26 June 2015

Vintage Summer Style

With summer already here and hot weather on the way, it's time to get your summer style sorted! Grays Mews has a fantastic range of vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories for you to mix and match to your style. Here are some items we think will work the summer look perfectly:

Selection of multicoloured bangles and flower inspired necklaces from Gillian Horsup
Turquoise-themed jewellery from Unicorn

Green-themed jewellery from Ting Jewellery Box

Selection of bracelets from Arabella Bianco

1980s glass earrings from Arabella Bianco

Bakelite banana necklace from Linda Bee

Blue-themed jewellery set from Ting Jewellery Box

Vintage sunglasses from Gillian Horsup
1980s sunglasses from Linda Bee
Art Deco beaded bag from Arabella Bianco

Silk kimono from Leonora Boutique and summer hat  from June Victor

20 June 2015

Father's Day Celebrations

Father's Day is a festival respecting fathers and praising parenthood, fatherly bonds, and the impact of fathers in society.

Father's Day festivities were first recorded in 1910 in Washington USA, by Sonora Smart Dodd. Her dad was a Civil War veteran come single parent who brought up six youngsters. A few local priests accepted the idea of a day celebrating fatherhood, and on 19 June 1910, the first Father's Day sermons were held: "sermons regarding fathers were introduced all through the city."

Numerous people endeavoured and failed to establish a day for fathers before this. Harry C  Meek claimed that he had first had the thought for Father's Day in 1915. Meek explained that the third Sunday of June was picked on the grounds that it was his birthday. He was nicknamed as the "Originator of Father's Day". Meek made many efforts to promote Father's Day in an attempt to make it an official holiday.

In  the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration due to her studies in the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity. In the 1930s, Dodd came back to Spokane and began advancing the festival again at a national level.

By 1938 she had the assistance of the Father's Day Council, established by the New York Associated Men's Wear Retailers to help with nationwide commercial promotion. She also had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional gifts for fathers.

For a perfect Father's Day present here is a selection some of the gifts available at Grays.
1960s 18ct Gold & Enamel Lawn Tennis Cufflinks, from The Antique Jewellery Company

1920s Omega silver pocket watch from Raysil Antiques

Art Deco gold filled pocket watch from Nayabelle

Balloon cased clock . This 2 hour, 8 day clock has a French movement
housed in a solid mahogany case. 1905 from Old As Time Antiques

Half pint pewter tankard with curving handle. English, c.1820 from Jane Stewart

1960s Silver & Yellow Enamel Cufflinks, from The Antique Jewellery Company

Skeleton clock single fusee. 1900-1915 from Old As time Antiques

12 June 2015

Andrew Prince: From Downton to Gatsby, Jewellery and Fashion from 1890 to 1929 - Join him next Monday 15 at Grays

Jewellery designer Andrew Prince creates the finest crystal jewellery and has built up a loyal clientele ranging from the stars of stage and screen to royalty, couture houses and venerable institutions such as the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Andrew's taste for fine 'costume jewellery' was inspired by an encounter at an antique market where he came across a stunning Victorian brooch set with what he initially thought were emeralds and diamonds. It turned out they were actually crystal and green glass set in silver and gold. From this moment, Andrew realised that beautiful jewellery didn't require expensive stones, and that it was the elegance of the design and the quality of the workmanship that truly mattered. He then decided to create a small collection of superior 'fine crystal jewellery' which has become synonymous with Andrew Prince Jewellery

Andrew Prince

Citing his four biggest influences on his work as the delicate beauty of the ‘Belle Epoque’, the sinuousness of ‘Art Nouveau’, the line and strength of ‘Art Deco’ and the glamour of 1930s Hollywood, Prince’s vast knowledge on the fin de si├Ęcle period is clear in ‘From Downton to Gatsby, Jewellery and Fashion from 1890 to 1929.’ During this talk he illustrates the intimate connections between the great jewellers, couture houses and the people, politics and events that shaped this glitzy period at the turn-of-the-century. 

Andrew Prince at work

Join Andrew as he shares his expertise and gives us a fascinating glimpse into this era of change in the world of fashion and jewellery, and a talk which debuted at the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Book tickets for this talk via the Fox & Squirrel website here.

