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A £1million engraving

engraved faberge flower

At Engravers Guild of London we cannot help but love that most quaint of British institutions… the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

Launched 40 years ago it is still going strong, with the format continuing to be simple yet addictive.

Whether old or young, a hipster or a suit, a northerner or southerner, once you’ve seen the item to be valued, you are powerless to change the channel.

We all wait for that killer item which exceeds all expectations, and the look on the owner’s face when they realise they’ve been sitting on a Rembrandt or some such.

Most of the programme may be about valuing £10 porcelain sets and £15 dolls, but it makes the viewing no less compulsive in waiting for a long lost Crown Jewel.

And after years of waiting, hoping, expecting… the time finally came.

This weekend saw the Big Kahuna come out to play.

In the world of antiques we would profess to be no experts whatsoever, but even our ears prick to the mention of the most famous of famous artisans… Faberge.

So we knew we were in for something big. And we were not wrong.

Brought in this week for a valuation was a fine ornament in the form of a pear blossom flower, engraved with the inscription “QOWH South Africa 1900”.

It was a piece commissioned for the Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars in 1904 by the Countess of Dudley, wife to the second in command of the regiment.

The regiment was made up of volunteers and Lady Dudley gave each one a pear blossom when they were fighting in the Boer War to remind them of their home county, where the pear blossom is their emblem.

The ornament has stayed with the regiment ever since. And today, it is valued at over… £1 million.

The regiment, though, says they will not sell it. It is a part of their history, their story, and to them it is priceless.

…such is the value of personalised cufflinks, engraved hip flasks and other personalised gifts. May the regiment go on enjoying the piece for many more years to come.

“Nothing Is Impossible” to engrave

micro engraving on razor

At Engravers Guild of London, we like to think that we can engrave almost anything – whatever artwork, design or pattern.

However, that is perhaps not entirely accurate.

If, for example, we were asked to engrave a message on the thin edge of a razor blade (as in, the sharp tip of a razor blade)… then we would probably say it could not be done. We may even say that it would be impossible.

But that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

For, Graham Short, an engraver from Birmingham, has done just that.

He is a specialist micro engraver, who we have actually written about before. He created a series of engravings on the new £5 notes with the Jane Austen design.

A handful of these were put in to general circulation and were sold for tens of thousands of pounds by people with good enough eyesight to spot the tiny impressions.

Before then, though, Mr Short honed his skills in making engravings that were smaller and smaller and smaller, with the prized inscription being on the edge of a Wilkinson’s Sword razor blade.

The letters were so small that they could not be read with the naked eye, and only with a medical microscope of 400 times magnification. The whole area is less than a tenth of a millimetre.

The message that was engraved was very apt: “Nothing Is Impossible“.

But that is not to say that “Everything Is Easy”. Certainly not. Personalising something that small takes incredible application, resolve and focus.

Graham Short took 150 attempts to complete the piece over the course of seven months.

The precision of the work meant that he could only operate between the hours of 12-5am when vibrations in the ground are at their lowest.

Before each session he has to meditate for 90 minutes to bring his body to total stillness, and then would listen to his heart through a stethoscope during so that he could make each engraving stroke between beats.

So unique is the ability that he has to engrave at this size, the standard razor blade is now valued at about £50,000.

If your budget does not stretch that far, but you still want a beautifully engraved item, then perhaps think instead of our personalised pocket watches and other gifts.

“A Brief History Of Time” engraved forever

stephen hawking space

It is with sadness that we here at Engravers Guild of London mourn the passing of one of history’s greatest scientists, Stephen Hawking.

The theoretical physicist died last week at his home in Cambridge after life living with ALS. Diagnosed with the disease at 21 years of age, he was expected to live just a couple of years but went on to reach the grand age of 76.

Already regarded as a legend within the field of cosmology, he first came to the world’s attention in 1974 with the publication of his theory on black hole radiation in the journal ‘Nature’.

It went on to become one of the foundation theories in astro physics and a defining concept to create a complete understanding of the universe, combining gravity with quantum mechanics.

His original theory propelled his career and opened opportunities that he followed throughout his life.

It is fitting, therefore, that it is understood that Stephen Hawking’s wish was for his famous equation to be engraved on his tombstone.

