Australian journalist, businessman and Packer confidant auctions his collection

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 1st June, 2021

Trevor Kennedy, former journalist and right-hand man to Australian media tycoon the late Kerry Packer, is auctioning much of his colonial furniture, silver and other collectables collection through Gibson’s Auctions over two days from 12pm Sunday June 20 (live auction) and from 10am Monday June 21 (an online sale) at 885-889 High Street, Armadale.

The auction has been delayed by two weeks due to Victoria’s current COVID-19 lockdown – the fourth in 15 months – which has now been extended by another seven days in Melbourne until 11.59pm Thursday June 10.

A final outcome will not be known until the Victorian Government announces whether or not it intends to extend the lockdown if community transmission of the virus is still not under control.

In 1972-73, Kennedy was founding editor of The National Times, became editor-in-chief of Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings from 1981-86 and then its managing director until 1991.

A former business associate of former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in 1997 Kennedy was appointed chairman of AWA Ltd and has served as a director on many Australian company boards, including Consolidated Press Holdings and Qantas.

There are many items in Kennedy’s collection worth collector consideration including an early 19th century colonial cedar and blackwood sideboard (lot 231) which carries a $20,000-$30,000 catalogue estimate.

An early 19th century colonial cedar and ebony bookcase in Samuel Pepys style (lot 47) is another strong attraction with a $15,000-$25,000 estimate, while a circa 1875 carved kerosene shale portrait bust (lot 178) by Sydney’s John Baird (1834-1894) is bound to set tongues wagging.

Baird was a postman and amateur sculptor who worked in the unusual material of kerosene shale mined on Sydney’s North Shore and the bust is reputedly of his son Lignite.

Although he did not exhibit his work, it was the subject of an 1886 article in the Illustrated Sydney News entitled Carvings in Shale – a Sydney Postman’s Discovery.

Baird specialised in animals, medallions of notable people and family members and his wife Jane’s bust is in the National Gallery of Australia collection.

The rarities continue with a circa 1870 Australian silver teapot (lot 161) by Melbourne manufacturer William Edwards that originally was part of the Ruth Simon Collection in 2005 and appears in Nineteenth Century Australian Silver by J.B. Hawkins Volume 1 on page 253.

Other Ruth Simon Collection pieces include a 19th century cedar and casuarina Pembroke table (lot 177), a Tasmanian colonial cedar double ended sofa in the Thomas Hope style (lot 67), a mid-19th century colonial cedar four-tier whatnot (lot 145) and the pencil and wash on paper titled Portrait of a Lady (lot 56) by Richard Read Junior (1796-1852).

Another highlight is a pair of bronze relief moulded rams heads (lot 198) by Hungarian sculptor an architect Andor Meszaros (1900-1972).

To avoid the impending outbreak of World War II, Meszaros emigrated in June 1939 to Melbourne and was employed by two local architectural firms.

The following year, he began to make a living as a sculptor with his early works appearing at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.

Unusually versatile, Meszaros was a dramatic narrative artist in an age where style mattered more than subject and his uncommissioned pieces embraced several timeless themes.

Among his larger commissioned works were religious sculptures for churches and a Sydney private school and, when these were lacking, he turned his hand to designing medallions, of which he produced more than 1000.

Lot 169 is the ornately decorated circa 1898 Australian silver christening cradle designed by Northern Irishman William Kerr who migrated to Sydney in 1839.

The cradle is on an ebonised rectangular wooden base set with a presentation plaque containing the words ‘Presented to Alderman J.B. Anderson, Mayor of Mosman by the Alderman and ex-Alderman with their hearty felicitations on the occasion of the birth of his twin children, 17th March 1898’.

In 1875, Kerr opened premises in Balmain before moving to a larger location in George Street the following year with the business continuing on there until 1938. At the 1879 Sydney international Exhibition, Kerr received a commendation for his work.

A builder and architect residing in Mosman, Anderson was elected in. 1894 to the council and served as mayor 1898-99.

He had seven children and the twins referred to in the inscription were Doreen and Dudley.

Other drawcards include a 19th century set of English brass, oak and leather jockey scales (lot 136) by Young’s of London and a large and impressive late 19th century cedar library table (lot 187) by H. Jones of Parramatta.

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