8 June 2015

Professor Giorgio Riello: What is Luxury? Join him Monday 15 June at Grays

Having just completed a book entitled Luxury: A Rich History (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2015) and reviewed V&A exhibition 'What is Luxury?' for the their magazine, Professor Giorgio Riello is an expert on the subject. Professor Riello will be speaking about luxury and the shift from French rococo opulence to a twentieth-century notion of luxury that is more restrained at Grays' upcoming day of talks, Monday 15th June. 'A Day of Antiques: Looking Beyond The Trade at Grays' will cover a broad range of subjects from how to buy antiques to jewellery design through the ages and guests will benefit from the expertise of speakers such as BBC Antiques Roadshow and Collectaholics' Mark Hill and jewellery designer Andrew Prince.

Riello says that for him luxury is, "the longstanding pursuit of pleasure," so "luxury is not just about consuming (handbags, perfumes and scarves) but is the enjoyment of the best that life can offer." A professor of Global History and Culture and Director of the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Warwick, Giorgio has published extensively on the history of fashion, design and consumption in early modern Europe and Asia and is the coordinator of the Leverhulme-funded ‘The Luxury Network’, a collaboration between Warwick, the V&A, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, and the universities of Bologna, Stockholm and Melbourne. However he started out his career as an economist and specialised in economic history, with a particular interest in the history of the fashion and textile industries.

On the 15th, 'Between Opulence and Minimalism,' will address the question, 'Can luxury be ‘poor’?' One might say that the creation of luxury that does not look like such is the very pinnacle of luxury itself: in an age in which decoration has become cheap and at the reach of the majority, luxury has adopted its diametrical opposite to retain its exclusivity.

Buy tickets to 'Between Opulence and Minimalism,', a talk with Professor Giorgio Riello, or to our other talks, Monday 15th June, here or from reception at Grays.

1 June 2015

The Rise of Coffee

Although coffee is the youngest of the popular hot beverages, with a history about one-third as long as that of hot chocolate or tea, it is the most popular drink worldwide with around two billion cups consumed.

The first cafes and coffeehouses in Europe opened in the 17th century. By 1663 there were 82 coffeehouses in London; 40 years later there were more than 500. For Europeans, coffeehouses quickly became vital places for the exchange of news and ideas and for doing business.

Although associated with longstanding European cafe traditions, espresso is a modern invention. Using machinery developed in Italy around the turn of the 20th century, the process brews coffee at “express” speed by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee at high pressure. The result is a small shot of very strong coffee. A multitude of espresso-based drinks, from lattes to macchiatos and cappuccinos were perfected in European cafes but only belatedly introduced to the American market.

Beatnik culture was synonymous with coffee bars. In the early 1950s, Soho became the centre of beatnik culture in London. The capital was full of fashionable espresso bars such as Le Macabre (Wardour Street), which had coffin-shaped tables, fostered beat poetry, jive dance and political debate. The Goings On, located in Archer Street, was a Sunday afternoon club, organised by beat poets Pete Brown, Johnny Byrne and Spike Hawkins, that opened in January 1966. For the rest of the week, it operated as an illegal gambling den.

The 2i's Coffee Bar, Old Compton Street
Other "beat" coffee bars in Soho included Le Grande, La Roca, Freight Train, Picasso and the Moka Bar. The 2i's Coffee Bar at 59 Old Compton Street, was probably the first rock club in Europe and played a formative role in the emergence of Britain's pop music culture in the late 1950s.

In recent years we have seen a large rise of independent coffee shops re-emerge, not just in London but across the country in cities like Bath, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh. Customers are getting more knowledgeable about the coffee they drink, and as such are starting to favour the smaller, specialist independent coffee shops as opposed to the bigger high street chains.

On June 8, we will have our very own Grays Speciality Artisan Coffee stand, serving Fairtrade organic coffee and other hot beverages. In the lead up to Grays' exciting new coffee venture we had a look around the centre and discovered lots of beautifully ornate coffee apparatus and accessories...

6 silver Art Deco coffee spoons with enamel inlay by W&H Chester 1939, offered by Past & Present

 Sheffield 1904 coffee pot by Harrison Brothers & George Howson, offered by AMS Antiques

A pair of silver cafe au lait pots octagonal shape, Chester 1919-1921, offered by Jack Podlewski

Set of 8 silver enamel and gilt coffee spoons, Denmark by Ela c.1950, offered by Jack Podlewski

Silver coffee pot on feet, offered by Raysil Antiques

22 May 2015

Dealer Highlight: Old As Time Antiques

Old as Time Antiques joined Grays in October 2014, and their showcase P4 in the Mews offers a selection of shop ready warranted clocks and timepieces.

