Friday, 3 July 2015

An Ace At Alfies

Wimbledon is well under way and with the sun shining, strawberries ripe and champagne flowing, who will be crowned champion this year? 

The Championships Wimbledon, also known as Wimbledon, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. It has been held at the AELTC, the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, since 1877 and to many is widely considered the most prestigious tennis competition. It is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the others being; the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open. Since the Australian Open shifted to hard court in 1988, Wimbledon is the only major still played on grass.

The tournament takes place over two weeks in late June and early July, culminating with the Ladies' and Gentlemen's Singles Final, scheduled for the second Saturday and Sunday respectively. Five major, junior, and invitational events are held each year. Wimbledon traditions include a strict dress code for competitors, the eating of strawberries and cream by the spectators, and Royal patronage.

At Alfies we have plenty to cause a racket about, and you will love the wide range of antiques and vintage collectables we have to serve for your Wimbledon experience - from champagne coupes and picnic baskets to rare tennis rackets.

 The official 'The Championships Wimbledon' logo

Two 1940's tennis rackets with original Dunlop stretchers and carrying bag. Offered by Paola & Iaia - The Originals

A vintage Whipshaft tennis racket. Offered by Paola & Iaia - The Originals

A 1930s La Belle and early 20th century Queen's tennis racket. Offered by Paola & Iaia - The Originals

A collection of vintage tennis books from the 1960s and 1970s. Offered by Paola & Iaia - The Originals

A collection of tennis brooches. A silver 1950s tennis racket and ball brooch, a 1950s metal double racket pin and a 1960s Léa Stein colourful pair of tennis rackets brooch. Offered by Paola & Iaia - The Originals

Come rain or come shine, it's one of the signs that the English summer is here and Wimbledon would not be the same without its iconic strawberries and cream. The tradition of the red fruit remains part of the tournament so much so that 28,000kg of them are eaten each year. The most likely explanation of the tradition seems to be a combination of circumstances - as strawberries were in season at the time of the tournament - and the fact that during the Victorian era they were the fashionable thing to eat. They were part of afternoon tea, a daily ritual, and that carried over to Wimbledon.

A pair of mid-century carved coral strawberry and jade leaf earrings with gold wires and half pearl stones.
Offered by Gareth Brooks

A 1950s single wheel cut champagne coupe with strawberries. Offered by Robinson Antiques

A 1950s picnic set. Offered by Eclectic Antiques & Contemporary

Be sure to enjoy one of our delicious home made afternoon teas at our Roof Top Kitchen and enjoy the sunshine on the roof terrace.

Wonderful hand made cakes available at the Roof Top Kitchen on our 3rd floor at Alfies

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World

Tate Britain currently shows a major retrospective exhibition of  Dame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth's work, who was an English artist and sculptor and achieved international prominence in the 20th century in British modernism. 
During her early studies in the 1920s at the Leeds School of Art, she was awarded a county major scholarship to study sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. She graduated in 1924 and was awarded a further scholarship for one year's study abroad and went to Italy where she stayed for two years. She lived first in Florence and then Rome where she learned the traditional Italian technique of marble carving.

Pelagos, 1946, part painted wood and strings

She had begun to use bronze in the mid 1950s, and for the remainder of her career she divided her work between direct carving in wood or stone, and creating sculpture to be cast in bronze. The use of bronze also enabled Hepworth to work on an increased scale and during the 1960s she embarked on ambitious sculptural pieces and major public commissions. Maquette for Winged Figure, 1957, was  eventually enlarged for one of her best known and most prominent commissions for the John Lewis Partnership building on Oxford Street, London, inaugurated in April 1963.

Maquette for Winged Figure commission for John Lewis

At Alfies you will find sculptural pieces for the home, whether it be in the form of a chandelier, mirror, bookends or just simply a work of art....

