Thursday, 28 April 2016

Alfies Celebrate 40 Years!

This year marks Alfies Antique Market’s 40th year in business... and we're celebrating!

When Bennie Gray bought the building, that was previously home to Jordan’s Department Store, in 1976, he had a clear vision of creating an unpretentious indoor antiques market. He quickly launched Alfies – named after his jazz musician father – and the centre went from strength to strength. Originally occupying just one floor of the building, Alfies Antique Centre today covers 35,000 square feet over four floors, complete with over 70 dealers and a charming roof-top cafĂ© and terrace. Over the years, Alfies’ dealers have spread out on to the surrounding Church Street, opening shops and turning this corner of Marylebone into a destination for antiques, decorative items and high quality design.

Alfies in the 1970s

Alfies on opening day, 1976

To celebrate this impressive anniversary, Alfies and the Church Street antiques area are hosting a week of pop-up shops and activities in collaboration with this year’s London Design Festival, between 20 and 24 September 2016.

Alfies’ main attraction will be an occupancy from London Glassblowing, which was established by Peter Layton in 1976 and also shares its 40th anniversary with Alfies. Ahead of its time, London Glassblowing was among the first hot-glass studios in Europe and is now known as having a particular flair for the use of colour, form and texture.

Peter Layton in his glass blowing studio, 1979

Black Paradiso by Peter Layton

Peter Layton in his glass blowing studio

Alongside this, Church Street will be hosting an array of antique, art and design focused pop-up shops, with more details to be confirmed.

In-store, Alfies will also be holding talks and demonstrations from experts within and outside of the centre; Alfies is particularly proud to be welcoming Mark Hill for a talk on 20th century glass; co-founder of the Antiques Young Guns, Mark has also presented on both the BBC Antiques Roadshow and Collectaholics programmes.

Mark Hill

Find out more about our celebrations in September here

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Queen's Birthday

Festivities are taking place around the country today to celebrate the UK's longest-serving monarch's 90th birthday. Although April 21 marks the Queen's actual birthday, she has a second "official" birthday on a Saturday in June. Traditionally, official celebrations to mark a sovereign's birthday have been held on a day other than their actual date of birth, particularly when the actual birthday has not fallen in the summer. The tradition is linked to the unreliable British weather because the royal family want to hold the grand birthday parade in the summer. This year, Queen Elizabeth's "official" birthday, will be celebrated on 11 June. 

In honour of Her Majesty's birthday, we have rounded up a few royal related items and memorabilia, available at Alfies.

A vintage postcard of Queen Elizabeth, driving to the state opening of Parliament, offered by Mark Eaton

Queen's Coronation souvenir spoon, offered by Naneen Brooks

Queen's Coronation 1953 wine taster souvenir, silver plated, English. Offered by Horner Antiques

British made bunting, used for the Queens Coronation, offered by Tin Tin Collectables

Vintage Union Jack flag, offered by Tin Tin Collectables

Vintage dress, offered by Tin Tin Collectables

Queen Elizabeth II, Silver Jubilee souvenir crystal ashtray, offered by Tobacciana Collectibles

A painting of Windsor Castle, offered by Mark Eaton

Various postcards featuring Windsor Castle, offered by Mark Eaton

Friday, 15 April 2016

Spring Into Alfies - 'Dutch Flowers'

Spring has finally started to blossom. The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the days are growing longer. At Alfies spring is our favourite season, and we are excited to visit the National Gallery as it celebrates spring too with a new exhibition, honouring Dutch floral artists, showing from 6 April to 29 August, 2016.

A Still Life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, 1609-10

The exhibition runs alongside the wonderful flower shows currently showing at Chelsea and Hampton Court and is the first display on this scale in over 20 years. Originating from the early 17th century to its peak in the late 18th century 'Dutch Flowers' delves into the floral still life paintings by renowned artists such as Ambrosius the Elder Bosschaert, Jan van Huysum, and Paulus Theodorus van Brussel, and celebrates their exquisite works and attention to detail, showing the interest around the time in horticulture and the 'phenomenon of tulip mania in the Dutch Golden Age', as quoted by the National Gallery.

At Alfies we are proud to have our own fine art gallery on our first floor. Have a look at our beautiful collection of Dutch and floral paintings we have on offer:

Mid 20th century oil on board, signed M. Norman, available from Mark Eaton

Mid 20th century large oil on board, signed poppies still life, available from Mark Eaton

Red roses, mid 20th century, oil on canvas, available from Mark Eaton

An early 20th century signed still life of flowers, available from John Cserny Fine Arts

An early 18th century Dutch painting of the Admiral Cornelis Tromp, oil on panel, available from John Cserny Fine Arts 

A late 19th century Dutch school still life, available from Robert McKoy Fine Arts

Roses in Bowl oil on board, available from Mark Eaton

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Coffee Culture

The sixth annual London Coffee Festival kicks off today. It is the UK's largest coffee and artisan food event. There will be tastings and demonstrations, interactive workshops, street food, coffee-based cocktails, live music, DJs and art exhibitions - a complete social hub of all things coffee related!

Coffee has always had social connotations. Coffee culture dates back to the 17th century when the first cafes and coffeehouses opened in Europe. In Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean they were perfect venues for artistic and intellectual meetings. For example, Les Deux Magots in Paris (founded 1812), now a popular tourist attraction, was once associated with the intellectuals Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in the 1930s.

Fifties London, saw an espresso revolution. By 1960, there were over 500 espresso bars, many of which were clustered in the West End, and Soho in particular. Numerous fashionable coffeehouses such as Le Macabre and The 2i's Coffee Bar were the spots to be seen at. The former was the most eccentric and wonderful coffeehouse to appear in London since the 18th century. The youthful, cosmopolitan clientele sat on black coffins, tipping ash into candlelit skulls, and listening to funeral music on the jukebox. The tar-coloured walls would be adorned with plastic skeletons and painted cobwebs. Its slogan: "Your coffee on a coffin". 

Left: 2i's Coffee Bar  Right: Le Macabre

The late 20th century coffee boom is largely accredited to nineties American television shows such as Friends and Frasier. A rise of coffee chains began to emerge around this period and were the go-to place for a catch up with friends. The resurgence of the independent artisan coffee shops was seen as a backlash against the big corporations, but they also brought back to the surface the true art of coffee making. All owe an unacknowledged debt to the espresso craze of the 1950s.

We found a few items at Alfies that would make ideal gifts for the coffee-holic!

Coffee cup and saucers: Left: Crown Derby, 1790  Middle: Worcester, c1890  Right: Geometric pattern by Paragon, 1930s. All offered by Beth
Japanese c1890 Kutani eggshell, set of 6 coffee cans, offered by Horner Antiques

Coffee bean spoons, boxed. Sheffield 1920 Cooper Brothers & Son Ltd, offered by Goldsmith & Perris

Coffee bean spoons, boxed. Offered by Beth
Coffee pots: Left to right: Mappin & Webb, 1930s; Elkington, Victorian. Offered by Goldsmith & Perris

Silver cocktail shakers perfect for Espresso Martinis: Left to right: Elkington, 1930s; French shaker, 1940s, offered by Goldsmith & Perris

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