Collectors from all parts of Australia descended on Melbourne for Leski Auctions December Australian & Colonial sale once they spotted the number of scientific instruments for sale.
Telescopes, sextants and microscopes were the subject of a bidding war and in each case were knocked down to the successful bidder for a healthy price.
Typical was lot 127, a 19th century Thomas Jones transit telescope that sold for $4000, lot 100, a Cooke portable transit telescope made circa 1904 for the Presidency College in Calcutta knocked down for $3000, and lot 112, a late 18th century English brass sextant in a mahogany box, for which the successful bidder paid $1400.
Several paintings sold within or just below catalogue estimate including William Gould’s (1801-1853) Portrait of a Man Holding a Letter (lot 444 - $13,500) and Hugh Sawrey’s The Stick Up (lot 448 - $20,000).
A unusual item was strapper Tommy Woodcock’s Phar Lap walking stick made from fruitwood with a horses hoof handle and inscribed with the words “Good Luck Phar Lap ARW” that sold for $1900.
A legend of the Australian racing turf, Phar Lap won every major race of his day including the 1930 Melbourne Cup.
Tragically, he died two years later in Atherton, California shortly after winning the Agua Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico in track record time. At the time, Phar Lap was the world’s third highest stakes winner.
Intriguing were the two 19th century goldfield stickpins (lot 495) sold for $750 and a 19th century South African goldfield brooch (lot 497) for $1000.