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Auctions!

2001 Auction Flier…..

Moorabool has some exciting news to share: we now run regular Auctions!

We once ran a successful auction rooms in Geelong, ‘OldBank Auctions’ for 10 years – the last sale being in 2004. It began when a good customer/collector asked us to sell his collection; today, it’s the exact same scenario.
We have a large collection of lush ceramics to sell on behalf of a good customer of 50 years, with most of it coming directly from us at some time. Along with the many other groups of items that have come in on consignment, we suddenly have a very full building….


So Auctions are our solution. There are many other auction houses accessible online today, so how will we stand out?

Back in the ‘OldBank’ days, we had a unique selling advantage: every lot was illustrated on a website, in the early days of the web. We had one of the early digital cameras, purchased in the late 1990’s. This resulted in bids from all over Australia – unique for the time! Today it’s normal, and bids come in from all over the world – but we still have a way to stand out in the crowd, along the same lines as ‘Moorabool Antiques’ has stood out at the retail level.


We can auction items using our usual clarity of the important things such as condition and date – we’ve been called ‘pedantic’ when it comes to these details, but it’s a good thing in the Antique Auction World. Have you ever seen the term ‘a/f’ describing the condition of a piece? As-found, or all-faults is the meaning. This could be describing anything, such as the entire head of a figure replaced with plaster, and stuck together from many pieces & painted over….. or it could mean a small inconspicuous hairline crack at the back which is hard to spot. ‘A/f’ is not at all helpful in making a decision to bid – and therefore not suitable when describing condition. As you’ll know by Moorabool’s descriptions, we talk you through any damages or flaws.

Eye

Bid with confidence

We’ll be pedantic in our condition reports and ensure items are photographed extensively. If we’ve missed something, it is a simple thing to request more images or information.

First of many Auctions

Moorabool Auctions will hold its first auction on June 1st. This is possible through Invaluable; they provide a robust platform, where we upload our items and run the auction on the day.

We plan to have a regular monthly sale, with the following sale scheduled for the first week of July. We’re open to accept items for upcoming sales at any time.

Bidding is simple.

It’s a simple procedure; you register your details on their site, and when the auction starts, just like a real one you’ll see the item being sold on your screen, and the amount. To bid, there’s a button: once you click, it sends your bid to the auctioneer…. and if no-one else bids, it’s yours. If someone else does bid, you’ll see you are no longer the highest: that’s decision time…. to bid or not to bid, how much do you need it……?

We are also able to bid on your behalf with left bids, which also saves you the 5% Invaluable adds to purchases on their platform…..

Shipping

We’re able to offer a shipping service along the same lines as our shop. This is a major point-of-difference with other salesrooms, where the bidding & buying is the easy part: when it comes to getting your goods shipped, there’s so often a rude shock in the form of shipping quotes.

Our shipping is very reasonable: a cup & saucer, for example, will be around $20, Australia-wide – or around $50 to the US or UK, safely double-boxed & insured.

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English Enamels & Derby figures

Welcome to our latest Fresh Stock release at Moorabool.

This week we have a fine selection of English Porcelain figures, and a collection of English Enamel patch & snuff boxes.

Enamel patch boxes and snuff boxes were everyday items for fashionable 18th century people of social status.

Patch-box with mirror in lid


Patchboxes, as their name suggests, were used to store ‘patches’ – literally small wax-based cosmetic ‘boils’ that were seen as essential beauty products in the 17th & 18th centuries. This ‘beauty spot’ fashion had a practical origin; the diseases of the era would often leave facial scars, and a patch could be used to fill the mark; however, it obviously became something more, with perfectly healthy un-diseased beauties feeling they had to add artificial patches to their faces!
The patchbox, with its compact size and elegant appearance, provided a convenient and stylish way to carry these essential fashion accessories on one’s person, ready to apply if needed. You can tell them by the mirror seen inside the lid – something seen into the modern era with the ‘powder-compact’.

Snuff boxes were used to store ‘snuff’ – essentially powdered tobacco, a popular stimulant in the 17th and 18th centuries. Snuff-taking was not only a social ritual but also a symbol of refinement and status. These boxes, often passed down as heirlooms, were prized possessions that reflected the taste and sophistication of their owners, making them cherished artifacts right to the present day.

Fresh to Stock – 18th century Enamel Boxes

SPOT THE FAKE

One of these lovely enamel boxes isn’t what it seems: can you tell which?

SLIDE the line across to reveal the Sampson 19th century copy!

