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Fresh to Moorabool – Tudor & Georgian Silver, English Enamels, Fine Furniture + More!

18th Century English Enamel Boxes @ Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

Welcome to our latest ‘Fresh Stock’ release. There’s a fine group from across the wide variety we stock, including more Sterling Silver, some terrific glass, useful furniture, and more. Featured also is a collection of Georgian Enamels.

Tudor Silver!

A fascinating piece of Sterling Silver has a story to tell.

1809 Silver Label with Mary Tudor & Phillip of Spain sixpence, dated 1554
1809 Silver Label with Mary Tudor & Phillip of Spain sixpence, dated 1554

It’s Scottish Sterling Silver from the Georgian era, made in Edinburgh in 1809. That alone makes it an item of interest.
However, the base of the bowl is a flat disk: coin-like, in fact….. and when you look closely, the heads of a King & Queen are visible, along with the date ‘1554’. This is a ‘Coin Spoon’. Incorporating coins as bowls in spoons is common in the later 19th century, when they often used obsolete Georgian currency. The silver of the coin, of course, is literally ‘Sterling’ – guaranteed by the Crown to be consistently 92.5%, or .925 parts silver. This meant the entire creation could be assayed as ‘Sterling’ correctly.

Phillip of Spain & Mary Tudor, shortly after their wedding in 1554.
source: Wikipedia, original in Bedford Collection, Woburn Abbey

Any coin collector must by now be recoiling in horror! This is a rare coin, a commemorative for the marriage of Mary Tudor to Phillip II of Spain.
This is the Mary known to us as ‘Bloody Mary’….. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, and strongly Catholic. When her young half-brother, King Edward VI, died aged 15 in 1553, and the removal of the inconvenient Lady Jane Grey from the throne, she ascended the throne as Mary I. The marriage to Phillip II of Spain – her cousin – was her attempt to secure the throne for the Catholic cause; unfortunately the crisis which her father had created by breaking away from the Catholic world meant this was no simple task. Ruling with an iron fist, she had religious opponents killed. Her reign was short, lasting just 4 years until her death in 1558. Waiting patiently in the wings was the ‘Virgin Queen’, Elizabeth I, whose long reign was to lay the foundations for the mighty British Empire that followed in the next few centuries.

In good condition, one might bring over £2,000 today; this example….. probably not!

Georgian Enamels

We have a fine group of these small treasures – the rarest being a ‘cameo’ decorated example, circa 1795. This is directly imitating the Wedgwood jasperware examples of the period, and is the only example of this type we have seen.

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Fresh Stock – Asian Antiques

Asian Antiques at Moorabool Antiques

In this week’s Fresh Stock we have a great variety of Asian items, including Chinese, Japanese and Burmese – metalwares, pottery, ceramics, and several choice pieces of Cloisonné – quite hard to discern the origin sometimes, but we have both Chinese and Japanese for you to enjoy.

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Mechi’s amazing Emporium

Mechi's Shop at 4 Leadenhall Street

Victorian Entrepreneur  John Joseph Mechi (1802-80) was born in London, the city of opportunity – and his story shows all the ups & downs in the life of an entrepreneur.

John-Joseph-Mechi 1808-1880
John-Joseph-Mechi 1808-1880

As suggested by his name, his father was Italian, and employed in the household of George III, marrying a local girl. He claimed connections with Italian Royalty, but his position in court was… a court barber! It seems young John grew up with these high aspirations, something that comes through in his flamboyant adverts:

Mechi …. greatly improves the personal appearance of the community, by means of his extraordinary Razors….  ‘

His intended audience is also obvious:

‘…Captains, Military, and Nautical Gentlemen, proceeding to India or the colonies, will find Mechi’s are the very Emporium, in which they can instantly procure almost every article (except clothing and furniture) that a protracted absence from their native country renders necessary.’

Mechi's Shop at 4 Leadenhall Street
Mechi’s Shop at 4 Leadenhall Street

There’s a huge amount of flair that comes through in these adverts, a showmanship that reflects his Italian roots. And yet, unlike many of the Regent Street retailers of luxury goods he was competing with, he catered for all budgets.

Beginning his career in 1818 training as a clerk, he set out on his own in 1828 as a ‘cutler’ in Leadenhall Street. He began manufacturing papier-mâché, and moved into his address at 4 Leadenhall Street by 1830, and later was in a partnership with Bazin in Regent Street circa 1859-69. After this date, he continued on his own, from 1870 until 1880.

His ‘mission statement’ printed in his catalogue is remarkably forward thinking, worthy of a fair-trade profile in the 21st century:

 “1st. to sell only the very best articles, at a small profit, for ready money.

