22 February 2013

Netsuke: Japanese Miniature Sculptures

Netsuke are miniature sculptures that were invented in 17th century Japan and traditionally used to fasten a purse to a kimono. Traditional Japenese clothing had no pockets and the solution to store personal belongings was to place such objects in decorative containers called an inro. Netsuke were often carved from ivory or wood. They were made in many shapes and showed a variety of objects. In the 18th century and early 19th century, netsuke and inro were important components of Japanese costume, and were symbols of social status.

Our Asian Art dealers at Grays have a wonderful collection of Netsuke and Inro available.

19th Century Wood Netsuke of Snake

 19th Century Wood Netsuke of Tiger

 19th century Japanese Ivory Okimono-style netsuke 
of the 7 Gods of good fortune riding in a takarabune

18th Century Ivory Netsuke of Sennin Warrior

18th Century Black Inro with original Netsuke

18th Century Gold coloured Inro with Ojime carved from bone

Case Lacquer Inro inlaid with Ivory Owl and Mother of Pearl on the case

For more information visit www.graysantiques.com

14 February 2013

Couples & Pairs: Saint Valentine’s Special

 You don’t need to be a couple to enjoy love and the special Saint Valentine’s day, but you can find couples and pairs at Grays. 

Unusual onyx bird earring from Jo and Olly Gerrish
A proliferation of materials, styles and concepts of couples and pairs of object exist in a sober as well as of a mischievous or frivolous character! We have decided that it’s St. Valentine’s day when we should be celebrating both uniqueness and everything that goes in twos. 

What is more romantic than swans? We love these are stunning art deco swan bookends from Tina Crick
Trinket box from Duchange and Riche
A pair of stunning Victorian Heart Brooches from Tings Jewellery Box
There is also the more unusual of pairs - A pair of rare 17th century Spanish drug jars. Hand painted detailing in blue on white ceramic from Patrick Boyd Carpenter

Sweet miniature pair of shoes from Boggit and Bond

 Staffordshire couple figure from Cekay.


Happy Valentines Day from everyone at Grays!

7 February 2013

John Bolding & Sons

Last week we were lucky enough to get some photos of Grays from above.  You can immediately appreciate the beauty of the Edwardian red brick building and how much it stands out from it's surroundings.  We thought we would share a little of this majestic building's history before it became Grays antique centre.

The building Grays currently occupies at 58 Davies Street (pictured above) was built for well known sanitary manufacturers John Bolding & Sons in 1889-91.  Boldings already had a number of premises in neighbouring streets, including South Molton Street and a workshop in Davies Mews. As the company expanded, they needed a building large enough to gather together all their activities in one place.  In 1880 they aquired the unusual triangular shaped plot with the intention to provide space for retail showrooms and a factory where parts and fittings could be manufactured. Plans were approved by the Duke of Westminster who thought that 'the elevation would be a great ornament to Davies Street'. Ref: www.british-history.ac.uk.

Perspective drawing published in 1890. Image source: British History Online.
Image source: Grace's Guide www.gracesguide.co.uk
Numbers 1-7 Davies Mews also have an interesting history.  This section of Davies Mews was originally stables with the oldest pub in Mayfair, The Running Horse, on the corner where Davies Mews joins Davies Street.  Architect Reginald Blomfield designed workshop premises with space for garages for John Bolding & Sons and furniture remover Henry Rosoman in 1889-91.  In 1932 Bolding took over Rosomon's section taking full control of the southern part of the building.
Grays Mews viewed from South Molton Lane.

In 1977 Bennie Gray took over both sections and renovated the interior to make Grays and Grays Mews, as we know it today.  In Davies Mews builders were faced with continuous damp and flooding to the lower ground floor level.  Surveyors found all this water was due to the subterranian river Tyburn, which flows from Hampstead (under Buckingham Palace) and down to the Thames.  The only way was to channel the water though the building, which you can still see running through the building today (image below)! 

The River Tyburn in Grays Mews, 1-7 Davies Mews

Find out more about the history of the local area at British History Online.
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