Amateur boxer the king of antique collecting and his lovely queen

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 3rd August, 2013

In his youth, Don Viney was a keen amateur boxer – a sport he loved his entire life.

So much so that in later life in order to keep fit, Don once more donned the gloves to fight as a veteran for the Eltham Shadow Boxing Club. 

In 2010, he even won the World Veteran Championship in the United States and brought the championship belt back to display in the Eltham clubrooms.

Although boxing was something he could only do on his own, Don Viney shared a passion for antiques with his long time partner Josepha van Rooij – using the furniture and collectibles to decorate their magnificent property Alcheringa at 120 Watery Gully Road, Kangaroo Ground.

Among Melbourne antique dealers and auction houses they became known as the “king and queen of antiques” – their love of burr walnut period pieces well known in the trade.

Unfortunately, last year Don died of a heart attack and Josepha has asked Christian McCann Auctions to auction much of their furniture and collectibles collection on site from noon tomorrow.

Josepha said they first became hooked on antiques about 25 years ago when Don bought a sideboard as a gift for her. Collecting such items then became a common interest for the two of them, with Josepha even helping the former Acorn Antiques part owners Max and Carol Milton set up antique exhibitions on a regular basis.

Specialising in burr walnut furniture from the mid-19th century meant frequenting Melbourne auction houses and spending many hours excitedly researching individual pieces as they came onto the market.

One of their great coups was buying one of the finest-ever carved walnut throne chair from well-known antique dealer Gary Kay. Another was a magnificent walnut court cabinet from the same dealer.

However, perhaps the greatest challenge of Don’s collecting life was a beautiful French burr walnut table (which he always admired and regarded as his own) residing at Acorn Antiques.

Trouble was he never put a deposit down to hold it as a layby purchase. One day Don came into the shop and it had gone – sold to a Perth buyer. Then, about 12 months later the table miraculously reappeared at the shop and, keen not to make the same mistake twice, this time Don was quick to snap it up.

The auction is full of exquisitely carved chateau cabinets collected over the years, an Irish walnut centre table, credenzas, an inlaid marquetry upright piano and library furniture.

A great pulling card for classic car buffs is the fully restored 1961 Valiant S.

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