A veteran Australian journalist auctions his wife's collection

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 3rd May, 2022

While his wife Eileen was busy indulging her passion for collecting porcelain, scent bottles, period furniture and other quality collectables, John Dunn was busy plying his trade as a journalist – something he is still doing today aged 91.

“I worked for the Melbourne Herald from 1952 to 1958, succeeding (editor) John Fitzgerald as the paper’s London correspondent,” he said.

The pair was married in 1955 and John’s next job was a five-year stint (1958-1963) with Australian Associated Press (AAP), again in London before they returned to Australia where he took on the job of southern states editor for The Australian.

During that time, Eileen never stopped collecting – often visiting Portobello Road in Notting Hill, London, famous for its antique wares.

The six-year position with The Australian led to John being approached to take on the job of South Pacific correspondent with Time Magazine, an association that was to last for 25 years ending in 1997.

Her husband’s overseas work stints played right into Eileen’s collecting hands as she managed to locate the finest pieces from London to New York to bring back to Australia.

After Time Magazine, John started a new career with RM Williams and continues to write for its Outback magazine to this day.

Unfortunately, Eileen died on February 8 – five days short of her 90th birthday – and he is now moving into smaller premises.

As a result, much of Eileen’s collection will be auctioned from 12pm Monday May 9 as part of Philips Auctions Fine & Decorative Arts online sale at 47 Glenferrie Road, Malvern.

The collection includes substantial numbers of Royal Worcester porcelain, such as a signed covered vase (lot 226), covered bowl (lot 227) and small plates (lot 227),  and a Sevres floral pink ground plate (lot 244).

The period furniture features such items as a Victorian mahogany chiffonier (lot 362), burr walnut credenza (lot 363), display, pier and music cabinets (lots 364-366) and a French Louis XV-style carved walnut sewing table (lot 371).

An important auction collection of Russian and Chinese silver, ivory and netsukes belongs to another nonagenarian, 97-year-old Andromache Sandell.

Born in 1925 in China to Greek and Swedish parents (her father Charles Doucakis ran a tobacco company), Andromache – who married a Swedish civil engineer named Knut – became an avid collector as the family moved throughout the country from Shanghai to Beijing and eventually Harbin on the border with Russia.

Now also downsizing, Andromache’s collection contains such gems as a circa 1900 Russian silver belt (lot 170) believed to have belonged to a czar and brought to China when many White Russians escaped to the country following the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Another interesting item is a late 19th century/early 20th century Chinese enamelled opium pipe (lot 91) along with a circa 1900 Franco-Chinese sterling silver tumbler (lot 140) and a Chinese export silver dragon beaker and two small wine goblets (lot 169).

Jewellery pieces of note include a 1.69-carat solitaire diamond ring (lot 3), a fancy gold diamond cluster ring (lot 97) and a Columbian emerald and diamond line bracelet.

There also are several watches on offer including a ladies gold Cartier Tank Francoise example (lot 158) and gents two-tone Rolex GMT-Master II (lot 157), IWC Pilot (lot 159) and Breitling Crosswind (lot 161).

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