27 April 2017

A History of Bakelite

Bakelite is an early form of brittle plastic, made up of formaldehyde and phenol. One of the first plastics made of synthetic components- Bakelite was renowned for its electrical non-conductivity and heat-resistant properties. It was utilized in electrical insulators, radio and telephone casings, and to produce products ranging from kitchen utensils , to jewellery, to firearms !

In the 1920s it became a popular material for jewellery. Legendary designer Coco Chanel was one of the first to set a trend when she included Bakelite bracelets in her costume jewellery collections. Another was designer Elsa Schiaparelli who used Bakelite for jewellery and specially designed dress buttons.
Bakelite color chart 1924

Throughout World War II, Bakelite was used to manufacture patriotic wartime jewellery alongside a range of wartime equipment including pilot's goggles and field telephones.

Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue from 1963-1971, had a special passion for Bakelite, featuring it regularly in the taste-setting pages of her magazine. The plastic then went on to be used to create presentation boxes for Breitling watches.

The "retro" charm of old Bakelite products has made them collectible, and at Grays we have selected for you a range of wonderful dealers with some truly superb Bakelite items...

Bakelite Pavone Dancing Couple Brooch available from Linda Bee

An Art Deco chrome bangle with green/yellow Bakelite disk clasp available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Assorted Bakelite jewellery available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery
Vintage circular bakelite decorated box available from MGN Collectables

An Art Deco brooch with a central green Bakelite piece available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

20 April 2017

A History of Malachite

Malachite may not enjoy the cachet of the diamond or the musgravite minerals, but it has a rich and intriguing history; having been mined in Ancient Egypt from as early as 4,000 BCE.

The Ancient Egyptians associated the colour green with death and resurrection as well as life and fertility. They believed in an afterlife of eternal paradise, which resembled their lives with the absence of pain or suffering, named the 'Field of Malachite'.

Since antiquity, malachite has been used to create gemstones, sculptures, ornaments; even powdered cosmetics! It was used as a pigment for green paint up until around 1800, when synthetic greens became widely available.

A fashion for malachite revived during the Victorian Age, used in fine jewellery for the English gentry and grand sculpture in the palaces of the Russian Tsars.

During the roaring twenties, malachite was back in vogue after the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922 led to a popular fascination with all things Egyptian.

Here at Gray's we have gone searching for some antique items containing this fascinating mineral...

 Apolished Malachite/Chrysocalla, Freeform, 15.5 x 10 inches, Contemporary, Democratic Republic of Congo. Offered by Al Khatib Antiques  

Gold Stick Pin with Malachite Cameo in the classical revival style c.1820 approx. 4.75 inches, British. Offered by Christopher Cavey & Associates

Gold and Malachite Salamander Tie Pin (two views), Victorian c.1880 approx 3.5 inches, Probably English. Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

Art Deco Diamond and Malachite Drop Earrings, 1920-35, 32mm length, European. Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

6 April 2017

Depictions of Empire in Art & Antiques

The British began to establish overseas colonies in the 16th century. By 1783 Britain had a large empire, with colonies in America and the West Indies. This 'first British Empire' came to an end after the American Revolution. However, in the 19th century, the British built a second worldwide empire, India, based on British sea-power and huge conquests in Africa.

At its height in 1922, the British Empire governed a fifth of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s total land area.

This colonisation had a profound effect on artists and last year's exhibition - Artist and Empire at Tate Britain - displayed some 200 paintings, drawings, sculptures and artefacts spanning more than 400 years, from the 16th century to the present.

We discovered a few artefacts at Grays associated with The British Empire.

Doulton Lambethware depicting General Gordon. Gordon was a British Army officer and administrator. He saw action in the Crimean War as an officer in the British Army. Available from Leon's Militaria.

Cold cast bronze of Winston Churchill. Available from Leon's Militaria.

Admiral Lord Nelson jug, Staffordshire Pottery, c1840s. Available from Leon's Militaria.

Duke of Wellington jug, Staffordshire Pottery, c1850s. Available from Leon's Militaria

Meat paste jar depicting the Crimean War, Prattware, c1850s. Available from Leon's Militaria.

Bronze East Indian soldier, 18-19th century. Available from Peter Sloane.

30 March 2017

Spring Arrives at Grays

On the 20th of March the sun shone directly onto the equator, making the length of day and night nearly equal in all parts of the world. This event is know as the equinox from the Latin meaning 'equal night', and marks the beginning of that most beautiful and optimistic of seasons; spring!

