Leading Melbourne antique dealers auction their wares

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 12th March, 2018

As Phil and Liz Capocchi plan the next chapter in their lives, the items they have amassed as two of Melbourne’s leading antique dealers will be auctioned through Leonard Joel from 11am Sunday March 18 on site at 941-951 High Street, Armadale.

Their careers as antique dealers began in 1973 when they visited their first antique shop in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

After a stint at the Croydon Trash and Treasure Market, the following year they opened their first shop Second Life Décor in Eltham – choosing the area because it was a designated tourist destination and permitted seven days a week trading.

At first, the Capocchis dealt in Australiana – with much of their stock obtained from country clearance sales throughout Victoria.

When the local product became difficult to obtain, Phil headed for England to obtain Victorian furniture and collectables, ranging from unusual perfume bottles to pub mirrors.

At the same time, he became interested in the French furniture he saw in England and visited continental Europe to further his research.

This opened a whole new world and, in 1980, the Capocchis organised their first French buying trip.

From there, they not only retailed furniture but supplied the Australian trade with antiques.

They also operated an antique jewellery wholesale business and for 20 years promoted antique fairs – the most popular being held at the Box Hill town hall. 

As they outgrew their Eltham premises, the Capocchis secured retail spaces in Melbourne’s CBD, Toorak and Malvern before finally settling at their current Armadale address.

Sunday’s auction contains almost 700 items covering a comprehensive range of French antiques and collectables.

Among the more interesting items is a French art deco ebonised buffet in the Marjorelle style, an antique Flemish dragon-like carved mahogany mirror and a French art deco bronze figural sculpture by Rene.

Unusual is a Doulton spoon warmer in the form of a toad signed by Eliza Simmance, while a French art deco onyx marble and alabaster clock is bound to bring plenty of admirers.

Eye catching is the 1950s architecturally designed spiral staircase 1.2 metres high and an important late 19th century Flemish figural bronze by Joseph Lambeaux (1852-1908) should attract lots of attention.

Among the many paintings on offer is Melinda Harper’s Untitled 2003 oil on canvas – while an 1860s French antique exhibition quality centre table with marquetry inlay has to be seen to be believed.

Other attractions include a rare French carved fruitwood bench the Chinoiserie style and a rare 19th century hard stone and silver gilt pierced box, set with rose cut diamonds, pink sapphires and rubies, comes from the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad in India.

Another highlight is the impressive three-panel stained glass entry door depicting parrots and floriated design.

Among the more affordable items is an attractive English Derby centrepiece by John Brewer.


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