Thursday, 19 July 2018

Linda Bee: I love quality but I am not a classicist

Linda Bee has been trading with Bennie Gray’s businesses for most of her life. She has been part of Alfies, Barrett street market, Grays Antiques, and now she is back in Alfies and has joined forces with the Vintage Modes ladies.

Linda Bee in her stand

I asked her about her early days in the vintage trade.

I was very shy as a child and when I changed my school from Soho to Victoria my new teachers said that I should go to Art School. I wanted to but I did not want to leave my friends. I was creative and I wanted to do creative things, but mostly get involved with fashion. I wanted to go into hairdressing or design. Instead I ended up working in an office. However, soon I was running a hat shop. That experience changed my life. It was the seventies. I moved to Chiltern street. There were all sorts of interesting shops there and the Chiltern Fire House was still a working fire station.

I was working for Diane Logan and my life changed overnight. Diane Logan was the sister-in-law of Andrew Logan, the artist. Through them I met fascinating people and glamorous personalities of the London art scene, Andrew Logan the artist, Pauline Stone the model, Fenella Fieldings the actress, Derek Jarman the film director, Divine the actor. At the time Diane (Logan) would love going to jumble sales and bring back things into the shop to sell. It was all sorts of extraordinary objects.

In my break I used to go to Barrett Street, near Oxford Street, which was a market owned by Alfies' founder Bennie Gray. It was very similar to Alfies, but there were also stalls outside on the street which people could rent very cheaply. Then I could sell my findings from the market in the hat shop. I was desperate to become a dealer of vintage fashion and I had this boyfriend who said to me "Bee you can be anything you want to be!". He really encouraged me to explore my passion for fashion, so I rented a unit in Alfies as soon as it opened, he built it for me. I was there the very first day Alfies opened. I was located near the entrance, on the ground floor. But I was inexperienced and didn’t really like it. A friend of mine offered to buy the stall and I moved my new business to Barrett street. I carried on trading there until Bennie sold the market and all we moved to Grays Antiques. 

I don’t have any difficulty choosing stock. It’s more a matter of having the resources to expand my collection the way I like it. When I was little and my father wanted to take me out to the park, I always wanted to go and look at the shops on Bond Street. When I read Collette this phrase impressed me: "The shop windows of Paris are my changing museums, and although I love museums, I find that shops reflect life more. They inspire me".

My collection is multifaceted. If you are artistic you can’t be limited. I am inspired by all artistic expressions in art and design. I love interiors and dressing people. I would describe my collection as eclectic and very theatrical. I like quality and haute couture, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Dior. But I especially like anything that catches my eye, which could be inexpensive 1950s but with great design. My customers are themselves people of the theatre, other dealers, Americans, Europeans, people who appreciate glamour. I am just not a classicist!    

We had a browse around Linda's shop and spotted lots of covetable objects, see below...

Linda Bee at Vintage Modes | Second Floor, S048/49 | 07956 276 384 |

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Pavlos S. Pavlou: I was born a collector

One of our new dealers here at Alfies is also one of our long established numismatics dealers that came from Grays Mews. A global authority on coins of European and Middle Eastern origin, encompassing the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, Pavlos is well known in the numismatic world. I started our interview by asking him some questions about the origins of his becoming an antique’s dealers.

Pavlos in his stand, S011

Pavlos, please tell us how did it all start? 
I started full time in 2003. I used to catalogue coins for Bonham’s Auctioneer’s for 15 years.

How did you become involved with Bonham’s?
I was always interested in coins. I was working in banking for 29 years and during that time I was basically a collector. So when I was made redundant I became employed in the numismatics. 

Is this how your passion for coins started?
My passion for coins started in 1965. I was already a collector of coins by then, but 1965 is my benchmark. My father had a shop and I was helping out sometimes. I remember an incident which marked me; it was when I gave this old lady a Churchill crown as change. She threw it back at me because she thought I was cheating her. The Churchill crowns were commemorative as they had just come out after Churchill’s death. That experience shocked me because I thought coins were beautiful. 

My father owned an Import Export Company. So he travelled a lot for work. Whenever he came back from abroad, I used to take all his change. I was totally fascinated by the different styles and designs. I remember him coming back from Italy and seeing those coins. The images on them looked like Greek goddesses. They were Roman Goddesses of course. But I collect stamps too. And I collect paper money. I was born a collector. 

How do you source your stock?
I am known in the numismatic world. I buy at auctions and from other dealers. I also go to Fairs and I belong to clubs. I am a member of the Royal Numismatic Society.

