Collections to excite interest at Melbourne auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 5th November, 2020

Two important collections are among offerings at Melbourne-based Gibson’s Auctions forthcoming Australian, Maritime & Exploration online sale from 11am Sunday November 8 at 885-889 High Street, Armadale.

One is from keen maritime and nautical collector the late Bob Munro, who owned several CBD properties, and the other belongs to antiquarian bookseller Kay Craddock.

Bob’s auction collection is a reflection of his lifelong interest in antiques, maritime watercolours and oil paintings, ship model and beautiful objects.

Kay established her bookshop in May 1965 in Essendon and today continues to successfully operate business which is now located in the neo-gothic Assembly Hall Building in Collins Street, Melbourne.

From the late 1990s with husband Jonathan Burdon, for more than 20 years they collected bookends, either made in Australia or with an Australian theme. At first it was private and then became an adornment to the wide range of books on offer at the Collins Street bookshop.

The bookends comprise lots 218 to 298 at Gibson’s Auctions sale including lot 223, a circa 1920 pair of figural bookends by Valeria Cornell (estimate $3500-$5000), and lots 245 and 256 – circa 1930 pairs of Grace Seccombe kookaburra and koala renditions (respective estimates of $2500-$3000 and $2000-$2500).

Many of the bookends in the auction appear in the illustrated Burdon-Craddock Collection, AUSTRALIAN BOOKENDS, Bread Street Press, Melbourne, 2006.

The top auction estimates of $6000-$8000 each belong to lots 415 – a rare circa 1825 silhouette portrait of Sir John Franklin (1786-1847), British Royal Navy officer and Arctic explorer whose 1845 two-ship exploration of the Northwest Passage perished after being icebound for more than a year with no survivors – and lot 357, a coloured aquatint engraving entitled THE MOST INFAMOUS MOMENT IN NAVAL HISTORY: BLIGH CAST ADRIFT (BLIGH) DODD, Robert.

Other top estimate lots include a circa 1820 early Australian (Tasmanian origin) blackwood table (lot 299) and Charles Bryant’s (1883-1937) painting (lot 37) of the famous British battlecruiser HMS Hood sunk almost instantly on May 24, 1941 by the German battleship Bismarck during the Battle of the Denmark Strait with only three crew surviving.

Constructed in 1916, for 20 years HMS Hood was the world’s biggest warship and regarded by the British people as invincible so her loss was a huge blow to public morale.

The painting is one of the standout items among Bob Munro’s collection which occupy the first 217 lots of the auction.

A 19th century carved whalebone walking stick (lot 385) is another attraction, along with a silver gelatin photograph (lot 315) entitled The Polar Party on the Trail by Lieutenant Henry R. Bowers (1883-1912), a member of Captain Robert Scott’s ill-fated 1912 South Pole expedition.

Another highlight is a coloured mezzotint (lot 421) entitled A Veteran of Cook’s Second Voyage (The Death of Capt. Alexander Hood, who Gloriously Fell in the Moment of Victory on the 21st April published London, Jeffryes & Co, Ludgate Hill, 1 October, 1798).

With COVID-19 restrictions lifted in Melbourne, limited live viewing (up to 20 people) is now possible at Gibson’s along with 20 attendees at the auction itself. Remaining auction goers can participate via absentee bidding, telephone bids and online livestream bidding.

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