At this time of year we look forward to rising temperatures and extended hours of daylight, as well as the annual regrowth of flora and fauna. Spring's natural phenomena have led to its association with rebirth, rejuvenation and renewal.

To celebrate the season, we have selected some of the finest pieces at Grays to keep you full of the joys of spring..

Pair of 19th Century Dresden Porcelain vases, depicting floral wreath and mermaid. Offered by Mayfair Antiques.

1930's Houbigant powder box. Offered by Unicorn

c.19th century Chinese Qing Dynasty Silver Filigree bird with vivid blue enamel detail. Offered as single item or as a pair. Offered by Antique Choices
Vintage drawstring bag with pom-poms. Offered by Gillian Horsup
Late 19th century oil on canvas by Alexander Koester. 50cm x 36cm. Offered by Garo Kurkman.

23 March 2017

Mother's Day Gift Inspiration

There are still two shopping days to find that unique gift for your mother, and Grays is the perfect place to find something that's decorative and unusual - mums deserve more than just another scarf, or bath bomb!

Mothering Sunday is a Christian celebration and was originally a day for Christians to visit their ‘mother’ church - more specifically it was an occasion for domestic servants to take the day off and worship in their home towns. The celebration always falls exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday.

We've curated a list of the best gift ideas from Grays:

5 piece miniature silver tea set, London 1972. Offered by Hallmark Antiques.

Bronze owl water jug, original stopper and glass body, c1880. Offered by Mariad Antiques.

Fine quality Bull's Mouth shell carving in a 15 carat gold Etruscan revival pendant mount, circa 1870, from  Rowan & Rowan.

Liberty & Co Arts & Crafts pewter jewellery box, silver with turquoise stone lid feature, 1915. Offered by Hallmark Antiques.

Rare Chinese Armorial cup & saucer, Ormiston family crest of an anchor, c1850. Offered by Kingschina.
Vintage beaded bag, c1950s. Available from Arabella Bianco.

16 March 2017

BADA Fair 2017

The BADA Antiques & Fine Art Fair is the annual showcase for members of the prestigious British Antique Dealers' Association. For over 20 years the BADA Fair has been the Spring highlight for the art and antiques community, showcasing beautiful objects of outstanding quality from the UK’s finest dealers. 

Members are carefully vetted and selected for their wealth of experience and the exceptional quality and craftsmanship of their stock. We are proud to announce that we have BADA members at Grays who will be exhibiting at the fair. We've selected a few stunning pieces these dealers have on offer.

Edwardian Belle Epoque Pendant, available from Wimpole Antiques. Stand C18.

1960s 18 carat gold bracelet, available from Anthea AG Antiques. Stand B48.

19th century Burma ruby and diamond ribbon brooch mounted in silver and gold. Austrian c1870. Available from Nigel Norman. Stand B35.

Aquamarine and diamond Art Deco ring, made by Verger Freres, Paris. Available from Matthew Foster. Stand A35.

15 - 21 March
Duke of York Square
King's Road / London / SW3

9 March 2017

Women of the World Festival

Women of the World (WOW) festival, which is held at the Southbank Centre, runs from the 7th – 12th March. A champion for gender equality, the festival looks at the obstacles that keep women from fulfilling their potential while also celebrating the achievements of women and girls worldwide.

WOW festival incorporates a number of events such as talks, mentoring sessions and workshops. Alongside these are some performances from some of the best female musicians, comedians, performers and writers, including one–off events with Sandi Toksvig and Gillian Anderson.

To celebrate the festival we have selected a few magnificent pieces which depict women, in a variety of styles. Check out the items available from our dealers here at Grays:

Art Noveau Enamel Lady Pendant Brooch set in 18ct gold with pearl and diamond drop. Available from Boris Sosna

Victorian brooch with hand painted portrait of a lady on china, available from Ting's Jewellery Box

Early twentieth century ladies' limoges enamel pendant set in 18ct gold. Available from The Antique Jewellery Company

Lladro Daisa 1978 fine porcelain girl, dog and cat figure by sculptor Juan Huerta. Available from Past & Present

Victorian High Relief Lava Cameo Brooch, available from Arabella Bianco

Lea Stein Joan Crawford brooch, available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

2 March 2017

Birthstone of March: Aquamarine

Aquamarine belongs to the beryl family of stones of which emerald is also a member. The name aquamarine comes from the Latin expression for “seawater” and, given its name and colour, it isn’t surprising that this stone is said to protect sailors at sea. In the 19th century, sea green varieties of the stone were the most popular, but today, the more blue the colour, the more valuable the stone.

