Significant Tasmanian collection hits auction market

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 5th October, 2016

The most significant Tasmanian collection to hit the Australian auction market in living memory will be sold from noon Sunday October 9 by Mossgreen at the Henry Jones Art Hotel 25 Hunter Street, Hobart.

The collection, comprising Tasmanian colonial furniture, maritime objects and antiques, belongs to David and Leslie Frost and has attracted enormous national and international attention.

With business partners Frank Bennett and Ron Martin, the Frosts owned Hobart’s well-known De Witt Antiques and, over 40 years, built up a collection that features exceptional examples of Tasmanian Huon pine and cedar furniture and antiques – a compelling story about a fascinating group of furniture restorers, dealers and collectors.

David was the restorer of the group and, despite De Witt Antiques closing its doors 17 years ago, is still recognised as one of the best in Australia.

He first met his partners as a young man in 1974 when he obtained a week’s work on board Frank’s Huon pine crayfishing yacht the Casilda.

The meeting was the beginning of a lifelong career in antiques as David learned the traditional methods of repairing and restoring furniture using antique cabinetmaker tools.

Mossgreen specialist Harry Glenn, who believes the collection is culturally important, said the sale has a strong maritime theme.

“A significant highlight is the museum quality mid-19th century sea captain’s cabin trunk,” he says.

“Made from Australian cedar and featuring intricate whale bone inlay, rope and leather handles, the trunk was Ron Martin’s prized possession and is believed to have belonged to a whaling ship’s captain.”

Another collection highlight is a rare 1840s cedar bookcase by William Champion, one of Hobart’s finest cabinetmakers who exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London.

The bookcase was part of a three-piece suite made for the O’May family who operated trans-Derwent ferries in the late 1800s in Hobart.

The eastern shore suburb of Bellerive is named after their stately home.

An early Port Arthur two-drawer Tasmanian Blackwood desk is another significant piece. Dated circa 1835, it is stamped with the broad arrow of the penal settlement.

Viewing is at Long Gallery, 65-77 Salamanca Place, Battery Point Tasmania.


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