Asprey, founded in 1781 by William Asprey, was originally based in Mitcham, Surrey until the company moved into its current New Bond Street premises. From its central London location, Asprey advertised ‘articles of exclusive design and high quality, whether for personal adornment or personal accompaniment and to endow with richness and beauty the table and homes of people of refinement and discernment.
An early speciality was dressing cases, for which Queen Victoria awarded Asprey a Royal Warrant for in 1862. In the same year Asprey was also awarded a gold medal for its dressing cases at the International Exhibition.
Taken from an interview with Mr Percy Hubbard by Bevis Hillier in the early 1950’s:
“The customers arrived in carriages-broughams, phaetons and dog-carts, and invariably had their footmen. During one day, I would see customers in here in three different modes of dress: morning, afternoon, and evening – we kept open until half past six in those days. Some customers would call in on their way to a party to buy gifts. Of course all men wore silk hats, which they doffed as they came in the door – the same door that you see today”.
The 20s and 30s were a golden age for Asprey. It embraced the new style, now known as ‘Art Deco’ but then called ‘moderne’ or ‘Jazz modern’, introduced by the Paris Exposition de Arts Décoratifs in 1925. Its iconic designs reflect the new energy and originality, Asprey’s catalogues of this era are beautiful anthologies of luxury goods. It was the age of the cocktail and Asprey embraced this, creating unique, iconic humorous pieces.
During the Second World War, Asprey made the decision to keep their workshops open at Nettleford House on Euston Road, this meant they kept their body of craftsmen who would have otherwise been sent off to war; it also allowed the Silversmiths to make parts for the Admiralty and other government departments.
The war gave Asprey the chance to gain new clients, which included Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia who was expelled from Ethiopia by the Italians, and King Haakon of Norway and his son Crown Prince Olaf, who would frequently be seen doing their Christmas shopping.
Asprey continued to grow after the war, the workshops were moved to above the New Bond Street store, as a result the bespoke business flourished.
Asprey began to receive commissions from around the world, including a chess set for Ringo Starr and a picnic trailer which included a dining table for 16.
Asprey & The Millennium
After the turn of the century, Asprey continued to grow the business. This was to include additional flagship stores and a global advertising campaign which featured Keira Knightley.
Today, Asprey is renowned for fine jewellery, watches, clocks, leather goods, silver, china, crystal, rare books and its unrivalled bespoke service. It continues to celebrate the best in craftsmanship, design and materials to offer its clients objects to treasure. Expert designers, steeped in Asprey’s individualistic British style, working with the finest materials, have given Asprey its reputation. The elegant new Asprey designs represent a continuation of a great tradition, blending experience with a spirit of artistic adventure to take the craft forward.