2nd. To exchange or return the money for any article found defective, without any reserve or mean objection.

3rd. By punctuality, by civility, and vigilant attention to the wants of his customers, to endeavour to identify their interest with his own, and thereby merit and increase the extensive trade, patronage and confidence with which he has already been honoured”


Products included his own inventions, such as the ‘magic shaving strap’, which made him a small fortune early on (until beards became fashionable!) , and items made of Papier-mâché.

MECHI shop advert, 1840's
MECHI shop advert, 1840’s

(The Spectator , London , 1846)  SUPERB NOVELTIES IN PAPIER MACHER

“A visit to his establishment will prove that there is not in London another such stock of elegancies.

Caddies, tables, envelope cases, letting boxes, companions, cabinets, jewel cases, work boxes, dressing cases, tea Katies, hand and pole-screens, card racks, table inkstands, writing desks, portfolios, playing cards and visiting card cases, bottle cases, note and cake baskets, also an insult and of needle cases, and pearl and tortoiseshell, silver and gold pencil cases, pen holders and other Articles suitable for presents.”

We have in stock a large tea-tray with his name & address at the back, conveniently now seated on a folding table base. These were very popular in the stylish Victorian drawing-room:

(The Spectator , London , 1846) TEA TRAYS

Mechi’s papier-mâché tea trays are decidedly the most unique and elegant ever manufactured. The designs are various, as well as the prices, and the economical may be suited as easily as those whose wealth entitles them to such for the most recherche articles which art can produce. The papier-mâché work tables work boxes tea caddies writing cases ink stands and screens card boxes and etc are really superb.”

He was a prolific inventor, coming up with all sorts of interesting concepts he patented. He had a thriving farming business later on, having purchased it as a failing enterprise he managed to turn it around – and published a series of accounts on ‘Profitable Farming’. He was confirmed as the Sheriff of London in 1856, an Alderman of the City of London in 1858, but unfortunately became involved in a failed financial scheme, and was declared bankrupt -right when he was destined to become the Mayor of London….

Mechi took a stand at the 1851 Exhibition to promote his wares, and again in 1862.

The Mechi stand, Great Exhibition 1851
The Mechi stand, Great Exhibition 1851

If Mechi was inserted in today’s society, he’d be selling gizmo’s and gadgets, from his gadget shop – ala Apple – and his adverts would be the really annoying ones with the catchy tune…


Our 'Mechi Tribute' at Moorabool Antiques
Our ‘Mechi Tribute’ at Moorabool Antiques

Here’s what I mean; this advert from THE NATIONAL STANDARD / Journal of Literature, Science, Music, Theatricals, and the Fine Arts, January 1833 must have been penned by the man himself – in the years leading to his almost-promotion to Lord Mayor of London:


A Rather Long Story


Mr Deputy Scrub had long taken out
his bachelors degree;
So he thought it high time to look about,
persuaded there to buy a twige of the gout,
for some lady with cash or even without,
Mrs Deputy Scrub to be.
But alas he was plagued with a terrible beard,
which the spinsters almost enormously feared,
and a rub in person to them appeared,
as a bad as by deputy.


A ticket he got for the Lord Mayors ball,
thought he come out on though I’m rough as a Thistle,
who knows what a chance may turn up at Guildhall?
I may wine with a lady and help on her shawl,
and drop her my card in the morning call,
with a charming love episode.
So he built a new coat and he wigged new crop,
and made himself smart from the tail to the top,
and resolving to take the ball at the hop,
asked the hand of Miss Barbara whistle.


She simpered and smiled and said “Yes kind sir,
I am yours for the next quadrille;
Or perhaps you are gallopade prefer”.
So he drew on his gloves and he took hold of her
Little finger and danced a new mazurka
with incredible skill.
But the ladies and gentlemen vowed such a pair
of muzzles were never before the Lord Mayor,
And the scrub and the bristle were matched to a hair,
and Jack should be married to Jill.

Then bright cake all over the town was sent from Mr and Mrs scrub
In a chariot-and-four to Brighton they went:
But Adam honeymoon half was spent,
It began to be clouded with this content at many are conjugal Rob.
The deputy grumbled and Barbara pouted,
The loves and the graces away were rooted
From the forest of Brushwood that flourished and sprouted
under each D a little snob.

But through Leadenhall-Street as the Deputy paced,
So gingerly rubbing his chin, he
Read a showy placard of the MAGICAL PASTE,
In MECHI’S shop window attractively placed,
“Odd Bobs” he exclaimed, “If this hits not my taste,
You may call me a positive Ninny”
Poor Bob shall no longer of beard be prolific;
Thanks to Mechi’s sharp razors and strops scientific,
While his MAGICAL PASTE by its powder mirific,
Gives for sixpence what’s well worth a guinea.