Would you like to say something about your favourite pieces?
I studied History of Art, History and Latin, and my stock reflects my interest in Ancient Greek and Roman coins, Byzantine and European Medieval collections. I am also a specialist in Ancient Egyptian coins.  As a matter of fact I started with Egyptian, because they were cheap at the time. Now the tables have turned and they are the most expensive. I collect and deal in Ptolemaic and Roman Egyptian coins.

Could you point to an item in your collection that is very special to you?
Well, I love the coins of the Crusades and of the Byzantine Empire. I see them as my heritage. In particular the period since Anastasius I, who, as you know, is a Saint in Greek Orthodox Church, is very important to me. And I specialise in Armenian coins too. My paternal grandmother is Armenian you know, and so I have a particular attachment to the Amenian culture and heritage. It’s a romantic thing. I am a romantic at heart.

BYZANTINE EMPIRE. Phocas AD 602-610. AV.Solidus

CRUSADER STATES. CYPRUS. James II AD 1460-1473. AR.Gros.'Coronation issue'

ARMENIA. Levon I AD 1198-1219.AR. Double Tram. (5.67g, 27.1mm, 3h)

ITALY. VENICE. Nicolo Tron (1471-1473), Silver Trono (or Lira of 20-Soldi)

Pavlos S. Pavlou | S011 | Second Floor Gallery

Friday, 6 July 2018

Art Night, 2018

Art Night 2018 on Saturday 7th July

Untitled. Image courtesy of Art Night London

Hayward Gallery. Image courtesy of Art Night London
Battersea Power Station. Image courtesy of Art Night London

Art Night 2018 is London's largest free contemporary art festival. This year it falls this weekend, Saturday 7th July, from 6pm to 6am.  Each year the festival partners with a leading art gallery and curator, focusing on a different area of London to discover its unique identity, culture and architecture though a variety of art forms.

The focus of this year's festival is transforming the Thames riverbank between the South Bank and Battersea Power Station, via Vauxhall and Nine Elms, showcasing iconic and off-the-beaten venues with artworks and pop up performances in over sixty locations.  All 12 events in the programme are curated by the Hayward Gallery and are free and open to all without tickets. Please note that all of the 50 plus events in the Art Night Open are free, but that a small number are ticketed. The programme will feature a range of contemporary art, ranging from immersive multimedia installation and visual reality to interactive experiences, special screenings and live music.

Inspired by one of the biggest art events this summer, then look no further and come and visit us here at Alfies where you will find a wonderful array of fine art, paintings, prints, sculpture, decorative pieces and more waiting to be discovered..

A lesson in wasted morals, oil on canvas, early 19th  century. John Cserny at Alfies.

An abstract painting by James Arnold Martin, contemporary, British. Mark Eaton at Alfies.
Large silver hollow lidded pendant, 12th century, Afghanistan. Marko Pollo at AlFayez, Alfies.

16th century Iznic border tile. Ottoman, Turkey. Antique Choices at AlFayez, Alfies Antique Market.

An English landscape with figures, oil on canvas, 19th century. John Cserny at Alfies.

Mid century painting  'Exhausted Nanny'. Diplomat Treasures International at Alfies 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Royal Ascot: Racegoers, Very Proper and Properly English

We have put Royal Ascot on our calendars to welcome summer and a high season of sport and social events that epitomise elegance; and not only. The days at Royal Ascot are full of activity and entertainment with the finest things of life and in glorious weather (we hope)! With over a three hundred year old history, change and consistency are battling each other. In the process they are reinventing the game and the experience.

For the early 18th century racegoers the entertainment included ballad singers, gaming tents, jugglers and much more besides. A ceremonial guard in velvet uniforms, the Greencoats, was established in 1744.  As the event becomes more popular, the dress code is more formalised representing different aesthetics to those that originate it. The strict dress code is a more recent practice. It actually dates back to the 19th century rejecting ornate fashion and establishing the man’s tailored suit and necktie. This is not an edgy affair.

It is the most prestigious and spectacular week of racing with guests attending formally dressed – men in morning suits and top hats, and ladies in day dresses – and the Queen arriving with family Members along the track in horse-drawn landaus to mark the opening of the day’s events. All the names of the week’s races have a Royal theme. Jockeys are instructed to wear the colours of their horse’s owners, with colours unique to the owner of each horse.

Associated with the Royal British family the race courts came into existence in the early eighteenth century, founded by Queen Anne. The first race, ‘Her Majesty’s Plate’, with a purse of 100 guineas was held in August 1711. Subsequent Acts of Parliament in the nineteen century cemented the event by establishing the Ascot Authority to manage the racecourse. The world’s finest racehorses compete in more than £7 million prize money. There are three enclosures for guests, with the Royal Enclosure being the most prestigious one.