He, like Engravers Guild, held the belief that there is no better way to enshrine a moment in time that to capture it forever in an engraving.

While we commend his achievements in cosmology, stand in awe of their genius and agree that an equation would look clever on his headstone… we must confess, that we have no idea what the equation actually means.

So the team here thought we would look at some other suggestions for what we could remember him by.

Indeed, as much as his theories touched the scientific community, it was probably his display of human spirit that touched the world.

If it was up to us, we would choose this quote of his to remember him by:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet… there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up”.

Goodbye Professor Hawking. Rest in peace.

Oscar Winner… with a lasting impression

gary oldman

Oscars night. One of our favourite evenings of the year here at Engravers Guild… because, for one night only, the art of engraving is not a backroom function but rather a focal point of the event.

After the main ceremony in the Dolby Theatre where the great and the good of the movie world receive the accolades they have been dreaming for, the winners then head to the hottest room in town – the Engraving Bar.

The Hollywood glitterati have to duly form a line and wait their turn for the attention of the engraver, being patient until the engraver can see them.

On this blog, you may have seen we’ve written previously about the Oscars evening. We’ve noted how it’s when the names are engraved on the trophies that the real magic happens in the eyes of the winners.

It’s a permanent impression on the golden figurines that creates their story and imparts its value.

However, this year, we report on another type of impression that became part of the story.

Gary Oldman, successful in the category of Best Actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour”, was this year lucky enough to pay a visit to the Engraving Bar.

Before he got there, though, he had already made a permanent impression in his precious award – and it wasn’t an engraving.

Climbing the stairs with his fellow winners, he was walking alongside the bannister when… an almighty clonk was heard.

The sound that rang out was the impact of his metal statuette smashing the balustrade of the metal bannister.

The actor immediately stopped dead and looked down sheepishly as he assessed the damage.

An eye witness account by a Hollywood reporter claimed that the coveted prize picked up it’s first impression of the evening in the form of a dent.

Whether it did dent or didn’t is still not certain. But, even if it did, then Engravers Guild doesn’t think this matters at all.

The worth of an Oscar is in the story that it tells – the marks and impressions that allude to its history. Should it be dented, or should it be not, it’s just another chapter in the story of the award.

Brad Pitt’s engraved bike

brad pitt

At Engravers Guild of London, we keep a keen eye out for engraved items that come up for auction.

Most of the time, the lots range from things like personalised watches, bespoke jewellery and custom pens. However, every so often something comes up that even we didn’t know was commonly done.

We’re all aware of how there are a myriad of options to customise a car. Limited edition trims, gold plated detail and embroidered initials are favourite details of the celebrities and wealthy alike.

Engraving, though, was never closely associated with vehicles… until now.

This week an old bike that belonged to Brad Pitt was announced for auction. The Hollywood megastar is a well-known lover of two wheel transport, regularly buying and selling bikes as he develops his collection.

One particular bike stands out from the others.

When Brad Pitt had finished filming Ocean’s Eleven, he was reportedly gifted a rare 2009 Triumph Bonneville Bud Ekins Desert Scrambler by the producer, Jerry Weintraub.

On the fuel cap was engraved a personal birthday message to the ‘Fight Club’ star, cementing its status for evermore as a highly coveted motorcycle.

Only three of this model of bike were ever made, and it was produced in homage to the late Bud Ekins, who was the stunt rider and friend of Steve McQueen.

The design is intended to mimic the posture of the riders in the 1960s, and on the side is painting a list of famous motorcycle victories from the era.

The bike comes complete with its original plates and is reported to be in good working condition.

All this helps add up to make an extremely valuable collectable, and a price guide has been set at up to £30,000 when it goes under the hammer in London.

So if you’re looking for a new way to get about town, then don’t miss your opportunity to buy your part of motorcycle history.

The King… of personalised gifts

elvis presley

He may have been known as the King of Rock and Roll… but should he have also been called the King of Personalised Gifts?

Music legend Elvis Presley was notorious for having expensive taste, building his own collection of valuable watches, jewellery and cars.