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Radioactive Collectibles! 

Yes, these pieces are so radioactive they glow! With the help of a ‘black light’ Ultraviolet torch, these innocent yellow pieces with the whitish ‘Vaseline’ finish really put on a show. But no need to be alarmed – the radiation they emit is a tiny fraction of a percent of our everyday experience, where the sky, the ground, and the items we interact with emit some degree of radiation. It’s just that these ‘Uranium Glass’ pieces are so pretty!

Antique Uranium Glass,
Antique Uranium Glass, normal light & UV light

As a result, they’re well collected.
Originally, Uranium was a curious mineral, often a bi-product of metal mining and with no real use. Glass blowers found it gave a tint to glass, inventing a use for it – of course, the fluorescent nature under UV light was still hidden until this modern age.

Vase/Candlestick, american 20thC.
Vase/Candlestick, american 20thC.

There’s an ancient Roman instance of Uranium in glass, with some mosaic tiles in a Bay of Naples Villa having 1% Uranium Oxide. During the Middle Ages, it appears in German glass as a tinting agent, and continued up into the Victorian era, particularly in the Bohemian works of Franz Xaver Riedel, who named his product after his daughter Anna – hence ‘Annagrün’ (Anna yellow-green) and ‘Annagelb’ (Anna yellow)! This pioneering commercial effort lasted 1830-48, by which time many other European glassmakers were copying the method.
France and England were prolific in the late 19th century, and America came to love their radioactive wares.

George Davidson & Co
George Davidson & Co ‘Richelieu’ pattern,
circa 1890

Then came the Atomic Bomb, and the Cold War; suddenly the Uranium was the ‘hottest’ commodity on the planet, and a strategic resource; the US confiscated all supplies as they pushed on with their nuclear ambition.
These days, there’s plenty of Uranium around – but putting it in your glassware isn’t really done!

We have an interesting selection of Uranium Glass in stock.
See the Uranium Glass Collection here >>

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Australiana? Not Quite!

This interesting unsigned watercolour was an exciting recent purchase from a local estate. Exciting, because my imagination ran wild… I could see:

  1. Colonial period ships.
  2. Rather dark people standing up in a ‘canoe’…
  3. The tree so prominently featured looks just like a large Eucalypt specimen, as depicted by early colonial artists.
  4. On the left are a whole row of large, dead trees, birds circling above.
  5. The lack of any town or development, with large ships close to shore.
  6. A Georgian building typical of early Colonial Australia….

Was this an exciting discovery, an early view of the Hawkesbury River, or Tasmania, or somewhere in Sydney Harbour perhaps?

Closer examination was clearly needed. Once deframed, the backing was prised off to reveal the reverse, and a very interesting inscription and date:

“St Vincent’s Peak – from Nightingale Valley, 1823”

So what is ‘Nightingale Valley’ ? -and where is  ‘St Vincent’s Peak’ ? a quick trip to Google, and all was revealed….
An 1813 scene on a page from Turner’s sketchbooks in the Tate bears a very similar inscription: “The Avon Gorge near Bristol; St Vincent’s Rocks from Nightingale Valley”.  Turner also did studies of the same ship types, being towed by the same row-boats, in 1798.

The view is not Australian, but British. St Vincents Rocks are an outcrop in the high ridge the river Avon cuts through on its way to the sea at Bristol. In this image, the ships are being slowly towed upstream by row-boats towards the docks of Bristol, which lies just beyond the horseshoe-bend and then the Gorge (‘Nightingale Valley’)  through which the river flows to the left. The road cut into the headland to the left is the ‘Portway’, no doubt allowing passage for the horse teams that could be used to tow the sailing ships up the river if needed.

The ‘X’ marks artsit’s location, the \/ his line of sight.

I believe it could be looking upriver towards Bristol, around the position of present-day Shirehampton Park on the left, the first major bend in the river for ships coming in from the sea at the point where the Avon cuts into the high ground. St Vincent’s Rocks would be just to the left of the view, not far from where Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the remarkable Clifton Suspension Bridge which dominates the gorge today, having opened in 1864.

Leigh Court, built 1814.
Leigh Court, built 1814.


The large Palladian style Country House visible on the ridgeline can be pinpointed on a map today, and is Leigh Court, a gem of Georgian architecture built in 1814, and today a popular wedding venue.



Certainly a long way from the gumtrees of Sydney Harbour…..




See this interesting piece on our website here>>