Successful antiques business named after grandmother's dog

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 5th May, 2015

Tom Szekeres and his son Chanon decided on the name of a family dog when they set up their antique business in West Melbourne 16 years ago - partly because of exasperation, partly from timing and partly from subliminal family influence.

“Wally Johnson was the name of my wife Julie's grandmother's dog,” Tom explained. “When we went to register the name of our business, frustratingly all the names we had chosen were already taken – so we decided that name was as good as any.”

Wally Johnson Antiques & Collectables has been part of the West Melbourne scene since 1999 but now Tom, a cabinet maker by profession who has been involved with antiques since 1969 when he and Julie opened Sovereign Antiques in High Street Armadale, has decided to move away from the retail side of the operation to concentrate on bespoke furniture design and manufacture.

Accordingly, he has asked Leonard Joel to auction on site the business stock from 11am Sunday May 10 at 130 Dynon Road, West Melbourne.

The auction will comprise more than 900 lots and include items ranging from affordable fun items to antiques such as the late 19th century cedar and Blackwood retail display cabinet made for the art product manufacturer Winsor & Newton.

Formerly part of the company’s retailer Dean’s Art Supplies original shop fittings in Little Collins Street Melbourne, it is personally connected to Tom.

“I worked at Dean’s Art Supplies when I left school,” he said. “There were three of these display cabinets and they contained special items belonging to the owners.

“Juniors were not allowed near them – only trusted staff were permitted to open them.

“This is the only remaining one of which we know about.”

The cabinet carries a catalogue estimate of $8000-$12,000. Included in the auction are fittings, fixtures and signage associated with prominent Melbourne landmarks that provides a fascinating link between ‘old’ and ‘new’ Melbourne – sure to be of interest to local history and Australian collectors.

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