Derby Figures

Derby figures, originating from the renowned Derby Porcelain Factory founded by William Duesbury in 1756, represent a pinnacle of 18th-century ceramic artistry. These exquisite porcelain sculptures, often depicting scenes of pastoral life, classical mythology, or notable historical figures, are celebrated for their impeccable craftsmanship and artistic detail. From elegant ladies and gentlemen in period attire to elaborate animal and mythological motifs, Derby figures encompass a diverse range of subjects and styles, each meticulously sculpted and hand-painted with vibrant enamels. Reflecting the tastes of the aristocracy and burgeoning middle-class of Georgian England, these figures adorned the mantelpieces and tables of affluent households, serving as both decorative ornaments and symbols of status and refinement. Today, Derby figures remain highly sought-after by Collectors and Connoisseurs of Fine Things, cherished for their timeless beauty.

Fresh to Stock – Derby Figures – and more!

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A Rare Pair: Meissen copies of Sèvres, by J.G. Loehnig, circa 1786

Rare Meissen beakers in the Sèvres style, by Johann Georg Loehnig, c.1775

Sometimes, things don’t turn out to be what they look like. While that’s usually a pre-cursor for disappointment when we discover something is made later, or badly damaged – our recent experience was quite the opposite…
An enquiry about some ‘Dresden Cups’ with a photo of the two beautiful beakers illustrated here came to us. The pieces looked superb quality, and Sèvres would be a likely candidate – not Dresden, or Meissen as it is more familiarly known.

Handling them for the first time showed them to be even better than the photos. They are absolutely the most stunning items, and their condition exceptional. Turning them up reveals their surprise : a pair of crossed sword marks, for Meissen.

Definitely 18th century, and Vincennes/ early Sèvres style, but Meissen marks; clearly there’s a tale to be told….

A dive into the books brought up the answer: a rare moment in the world of Meissen, when it no longer led the way in porcelain taste in Europe, but followed the French. Once we had established the period, we were able to attribute the artist: Johann George Loehnig (1743 – 1806).

His work is rare. He was listed as one of the 1st-class artists in Meissen between 1764 and 1770. In 1786 he was still listed as a “…figure painter of the most exquisite class” in the manufactory’s list of painters. The artwork source for the lush and expressive putti were mostly provided by Johann Eleazar Zeissig (1737 – 1806), called Schenau, who in turn was inspired by François Boucher (1703 – 1770).”

Sèvres cherubs, 1758-9

Meissen cherubs, c. 1770

Meissen c. 1770

Meissen c. 1770

Meissen, the pioneering porcelain manufacturer in Europe, had led the field in discovering how to manufacture porcelain, inventing and defining the European taste for porcelain right from their first creations in the first decade of the 18th century. By the 1770’s, they had a large number of competitors, and lost their lead as innovators to other makers. There are several shapes ‘borrowed’ from France, and this cup shows the strong demand for the ‘French’ taste, decorated in a design that first appeared in Vincennes & Sèvres products in the 1750’s. While the Sèvres examples were based on the paintings and prints of Boucher, it has been suggested that the designs for the Meissen examples 25 years later came from the works by Schenau (Johann Eleazar Zeissig), Director of the Royal Academy of Arts in Dresden – who was himself directly influenced by the works of Boucher.

Very few examples are to be found of this direct copying, and appear to be limited to a few very exclusive tea sets – and chocolate, as seen here – made for the most wealthy of customers.

This cup, along with its companion, is said to have come to Australia in the 19th century, to be passed down several generations in Geelong, Victoria, before it was brought into our premises in Geelong in 2024.

Munich Museum tray – illustrated in ‘Meissen Porcelain of the 18th century’ by Hermann Jedding

There is a tea-tray in the Munich Museum which is so exactly related to this cup, we speculate it may be the original for a split-up setting – perhaps a teapot, a coffee/chocolate pot, a sugar bowl, and two cups & saucers sat on this as a dejeuner set. The main scene is Venus and attendant cherubs amongst clouts, while the small panels in the border feature trophies, with the borders around each being the exact leaf & flower design seen on this cup. There is an identical dentil border to the rim.

Above is a detail from Hermann Jedding ‘Meissen Porcelain of the 18th century’ p 104, pl. 179, showing a tray with the exact same figures, ground and fine gilt borders, described as being painted by Johann Georg Loehnig, who “…preferred preferred vessels in royal blue… which he painted with putti, lovers or portraits, often using the stippled dot technique”.  He describes the borders: “etched gold tendrils and flowers… the refined delicacy of French taste was also sought in Meissen”.