At Grays you'll find  lots of fine jewellery adorned with this stone, from subtle tones to the more vibrant shades. Here are our top picks:

Aquamarine stud earrings set in 18ct white gold. Available from S.Greenstein

Art Deco aquamarine, platinum and diamond ring. Available from Alfred Toro

Art Deco ring set with a large aquamarine stone and diamond set shoulders.
Available from Watches, Jewellery & Art Ltd.

Aquamarine, diamond and pearl pendant, c1910. Available from Emmy Abe.

Aquamarine brooch mounted in 18ct gold, with 40ct of diamonds and natural pearls. c1880. Available from Michael Marks.

Aquamarine and diamond bracelet. Available from Westleigh Antiques.

23 February 2017

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932

One hundred years on from the Russian Revolution, the Royal Academy is taking a look back at one of the most momentous periods in modern world history with an exhibition entitled, "Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932"

Renowned artists on display will include Kandinsky, Malevich, Chagall and Rodchenko, who all lived through the fateful events of 1917, which ended centuries of Tsarist rule and shook Russian society.

The exhibition is running until 17 April 2017 and tickets cost £18. In celebration, we have unearthed several antiques at Grays from the run up to, during and period after the revolution. Here are our favourite picks.

Art Nouveau Sapphire Diamond & Ruby Trefoil Ring. Probably Russian. From The Antique Jewellery Company.

Russian silver cloisonne enamel master salt by Lubavin of Moscow 1896-1907. From Shapiro & Co.

Enameled Russian silver bowl. Moscow ca 1900. From P & R Szuhay.

lozenge shaped openwork brooch mounted in platinum. Russian, circa 1910. From Nigel Norman.

Russian metal travelling icon of St Nicholas of Myra, late 19th century, with blue and white enamel. From Guest and Gray.

16 February 2017

Old as Time Antiques

We Have Moved
A18, The Mews at Grays 

Views of the Old as Time stand A18

Old as Time Antiques joined Grays Antiques in October 2014, originally using showcases P4 and FS06 in The Mews offering a selection of datelined shop ready warranted clocks and timepieces. Most recently, at the end of 2016, Old as Time took up an opportunity to develop their business at Grays by moving into unit A18 which provided more space, allowing them to offer a total range of clocks, timepieces, watches and small furniture. As their business dateline is 1930s, the majority of the items offered will range between early 19c to the first half of the 20c.  

Ken Jacobsen started trading as Old as Time Antiques in 1981 selling antiques and collectables at antique fairs.  By 1984 he had evolved the business to provide a comprehensive range of services. These include the service and restoration, valuation, surveys and audits of Antique Clocks and Small Furniture, in addition to buying and selling clocks and furniture. This move will allow them to offer a broader range of items, especially LCGM, LCGD, Wall Regulator, Fusee Walldial and Marine clocks and timepieces displayed on or alongside appropriate small furniture of the period. They are also planning to offer a selection of Barometers.

"I initially started trading in antiques as a secondary business activity  and having a technical engineering background quickly identified a compatibility with selling Antique Clocks. The challenge was to ad value to the selling and support of these items. Areas such as clearly describing the item, preparing each item for sale, supporting each sale and the customer for the initial 12 months. From the pre-sales preparation, we addressed the service, repair, restoration and valuation needs of our customers."

Below are some examples of the pieces currently being offered.

8-day 1/2 hr Arts & Crafts Mackintosh inspired Clock, c1900/30

8-day Art Deco Mantel Timepiece, Elliott c1920/30

30hr Art Deco Mantel/Desk Timepiece , c1920/30

8-day Jaeger LeCoultre Mantel/Desk Timepiece, early 20c

8-day Jaeger LeCoultre Mantel Timepiece, early 20c

Also, should you view this unit’s display and not find a specific piece you require call Ken on 01442 395761, he is very willing to undertake a search to locate examples for you. Talk to him if he’s available.

All their clocks are 'shop ready', having been prepared by individuals who have a proven record of completing simple and complex repairs to quality timepieces, clocks and watches. 

Unit A18, Grays Mews
Open Monday and Thursday afternoons, or anytime by appointment
Facebook: @oldastimeantiques
Twitter: @OATantiques
01442 395761 (ext 6 for the support staff)

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