An auction collection well worth advertising

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 31st January, 2017

Like his efforts for advertising industry giant Ogilvy and Mather – where during the 1980s he became the company’s highest paid Australian executive – Michael Ball AO has left an indelible impression on the collecting of antiques and antiquities.

Perhaps because he worked in many parts of the world including the United States, Canada, England, Italy and Asia – or maybe because friends with the collecting bug like Lord Alistair McAlpine and satirist Barry Humphries egged him on – over the years Ball amassed many significant and diverse collections, some of which have been sold over time in London.

This latest and last (he died late last year) is a wonderful opportunity for auction goers to secure a piece of history from a man who simply loved collecting items that intrigued him – often in great multiples.

Mossgreen is conducting the auction from noon Sunday February 5 at the Gibraltar Hotel in Bowral, New South Wales with viewing at Michael Ball’s nearby property Greenacres 12521 Hume Highway, Sutton Forrest.

According to Mossgreen’s chief executive officer Paul Sumner who wrote the catalogue introduction, this forthcoming auction provides an insight into Michael Ball the man.

“From ancient fossils and indigenous tools and artefacts to 17th century English maps and Chinese ceramics it all reflects a man with global interests and this is of course the way he lived his life,” he said.

“Every piece in this auction in some way tells a story of where Michael lived – from the stately property in Somerset that he recalled very fondly, to the US and Asia, they were all treasured pieces of a larger jigsaw that was Michael’s life.”

Many of the ancient fossils and artefacts he obtained directly from Lord McAlpine’s collection – himself a passionate collector of European and Neolithic antiquities.

Some artefacts date back up to 6000 years such as the Nordic (Danish) trapezoid shaped thin butted, battle and unpolished grey flint axes that are significant parts of the collection.

Other items are even older – a fossilised dinosaur’s egg from the Cretaceous Period 135-65 million years ago found in France a classic example, along with a fossilised English “sealilly” or crinoid phylum Echinodermata of the Silurian Period 430-400 million years old.

One of the great auction attractions are a variety of sculptures by British-born sculptor John Robinson, co-founder of the Bradshaw Foundation, who died in 2007.

First making a name with representational pieces, Robinson’s figurative bronzes ranged in scope and scale from life-size commissioned sculptures of children to athletic figures and included commissioned busts of Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother.

Establishment of the Bradshaw Foundation in 1992 followed a lifetime of interest in art, archaeology and anthropology and a trip to the Kimberly region of Western Australia to examine a distributed set of rock art called the Bradshaws.

His auction pieces include “Zack” 1988, a contemporary cast bronze of Michael Ball’s stallion 2.2 metres high, and Danaide 1985 a large marble figure after Auguste Rodin Study for the daughter of Danaus, King of Argos.

The auction also contains a collection of books including compiler and retailer Eric Craige’s (1829-1923) Book of New Zealand Ferns – an album of mounted specimens. 

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