The race courts were redeveloped in the 1960s. A massive redevelopment followed, and was completed in 2006. It drew criticism for benefiting hospitality at the expense of viewing. But the event kept growing in significance and numbers. In Royal Ascot everything changes, so that everything can stay the same.

Royal Ascot's synonymousness with sartorial elegance is a delight to observe. The event is underway (until 23 June), bringing with it another flamboyant display of hats. See our pick of the most attention-grabbing hats at Alfies, from statement-making to delicate headpieces....

Tuille hat, available from June Victor at Vintage Modes

1960s brown straw floral hat, available from June Victor at Vintage Modes

1960s Chiffon hat, available from June Victor at Vintage Modes

Edna Wall 1960s hat, available from June Victor at Vintage Modes

1970s Jean Muir turban, available from June Victor at Vintage Modes

1950s floral straw hat, available from June Victor at Vintage Modes

Vintage white yellow and blue hat, available from June Victor at Vintage Modes

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Father's Day Gift Ideas at Alfies

In tribute of Father's Day on the 17th of June, we have put together some inspirational gifts for dad. We think the following ideas are a surefire hit... or, you could buy him his 27th pair of novelty socks. We know what he'd prefer!

Bowie by Dan Reaney. Limited edition acetate/chrome and glitter painting with signed certificate,
available from Planet Bazaar

Silver and onyx cufflinks, 1970s, available from Gloria Sinclair

Vintage bankers lamp by NIAM of France, c1920s, available from Travers Antiques
Leather and silver hipflask, available from Goldsmith & Perris

Cartier 18ct and sapphire tie clip, available from Kieron Rielly

Edwardian collapsible opera top hat, available from Linda Bee

Men's costume jewellery, c1970s ring with ornate shank, diamond cut surface with a matt gold tone,
available from Arabella Bianco

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Flower Power

It's officially flower show season! Last month saw the iconic Chelsea Flower Show hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society with many more taking place through the Summer months right up until September. The RHS was founded in London in 1804 and has since become the UK's leading gardening charity. The society aims to promote horticulture making the UK a greener place through their inspirational flower shows, promotion and education.

Here are some of our favourite plant based pieces from around Alfies:

A Monet print, 1970s. Available from Moe Heidarieh

A Chinese prunus vase, 1916. Available from Horner Antiques

A Jean Allen dress, 1960s. Available from June Victor

Flowers in vase painting, signed, 1940s. Available from i Fine & Contemporary Art

An enamel flower scent bottle, 1970s. Available from Gloria Sinclair

A watercolor floral painting by Lucy Kemp Welsh, 1930s. Available from Robert McKoy Fine Arts

A floral button down dress, 1950s. Available from June Victor

A floral painting, oil on board, 1950s. Available from i Fine & Contemporary Art

Thursday, 17 May 2018


Among some of the most vibrant pieces on show at Alfies right now is lots of coloured glass. Always popular and striking, glass also has huge scope, coming in many forms. Technically known as glass art, Murano is considered to be the birthplace of the modern styles and is still one of the most popular styles of glass available. 

As a decorative medium, glass was developed in early Egypt and Assyria and was desired by the Romans. The earliest evidence of glass blowing was found in Chogha Zanbil during excavations where many glass bottles were found and were dated to the 2nd millennium BC.

In the context of being used as an art form, glass reached the height of popularity during the Middle Ages, when the builders of the cathedrals of Europe began creating stained glass windows as a major decorative element in their architecture.

The 19th century saw factory glass blowers replaced by mechanical bottle blowing and birthed some of the great modern designers such as Lalique, Tiffany and Whitefriars which are still hugely popular in the world of antiques today.

Here are some of the most eye-catching pieces we have seen around Alfies...

Yellow and orange glass serving dishes, c1970s. Available from W & L Antiques

A cranberry crackle glass, c1890s. Available from W & L Antiques

Midnight blue and turquoise glass perfume bottle, c1980s. Available from Hayman & Hayman

An orange glass splash vase, c1950s. Available from Beth

A Davidson Pearline yellow glass sweet dish, 1915. Available from Beth

A French peach splash glass bowl, c1950s. Available from Horner Antiques

A Czech aquamarine glass vase, c1960s. Available from Robinson Antiques

An amber glass perfume bottle, c1940s. Available from Hayman & Hayman

A Whitefriars ruby glass vase, c1965. Available from Robinson Antiques

A Val St. Lambert lime green glass vase, c1950s. Available from Louise Verber Antiques 

A Murano crackle glass cased vase, c1960s. Available from Robinson Antiques

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