23 August 2012

New Items on Grays Website!

We have had some fantastic new items added to the website recently -

Gold brooch with diamonds and rubies by Boucheron from Emmy Abe

Victorian diamond ring with large centre stone and cluster from Emmy Abe

 Shelley Sunset Trio from Deco-Etcertera

Stunning Tiffany & Co. open wreath brooch, platinum, gold and diamond set from Nigel Norman

A fine coloured aquamarine ring with diamond triangular shoulders from Nigel Norman

Silver trinket box with holly design from Evonne Antiques

Stunning diamond and emerald ring from Maria Perez

20 August 2012

Animal love

After a visit to the fascinating Grant Museum of Zoology I started to notice the abundance of animal related items in Grays, especially jewellery.

Here are some fine examples.

Lucite bangle from Margaret Mullins

Insect brooch from Ting's Jewellery Box

Cute bird brooch from Ting's Jewellery Box
Trifari rabbit brooch from Margaret Mullins

Sweet Lion brooch with bendy tail from Ting's Jewellery Box

16 August 2012

Meissen Porcelain

Meissen porcelain was the first hard paste porcelain to be produced in Europe.  Founded in 1710 the factory started out in Dresden, Germany and later moved to nearby Meissen where it continued to manufacturer outstanding quality porcelain that is still highly valued today.

Pair of Meissen plates following a Japanese Kakiemon design, c1734-1740. From Anita Gray.

Alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger and chemist Count Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus developed a porcelain that was similar to Oriental porcelain.  Since the 13th century Europe had been importing Oriental porcelain from China and it was seen as a luxury commodity and it's price reflected this.  The invention of porcelain production in Europe was a huge break through for Meissen craftsmen.   

Dessertware in the 'Onion' Pattern c1890. From K&M Antiques.

Meissen originally looked to Chinese porcelain for their inspiration but over the years developed a distinct style of their own.  The 'Onion' pattern is a excellent example of this where inspiration has been taken from Chinese blue and white porcelain of the early Ming Dynasty but the decorative designs have taken on a more European feel, with artists using flowers are fruit more commonly seen in the West.  The 'Onion' pattern is not actually made up of onions but stylised imagery similar to peonies, peaches and pomegranates.  Meissen developed a huge and diverse range of designs with influences from the styles of the times including Rococco and Baroque, Neo-Classical and Art Nouveau.
Large Victorian Meissen Figure. From K&M Antiques.

Collectable items include the famous Meissen figurines that were produced from the 18th century onwards.  Highly collectable are designs made in the 1730s and '40s by Johann Joachim Kändler.  These are considered the highest quality porcelain figures ever produced.

Meissen porcelain bears the distinct marks for two crossed swords.  These marks have been used since 1722 and porcelain at the Meissen factory is still being produced today.  In 2009 Meissen celebrated it's 270th year!

History of Meissen Marks

9 August 2012

Vintage Handbags

Handbags, like fashion, reflect what’s going on in the world. The style, size and shape of a handbag has been strongly influenced by technological and societal changes, such as the development of jewellery, transportation, cosmetics, mobile phones, and the role of women in society.

At Grays we have a fabulous selection of vintage handbags, from 1920s embroidered evenings bags to 1970s leather bags.

Vintage satin evening bag with wonderful embroidery detail. 
Offered by Susie Nelson.

1920s evening bags for example were tiny because women would go to a ball, accompanied by a gentleman, and wouldn't need to bring keys, mobile phone and other things with her. During the 1930s bags reflected the Art Deco style movement which highlighted abstraction and celebrated new industrial materials.

A wonderful silk embroidered bag circa 1920s.
Offered by Susie Nelson.

During wartime 1940s a new handbag aesthetic emerged. Bags became bigger and more practical. The shoulder bag was very popular. Metal frames, zips, leather, and mirrors were in short supply so manufacturers used plastic and wood.
1950s/1960s Wooden nautical print bag.
Offered by Linda Bee.
The post war economic boon of the 1950s changed handbags into a cult status. It saw the rise of important designer houses including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.

Fabulous vintage Fendi wallet.
Offered by Susie Nelson.

1950s rare beehive bag with cream Lucite top and metal bees. Offered by Linda Bee. 

The 1960s saw the rise of youth culture. Youthful style bags became popular, such as the long, narrow clutch. During the 70s large satchels and fabric shoulder bags became in style, while the 80s saw the rise of sports bags and the unisex bag made it's debut.

1970s Charles Jourdan navy blue calf leather bag with unusual handle in metal and leather. Offered by Linda Bee.
Black fabric barrel bag that can be used as either a clutch or handbag. Offered by Susie Nelson.

Nowadays there is no end to the list of different types of bag to choose from. Every shape or size is possible. Designer bags are extremely popular but also very large handbags, as most women work and carry their laptop, mobile and beauty essentials with them. As the handbag is so popular these days, handbag designs are likely to become even more unusual and individualized in the future.

For more information visit www.graysantiques.com

2 August 2012

Vintage compacts

Before you could go into a chemist to buy pressed powder ladies carried around with them fancy compacts. They were not only practical but were beautiful objects in themselves - and are now very collectable! Ranging from art deco style to kitsch 1950s ones there are no shortage of designs!

After looking at some of the beautiful examples from the dealers we took a look at the fantastic advertising that went with them!

A 1940s telephone compact with puff from Linda Bee

A 1950's Volupte, white enamelled compact with blue cornflowers from MGN Collectables.

Very sweet Bon Voyage vintage suitcase compact from Linda Bee

A Stratton abstract design from the 1960's from Gillian Horsup

A WW11 celluloid sweetheart compact with silvertone flowers from Marie Niemis

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