Whittaker & Gray News

Homes & Antiques Magazine Features Our Lovely Bauhaus-inspired Bestlite BL1 Lamp June 13 2016

We're delighted to say that our lovely Bauhaus-inspired Bestlite BL1 Lamp features in the July edition of Homes & Antiques magazine as part of a feature called "Modern Classics"!

The feature, written by Ellie Tennant, styled by Ali Bradshaw and photgraphed by Katya De Grunwald, focuses on the growing interest in mid-century pieces and highlights the benefits of investing in original pieces over modern licensed versions.  We couldn't agree more!


Ernest Race Barn Find! May 04 2016

It's rare to find a true design icon under a ton of junk in a barn, but sometimes it does happen, as in the case of this fabulous Ernest Race Antelope chair. 

Although Race designed the chair for outdoor as well as indoor use at the Festival Of Britain in 1951, years of weather exposure and neglect had taken its toll on the steel rod frame and particularly the bent ply seat.

After much cleaning and sanding, some judicious welding and grinding and a replacement seat courtesy of Race Furniture (still very much in business), the Antelope was restored to its former glory and can now be found here.


Whittaker & Gray Summer Newsletter 2015 August 19 2015

Some summer sunshine has been had, which has been a perfect opportunity to get outside photographing our latest mid-century furniture finds and more. A part of what we undertake here at Whittaker & Gray is of course sourcing marvelous pieces, though sometimes it has to be said we do find them in rather a sad condition and it is with great delight that we bring them back to life! Here are a couple of tales...


Restoring sought after Arne Hovmand Olsen #175 chairs

When we discovered these chairs, the seats were worn through and had to be painstakingly re-corded to bring them back to life, giving another generation the joy of owning them. The chairs were designed in the 1950s for Mogens Kold Mobelfabrik of Denmark by Hovmand Olsen, a sought after designer. These stunning, beautifully crafted chairs are known as the #175 (we know - catchy!) and have solid teak legs and back rests.  They are quite beguiling with their graceful curves, providing a sense of lightness and elegance.

Find out more:

Whittaker & Gray #175 Arne Hovmand Olsen chairs


Elegant Ercol rocking chair re-found and restored


The perils of undertaking a task and not really knowing what you're doing results in us finding chairs like this that have unfortunately been dipped in caustic soda; yes, the unwanted finish is removed quickly, but it dissolves the glue in the joints and causes the wood to split. We here at Whittaker & Gray have lovingly restored this Ercol Fleur De Lys rocking chair, filling the splits and re-gluing the joints.  We then chose a rather gorgeous Scandinavian Blue eggshell chalk paint to complement it's rocking classic shape!

Find out more:

Whittaker & Gray Ercol Fleur De Lys Rocking Chair


Sharp shades and lamp bases


Everybody needs a lamp and mid-century lamp bases come in all shapes, sizes and finishes. Over recent months Whittaker & Gray have gathered and curated a collection of teak, West German ceramic, Anglepoise classics and more. To complement the bases the hunt has been on for vintage fabrics to make the drum lamp shades - this means that some shades are complete one offs, others editions of a couple and - if we can ever find sufficient lengths - some editions of perhaps a few more! Why don't you light up your life (sorry couldn't resist!) and choose a new lamp base, shade or both for your home.

Find out more:

Whittaker & Gray Lighting and Lamp Shades


Dates for your early Autumn diary

After the summer holidays, it's great to be back out there and this autumn you'll be able to find us in Manchester, Leeds and London. To keep up-to-date about where to find Whittaker & Gray, please see our events section!

If you can't get to the events, the website is being updated all the time with new mid-century finds... Not got what you're looking for?  Then let us know - we're happy to source for you if you're looking for that specific piece!


Dipping Don't Dazzle! July 10 2015

The fastest way to remove an unwanted finish from a piece of furniture is to have it dipped in a caustic soda bath.  This will quickly remove whatever's on the surface, but what seems like a quick fix can just as quickly lead to all manner of problems, as you can see from this poor Ercol rocking chair that we rescued recently...

Superficially the piece looked good, but in fact:

1.  The glue in most of the joints had been weakened or disolved, so the arms were loose, the back spindles would fall out under the least pressure, and the rockers were only held in place by the weight of the chair.

2.  The seat had suffered from shrinkage leading to cracks, and worst of all...

3.  The stripping process had opened up the grain of the beech frame.

Problems 1 and 2 could be fixed by partially dismantling and re-gluing the chair structure, but all we could do for problem 3 was fill the surfaces and sand them smooth.

With the chair structurally sound but looking pretty ugly, it was over to our friends at Feather & Gray to get the chair primed and painted in gorgeous Autentico Scandinavian Blue, and we're delighted with the finished piece!



Danish Cord Seat Replacement June 22 2015

When we came across a lovely set of Danish dining chairs designed by Arne Hovmand Olsen, we knew we had to have them, despite the fact that their seats were all but gone.