1970s cast bronze swan bookends, offered by Travers Antiques

Sculptural Sciolari Flush Mount Pendant, offered by The Moderns

1960s Steel Wall Sculpture, offered by Matt Mitchell London

Austrian Art Deco candle holder designed by Richard Rohac, offered by Robinson Antiques

Geometric abstract sculpture, offered by The Moderns

Starburst Mirror, offered by Louise Verber

Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World at Tate Britain, 24 June – 25 October 2015

Friday, 12 June 2015

Trooping the Colour: The Queen's Birthday Parade

This Saturday we celebrate the Queen's official birthday with the traditional ceremony of 'Trooping the Colour'. The custom of Trooping the Colour dates back to Charles II in the 17th century when the colours of a regiment were used as a rallying point during battles and were trooped in front of the soldiers every day to make sure that every man could recognise those of his own regiment. 

In London, the first record of The Sovereign's Birthday being lodged by the Grenadier Guards is in 1748 and again in 1760 after George III became King, as it was ordered that parades should mark the King's Birthday. From the accession of George IV it became an annual event with the exception of the two World Wars. 

Photo taken by The Telegraph

This impressive display of pageantry is now held on the occasion of the Queen's Official Birthday. It takes place in June each year to celebrate the official Birthday of the Sovereign and is carried out by her personal troops - the Household Division - on Horse Guards Parade and the Queen herself attends and takes the salute.

To celebrate, at Alfies we offer a large and varied collection of beautiful antiques and gifts fit for a 'right Royal knees-up'!

It is said that the Queen is fond of blue. This beautiful vintage diamond and
sapphire cluster ring offered by Pars Jewellery would make an excellent gift.

A lovely collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco silver scent bottles.
Offered by Hayman & Hayman.

The Royals have always been avid horse riders. These Victorian cufflinks
with a horse motifs offered by Tony Durante would be perfect for an English gentleman.

A collection of Coronation tin including a rare tin box with a portrait of
the Royal Family. Offered by Paola & Iaia -Of The Originals.

A wonderful 1940s propaganda scarf in machine edge rayon depicting the three services (Army, Air
Force, & Navy) on the quarter with a union flag in the centre. Offered by Tin Tin Collectables.

A beautiful complete 1893 fruit set Sheffield silver plate set with pearl handles by
Charles James Allen & Sidney Darwin. Offered by Goldsmith & Perris.

For details of the ceremony taking place Saturday 13th June visit:

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Shoes: Pleasure & Pain at the V&A

Saturday 13 June 2015 sees the opening of  Pleasure & Pain at the V&A. This exhibition will look at the extremes of footwear from around the globe, presenting around 200 pairs of shoes ranging from a sandal decorated in pure gold leaf originating from ancient Egypt to the most elaborate designs by contemporary makers.

At Alfies, our vintage clothing dealers have a fascinating selection of footwear. Pictured below are handmade espadrilles from Tin Tin Collectables. On VE day the laces were replaced with tricolore laces to celebrate victory in Europe. 

'Victory' espadrilles with original laces, 1945, offered by Tin Tin  Collectables

The origins of Riviera style stem from the 1920s and 1930s, when sunbathing and sport became fashionable pastimes. Canvas espadrilles are a particularly apt Riviera touch.

1920s sporting espadrilles, offered by Tin Tin Collectables

In the 1900s, it was commonplace for women to acquire elaborate re-usable heels such as the ones below and later have the rest of the shoe constructed by a shoemaker. 

1900-1910 diamante set heels offered by Tin Tin Collectables

Mirror set heels c1900s, offered by Tin Tin Collectables

Below are a selection of shoes from different eras you will find at Alfies...

1930s brown shoes, offered by Carole Collier

1950s black lace shoes, offered by June Victor
1960s metallic silver shoes by Harrods, offered by June Victor

And of course, you'll need a chic shoe horn to put your fabulous footwear on....

1950s shoe horn in the shape of heeled shoes, offered by Tin Tin Collectables

Pleasure & Pain at the V&A will run from the 13th of June 2015 until the 31st of January 2016.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Picnics And Cocktails At Alfies

With spring in the air and summer on its way; it's time to dust off the picnic baskets and bring out the cocktail sets.

