Famous Australian golfer linked to auction religious icons

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 7th March, 2023

Golfing champions couldn’t be further from mind when considering religious icons and artefacts coming up for auction – but in the case of Melbourne-based Leski Auctions two-day decorative arts and collectables sale from 10am Saturday and Sunday February 18 and 19, the two are inextricably linked.

The strong family golfing connection can be found in the Baker-Finch collection (lots 936-991) through former Australian professional Ian Baker-Finch who, in September 1991, was ranked number 10 in the world – with the most famous of his 18 tour wins the Open Championship of that year.

While most of the religious icons and artefacts carry affordable catalogue estimates of several hundreds of dollars, a couple are estimated at $2000-$3000 – including a 19th century hand painted vellum Ethiopian Orthodox religious book “The Miracles of Mary” in its original leather pouch (lot 955).

Another is the fine 19th century antique Russian icon of St George and the dragon in an ebonised timber case (lot 937), featured on the catalogue front cover, and estimated at $1500-$2500.

Lot 991, a 19th/20th century Guanyin antique Chinese cast bronze statue with Damask brass inlay, also is at the top of the religious icons and artefacts estimates.

This particular auction comprises a series of collections, beginning with two porcelain and ceramic (lots 89-121 and 122-337) finds respectively from a Melbourne and Sydney collector.

The standout among the first collection, both by Harry Stinton, are a circa 1919 Royal Worcester lidded urn (lot 90) and pair of vases (lot 91) – all hand painted with scenes of highland cattle.

A 19th century Meiji period (1868-1912) Japanese Satsuma koro and cover modelled as a Takarabune (lot 240) by the artist Shokado is a highlight of the second collection.

No doubt of further interest to porcelain collectors will be the circa 1760 antique German porcelain figural group entitled “The Lottery Game” (lot 199) by the most important Meissen modeller Johan Joachim Kaendler (1706-1775) – who in 1749 attained the coveted appointment of Court Commissioner.

Asian artefacts and statues from Judith and the late Barrie Heaven’s collection (lots 1006-1018) are another strong auction interest.

Most carry catalogue estimates of several thousands of dollars with 9th-10th century antique Indian carved grey basalt stele, respectively titled Tara Bihar and Shakyamuni Bihar, (lots 1008 and 1009)) of particular note.

Bok collectors interested in superb bindings and fascinating reading matter will be delighted with the Jason Sprague collection (lots 1303a-1317) which includes 18th and 19th century editions of works by Samuel Butler, William Makepeace Thackeray, Samuel Johnson, Edmund Spenser, Walter Scott and William Schwenck Gilbert (lot 1306).

The auction also features Dr Douglas Frew Waterhouse’s collection of antique and vintage pewter (lots 903-935) including a 19th century Chinese pewter serving tray with porcelain inserts (lot 910).

Silver, clocks, furniture, glass, lamps, cameras and photographic equipment, tribal artefacts, radios and gramophones are among the remainder of the more than 1500 items on offer. 

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