1890-1900, avaliable from Mariad Antiques

Anglo Saxon period silver gilt wedding ring, knotted bezel, c. 6th - 7th century AD, avaliable from Ancient-Jewellery

A collection of bronze mallard ducks, circa 1890-1900, avaliable from Mariad Antiques

Large silver anchor pendant and silver chain. avaliable from The Antique Jewellery Company

18 August 2016

August 20 - National Honey Bee Day

World Honey Bee Day (previously referred to as Honey Bee Awareness Day) was founded in 2009 by beekeepers within the United States to raise awareness of bee keeping and the bee industry. This is done through education and promotion, and by honouring honey bees and bee cultivation world wide. 

Honey Bee

On this day, bee lovers everywhere decorate their gardens with lavender, borage and marjoram, which are considered the bee’s knees in pollinator lures. A honey bee is naturally distinguished by the production and storage of honey, but also by the construction of perennial, colonial nests made from wax. The most well-known honey bee is the Western honey bee which has been domesticated for honey production and crop pollination.

Drones (males) are made from unfertilised eggs, thus represent solely the DNA of the queen that laid the eggs. Workers and queens (both female) result from fertilised eggs, and therefore have both a mother and a father. Worker bees join forces to seek out food and use a pattern of "dancing" (known as the bee dance or waggle dance) to communicate data relating to resources with each other. Honey bees also perform tremble dances, which recruit receiver bees to gather nectar from returning foragers.

Here at Grays we honour World Honey Bee Day by displaying some of our own beautiful honey bee related items;

Bee brooch, available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Hulkin + Heath silver swivel jar made in Birmingham 1920, available from Evonne Antiques 

Czech bee brooch, available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Honey jar, Sheffield 1912, available from Jack Podlewski

Perspex bee brooch with gold and black body and clear wings, available from Linda Bee

Yardley powder box with bee decoration, available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

11 August 2016

Afternoon Tea Week

Afternoon Tea Week is in full swing and will run until 14 August. People throughout the UK will be celebrating one of the nation's favourite culinary pastimes with exclusive events and activities taking place at various locations.

Afternoon Tea is a tradition believed to have been started by Anna Maria Stanhope, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in 1841. It began with Stanhope's daily ritual of tea and a light snack to fill the gap between lunch and dinner. She would invite friends to join her, thus creating a new social event that became an important part of British society, still enjoyed today.

At Grays, we have found all the tea paraphernalia you could need to host an exquisite tea party!

Embossed sugar caster, Birmingham 1907, from AMS Antiques 

1930s Norwegian enamel spoons, from AMS Antiques 

1910 Birmingham sugar snips or tongs, Elkington & co, from AMS Antiques
Silver tea strain, Birmingham 1946, from Jack Podlewski

1920s Mappin & Webb tea strainer, from Jack Podlewski

Silver tea strainer with handle, 1913, from Jack Podlewski

Silver tea strainer, Birmingham 1929, from Jack Podlewski

German loose tea strainer spoon, from Jack Podlewski 

1900 silver pierce sugar bowl, from Raysil Antiques

1900 glass and silver sugar shaker, from Raysil Antiques

5 August 2016

Peridot: August's Birthstone

Peridot is the birthstone for the month of August. It is also the stone given to celebrate the sixteenth year of marriage. Peridots are clear with a distinct oily luster and their colour is often described as yellow-green, green with a golden tone, olive or bottle green, deep chartreuse, or just an excellent light green. The stone is one of a number of gems that aren't routinely treated and therefore the richness of its colour is often exceptional and completely natural.

Peridot isn't solely formed here on earth, but has also arrived to Earth from outer space! Many different gems have been found in meteorites, but peridot is the only gem that has been found in large enough sizes to create jewellery from.

In 1749, a meteor landed in a desolate area of Siberia. It had been found to contain several pieces of peridot crystals large enough to be set into jewellery. Nowadays most of the peridot mined comes from China, Pakistan and Arizona. Two of the best peridot collections in the world can be found at the Field Museum in Chicago, and also the Museum of Natural History in New York.

Here is a selection of some of the best peridot jewellery at Grays:

1950s Flower basket brooch. 18ct gold set with sapphire, amethyst, peridot, aquamarine and diamond. Available from The Antique Jewellery Company

Citrine Art Deco 18k Yellow Gold Ring with Aquamarine and Peridot, available from Leila in the Mews

1930s Peridot Dress Ring, available from Westminster Group

Edwardian Peridot Diamond Ring,  available from Sylvia Williams

Victorian Peridot & Ruby Bracelet, available from Alfred Toro

28 July 2016

Summer Celebrations: Antique Jugs at Grays

With the burst of summer which has been sprung upon us this week, comes the desire to celebrate outdoors. Antique pitchers and jugs are great for summer parties and dinners, indoors or out. These useful table pieces are a synergy of form and function and have always been used for celebrations. In fact, the wealthy Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians created many beautiful examples to adorn their tables. However, it was not until the 18th century that European manufacturers started to produce decorated jugs on a larger scale, although the word jug is first recorded in the late 15th century as jugge or jubbe.

Now, it is the Venetian glass examples, or those made by Britain's big ceramics houses in the 18th and 19th centuries that are highly collectable.

Here is a selection of the top pieces from Grays:

Etched glass, silver overlay, hammered silver, jug  c1910, American. From Evonne Antiques.

Silver etched jug 1900-1910. From Evonne Antiques.

Silver overlay glass jug, c1900s, American. From Evonne Antiques.

Venetian Jug c1880. From Mousa Antiques.

Bohemian Jug c1880. From Mousa Antiques.

 English pitcher, c1900. From Mousa Antiques.

Moser Jug ca1880-1890. From Mousa Antiques.

Meissen, rare hot water jug, decorated in the rich onion pattern, c1860-80. From Serhat Ahmet.

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