23 October 2014

Spotlight on Wheels of Steel

20 years on we are still proud to have "Wheels of Steel" in the mews building at Grays Antique Centre. In fact, Jeff Williams' business is the only model train shop left in London, which makes his shop even more interesting and unique. After an 18 year career in motor racing - Jeff is the only model train dealer to have raced with Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell! - his growing interest in German Marklin model trains led him to open "Wheels of Steel", initially on the lower-ground floor in Grays, now up on the ground floor. He deals in all makes and gauges of model trains, which range from over 100 years old to contemporary styles and is a regular at all of the biggest toy fairs around the South-East. He stocks all of the most popular brands, such as; Hornby, Bachmann, Graham Farish, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Roco, Lionel, Wrenn, Dubco, Fleishmann, Kato, etc.

You can find Jeff at "Wheels of Steel", stand G12, on the ground floor of the mews at Grays.

O gauge clockwork tender loco in excellent condition, repro box. L.N.E.R Livery. Mid fifties.
O gauge 3 rail electric cast metal finished in G.W.R black. Reproduction

O gauge reproduction tank wagon, boxed.

OO gauge 2 rail c.1961 complete set with Barnstable loco plus three Pullman coaches/track.

Selection of collectable trains and railway memorabilia available at Wheels of Steel.

Jeff' stocks many model railway magazines.

The Wheels of Steel shop at Grays

17 October 2014

New dealer in the spotlight: MOIRA Fine Jewellery at Grays

MOIRA Fine Jewellery joined us in Grays Antique Market in October 2014 with their collection of rare jewellery, renowned worldwide for its elegance and exclusivity of design.  They bring over 40 years of knowledge and expertise for sourcing the most exquisite collectables in fine jewellery.  The range of fine antique jewellery spans nineteenth century signed originals from the finest design houses, the Art Deco period, 1940s gold work, to the modernist creations of the 1950s to the 1980s.  Their modern jewellery complements the vintage range, to satisfy the desire for unique and truly individual pieces.  They also have one of the largest signed antique and vintage cufflink collections in London. 

Moira, her daughter Suzanne and son Simon, have built the beautiful collection of antique jewellery with regular trips to the USA - Florida, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles; the Far East - Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Europe.  Suzanne and Simon are continuing the tradition of showing the fine collections in international antiques fairs, including the Olympia and LAPADA shows.

MOIRA Fine Jewellery add Grays prestigious location alongside their residency at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade, where their primary collection can be viewed. 

Here are our favourite pieces from MOIRA Fine Jewellery’s exquisite collection:  
A diamond ring, mounted in platinum, set with a 5.02ct, H colour SI1 clarity, cushion-cut diamond, with round brilliant-cut diamonds micro pavé set in the gallery, surround and shoulders. This ring is accompanied by a GIA certificate. Offered by MOIRA Fine Jewellery

A diamond line bracelet, by Cartier, mounted in platinum, channel set with French-cut diamonds. Circa 1936. Offered by MOIRA Fine Jewellery

A Cartier knot dress set, mounted in 18ct gold consisting of a pair of cufflinks and three buttons. Offered by MOIRA Fine Jewellery

A platinum art deco ring mount, set with a new 1.01ct F VS1 emerald-cut diamond, accompanied by a GIA certificate, the shoulders are set with baguette-cut diamonds and with small round diamonds, in tear drop shaped settings at the ends, the approximate total weight of the shoulder stones is 0.40ct. Offered by MOIRA Fine Jewellery

A vintage diamond ring, mounted in platinum, set with a 1.01ct E colour VS2 clarity oval-cut diamond, with two eight-cut diamonds each side, the first in a marquise shaped setting, the second in a round setting. Accompanied by a GIA certificate.Offered by MOIRA Fine Jewellery
Fabergé Russian cufflinks, in 14 carat yellow gold, with green guilloché enamel, set with old-cut diamonds and chalcedony cabochon centres. Signed/stamped HW for workmaster Henry Wingstream and 56 Zolotnik standard. Signed Fabergé in Cyrillic characters within a seal; with accompanying box. Offered by MOIRA Fine Jewellery
Gold scaled coiled snake bangle, with demantoid garnets and diamonds set in the head and ruby eyes. Offered by MOIRA Fine Jewellery

You can visit MOIRA Fine Jewellery from Monday to Friday, 10am-6pm Stand 363-365 in Grays Antique Market, 58 Davies Street, W1K 5AB, London.

