Car mascots and autographs among fascinating Melbourne auction collectables

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 25th February, 2019

A 1922-25 French Sirene nickel plated bronze car mascot (lot 196) by George Colin (marked G. Colin, 10) is one of the more unusual and appealing items up for grabs at Leski Auctions forthcoming Decorative Arts & Collectables sale from 12pm Sunday March 3 at 727-729 High Street, Armadale.

Featured on the auction catalogue’s front cover and originally distributed by Hermes, in 1922 Colin’s design was awarded Medailee for design by L’Auto.

It joins another car mascot – a replica Hispano Suiza version – (lot 197) which was handcrafted in brass by Jonathan White and mounted on a wooden plinth.

The Leski auction is fascinating for its wide ranging content, which includes such treasures as a rare 18th century Belgian pen-work box containing four smaller boxes each inscribed with the words “La Place De Sea Et La Fountaine Du Pouhon, 1773” (lot 202).

Pouhon was famous in the 18th century for its mineral springs and associated spas visited by the aristocracy and wealthy middle class.

The four internal boxes are adorned with local spa scenes including La Gerronsterre, La Tonneley, Le Waltroz and La Suaveniere.

Sterling silver (the first 50 lots) plays a big part in the auction and includes such impressive items as an Irish George II two handled cup (lot 1) and a four piece tea service with finely crafted figurative finials by John & George Angell, London, 1846 (lot 2).

Interesting is the English sterling silver tray (lot 8) which weighs more than five kilograms and carries a catalogue estimate of $1500-$2500 – less than what silver is currently worth per kilogram on the international market.

Dominating the auction room is an attributed 1890s Gillows of Lancaster 24-seat carved mahogany Chippendale-style banquet table (lot 261) with 24 matching chairs.

Originally commissioned by Sir Robert Lucas-Tooth, the table is believed to have been among the original furnishings for his Sydney mansion “Swifts” in Darling Point, which at the time had a ballroom larger than the one at Government House.

The house and table were sold in 1915 to Edmund Resch (the famous 19th century and early 20th century New South Wales brewer) who died there in 1923.

Sydney’s Moran Health Group were the next owners and in 2008 the table was bequeathed under the Cultural Gifts Program to the Sir Henry Royce Foundation with a market valuation of $40,000.

A young male African lion (lot 318), taxidermied in 1974, is another significant auction room feature – while autograph hunters should be impatient to get their hands on Colin Steele’s collection of United States presidential, English Royal family and British parliamentarian and associated signatures (lots 502-510).

Among the more famous of these is that of Christine Keeler, in 1961 the 19-year-old model who had a brief sexual relationship with John Profumo, Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan’s conservative government.

Complicated by the fact that Keeler may have been simultaneously involved with Soviet naval attache Captain Yevgeny Ivanov, when the affair became public in 1963 Profumo was forced to resign from the government and parliament.

Such was the heightened public interest at the time that it may well have led to the defeat of the conservatives in the 1964 election when Labour’s Harold Wilson became Prime Minister.

The auction also contains several pieces of Lalique including a 1920 “Escargot” vase that director Charles Leski says has led to direct contact with the Lalique factory.

“Because of its importance and rarity, this piece is featured on the company’s website,” he said. 


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