As well as buying them for himself, he bought hundreds of similar gifts for others. At one stage he developed a penchant for Cadillacs, and was so prolific at gifting them to friends and family members that he was even known to surprise them on total strangers.

And, as you would expect with a man lauded the world over, the man from Mississippi had gifts coming to him from all quarters.

One such gift was to mark a very special milestone in his career.

In December of 1960, Elvis surpassed anyone else in history for the greatest number of records ever sold. His label, RCA Records, arranged a celebratory event for the occasion and presented the singer with an exclusive timepiece.

The watch was a diamond-set Omega model, made in white 18 carat gold and bought from Tiffany.

On the back was engraved: “TO ELVIS / 75 MILLION RECORDS / RCA VICTOR / 12 – 25 – 60”. This complemented a plaque which is now on display at Graceland.

The story of how it came to auction is an interesting one, as it left the Presley estate many decades ago.

The current family came in to possession of the watch through a chance encounter that their uncle had with the singer. Sitting in a bar in Las Vegas, he found himself on the stool next to the biggest act in the city.

Elvis noticed the uncle’s Hamilton timepiece on his wrist and said, “Eh, nice watch”. The uncle looked at the opposite Omega one and said, “Eh, nice watch. Wanna swap?”

And so the exchange was made.

Whatever happened to the Hamilton watch, we don’t know.

But we do know that, unlike the Omega, it is not now sitting in an auction house with an estimated $100,000 selling price.

And why is it considered such a valuable item? Well, we at Engravers Guild would that it’s not for the 18 carat gold case, it’s not for the Tiffany or Omega names, it’s not even for the 40 sapphire diamonds that surround the dial… it’s for the personal engraving.

Helping your New Year resolutions…

New Year in London

Engravers Guild of London would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

2017 had its challenges, and the world is optimistic for better things to come in the coming 12 months.

However, change does not happen all on its own, and for change to happen then new actions must start at home.

So, to help with those little New Year’s Resolutions, we thought we would offer some helping thoughts about how some of our items can help you find the New You in the New Year.

Resolution 1 – Seize the day

As many wise people have said, “Carpe diem”, so make sure you don’t miss the moment in 2018. A personalised pocket watch from Engravers Guild keeps you mindful of the time, and the complimentary engraving allows for a special message as a reminder to act smart. There are so many quotes about the importance of time that it is difficult to choose one, but for now we’ll settle with: “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life” (Charles Darwin).

Resolution 2 – Give more time to important people

As they say, “Family is not an important thing, it is everything”. The is no substitute for spending time with the ones you love, but never let thoughts of them be far from your heart with a personalised locket. Perfect to keep a photo of them, or perhaps a curl of their hair, our engraved silver lockets are a perfect totem to treasure your special relationships and underline what really is important in life.

Resolution 3 – Write more by hand

2018 is the year of the return of real handwriting. In our online world, the old fashioned skill of putting pen to paper is often lost, but there are many benefits to scrawling your thoughts by hand. Science shows that writing with a pen fires up the brain in different ways and students have been shown to be more creative when putting the keyboard to one side. Handwriting also limits distractions by weaning you off a computer with its tempting clickbait, and by going more slowly you’re forced to put more consideration into what you’re doing. So, why not make the thought of writing by hand that little more appealing with one of our beautiful solid silver fountain pens.

That’s it for now. But tune back in for more Engravers Guild life hacks in 2018 shortly.

(Secret) Santa Claus is coming to town!

At Engravers Guild, we say that the most special gifts are those that: say something about the person who is giving it, reflect something about the person who is receiving it, and acknowledge the particular gifting moment.

The majority of Christmas presents, therefore, can hopefully hit as many of these three pointers as possible.

However, there is an ever-growing vein of Christmas giving which make it very difficult to score against all three of the markers… that is, in Secret Santa gifting.

Often being towards the lower end of the value range (after all, if you don’t get the credit for the gift then you don’t want to be too generous), we’ve put together a quick guide of suggestions underneath three spend categories.

All three categories have something to offer a personalised gift experience, even on a budget.

