A big step up from producing ladders to auctioning antiques

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 24th February, 2022

Not sure how much of a step up it is from manufacturing aluminium ladders to collecting antiques – however, if you ask Werner and Cecile Hecht they have had a lot of fun doing both.

Born in Munich, Werner was 21 when he moved to Australia in 1960. Cecile, who hails from Toulouse, France, migrated to Melbourne 12 years later at age 24.

Both were married with children to other partners before they teamed up and in 1980 started their step ladder business Mboss Access Ladders in the garage of their home.

For 18 years Werner and Cecile were regulars at home show exhibitions and, as the business outgrew the garage, in 1998 they built a factory in McIntyre Road, St Albans.

Nine years later, they sold the factory and bought a bigger premises in North Sunshine before selling the business in 2019 and retiring.

Not long before they built the St Albans factory, Werner and Cecile met well known auctioneer Phil Caldwell and began collecting Australian art and European furniture, clocks and porcelain – for which they developed a significant passion.

“Many of the items we collected we acquired at Phil’s auctions,” Cecile said. “However, some were bought overseas – in particular from antique shops in San Francisco.”

One such piece was a glass top table with drawer in which she could store all her jewellery as it was easy to see all the items.

The paintings and other collectables were used to decorate their 70-square home at 858 Old Calder Highway, Keilor.

Werner’s failing health has meant it is now time to downsize to a nearby unit and auction the contents of their long-time home – which Phil Caldwell will do online from  11am Sunday March 6 with phone, absentee and internet bidding easily available.

Live viewing at the property, which also is for sale, will be from 10am-5pm Friday March 4 and Saturday March 5.

Works by several of Australia’s leading artists including Hugh Sawrey, Charles Blackman, Pro Hart and David Bromley from the Hecht collection will be offered at the auction – although Cecile says she cannot bear to part with paintings collected over the years and will be keeping a few of her favourites to take to the new apartment.

The pair also have impressive items of French furniture including fine 19th century vitrines, 22-carat gold leaf salon suites, boulle and marquetry tables and commodes and elegant boudoir pieces.

The time pieces they collected range from an early English grandfather example to French salon clock sets.

Porcelain was another love and buyers will be able to choose from Royal Worcester, including pieces by George Owen and Charles Baldwyn, Limoge, Minton, Dresden and Meissen.

A further attraction is the rare large marble figures and life-size bronze dogs – along with investment jewellery that features a five-carat diamond, emeralds, pearls and gold bracelets.

For car lovers, a hard top convertible SL350 convertible with only 17,000 kilometres on the clock might just be the buy of the year.

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