30 January 2015

It was all Yellow

Throughout history yellow has had various connotations; specifically playing an important role in Asian culture. In China yellow is the colour of happiness, glory, and wisdom and is considered to be the most beautiful and prestigious colour. Yellow was often used in the robes and attire of the emperors along with decoration on royal palaces. Yellow is also used in Buddhism as the colour of Monks’ garments and appears heavily on temples. Within geography there are five directions of the Chinese compass; north, south, east, west, and the middle. Yellow signifies the middle, or Middle Kingdom, which is considered to be in the exact centre of the world.

However, yellow has not always had such positive connotations in the West, it can be seen as the colour of ambivalence and jealousy. Yellow is also symbolic in America of cowardice, as opposed to the Chinese association of the colour with heroism. This is believed to be due to the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods where yellow was established as the colour of clothes worn by Judas Iscariot; the disciple who betrayed Christ. This connection branded yellow with connotations of envy and  jealousy.

Yellow is a colour more commonly associated with gold, taken from the Latin word ‘arum’ which translates as ‘yellow’. In Ancient Egypt, yellow/gold was considered to be what the skin and bones of the gods were made of, as it was perceived as imperishable and indestructible. The Egyptians used yellow extensively in tomb paintings using either yellow ochre or the highly toxic brilliant orpiment made from arsenic, also found in a small paint box within the tomb of King Tutankhamen. The earliest traces of yellow made from yellow ochre pigment in clay has been found in prehistoric stone art in the cave of Lascaux, France estimated to be 17,300 years old.

There are a wide range of yellow gems and stones which can be found in many items at Grays such as Amber, yellow sapphire, yellow jade and yellow diamond.

French 18ct gold flower earrings, offered by DB Gems

Citrine Heart Ring by Repossi, offered by DB Gems

18th Century lemon yellow enamelled curiosity bon bon box, offered by Michael Longmore

19th Century High quality cut glass Bohemian goblet with cover, offered by Mousa Antiques

Art Deco Egyptian Revival necklace, offered by MGN Collectables

Brocade Chinese vintage jacket, offered by Vintage Modes

8 January 2015

British Pewter

Pewter has a long and proud history in Britain. It is a metal alloy, a mix of about 96% tin with traces of copper, antimony and silver. Its excellent malleable nature has been harnessed for thousands of years, introduced by the Romans to Britain around the 2nd century AD using tin mined in Cornwall.

In the centuries that followed, most of the pewter made here was for the church, and by the 12th century tiny exquisite pewter badges were cast for the pilgrimages to Canterbury, Walsingham, Windsor, to name a few. Pewter was used to make chalices, patens and spoons for ceremonial use, but the versatility of this alloy was soon recognised by the broader society. Wealthy merchant classes wanted their plates made of pewter, and for a while it was a certain status symbol.  By the 14th century domestic pewter was being widely used and most towns had pewter workshops. The Worshipful Company of Pewterers was founded in 1474 to oversee the quality of the pewterers’ work and their conduct. This livery company is still in the city of London, and has a fine representative collection of British pewter including many pieces of historical importance as well as high quality contemporary pieces.

The late 15th to 17th centuries became the “Golden Age” of British pewter – the simple but stunning designs combined with the soft, subtle colour appealed to many.  Most of today’s collectors adore the plates, flagons, spoons, cups, chargers and candlesticks that were produced during this time - some are very rare; all are collectable. Unlidded mugs and lidded tankards may be the most familiar pewter artefacts from the late 17th and 18th centuries. By the 18th century pewter would have been found in every household, no longer exclusive to wealthy merchants, nobles and church officials.

The Industrial Revolution and the arrival of ceramics from Holland and the Far East in the 18th century heralded a decline in popularity and the manufacture of pewter. The industry shrank and this once highly desirable metal was banished to the taverns. Pewter tankards and measures were still being used in pubs as late as the 1930s.

Pewter saw some revival in popularity in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods and is still being produced today. Modern British pewter continues to be prized across the globe for fine craftsmanship, practicality and high design standards.

Below are some fine examples of British pewter from Jane Stewart’s extensive collection which can be viewed in her two showcases FS05 and FS06 located in the basement of the MewsJane Stewart is a member of The Pewter Society and has been dealing in pewter since 1981. She is a respected and long established dealer at Grays and has gained a reputation for fine quality pewter from the 15th century to the present day. We are proud to have her expertise in house.  All items on display in showcases FS05 and FS06 can be purchased at the reception.

Selection of pewter in showcase FS05. Offered by Jane Stewart
Wavy edged pewter plate with noble crest, late 18th century. Offered by Jane Stewart
Pewter wine funnel with a hook, c.1790s. Offered by Jane Stewart
Half pint pewter tankard with curvy handle, c.1820s. Offered by Jane Stewart
Pewter sprinklers for pepper and spices, c.1790s-1820s. Offered by Jane Stewart

For more information or to book an appointment with Jane Stewart contact her directly:
Phone: +44 7767 685 049
Email:  francoise.jane@gmail.com

18 December 2014

Last Minute Gift Ideas

We know how stressful the hunt for the perfect Christmas gift can be, at Grays you can be rest assured you will find that special item. With over 200 dealers and a wide range of stock, why not avoid the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street and make a short detour to Grays where our dealers are at hand to give you expert information about their stock.

For inspiration, we've compiled a small selection of potential gift ideas. If you visit Grays, it will soon become apparent you are spoiled for choice!