The existing seats were made of split cane, and we could have replaced these like-for-like, but instead we decided to use the traditional seat covering for Danish-made dining chairs: Danish cord.  Danish cord looks like a form of thin rope, but it's actually made from twisted paper, which means it's very strong and doesn't fray.

The cord is attached to the frame using "L" shaped nails.  If replacing an existing cord seat it should be possible to re-use most of the existing nails, but as our chairs were previously caned, our first job was to hammer new nails into position.

Once the frame was nailed up, we began by stretching parallel cords from the front to the back of the chair.

The spacing between each row is determined by the position of the nails.  It is then held in place by  winding the appropriate number of lines of cord between the rows.

With the front-to-back rows in place, we then wove in the seat by running a continuous line of cord side-to-side across the chair.

The closer to the back you come, the tighter everything gets and the harder it becomes to weave... but eventually we got all the lines in place and secured, giving us a beautiful new seat.

If you have chairs with seats that need replacing, please contact us and we'll be happy to assess and quote to re-weave them with Danish cord.

What is Danish style? February 24 2015

Think of Danish furniture, and I bet you're picturing something gloriously contoured in rich teak with exquisite detailing that oozes style - something a bit like this gorgeous mirror perhaps?

But there is another side to Danish design which also uses glorious contours and exquisite detailing, but which combines them with a much more utilitarian material to create an entirely different aesthetic, like this...

Both pieces take a simple shape, add subtle curves and use functionality to create a unique style, but they couldn't be more different - or more quintessentially Danish!

Danish Wall Mirror Reflects Well on Whittaker & Gray! January 18 2015

Following last weekend's Vintage Village event, we're delighted that our Danish wall mirror was selected as one of the Finds Of The Fair! See what the judge Adam Rodgers liked about it (and admire his impeccably dressed reflection) and check out his other selections here.   If the mirror takes your fancy full details are here.  Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Series 7! January 06 2015

This year is the 60th birthday of the world's best selling chair - Arne Jacobsen's iconic Series 7 Butterfly. Manufactured since 1955 by Denmark's Fritz Hansen, the Series 7 has also become one of the most counterfeited products ever created, and the company dedicates huge resources to tracking down and destroying fakes (you can check out how they do this on their website http://www.fritzhansen.com/en/fritz-hansen/the-republic/Fighting-Copies).

If you fancy owning a Fritz Hansen original, you could push the boat out and go for one of their special anniversary editions (which include a pink one with gold plated legs) for about £500 a piece - see the left hand photo (copyright Fritz Hansen); or you could play down the bling a bit and go for one of our super-stylish original 1960s pieces, which have the added benefit of not costing quite so much either - see the right hand photo (copyright me!)  Decisions decisions!

When Ercol goes bad, and is made good again! November 16 2014

Hard to believe, but the two pieces above are one and the same!  We found this piece covered in gunky brown nastiness which had to be stripped off before we could refinish the beautiful wood beneath.  It took a bit of time, but we think you'll agree it was well worth it!


Rosewood Beauty In A 2m Beast! October 31 2014

Collected today was this lovely 1970s sideboard by Skovby Mobelfabrik of Denmark.  At just over 2m long it's a bit of a beast, but the deep beauty of its rosewood veneer makes it worth all the effort of getting it into the van!  Should be on the website later this week...

The Grebe Says... October 16 2014

The two latest pieces to be listed on the W&G site are both from the iconic G-Plan Brandon range.  We can look at them now and contemplate their simple lines and stylish good looks, but it's easy to forget that when these pieces were launched in 1953 they were revolutionary!  Before E Gomme invented G-Plan and created Brandon, Britain was stuck with bland utility furniture and overstuffed three piece suites - style wasn't even a consideration, never mind an option!  All that changed with G-Plan, and new era of creativity and innovation dawned - and the products of this era were so well made that 60 years later we can still enjoy them today.  Which is great for me, because it's always handy to have something nice and solid on which to build one's nest - and so Brandon, I salute you!

The Old and the New September 30 2014

Two great Ercol finds this week:

1. Some classic kitchen chairs designed by Lucian Ercolani, and

2. a pair of less well known 1970s Easy Chairs designed by Mike Pengelly for the Ercol Posture range.

Both types are as comfortable and sturdy now as they were when they were first made, and both are design classics (even if people are more familiar with Ercolani's designs than Pengelly's!)  Look out for them on the site soon...

Whittaker & Gray are a "find of the fair" again! September 22 2014

Whittaker & Gray are delighted to have been selected as a "find of the fair" following our second appearance at The Vintage Village in Stockport's lovely market hall!  The piece that caught the finder's eye this time was our lovely 1960s teak five drawer chest with lime green drawer fronts.  You can see what the finder thought about this piece (and some other great items from our fellow stall holders) here, and check it out for yourself here.

