Christmas gift guide
With Christmas quickly approaching, we have selected a range of affordable antiquities from our collection at St. James's Ancient Art that will make perfect gifts. We offer an amazing selection of Egyptian, Medieval, Roman, and Greek items, with prices starting from as little as £20! Click on the photo of the item to get more details!
An excellent gift, that can be mounted into cufflinks, earrings or pendants are the Alexander the Great silver drachms, dating from as early as 323 BC to as late as 275 BC. Alexander the Great received a thorough academic education; his private teacher was the philosopher Aristotle. However, he is famed for his military exploits. Having succeeded his father, Philip II, to the throne at the age of twenty, he spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa. He created one of the largest empires of the ancient world by the age of thirty. Alexander claimed descent from Herakles through the Temenids of Argos. This partly explains the obverses of these silver drachms. However, it was also fitting for Alexander to be compared to his mighty mythological ancestor, as he was the most successful of all ancient Greek kings on the battlefield. Priced at £125.
Hellenistic Greek bronze arrowheads are socketed bronze lanceolate bilobate arrowheads have spurs and prominent flange midribs, which become part of the long sockets. All of the spurs curve down from the tops of the conoid sockets. Bilobate heads such as these appear to have been developed in the Pontic Steppe area in the 8th century BC. These arrowheads are pictured below, and are only £20 each.
Egyptian scarabs make excellent small presents. Our scarabs come from the renowned Mustaki collection and are pierced longitudinally, making them suitable for modern wear. They carry various hieroglyphs, the most notable ones being the sphinx, ankh, feather of Ma'at, and nefer glyphs. The scarabs include the basket, Uraeus, gaming board with counters, and Scarabaeus sacer hieroglyphs, and a royal cartouche containing the name, title and epithets of Thutmose III. Priced at £110.
There are also miniature Wedjat amulets in our collection made of variety of materials. Priced at £75. These Wedjat eyes are a symbol of restoration, healing, sacrifice and protection. Amulets in the shape of the eye of Horus were very popular in ancient Egypt for thousand of years, from the Old Kingdom to Roman times.
From our Medieval collection we have very affordable arrowheads in various shapes and sizes starting at only £40. Our iron leaf-shaped hand-forged arrowheads, above, would make wonderful display items.
We also have an attractive selection of Avar arrowheads, all hand-forged and trilobate in shape. These trilobate arrows were widely used for their armour-piercing qualities and lightweight, which permitted a more portable bow. Avar warriors used them against Roman soldiers and other enemies. These arrows could be fired up to 1500 feet. According to some historians, Avars introduced important military technology to Europe, and also used a composite bow – skilled Avar riders at full gallop could shoot up to twenty arrows a minute. See the arrowheads below. Priced at £95.
Everyday Roman antiquities are great presents. Below we have a pair of Roman bone dice used by citizens and soldiers alike across the Empire. They were used to settle disputes, referred to as 'casting lots', and for gaming and gambling. Even the Emperor Commodus was said to have enjoyed playing dice in his Imperial Palace. £100 for the pair.
Ring keys were also popular throughout the Roman Empire. This small bronze ring key was considered a status symbol, because the owner implied that he or she has some assets to protect. This particular key was used for the warded lock, a special type of security lock invented by the Romans to protect valuables. The size of this piece suggests it belonged to a woman, who might have used it to unlock a jewellery box. Priced at £150.
In our Roman glass section, there are a number of pieces that are inexpensive but fascinating remnants of everyday Roman life. The miniature glass bottles above were used to store cosmetic products and were made of blown glass. Only £50 each.
Certain ancient Roman glass pieces are known as unguentaria, which were small perfume or cosmetics bottles made of blown glass. They are the most common items of Roman blown glass, equally used in everyday life or deposited as grave goods. The unguentarium below has a two-part body and a tall, long neck. This piece has the colour of the glass in its natural state - bluish green that resulted from the iron oxide present in the silica or the sand. Priced at £125.
Some of the examples of Roman glass in our collection have formed attractive iridescent coatings. This iridescence on ancient glass was unintentional and caused by weathering on the surface, and the interplay of lustrous is due to the refraction of light by thin layers of weathered glass. See our miniature Roman glass bottle below for an example of captivating multi-coloured iridescence. The iridescence of this piece is a result of chemical process that occurred after the vessel was buried, providing it with a nice glow. Priced at £150.
The small Byzantine crosses above, available at only £50 each, are decorated on one side and unworked on the other and have suspension loops at the top, making them suitable for modern wear. In the Byzantine Empire the cross came to represent the crucifixion and the promise of salvation and everlasting life, and thus the symbol was incorporated into many different forms of jewellery and worn by both the poor and the wealthy.
If you need more gift ideas, we have an affordable and extensive selection of Hoi An shipwreck porcelain in our Gift shop. In the mid 15th century a freighting junk loaded with fine Vietnamese pottery sank in the South China Sea. Around 1944 local fishermen began finding pottery in their nets; many thousands of pieces of pottery were found – the greatest recovery of sunken treasure of all time. This beautiful jarlet with a bird is priced at £90.
St James’s Ancient Art
10 Charles II Street
London SW1Y 4AA
Tel : +447833231322
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