30 June 2016

The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

This week, the Art & Antiques Fair is taking place at Olympia, London - running from 27 June until 3 July. In its 44th year, it is a key event in the art and antiques calendar globally, and attracts around 30,000 visitors. The 160 exhibitors stock a varied range of vintage and antique items, from antiquity to present day and prices range from £100 to £1million.

At Grays several of our dealers exhibit annually, including Anthea AG AntiquesHorton London, John JosephSerhat Ahmet AntiquesSue Brown and Wimpole Antiques. It is a fantastic opportunity to see their collections in a different setting, amongst another 100 odd fantastic dealers.

Olympia Art & Antiques Fair. Image courtesy of www.olympia-art-antiques.com.

Here are a selection of our favourite pieces from Grays' participating dealers:

An elegant French inkwell with fine champlevé enamelling to the border and wells, circa 1880. Available from Serhat Ahmet Antiques
Cartier love bangles with diamonds in.. Available from Anthea AG Antiques.

1830s regard heart pendant set in 18ct gold in its original box. Available from Anthea AG Antiques.

A diamond and kunzite pendant set in 18ct white gold with white gold chain. Available from Horton London.

A diamond and platinum ring set with two pear shaped diamonds. Available from Horton London.

Victorian gold on silver diamond opening heart locket, c1880, available from John Joseph

Victorian stone cameo surrounded by pearls, 15ct gold, circa 1890. Available from Wimpole Antiques

23 June 2016

Copper - man's eternal metal

Copper is one of the oldest metals to be used by humans ca. 8,000 BC and was the first metal to be purposefully alloyed with other metals, like with tin to form bronze. One of the things that makes copper so special is that it is 100% recyclable, without loss of any quality in the process. It is also cheaper to recycle copper than to mine new copper, and it is estimated that 1/80 of all copper ever mined remains in use today. Due to its versatility and sturdiness, copper is referred to as "man's eternal metal".

Copper has a variety of uses, and being such a beautiful element it is commonly used in the arts and for jewellery. According to some traditional knowledge, copper bracelets are believed to relieve arthritis symptoms among other aliments. The therapeutic value has been recorded in legend for hundreds of years. One of the earliest records is found within the ancient Egyptian 'Ebers Papyrus', an early collection of natural healing remedies and one of the world's oldest books. Nowadays a number of European countries use copper complexes in medication to treat inflammatory diseases.

Recently we have been searching through Grays and have discovered some beautiful Copper objects:

18th century copper solid casting with the raised central figure of the four- armed Virabhara. Available from M Wood

A German gilt copper Herrengrund tumbler cup. c1740. Available from P & R Szuhay

A Tibetan copper gilt figure of Amitayus with coloured stones. 10th-15th Century AD. Available from Guest and Gray.

Hand-beaten copper tea box c1880. Available from Hallmark

Copper and silver tazza with four silver rose motifs and inset with mother-of -pearl plaques. Available from Van Den Bosch

One-off large handmade Copper Inkwell by Rathbone, c1880-1900. Available from Hallmark.

16 June 2016

Father's Day

Father's Day is an international event to express appreciation towards fatherhood, fatherly bonds, and the impact of fathers in society. Several countries celebrate Father's Day on the third Sunday of June, although it's also celebrated on alternative days internationally with various traditions surrounding the event, for example;

In Italy, Spain and Portugal Father’s Day coincides with the Saint Joseph's Day, where traditionally families also pay homage to their "spiritual father", like a parish priest, by going to church.

In Germany, Fathers Day or "Vatertag" is celebrated on the 40th day of Easter. The holiday is traditionally celebrated by men (not just fathers) getting together to pull wagons loaded with beer and liquor into the woods. Although sometimes this outdoor trip is replaced with a simple visit to the local pub instead.

Whereas in Thailand Father's Day is celebrated on the day of the current ruling king's birthday. On this day the king gives a speech and people light candles in his honour.

France have a national Father's Day committee, which was setup to instate a prize for fathers who had distinguished themselves in some way. Originally, candidates were nominated by the social services of each town hall/mayor's office.

Finding the right Father's Day gift can often be a true challenge. That’s why we've put together a variety of gifts ideas to suit all tastes and ages.

Carnelian and gold 1920s cufflinks available from DB Gems

Engraved 18ct pocket watch, Victorian available from Westminster Group

Silver dice holder, Sheffield 1905 by Walker & Hall available from  Evonne Antiques

Silver novelty inkwell with stamp compartment, Birmingham 1906 by Heath & Middleton available from Evonne Antiques

Silver table cigar cutter, Made in London 1905 available from Evonne Antiques

Victorian emerald, turquoise and garnet stick pin 15ct gold available from Westminster Group

9 June 2016

Trooping the Colour

This Saturday we celebrate the Queen's official birthday with the traditional ceremony of 'Trooping the Colour'. Regimental flags of the British Army were historically described as ‘Colours’ because they displayed the uniform Colours and insignia worn by the soldiers of different units. Colours of a regiment were used as a rallying point during battles and were trooped in front of the soldiers every day to make sure that every man could recognise those of his own regiment, as it was it was all too easy for troops to become disoriented and separated from their unit during conflict.  This is the origin of the word ‘trooping’. So, what today is a great tradition began life as a vital and practical parade designed to aid unit recognition before a battle commenced.
Today, this spectacular event remains a celebration of the Sovereign’s official birthday. Although Her Majesty The Queen’s actual birthday is the 21st April, her ‘official birthday’ is marked by the Trooping the Colour ceremony.