Attwood & Sawyer vintage crab brooch - diamante & red stones, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Victorian Diamond & Enamel ‘Friendship’ Pendant in Original Case, offered by The Antique Jewellery Company.
Royal Worcester Floral & Butterfly Vases on Black Ground, c.1865, offered by Serhat Ahmet
1930s Silver & Enamel Compact, offered by Evonne Antiques
French Art Deco cufflinks 18ct gold fittings, offered by DB Gems.
Large silver & enamel Austrian box, c.1900, offered by Jack Podlewski

Art Deco enamel vase, offered by Mark Hill
Art Deco Silver Mounted Desk Calendar, offered by Ars Memoriae
Vintage pens, offered by Shabbir Solanki Antiques

We would like to remind you all, the last day of trading at Grays this year will be Wednesday 24 December 10am until 4pm. We will re-open in the New Year, Friday January 2, from 10am until 6pm as usual.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and New Year!

11 December 2014

Grays' Christmas Shopping Party

Our Christmas Shopping Party at Grays took place Thursday 27th November this year, and was a huge success thanks to our collaborators, dealers and customers!

Jason Lee Howlett

Jason was our fantastic singer for the night, and crooned his way through a set of vintage and Christmas classics. He really added to the party atmosphere and made sure event the most reluctant joined in with the dancing! To find out where you can see Jason next, make sure you follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and keep an eye on his website.

Grays in the Press!
Grays is mentioned in The Riverside Journals in an article entitled, Mayfair: A Label Hunter's Paradise.


23 November, 2014
Vintage Modes is named one of Britain's Best Vintage Boutiques in The Sunday Telegraph supplement Stella.

Friday 21st November

Grays Christmas Shopping Party 2014 is listed on TimeOut online

5 December 2014

Vintage Modes are Back in Business!

We are delighted to announce that Vintage Modes, a well established collective of vintage fashion and costume jewellery dealers, are now back open for business!

As some of you might be aware, Vintage Modes and the whole lower ground floor succumbed to major flooding after a bout of heavy rain in the summer. During the renovations Vintage Modes have undergone a complete makeover and the customers can now enjoy their brand new look and ever expanding inventory. 

Vintage Modes' entrance and their new fresh look
Vintage clothing and accessories, offered by Vintage Modes
Costume jewellery and accessories, offered by Arabella Bianco
Vintage Modes are a popular location for photo shoots and filming and are regularly featured in magazines such as Vogue, Tatler and Stylist. Thus it comes as no surprise that they were recently included in the top 50 Best Vintage Boutiques in The Sunday Telegraph’s Stella supplement.

Vintage Modes is an essential destination for any vintage lover! Whatever your look or style you will certainly find a treasure or two here.

Vintage clothing, offered by Vintage Modes
Costume jewellery, offered by Arabella Bianco

Gillian Horsup & Unicorn's costume jewellery section
Colourful costume jewellery, offered by Gillian Horsup
Stylish costume jewellery, offered by Unicorn

Visit Vintage Modes downstairs in Grays Mews. Open Monday to Friday from 10am-6pm and Saturdays from 11am-5pm.  Don’t forget to follow the dealers on social media for more regular updates and press coverage.

28 November 2014

#AYG Christmas Cracker at Grays

For those of you that made it to the Grays Annual Christmas Shopping Party last night - we hope there weren't too many sore heads this morning! - you'll already know about the much anticipated collaboration between Grays and the Antiques Young Guns. Last night the #AYG launched their special Christmas Cracker showcases here at Grays, where several of the Antique Young Guns are displaying their pick of the best antique gift ideas, all for sale from reception at Grays! Some of the inspiring Young Guns participating are; Alyce Dobbie, Robyn Alston, Amanda Pickett, Jon Irvine, Mara gold, Joseph Kennedy, Natalie Leon, Claire O'Neil, Jason Clarke and co-founder George Johnson. Head on down to Grays now to check out the cabinets, located in our Grays Mews building, 1-7 Davies Mews, W1K 5AB.

Antiques Young Guns' Mark Hill - who is resident here in the Mews at Grays - and George Johnson co-founded the AYGs along with Gail McLeod and last night announced exciting news of their collaboration with U.S. Antique Shows, meaning they can now take the success of the Young Guns to the US. Read more here about #AYG's latest news!

The #AYG Showcases at Grays, next to the management office in the mews.

Joseph Kennedy at London House Antiques. A selection of items including; 1955 Adventures of Tin Tin book. Collection of three plain cordial glasses. 1970s Pear Ice Bucket.

A selection of shelves with items from Jason Clarke.

21 November 2014

New Showcase Dealers

Ancient -Jewellery
Showcase V25, Grays Mews

Adam Murray of Ancient-Jewellery has a stunning selection of early jewellery such as ancient Greek, Roman through to 17th century.  His fascinating showcase would not look out of place in the British Museum!

Renaissance Gold & Enamel Pendant, c1540

Roman gold intaglio ring, 3rd century AD

Roman red jasper intaglio of a Panther, 1st century AD

Brian Butterworth
Showcase P08, Grays Mews

Brian specialises in a wide variety of beautiful silver objects, from pocket watches to salt & pepper shakers. If you are stuck for gift ideas, Brian's showcase will not dissapoint!

A pair of sliver candlesticks. Sheffield 1913.

Silver repousse cream jug. Birmingham 1874

Very ornate German silver spoon. Clear marks, 925, 1831
Dont forget, next week 27 November is the annual Grays Christmas Shopping Party! Join us from 5pm-8pm for music, drinks and festive fun whilst you shop. 
Please RSVP 020 7629 7034 or info@graysantiques.com

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