In 1812 John Vokins established a carving, gilding and frame making business at 5 Upper Rathbone Place, Marylebone, London. The company later became J. & W. Vokins, when John Vokins’ sons John Henry and William took over the running of the business. Under the direction of the two brothers the company expanded into art dealing, specialising in watercolours.
In the 1850s J. & W. Vokins advertised a number of special devices for displaying paints and drawings, such as their Registered Mechanical Frames and Improved Standard Folio Frames. The 1850s also saw the company selling the work of the painters William Powell Frith and John Frederick Lewis from its premises in Great Portland Street.
Around 1880 the firm began advertising exhibitions at the “J. & W. Vokins Gallery.” William Vokins seems to have been the primary partner in the art dealing side of the business and was regarded as a notable judge of English watercolours. Following his death in 1895, William Vokins’ obituary in the Times newspaper described him as “ the doyen of his profession in London”.
James Theodore Vokins, William’s only son, took control of the company following his father’s death, until his own demise in 1910. In 1910 the business was subsequently acquired by another firm of art dealers called Pawsey & Payne.