To begin, the recent wedding between Kate and Wills yielded a bit of news that went largely ignored by most everyone in the general populace. Of course, not all of us can be crowned the future Queen of England, if all goes well for Wills. But, the creation of the Middleton Coat of Arms caught our interest as a unique requirement of this union. What commoner doesn’t want to receive their own coat of arms?
ARTIFICE is always looking for unique things buried in the realm of the extraordinary and this, was surely no exception. We would have to seek out the experts in this matter, the ATELIER of AGRY in order to learn more about this fine art. Where does one begin on this journey towards nobility? Take a short walk to the Place Vendome, and you’ll discover a quiet and noble profession that has served France for almost 200 years.
Settled into the beautiful rue Castiglione in a petite shop that resembles something of a jewel-box. This unique location has been there since about 1825 when the Place Vendome was built after being destroyed during the revolution. Nestled among the many luxury boutiques, hotels and eateries sits this petite shop which is more like a museum on the art of engraving. Entering through the little front doorway you are taken aback by the sheer size of the store: Its about 8 feet square. Looking up, you ‘ll see that its like an intricate puzzle box: doors, cabinets and cases are each carefully laid out with an eyeful of engravings, tools, objects, buttons, rings, cufflinks, and hand-painted heraldry from the collections handed down for almost 200 years. Did we mention the buttons? These are charming and adorned the uniforms of French Noble soldiers and are made right here at AGRY with ancient molds cast to order. (*see ARTIFICE article on the French Republic Guards) It is quite simply, a complete museum of the engraver’s art. There may only be a few places in the world, where you can see this up close, and very personal.
There is one aspect that makes this experience go from merely interesting to extraordinary: the family that makes up the business has been performing these duties for royalty, nobles, heads of state, and politicos for generations and are instrumental in keeping this art form alive. Catherine Hacquebart is descended from the a family of craftsman. Jean-Pierre Gavinet-Agry is Catherine Hacquebart’s brother who also serves as the commercial manager for the business. Each have trained in the traditional arts of the engraving industry. The techniques of engraving, painting and illustration, copper engraving and embossing are specific arts that involve a unique ATELIER of skilled artisans who develop this craft. If you are a bookish sort of person, you’ll appreciate the hand lettered and engraved bookplates, stationery, cards, invitations. The the importance of the handwritten word beautifully presented makes this a unique trip through time and reminds us that words are still at the heart of our human experience as are the symbols of family and heritage.
In some circles, creating an engraved card, or letter, is a way to express the luxury of time and connection. A luxury like this now escapes the notice of our modern life. Quite simply, the ARTIFICE of time, luxury of details, craftsmanship and tradition make AGRY on the top 10 list of ARTIFICE ULTIMATE THINGS.
Just like visiting a museum, we hope you’ll stop into the shop as it is truly a unique experience.
AGRY – 14 rue Castiglione – 75001 – Email for Appointments: firstname.lastname@example.org