Australian icons up for auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 15th November, 2019

A pistol once owned by British explorer Captain James Cook (lot 20) and a cricket stump that played silent witness to the 1933 Bodyline bowling series against England (lot 21) are among the new category of “Australian icons” created by Leski Auctions as part of it latest Australian & Colonial sale from noon Sunday November 24 at 727-729 High Street, Armadale.

Carrying a catalogue estimate of  $150,000-$250,000, the pistol is an early 18th century continental flintlock designed for a holster and was passed onto his elder sister after he was killed by natives on February 14, 1779 attempting to kidnap the Island of Hawaii’s monarch, Kalani’opu’u, to reclaim a cutter stolen from one of his ships during his third exploratory Pacific voyage.

The cricket stump was souvenired by Australian team member Bert Ironmonger from the 3rd Test in Adelaide and later gifted to W. Martin with an appropriate inscription. The stump has been signed by Ironmonger and various members of the Australian and English teams including Don Bradman, Jack Fingleton, Stan McCabe, Bert Oldfield and Bill O’Reilly.

Making up the other two icons is an unusual World War II memorabilia piece in the form of a hand drawn Changi Prison Australian Rules Association premiership trophy plaque with the inscription “Richmond Football Club, Premiers, 1942, Australian Rules Association, P.O.W. Camp Changi” (lot 22) and listing the names of the coach, captain, vice-captain and various officials – and the late Polly Farmer’s 1956 East Perth premiership guernsey (lot 23).

An iconic ruckman who also played in Geelong’s 1963 premiership VFL side, Farmer is credited with modernising the game through the use of accurate handball to speed up play.

Very rare is lot 7, a colonial scrimshaw desk set comprising two sperm whale teeth engraved with tall ships, while a circa 1939 William Ricketts pottery vase (lot 108) with an applied koala on a tree stump is one of the more unusual among a fabulous group of Ricketts pieces.

The vase carries the inscription “Wm. Ricketts, Potter’s Sanctuary, Mt. Dandenong, May God Watch Over You Both, Also Edward, To Mr. & Mrs. Roberts, 1939.”

An original archive of manuscript notes and typed notebooks in German (lot 182) created in the first 10 years of the 20th century by a visiting German anthropologist interested in Australian Aboriginal culture, creativity and lifestyles – and accompanied by hundreds of hand drawn and hand painted sketches – is another unusual find.

Among the furniture is a circa 1885 Tasmanian tilt top table made from several Australian native timbers for the Scott family – while iconic 20th century Australian photographers Harold Cazneaux, Max Dupain and Wolfgang Sievers show their skills in lots 361-366.

Historic posters are another drawcard, including Charles Meere’s controversial “Australia Celebrates” 1788-1938 (lot 393).

Among the art available are works by John Cleveley (lots 429-430), John Glover (lots 445, 447 and 453), S.T. Gill (lot 462), Herbert Calvert (lot 523 – the catalogue front cover) and Pro Hart (lot 574).

Australian wines and jewellery items also are for auction.

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