Making History

_DSC1544cropped One of my all-time favorite places to shop in England is London’s Mayfair district. In the English version of Monopoly, it’s the equal of Boardwalk—but to me it signifies the quaint shops of Georgian times, a time period in which I often become lost. Since most of my shopping there entails window shopping, I decided to bring that same excitement to the gallery for everyone to enjoy by re-creating a Georgian jewelry shop, but what resulted became so much more.  It was a journey into the historical era I adore, a learning experience on the architecture and goods of the time, and one of the most enjoyable partnerships I’ve had the pleasure to be involved with.

15x16It was 2006 when I commissioned Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers, British artisans who specialize in creating historically significant architecture and interiors, to create the shop.  The married couple has an impressive list of work which includes miniatures of Hampton Court, Versailles, Buckingham Palace and Fontainebleau to name a few. There’s also Spencer House, the ancestral home of Princess Diana, displayed in the KSB Miniatures Collection at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center. While the jewelry shop would be small in comparison to those projects, Kevin and Susie applied the same research and technical precision to it, and added a few personal touches along the way. They knew I had ancestral ties to York, England, so they based their design on an existing Georgian shop there working from drawings, plans and photos taken from a book found in an antiquarian bookshop.

_DSC1519To achieve the rich Georgian-era feel, they handcrafted limewood and birch for the structure’s exterior and used mahogany for the interior before adding the realistic and historically accurate finishes for which they are so well known. “The soft sheen of the exterior paint finish replicates the effect of the highly leaded paints of the 18th century,” explained Susie. “The interior cabinetry is a semi-matt ivory parchment color exactly matched to library bookcases in the Long Gallery at Syon House (the London home of the Duke of Northumberland).”

The project, which took more than 600 hours to complete, included making the internal fittings and the shop sign—both hand gilded in 23.5 carat gold leaf. The window panes were actual individually cut and fixed fine antique glass panes. During the process, Susie gave me fascinating insight into what it may have been like to shop in the store. For example, the shop counter was a period piece to reflect doing business in an exclusive English establishment at the time. Customers would have accounts so there was no need for money to be exchanged. The large counter was used to show goods to the customers, who were often seated, and to note commissions and special orders. The items would then be taken away for wrapping and delivery.

sapphirefbI can only imagine choosing items from the array of 18th century jewelry that was re-created for the shop by Canadian artisan Lori Ann Potts. She made approximately 200 individual pieces in the shop which included rings, brooches, strands of pearls, earrings and bracelets all made of genuine precious stones and metals. Lori Ann told me the finished display contains some of the best jewelry work she has done in her entire career and I’m honored to have the pieces. She knows my taste in jewelry and she created exactly what I would have purchased in real scale if I were able to do so. When I first saw the finished shop I was overwhelmed for so many reasons. It was like peering into the windows of shops on Old Bond Street and it did make me feel as if I were window shopping in 18th century England, but Kevin and Susie also added a personal touch that surprised me and brought tears to my eyes. They named the shop Savage & Sons as a tribute to my English heritage—Thomas Savage was the Archbishop of York from 1501 until 1507.


I may never be able to shop with abandon in Mayfair, but my life is rich with the relationships and experiences I have had with artisans over the years and I am grateful. The Savage & Sons commission represents everything that is personal and gratifying in collaborating with miniatures artisans and one of the very reasons I collect.



Posted on May 1, 2016 in Collecting Miniatures