Late 19th century, houses on landscape. Oil on canvas. Offered by Robert McKoy Fine Arts

The first record of an alcoholic cocktail dates back to 1806, appearing in the May 13th edition of 'The Balance And Columbian Repository', published in Hudson, New York. The question had been asked: "What is a cocktail?" to which the editor Harry Croswell replied:

"Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters. It is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, in as much as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that if fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else."

At Alfies we offer a wide selection of vintage collectables to make for a very special picnic and cocktail hour. Why not make this bank holiday weekend a cocktail weekend?

1930s Dunhill travelling cocktail set. Offered by Goldsmith & Perris

Victorian to Art Deco champagne coupe cocktail glasses. Offered by Robinson Antiques

Landers Frary & Clara silver plated 1920s cocktail shaker, made in the USA. Offered by W & L Antiques
Adolph Scott silver cocktail sticks, Birmingham 1927. Offered by Goldsmith & Perris

Selection of Art Deco cocktail accessories and silverware. Offered by Robinson Antiques

Art deco Piper Heidsieck silver plated Champagne bucket dated 1969. Offered by Travers Antiques

Duck ice bucket by Mauro Manetti 1970s. Offered by Louise Verber Antiques

 Complete 1950s picnic set. Offered by Eclectic Antiques & Contemporary

A selection of vintage cocktail stirrers. Offered by Renato


Friday, 15 May 2015

Flower Power

We love this time of year when the flowers are in full bloom and the delightful pops of colour puts a smile on our faces. In the urban landscape of London, gardens can be hard to come by, however every May we can look forward to the Chelsea Flower Show which kicks off from 9 until 23 May. This event has been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London every year since 1913 (apart from the war years) and is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society which was founded in 1804.

In the lead up to the Chelsea Flower show, why not get inspired at Alfies, we have lots of pretty floral pieces and antique garden tools......

A selection of  early 20th century garden tools, offered by Paola & Iaia - The Originals
15ct gold, turquoise and pearl Edwardian necklace, offered by Gareth Brooks
Floral micro mosaic Italian frame, offered by Hayman & Hayman
1930s Newhall floral plate, offered by Beth

1930s Celluloid Floral Bangle, offered by Carole Collier
Davenport vase, floral pattern. c1890, offered by Janes Antiques

Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Rise and Fall of Biba Fashion Stores

Biba, a London born fashion store of the 1960s and 1970s, was created and run by Barbara Hulanicki and her husband Stephen Fitz-Simon.

At first, Biba was a small fashion boutique, selling Art Nouveau decor and Rock and Roll decadence. Opened in Abingdon Road in Kensington in September 1964, when their second shop opened in 1965 on Kensington Church Street the first mail order catalogues were distributed, creating a new and unique shopping experience from home. This also meant that customers did not have to travel to London to purchase from them.

The first Biba store minutes before it opened.
In 1974, the Biba shop moved to a seven story department store which, since its opening day, has attracted up to a million customer weekly. The store had different departments, each floor accompanied by its own theme and logo. The floors consisted of a children's floor, a floor for men's fashion, a floor for women's, a food market, a book store and a home floor which sold decorating items and soft furnishings.

A collection of the different Biba logos for different departments

For those avid collectors out there, there are crucial notes for collecting Biba pieces, as Biba did not label their clothing with their logo until 1968; before then labelling pieces with a small white label with the size in red print. If an item has the Biba font but not the logo, it was made between 1968 and was phased out in 1971. All items after 1971 had official printed labels - gold on black and later black on gold. Collectors must be aware that the modern Biba label looks very similar to the vintage one.

Tin Tin Collectables at Alfies - who deal in vintage clothing and costume accessories - have a wonderful collection of PR catalogue photographs from Biba in the 1960s. These photos show a mother and daughter scene: each image showcasing a woman in an elegant and very Art Nouveau outfit, with a young girl in a matching version. Leslie Verrinder from Tin Tin is lucky enough to have eight of these pages, where most collectors only manage to purchase six. Leslie's Biba collection is available to view and purchase at Alfies.

A picture from the Biba Fashion Catalogues.

A matching mother/daughter outfit catalogue photo

Fantastic examples of Biba fashion

Vintage Biba clothing

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