George III library bookcase doubles estimate in Melbourne socialite auction sale

A circa 1790 George III mahogany library breakfront bookcase (lot 11) belonging to leading Melbourne socialite the late Billie Tyrrell beat all comers at Gibson’s Auctions August 22-23 Melbourne sale to go under the hammer for $12,000 – twice its high catalogue estimate.

Married to former Naval lieutenant Harry Tyrrell, who founded National Can Industries, Billie was born in 1924 in Malvern and spent most of her early life at Kanga, an elegant home designed by famous architect Harold Desbrowe-Annear for her prominent lawyer father Wesley Armstrong Ince.

Both her parents loved to entertain and she and her sister Betty grew up surrounded by fine art, furnishings, china and silver.

A practising physiotherapist, in 1957 Billie married Harry and they had two children. Together they amassed a substantial local and international collection of sterling silver and porcelain during their extensive travels.

Billie’s collection comprised the first 168 lots (from a total of 666) of the auction. In second spot and also part of her collection was a pair of circa 1750 George III silver serving dishes (lot 115) by Daniel Piers of London which on a $1500 high estimate sold for $7000.

Lot 319, a circa 1930 Chinese export silver four piece tea service on a tray from Shanghai’s Nanking Store, brought the same result – while a portrait of Sir Thomas Ashton attributed to 18th century British painter William Hoare of Bath (lot 237) doubled its $3000 high estimate.

The same price was paid for a pair of Borghese mirrored consoles by Los Angeles atelier Jean De Merry (lot 275).

Another circa 1930 Nanking Store export silver item – this time a cutlery service (lot 323) – sold for $5500 and a pair of 1756 George III candlesticks by Hugh Gordon of Edinburgh (lot 145), also belonging to Billie Tyrrell, for $5000.

Five thousand dollars was the magic figure for two more lots – a pair of russet marble top wrought iron consoles from California’s Gregorius Pineo (lot 221) and William Hoare’s Portrait of Miss Molly Ashton, Sir William’s daughter (lot 236).

A late 18th century Chippendale style carved open library chair (lot 299) brought a credible $4200 on a $3000 high estimate.

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