10 October 2014

Islamic Art at Grays

September saw the opening of the first museum of Islamic art in North America. It’s the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto with a collection of over one thousand artefacts in ceramic, metalwork, stone and wood, textile and carpet, glass and rock crystal objects, parchment and illustrated paintings on paper. The Museum’s goal is to demystify Islam through increasing knowledge and appreciation of Islamic art by presenting an overview of the artistic accomplishments of Muslim civilisations from the Iberian Peninsula to China.

 The Islamic period began with the rapid rise of Islam in the 7th century AD. The religion's founder, the Prophet Muhammad, was a political leader as well as a religious guide. By 750, his successors had established a vast empire which stretched from Spain and Morocco in the west to Central Asia and Afghanistan in the east.

Bronze oil lamp, Afghanistan. Kofic writing, 12th century. Offered by Bakhtar Art

Islamic ceramic soup bowl, Afghanistan, Bamyan, 12th century, offered by Bakhtar Art

Agate pendant, Arabic engraving, 18th-19th century. Offered by Bakhtar Art

Closer to home in London, at the V&A Museum, the JameelGallery,  houses 400 objects including ceramics, textiles, carpets, metalwork, glass and woodwork. The collection explains the development of Islamic art production from the great dates of the Islamic caliphate of the 8th century up to the First World War. Geographically, it covers an area from Spain to Uzbekistan.  The V&A holds more than 19,000 objects ranging from the early Islamic Period to the 1920s, from Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and the countries of North Africa and has a ceramic collection which is internationally the most important and comprehensive of its kind.

 Islamic art is at the forefront of the origins of nineteenth century English decorative arts. In Victorian Britain, retailers sold a range of goods imported from the Islamic world providing a source of inspiration for art work that was seeking to break away from the historic European styles dominating British art at the time.  William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement were greatly influenced by Islamic designers because they were particularly expert at producing surface patterns. Colour and form were to be placed above any type of realism.

12th century bronze stirrup, engraved with Kofic writing, offered by Bakhtar Art

Islamic Mughal Art, offered by Bakhtar Art

Islamic bronze pendant, Kofic description, 12th century, offered by Bakhtar Art

Spanish Islamic Hispano-Moresque charger, 16th century, offered by Antique Choices

13th century Kashan tile, Persia, offered by Antique Choices

Zand period (1750-1794) brass Huqa base, Persia, offered by Antique Choices

With its approach to flat surfaces and use of colour schemes, the Movement had a great appeal across the disciplines. Many saw that the principles behind the Islamic decorative arts system was an effective way of producing contemporary pattern work, because Islamic designers seemed to have an innate understanding of the materials used and the medium of surface decoration, and approach to colour and tone.

Ultimately, it was the non-representational, flat and graphic aspect of Islamic art that captivated the Victorian vanguard and was developed on printed textiles, woven carpets, wallpaper design and ceramic tile work. This perspective on the decorative arts took on an aspect that eventually proved to be amongst the building blocks of Modernism.

Islamic art at Grays is varied in terms of geographic origins and covers most areas of material production from textiles to wood, glass to metal and most areas of artistic expression, books, paintings, coins, jewellery, tiles and sculpture, and more.

 Written by Titika Malkogeorgou

3 October 2014

October's Birthstones

October has two birthstones; Tourmaline and Opal.

In the middle ages opal was considered good luck; it was thought the various colours represented the virtues of other gemstones. To the Romans, it was considered to be a token of hope and purity. It was also referred to as the “Cupid Stone” because it suggested the clear complexion of the god of love.

A novel published in 1829 by Sir Walter Scott entitled "Anne of Geierstein," was to change people's perception of opal. In the novel it is worn as a talisman - with supernatural powers - by the Baroness of Arnheim. However, when holy water comes in contact with the opal, it becomes colourless and the Baroness dies soon thereafter.

Regardless of the connotations applied to opal, there's no denying it's one of the most fascinating and beautiful stones in the world.

Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word "Turmali" and roughly translates to 'stone with mixed colours'. Due to the wide variety of colours available it is known as 'the gemstone of the rainbow'. Tourmaline is the gemstone of love and of friendship, and is said to render them firm and long-lasting.

The ability of this stone to look like other gemstones has been known to cause some confusion. Many gemstones in the Russian Crown jewels from the 17th Century once thought to be rubies are in fact tourmalines. In South America, where the majority of such gem-quality material is found, green tourmaline is still referred to as the "Brazilian emerald".

Here's a round-up of the exquisite tourmaline and opal jewellery offered by Grays dealers...

Opal & diamond pendant/brooch, c1900. Offered by Boris Sosna t/a C & B Gems & Antique Jewellery
Art Deco green tourmaline & diamond ring, offered by DB Gems
Edwardian opal brooch, offered by Satoe

Pink tourmaline ring, c1960. Offered by Nigel Norman
Levinger & Bissinger. A Jugendstil, silver plique-a-jour pendant, offered by Van Den Bosch
18 carat Tourmaline ring, c1900s. Offered by Alfred Toro
Opal and diamond pendant, set in platinum, c1920. Offered by Westminster Group

19 September 2014

New dealer in the spotlight: Serhat Ahmet at Grays

Serhat Ahmet joined us in Grays Mews just two months ago with his stock of fine European porcelain, adding this prestigious location along to his established Saturday residency in Portobello Road Antiques Market.

Serhat - who was the winner of an Antiques Young Guns Mentoring Award in July 2014 - has been actively involved in the world of fine European porcelain for over 20 years. A second generation specialist dealer, he has been surrounded by ceramics – in particular Meissen, KPM Berlin, Sèvres and Vienna – from an early age. This has meant that Serhat has developed an extensive knowledge of the subject and an excellent eye for objects of quality.

Competitively priced for both trade customers and private collectors worldwide, Serhat Ahmet is a destination for buyers of fine European porcelain when visiting London.  Serhat says, "The majority of our stock dates from the 19th century, but with demand from the next generation of collectors turning to objects that complement modern interiors, our range also extends to select pieces from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods, as well as some post-war modernist pieces from the long-established manufactories such as Meissen and Rosenthal. For the discerning collector, with a desire for the earlier items of European manufacture, we always carry a good selection of 18th century pieces in our stock".

"I'm really excited about the opening of my shop at Grays as it allows me to show my stock to new and existing customers during the week, and is set in a wonderful building in a fabulous part of London.  We're in the heart of the London arts and antiques world and the serious buyers that frequent Grays have a wide selection of goods from 200 quality dealers to choose from in a serene environment".

You can visit Serhat at his shop from Monday to Friday, 10 am - 6 pm at Stand H10/H11 in Grays Mews, 7 Davies Mews, London W1K 5AB.

Here are our favourite pieces from Serhat Ahmet's vast collection:

Meissen Pair of Pugs, c.1850. Offered by Serhat Ahmet
Meissen Figure of the Piping Drummer from the 'Cris de Paris', c.1935.
Offered by Serhat Ahmet
Meissen Yellow Canaries on Tree Stumps, c.1870. Offered by Serhat Ahmet
Meissen Topographical Tray with Scene of Pillnitz, c.1870. Offered by Serhat Ahmet
KPM Berlin Floral Charger, c.1895. Offered by Serhat Ahmet
Vienna Style Vase & Cover with a Musical Scene, c.1890. Offered by Serhat Ahmet
Sèvres Bleu Lapis Vase, c.1879-82. Offered by Serhat Ahmet

To contact Serhat Ahmet directly or visit his website:
Phone: +44 7956 388 028
Email: info@serhatahmet.com
Web: www.serhatahmet.com

12 September 2014

Blue September

September is the month when the international fashion crowd land upon our capital for London Fashion Week. During one week in September and the weeks leading up to LFW, we are made aware of the current and upcoming style trends.

It is rather apt that Sapphire is the birthstone of September, the colour blue featured prominently on the Autumn/Winter 2014 catwalk. An elegant way to add hints of blue to your attire is to accessorise with sapphire jewellery.