In honour of this event we have a rounded up a selection of items fit for a queen, in shades of red, white and blue...

A classic diamond and sapphire Edwardian ring, with lovely details at the front of shank surrounding good quality stones. A patriotic ring with stones representative of The Union Jack, offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

Silver‬ and ‪‎glass‬ ‪‎scent‬ ‪bottle‬, c1910 ‪‎Paris‬, offered by AMS Antiques
Webb glass perfume bottle silver mounted, London 1889, offered by Jack Podlewski

Victorian stone cameo surrounded by pearls, 15ct gold, circa 1890. Offered by Wimpole Antiques

Beautiful diamond single stone ring, set with a fine marquise cut diamond, c1900. Offered by Horton London
Sapphire and diamond Edwardian ring, platinum set, offered by John Joseph

19th century Meissen part service painted with floral bouquets on a rich royal blue ground picked out in gold, circa 1870. Offered by K & M Antiques
Pair of silver and enamel small candlesticks, c1950, offered by Jack Podlewski

3 June 2016

Dealer Spotlight: All You Can Bear

This week, we are putting the spotlight on Grays Mews' dealer, All You Can Bear, who sell antique and vintage bears and dolls.

What do you do ?  
I specialise in Antique dolls and teddy bears.

How long have you been dealing?
I have been dealing on an off since I was 21, which is 36 years.

Do you do any fairs?
I attend doll and Teddy bear fairs in London, Sussex and Birmingham. I find that a combination of fairs, antique centres and the Internet work well together as different people have different preferences as to how they like to buy. Though having said that, rare good quality items will sell wherever you have them.

What was your first job ?
(Alfies Antique Market and Grays founder) Benny Gray organised my first job for me. I had just left art school, and wanted to get into dealing properly (I had done a little while at college). Benny got me a job working for some furniture dealers, in his newly opened Grays Mews Antique market. I was allowed to sit a few dolls on their stall.  From there I eventually got a stall in the centre, and then opened a shop in Camden Passage in Islington (1979). I had a few years off when my children were born, and eventually ended up with a stall again, in Grays. The stall I have there now is the exact same stall I used to work on all those years earlier.

Best thing about being a dealer?
The best thing about being a dealer, is that I get to travel. When I was 18, I used to go to Devon with a friend. He used to fill up his car with pine furniture, and bring it back to London to sell.  The proceeds would more than pay for our little holiday. In those days one used to travel all over the country to buy. Nowadays I travel abroad to buy, when I can. I love it!

And the worst?
I don’t see any bad side to being a dealer! Sometimes however I feel a need to balance it with doing something for the world at large, and often raise money for charity etc. At present I am involved with dog rescues down in Brighton as well as being an avid supporter of Amnesty International.

Biggest mistake?
My worst buy was a collection of limited edition teddy bears, which turned out to have been stolen!

Dream object?
I am not personally a collector. I love the items I sell, and get particular pleasure in finding items in their original condition; such as dolls in beautifully made clothing. I guess a dream find would be a French Bebe in original trunk with lots of extra clothing.

Biggest threat to the trade at the moment?
The biggest threat to dealing these days is the fact that many antiques are not in fashion any more. Trends like Shabby Chic, might be fun, but items that have little price end up being overpriced. In many ways it is a good time to buy, as “real antiques” have often gone down in value. Let’s hope the fashion changes again in a few years time.

Any advice for those starting out in the trade?
For anyone starting out in the business… try and get a job in an antiques shop or centre part-time. Handle as much as you can. Learn, learn, learn. Go to the big fairs, where you are likely to see all the latest reproductions, and so won’t be caught out by them when they turn up in auction and on the Internet.

Alternative career?
I cannot think of an alternative career really. I am artistic, and have designed websites, and created animations. However, I am not good at working for others as I fear letting people down. I have always been self-employed.

Tell us a secret?
After many years in the trade, I find that the better quality high end items are the ones that are easiest to sell. In fact they sell themselves. However, try as I might, I cannot resist a bargain, and a good rummage at a fair or market. I get just as much pleasure in selling something for £10 that I paid £1 for as I do in selling things for £100s or £1000s.

Here is a selection of our favourite antique bears on offer from All You Can Bear:
Sweet Farnell Bear

Rubin Chad Valley Bear

WJ Terry Bear

Art Silk Chad Bear

All You Can Bear
Stand A25 & B14
07956 351 944 / sarah@allyoucanbear.com

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