Australian couple's unique collection proves popular with buyers

Personal collections built up over many years often attract a strong following when auctioned and so it proved for ageing Australian couple Michael and Valerie Gregg’s lifetime assembly of silver, Australian furniture, ceramics, jewellery and pottery unrivalled anywhere in the world sold on March 24 by Melbourne-based Leski Auctions.

The entire collection of 797 lots was sold with many of the items attracting bids well above their catalogue estimates.

Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, Michael’s love was his country’s silver. This resonated with buyers who were quick to pounce on a rare circa 1775 silver coffee pot (lot 74), made by Edouard Gavey for Mary Mauger with her name inscribed on the base and the only known one of his in existence, that sold for $18,000 on a $10,000-$15,000 catalogue estimate.

A circa 1730 rare George I Channel Islands silver bullet teapot by silversmith Guillaume Henry (lot 79) was another hotly contested item, going under the hammer for $12,000.

Both items reflected the strong auction attraction for the Channel Islands collection while early colonial Australian silver, the forte of Valerie Gregg who was born in 1934 in the New South Wales town of Wagga Wagga and met her husband in the small northern NSW town of Brewarrina when he went jackarooing, also performed well.

Typical was the circa 1835 Alexander Dick designed silver christening mug (lot 1) that brought $12,000, while a circa 1830s fiddle pattern soup ladle (lot 3) by the same maker at an $11,000 return almost doubled its high-end catalogue estimate and his same era silver cream jug (lot 2) realised $9000.

The highest auction price of $52,000 was paid for the Cressida Campbell painting Interior with Daffodils 2010 (lot 702) followed by Brett Whiteley’s hand painted pottery vase (lot 391) at $28,000.

Rare 19th/20th century Western Australian goldfield brooches were another popular item with lots 204 and 203 – both attributed to Donovan & Overland – respectively fetching $12,000 and $11,000.

A stunning statue entitled “Sorceress” by Australian potter Marguerite Mahood (lot 349) was well within its catalogue estimate at $11,000, while Grace Secombe’s pottery parrot (lot 342) realised $10,000, the same price as a 19th century Australian 15-carat gold Albrt fob chain (lot 222). 

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