Old as Time Antiques started trading in 1981 selling antiques and collectables at antique fairs.  By 1984 they had evolved into a business providing a comprehensive range of services. These include the service and restoration, valuation, surveys and audits of antique clocks and small furniture, in addition to buying and selling. Their showcase is a sample of the styles of clocks and watches they stock, for example:

Japy Fre’res are recognised as one of the most innovative French clock designers between 18th century & 19th century, with many of their clocks carrying the “Medaille d’Honneur” stamp, and a recent London exhibition was solely dedicated to their work. Pictured below is a 1/2hr 8 day garniture clock dated late 19th century. They also have two similar clocks by the same maker.

Offered by Old As Time Antiques

Likewise, Chas. Frodsham, London, is recognised for designing quality chronometers, watches and timepieces. The firm has been described as the longest continuous trading firm in the world, late 18th century to today and has supplied the Royal Family with chronometers and clocks.  More recently they have specialised in carriage clocks and watches. Below is a hallmarked silver cased carriage clock designed to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee. It is assayed London 1970 and the case weights c. 16ozs:

Offered by Old As Time Antiques

This German movement 1/4hr 8 day bracket clock designed and manufactured in the Georgian style offers an impactful, stylish and quality addition to any home. The German movement is housed in a mahogany case with walnut veneer and has a Westminster chime. This item was owned by one family since the beginning of the 20th century:

Offered by Old As Time Antiques

Equally, the skeleton clock was designed to not only indicate time but also intrigue the observer. This example is a single fusee timepiece which combines the repetitive accuracy of a fuse movement with a classical design whilst allowing the owner to view the operation of their clock. It was manufactured between 1900 - 1915:

Offered by Old As Time Antiques

Another style of clock which makes an impression is the balloon cased clock. This 2hr 8 day clock has a French movement housed in a solid mahogany case with stringing and veneer decoration. It was originally presented to Miss M. Tarn in 1909: 

Offered by Old As Time Antiques

For the individual seeking a mantel clock, they can offer a wide selection of items datelined up to 1939, embracing the Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco and Arts & Crafts periods. The item illustrated is a 1/2hr 8 day mantel clock with a French movement housed in an ebonised mahogany case. It was originally presented to a Mr Hugh Davies, May 1909:

Offered by Old As Time Antiques

The above timepieces can be purchased from showcase P4 in Grays Mews.

For more information about Old as Time Antiques, visit their Facebook page here or call 01442 395 761.

15 May 2015

The Great Spring Show

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 will take place between 19th-23rd May at the Royal Hospital, London. The show was originally called 'The Great Spring Show', however the name 'The Chelsea Flower Show' rapidly eventually caught on. The event is a five day show is visited by 157,000 guests every year with extensive coverage on TV by the BBC.

Today the shows exhibitors display their gardens inside a pavilion, with all the Show Gardens constructed from scratch in only nineteen days. Until 2000, the Show Gardens were housed under a large marquee that was hence honoured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's biggest tent. The old tent was then transformed into 7,000 bags, aprons and jackets.

The land committed to show gardens expanded consistently from 1970 to 2000 and the show has turned into a critical venue for flowering trends. New plants are frequently exhibited at the show, while more established plants are revered under the spotlight of the agricultural world. Strangely until 2013, Gnomes were banned from the show – however exhibitors would regularly attempt to sneak them in to their gardens.

In 1947, to help fill the space left by exhibitors recuperating from the War, a portion of the marquee was devoted to flower arrangements for the first time. Since that point flower arrangement has turned into a customary highlight. In 1956 it was apportioned its own tent, referred to today as the Great Pavillion.

To celebrate The Chelsea Flower Show we have selected some of our favourite floral items at Grays.

Brooch and earring set available from Tings Jewellery Box

1980s white and champagne coloured rhinestone brooch available from Linda Bee

Gold and turquoise flower brooch available from Alfred Toro
Sterle gold flower brooch available from Nigel Norman

Vintage gold tone and emerald glass flower necklace available from Arabella Bianco
Victorian silver necklace available from Tings JewelleryBox

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