UNDER £10

A common spending category for an office Secret Santa or amongst closest classmates, £10 can go quite a long way in buying a beautifully presented and engraved present. Our antique brass effect lighters can make for a touching gift, coming complete with bespoke gift card and smartly delivered in our signature packaging. Popular amongst users of scented candles, open fires and gas cookers, they’re a multi function gift that never fails to brighten up a moment.

UNDER £20

Nearly everyone has their favourite tipple, and what better way to carry it discreetly about their person than in their own engraved hip flask. We offer a whole range of options, with many coming in well below £20. The plain stainless steel option offers wonderful value, but if your budget stretches then do consider one of our exclusively made real leather hip flasks with silver plate to engrave.

UNDER £30

When moving into this category, a whole range of options opens up. For ladies, you cannot fail with the cute sterling silver heart necklace at £24.95. Created by MYRI and presented in clean London packaging, it’s a gift which really leaves an impression and is a versatile piece of jewellery which can be worn in any style. Meanwhile, for the gents, there is no finer way than to sip your ale than from your own personalised pewter tankard.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

decorations for christmas in london

The woolly jumpers are coming out, the end of year parties are being booked, and even snow is falling from the skies… which must only mean Christmas.

With Christmas, though, comes that inevitable conundrum of what to buy your family – and even your friends and colleagues if you’re particularly generous.

So the team here at Engravers Guild has put together the first part of our festive guide to help you with your gifting challenges. Of course, nothing can beat a full and proper browse of our collections… but this is the next best alternative to find that special something.

To kick us off, we’ve started with our top picks for either a very special man or very special lady in your life.

FOR A SPECIAL MAN IN YOUR LIFE

Men can be difficult at the best of times, but never are they more difficult than when you are buying a present for them. However, every man will always appreciate a special pair of cufflinks. Whether they wear cufflinks for the office or just for notable occasions, a pair of solid silver cufflinks personalised with their name, initials or significant date will be a precious keepsake for very many years. For something a bit different for an engraved cufflink, have a look at our Silver Knot model.

FOR A SPECIAL LADY IN YOUR LIFE

Ladies often like useless things: bath salts (which disappear down the plughole), hand cream (which disappears without a trace), and candles (which disappear in to thin air). Alternatively, there are handbags and accessories, which disappear at the back of the wardrobe. Engravers Guild, however, sells a beautiful collection of MYRI jewellery which is designed never to disappear. The clean and minimal styling provides a sense of timelessness, while the personalisation brings a sentimentality which will never go out of fashion. Make it even more personal with a photo or totem enclosed inside… our Rose Gold Heart Locket is always a good option.

 

We agree with Claudia Winkelman

It’s the most… wonderful time… of the year.

The advent calendars start work tomorrow, properly heralding the coming of Christmas.

While it’s easy to be distracted by the festive parties, mulled wine, woolly jumpers, carols and much more besides, we of course have to plan ahead and make sure we’re buying our loved ones the presents they really deserve.

Luckily for the British public, we are inundated by choice and different options. Every newspaper supplement is bursting with suggestions and novelty ideas, inspiring us on what best to buy.

A favourite columnist of ours here at Engravers Guild is Claudia Winkelman in the Sunday Times. We adore her unfiltered thoughts and smile at her direct comments.

Delighted we were, then, to read her latest column on Christmas gifting.

Her words rang true exactly. The best gifts in life are the most personal – it’s not the cost of the item that matters, but the sentiment.

And while that was enough to satisfy every member of our team, her recommendations got even better.

Amongst the proposed gifts of sweet treats, stationary and handbags, her number one present for the season is… a jar of personalised Marmite.

Claudia gave details on how to order a jar of Marmite with a person’s name printed on the label – perfect for lovers of the famous yeast extract spread.

However, if only if only Claudia knew about something special that’s available from Engravers Guild. For sitting primly in our online catalogue of gifts is a beautiful collection of solid silver Marmite lids.

Whatsmore, each lid is complimentary finished by our expert engravers with an inscription of your choice for the personal touch.

Made in sunny Birmingham by a well-established silversmiths, the workshop is one of the few remaining places in the UK that still keeps the traditional skill of metal spinning alive.

All our of custom gifts come in beautiful presentation packaging. So if you, like Claudia, want to give some special Marmite this Christmas, then do think of us and we’ll be happy to help.