Below is a selection of stunning sapphire jewellery available at Grays.

Art Deco Sapphire & Diamond Engagement Ring, offered by Alexandra Engagement Rings

Sapphire & Diamond 18ct Gold Edwardian Curb Bracelet, offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

1920s Cornflower Blue Sapphire & Diamond Cluster Ring, offered by Robin Haydock

1920s Sapphire and Diamond Bow Brooch, offered by Nigel Norman

Sapphire and Pearl 1950s Necklace, offered by Horton London
Victorian Sapphire & Rose Cut Diamond Cufflinks, offered by Nigel Norman

 Platinum Set Sapphire & Diamond Ring c1920s, offered by Anthea AG Antiques Ltd

Victorian Pearl and Sapphire Pendant, offered by Charlotte Sayers

Diamond & Sapphire Ring, c1910s, offered by Emmy Abe

We would like to remind you, due to the flooding in the lower ground floor of the Grays Mews in August, Vintage Modes is temporarily closed whilst the shop undergoes renovation. We hope to re-open Vintage Modes in the very near future - watch this space for updates!

In the meantime you can catch Susie Nelson and Lesley of Arabella Bianco at the Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair, Frock Me! Vintage Fashion Fair and the Hammersmith Vintage Fashion Fair

Gillian Horsup and Lola of Unicorn will continue to sell their costume jewellery in the lower ground floor showcases, V001 - V008.

5 September 2014

Murano Glass; Story of an Island!

We had such tremendous fun researching the intricacies of blown glass for our previous blog that we ended up expanding and outgrowing our blog post space and ended up leaving out Murano glass. 
Here we are picking up the thread of the unique story of Murano glass. 

Murano is an island which consists of a series of seven smaller islands in the Venetian Lagoon. The islands which are linked by bridges are famous for blown glass production of a particular type with an international reputation for durability and high aesthetic quality. Crafting everything from art glass and glass jewellery, Murano’s glass makers held the monopoly of high quality glass making in Europe for centuries. 

Byzantine craftmen arrived in Venice after the sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. In 1291, the Venetian Republic, fearing fire of its mostly wooden buildings, ordered glass makers to move their foundries to Murano. Murano glass makers subdivided into niches and developed a very tight community with distinct houses. Typically, each Murano glass house employed numerous sellers, servants, and cutters. 

Blue Murano bubble glass, offered by Totos Jewellery & Antiques

Millefiori beads from Murano, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery
1950s Murano glass necklace with birds and leaves, offered by Linda Bee

By the fourteenth century, Murano glass makers had gained in reputation, and soon became some of the most prominent figures of the Republic enjoying many special privileges. Servants of the glass houses studied the works of the great masters and learned the secret arts. When the Ottomans took Constantinople in 1453 more glassworkers arrived in Venice.

At once a marriage of Islamic and Western glass blowing styles, initially, it became famous for glass beads and mirrors. Developing or refining many technologies Murano glass artisans gained more control over colour and transparency. Aventurine  glass (glass with threads of gold) was invented in Murano as did enamelled glass, crystalline glass, multicoloured glass, milk glass and imitation gemstones made of glass. 

Murano glass sold to aristocrats, wealthy merchants, and heads of state, and during its heyday it produced the vast majority of Europe's mirrors and chandeliers. By the 17th century, Murano had even developed a patron saint for glassblowers, known as St. Anthony Abate.

1950s Murano glass necklace with fruit and leaves, offered by Linda Bee

Murano decorative glass

Murano artisans employed a unique cooling process, by which they maintained liquid glass in its pliable state for a long time to create a viscous but malleable paste. They did this by slowly and carefully cooling the glass admixture. A craftsman created a mold of a durable material, usually baked clay and sometimes wood or metal. The mold comprised at least two parts, so that it could be opened and the finished product inside removed safely. Although the mold could be a simple undecorated square or round form, many were in fact quite intricately shaped and decorated. The designs were usually carved into the mold in negative, so that on the glass they appeared in relief

Glassware collectors often can distinguish historical pieces from individual Murano houses.

A selection of Murano glass beaded necklaces, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery
Murano silver bracelet, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery
Murano millefiori bead earrings, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Written by Titika Malkogeorgou
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