20 April 2017

The History of Malachite


Malachite may not enjoy the cachet of the diamond or the musgravite minerals, but it has a rich and intriguing history; having been mined in Ancient Egypt from as early as 4,000 BCE.

The Ancient Egyptians associated the colour green with death and resurrection as well as life and fertility. They believed in an afterlife of eternal paradise, which resembled their lives with the absence of pain or suffering, named the 'Field of Malachite'.

Since antiquity, malachite has been used to create gemstones, sculptures, ornaments; even powdered cosmetics! It was used as a pigment for green paint up until around 1800, when synthetic greens became widely available.

A fashion for malachite revived during the Victorian Age, used in fine jewellery for the English gentry and grand sculpture in the palaces of the Russian Tsars.

During the roaring twenties, malachite was back in vogue after the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922 led to a popular fascination with all things Egyptian.

Here at Gray's we have gone searching for some antique items containing this fascinating mineral...



 Apolished Malachite/Chrysocalla, Freeform, 15.5 x 10 inches, Contemporary, Democratic Republic of Congo. Offered by Al Khatib Antiques  




Gold Stick Pin with Malachite Cameo in the classical revival style c.1820 approx. 4.75 inches, British. Offered by Christopher Cavey & Associates







Gold and Malachite Salamander Tie Pin (two views), Victorian c.1880 approx 3.5 inches, Probably English. Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company



Art Deco Diamond and Malachite Drop Earrings, 1920-35, 32mm length, European. Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company


6 April 2017

Depictions of Empire in Art & Antiques

The British began to establish overseas colonies in the 16th century. By 1783 Britain had a large empire, with colonies in America and the West Indies. This 'first British Empire' came to an end after the American Revolution. However, in the 19th century, the British built a second worldwide empire, India, based on British sea-power and huge conquests in Africa.

At its height in 1922, the British Empire governed a fifth of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s total land area.

This colonisation had a profound effect on artists and last year's exhibition - Artist and Empire at Tate Britain - displayed some 200 paintings, drawings, sculptures and artefacts spanning more than 400 years, from the 16th century to the present.

We discovered a few artefacts at Grays associated with The British Empire.

Doulton Lambethware depicting General Gordon. Gordon was a British Army officer and administrator. He saw action in the Crimean War as an officer in the British Army. Available from Leon's Militaria.

Cold cast bronze of Winston Churchill. Available from Leon's Militaria.


Admiral Lord Nelson jug, Staffordshire Pottery, c1840s. Available from Leon's Militaria.

Duke of Wellington jug, Staffordshire Pottery, c1850s. Available from Leon's Militaria

Meat paste jar depicting the Crimean War, Prattware, c1850s. Available from Leon's Militaria.


Bronze East Indian soldier, 18-19th century. Available from Peter Sloane.


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