Historic Jackie Howe mechanical shears to go under the hammer

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 23rd October, 2013

Sotheby’s Australia will auction the historic Jackie Howe mechanical shears as part of Tuesday’s Asian, Australian & European arts and design sale from 6pm at Anzac House 4 Collins Street, Melbourne.

The shears carry an inscription from the Wolseley S.S.M. Company and were presented to Howe following his award for the highest tally of sheep shorn with a shearing machine in 1892.

A legend in the shearing industry, Howe holds the record of 321 merino sheep shorn in seven hours 40 minutes with hand shears – a feat still unmatched after 121 years, which lead historian Patsy Adam-Smith to call him the ‘Bradman of the boards’.

Jackie Howe used this particular machine hand piece for many years and both he and Wolseley did well out of their relationship.

The shearer was never shy of a challenge. Not only setting records for mechanical and blade shearing, Howe reputedly challenged an athlete to a running race, which ended in a dead heat despite Howe first completing his day of shearing 217 sheep.

The sale of the Jackie Howe Mechanical Shears follows on from the sale of his shearing medals sold by Sotheby’s Australia in 2008 for $360,000 including buyers premium.

The auction also includes archaeological watercolours by Joseph Bradshaw & Collaborator that are a visual account of his 1891 expedition up the Prince Regent Gorge in West Kimberley.

West Kimberley cave paintings (known to locals as Gwion Gwion but more popularly named Bradshaw figures after the discoverer) are among the great mysteries of Australian archaeology.

Against the established and ongoing imagery of the more familiar Wandjina, they appear somewhat alien or archaic – comprising tall, thin humanoid figures wearing elaborate tasselled headdresses, skirts and armbands.



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