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.

21 July 2016

The Great Fire of London

Fire! Fire! is a new exhibition showing at the Museum of London this summer, which documents life in London before, during and after the Great Fire of 1666. It will run from 23 July 2016 until 17 April 2017.

Great fire of London

The Great Fire of London started on Sunday the 2nd September 1666 in the bakery of Thomas Faryner - the King's baker - on Pudding Lane near London Bridge. It didn't take long before 300 houses had collapsed and the strong east wind spread the flames even further.

By the 4th of September half of London was in flames, and it would take another whole day before the fire, on the 6th of September, had been extinguished altogether. By this time, only one fifth of London was left standing.

The fire is estimated to have destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City's 80,000 inhabitants, destroying 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St Paul's Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. The fire threatened but did not reach the district of Westminster, Charles II's Palace of Whitehall, and most of the suburban slums.

Many artifacts were found after the fire giving clues to what happened. For example, a melted piece of pottery that can be seen on display at the Museum of London, was found in Pudding Lane, showing evidence that the temperature reached up to 1700 °C.

Below we have on offer historical items from around this period, available at Grays.

16th century Bill style edged blade with curled beak & wrap around socket. The shaft is decorated with leather & lion studs, with a crimson velvet tassel, available from Leons Militaria.
Rare slide of the monarch Charles II with botanical enameling to reverse. 17th century, available from Rowan & Rowan.
A rare 17th century wriggled-worked plate by a London pewter, available from Jane Stewart.

Late 16th century halberd with 18th century spike. The blade & beak has re-enforced points & traces of etched decorations, available from Leons Militaria.

A silver brush with the top hallmarked London 1695 and engraved with a armorial, available from P & R Szuhay.

14 July 2016

The Birthstone of July - Ruby

The ruby is one of the four recognised precious stones together with emerald, sapphire and diamond. The name ruby comes from the Latin word rubens which simply means red, and can be found in many different shades. The most sought after is the pigeon or dove blood ruby, because of its beautiful deep shade.

Ruby is deemed by many cultures to be the most precious gemstone. It is often associated with the sun and is believed to possess many positive effects and mystical properties. Ruby is also known as the stone of courage and passion.

The most rare and highly valued ruby is the star ruby. Inside of the ruby is what appears to be a six-ray star with perfect symmetry. A beautiful feature of this stone is that the centre of the star moves when the stone is moved. It is usually found within smaller stones, of a weight of three carats or less.

Some famous rubies include the "Rosser Reeves Star Ruby," the "Edwardes Ruby," the "De Long Star Ruby"  and the "Hope Ruby".

Below we have chosen a selection of some of Grays most beautiful ruby items.

Victorian ring set with Burma ruby and two old cut diamonds, in 18ct yellow gold. Available from Alexandra Engagement Rings

An 18ct white gold set ruby eternity ring, available from S. Greenstein

Edwardian dragonfly brooch set with ruby, pearl and diamond 15ct gold. Available from Wimpole

Gold mounted ruby and rose cut diamond cufflinks in 18ct gold, circa 1890. Available from Nigel Norman

1950s Dark Red Ruby Cluster Ring surrounded by a row of white clean diamonds. Set in 18ct White Gold. Available from DB Gems

7 July 2016

Interchangeable Jewellery

Many items of antique jewellery are multifunctional, allowing expensive pieces to be worn in other ways. Very often Victorian brooches, for example, have a removable brooch fitting, enabling the piece to be also worn as a pendant, a centre piece for a choker necklace or even as a hair ornament. 

Interchangeable jewellery continued to be fashionable during the Art Deco period. Double clips that could be worn separately as dress clips, or jointly as a larger brooch were typical. Earrings with detachable elements provided a day to night option.

We love interchangeable jewellery for its ingenuity, masterful craftsmanship and versatility. At Grays we have a wonderful selection, here is just a small choice of what we have on offer...

Gold brooch/pendant, lapis and diamond, French, c1900. Offered by Emmy Abe

Edwardian diamond and platinum pendant/brooch, c1910, offered by John Joseph

Georgian cameo pendant/brooch, offered by Alice Gulesserian

Silver and gold angel brooch/pendant, natural pearl and diamond, enamel work. c1880, offered by Emmy Abe

Early Victorian memorial brooch/pendant, seed pearl and turquoise, offered by Aurum

Gold, diamond and enamel Boucheron ladybird, movable wings, offered by John Joseph

Edwardian necklace, pendant - platinum & diamond, interchangeable enamel discs, with tool. Offered by John Joseph
1950s French citrine, amethyst and blue topaz interchangeable ring, offered by Diem

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