The Grebe says.. September 08 2014

...Down with brown goo!!!  I've just spent the last several hours washing it out of my feathers following an unfortunate altercation with a G-Plan "Astro" coffee table.  Now sitting pretty in the Whittaker & Gray New In collection, this poor beauty arrived covered in the nastiest gunk it's been my misfortune to encounter in many years, and it did not want to come off!  We set upon it vigorously with much gusto and enough wire wool to make a lifetime's worth of nests for me and all of my relatives, and eventually uncovered the gem we all knew must be in there somewhere.  However, by the end of the process the entire Whittaker & Gray team looked like they'd been caught in a North Sea oil spill (that's probably in poor taste, but I'm a Grebe so it's OK) but of course only yours truly had a thousand feathers to clean up!  The good news is it was definitely worth it - check out the snap below or view the finished piece here and see what you think...

Plastic fantastic! August 26 2014

Who says things made of plastic never last?  These amazing chairs were made by Keron of London fifty odd years ago, but with a bit of TLC the plastic ladder backs now glow in the sunlight and look like they could be made of amber!  It's really unusual to find solid plastic pieces that have lasted this well, so we at Whittaker & Gray are chuffed to say the least - check them out for yourself here...

Whittaker & Gray are a "find of the fair"! August 20 2014

We're delighted to have had the two pieces pictured selected as "Finds of the Fair" at The Vintage Village on 10th August!  It's always nice when people recognise the quality of your stock, and to get such a compliment from fellow traders is lovely.  You can find out why the pieces were selected here, where you can also see some fantastic items from other traders and get a sense of what a great event Vintage Village is.  Even better, you can now visit our very own Whittaker & Gray trader's page on the Vintage Village website here!

Ercol-Mania! August 15 2014

OK, so Ercol-mania may not be a word, but it goes some way to describing how we feel about two of our latest finds - a pair of classic elm and beech Windsor chairs and a lovely (and quite rare) solid elm coffee table.  All three pieces should be with us at Ludlow this Sunday 17th August (unless they sell online first), so if you're in the area why not have a look and say hi!

New pieces going to Vintage Village... August 09 2014

As we may have mentioned a couple of time already (can't help it - we're excited!) we're off to Sockport's Market Hall tomorrow (Sunday 10th August) for our first ever stand at The Vintage Village.  Above you can see just three of the great pieces we're taking with us, and we'll have loads more besides - if you're going to be there, please look out for the Whittaker & Gray stand and come and say hello!

Nearly time for Vintage Village in Stockport! August 08 2014

The whole Whittaker & Gray team is really excited about our first ever stall at The Vintage Village this Sunday 10th August which is taking place in the fantastic Stockport Market Hall!  We've picked up some great pieces over the last week and now it's a race against time to get them ready for the market (even the Grebe has picked up a paint brush, but frankly that's not really made much difference - but then it is difficult painting with your beak).  Anyway, we're really looking forward to a great day - hope to see you there...

Ludlow market today an early start August 03 2014

The Grebe did not even bat a peeper this morning and kept his beak firmly under the duvet, he was tired after loading the van with vintage goodies and all sorts of finds.

The sun is shining in glorious Ludlow today and the Antique and Flea Market is becoming a very firm favourite!

If you're in town today, do come and visit, we have lots to see; Ercol chairs, Lloyd Loom, formica table, 1950s stools/chairs, dragons (well an embroidered one!), mirrors, lovely wooden folding chairs and even the infamous plant potties :)

What's in the back of the van?! July 31 2014

We've found some really great pieces in the last few days and the poor Whittaker & Gray van is packed to the rafters!  In the pics you can see a John and Sylvia Reid Stag dressing table (there's a three drawer chest in there somewhere too), a G-Plan bifold wardrobe, a Remploy table nest and some German art pottery.  There are a dozen more great pieces behind them, so we need to get unpacking...

The Grebe says... July 28 2014

We've just taken delivery of a load of vintage decanters, and guess which Grebe drew the short straw when it came to cleaning them up??  Not being particularly handy with a bottle brush (or anything else for that matter on account of the wings) I asked around for easy cleaning tips, and I've been advised to soak them for a couple of days in water filled with potato peelings.  Sounds crazy to me, but I'll try anything once - I'll let you know how it goes as soon as I've worked out how to hold a potato peeler...

Ice Ice Baby! July 28 2014

We were going to make some joke about these Sciolari style ice cube column lamps being perfect for the hot weather, but then it started raining.  No matter - whatever the weather they're still are fabulously 70s and seriously cool, and look amazing whether they're turned on or off.  Check them out here...

G-Plan Mystery! July 27 2014

Check out our latest G-Plan piece - we think it's a factory-made cut down version of the classic Librenza room divider!  We've never seen the like before, but we really like its compact charm, and the fact that it could possibly be unique is an added bonus.  Click here to have a look...