The tray illustrated is in the Munich Bayerisches Nationalmuseum , dated 1770.

Compare to the border of these beakers – it’s the same, and assumed to therefore be from the same unique commission, circa 1770. This was not a ‘pattern’ of the firm, and each commission would be different in detail, such as the gilt borders. The cherubs and their clouds appear identical in concept – although no colour photograph of the tray could be found.

A tray ‘manner of’ Loehnig sold at Christies, 2008: https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-5053653

Lempertz example of a complete service:

The V&A has a single example of his work:

Two rare Meissen chocolate cups, of tall beaker form, superbly painted by Johann Georg Loehnig with two panels of cherubs in clouds, in his distinct ‘stipple’ technique, imitating Vincennes/Sèvres products of the mid-18th century, set within ornate leaf & flowers raised & tooled gold frames, the foot with a solid gold band.

Crossed swords mark in underglaze blue to each, also indistinct underglaze ground-painter’s mark, pressnumer ‘.9′ (or 6’) in the foot rim.

Circa 1770

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Fresh Stock- Jewellery, Pottery & Porcelain, including Masons, Worcester, – a fine mix of quality items

Dr Wall Worcester at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

Welcome to Moorabool’s latest Fresh Stock release – a fine selection of items, fresh to the market.
We’re also beginning to stock more jewellery, with an interesting selection of reasonably priced estate jewellery.

Jewellery @ Moorabool Antiques, Geelong
Jewellery @ Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

Mother’s Day is coming!

Why not spoil your mother with a lovely antique piece?
we’ve put together a gallery of ideas, have a browse here >

Fine 19th Century English Porcelain and more

The Worcester Factories

Worcester BLue & White Porcelain

In 1751, Dr Wall was one of the Worcester businessmen who funded the establishment of what was to become perhaps the most famous of all English porcelain manufacturers – the Worcester factory.

He held the reins of the firm for the next 25 years, and his business sense saw the firm becoming ‘the one’ that aristocracy & the wealthy of England turned to for their porcelain needs.

He died in 1776; in 1783 Thomas Flight, the London agent who had been marketing Worcester porcelain for a while, took over the factory; his two sons, Joseph and John managed it, known as the ‘Flight’ period.

John died in 1791, and a new partner came on board – Martin Barr. This is the ‘Flight & Barr’ period. In 1804, one of his sons is part of the firm, the name being ‘Barr Flight Barr’, the order of seniority. Then in 1813, Martin Barr died, and another of his sons joined, with Joseph Flight being the senior – hence the name is ‘Flight Barr Barr’.

Throughout these decades of the late 18th-early 19th century, across all the different partnerships, the same shapes and patterns were in use: it’s hard to separate the different periods visually. Luckily they were very good at marking pieces, and it’s an interesting exercise to find examples from each period.

These simple but elegant pieces were collected by someone keen to learn the chronology of the factory – basically, an example of the various partnerships of what was to become the major porcelain factory of the 19th century. They’re ready to serve the same purpose with a new owner – terrific ‘examples’ that are budget-friendly!

A Dr Wall Worcester rarity

This ‘Dalhousie pattern’ Worcester cup & saucer is a spectacular rarity, coming from a single identifiable service.

Worcester Stormont Service  cup & saucer
Worcester ‘Dalhousie’ type, ‘Stormont’ Service cup & saucer, c. 1780

The ‘Dalhousie’ pattern name comes from a service owned by the Earl of Dalhousie, with central landscape surrounded by blue border, and swags of fruit to the rim; however, there are multiple variations on this theme in the Worcester products, so the name ”Dalhousiue’ has come to refer to a style rather than a service.

This cup and saucer, however, does have an important association with another service: in the Zorensky Collection there is an identical coffee cup& saucer which Spiro & Sandon associate with the Lord Stormont service. 7th Viscount Stormont had been the Ambassador to France in the 1770’s, and this Worcester tea service from the 1780’s reflects this:

“….. the shape of the handle is unusual and the saucer has a well recessed slightly in the centre in which the foot of the cup sits, a feature derived from Sèvres. These features are unusual but occur on the Stormont service which was a special order involving many unusual tea ware forms.” 

A 'Sevres' handle on a Dr Wall Worcester cup
A ‘Sevres’ handle on a Dr Wall Worcester cup, Stormont Service c. 1780

The 7th Viscount Stormont also had a desert service made to Sèvres shapes, also represented in the Zorensky Collection. These Sèvres services are still at Scone house, ancient Royal seat of the Scottish Kings and home of the present Viscount. The Worcester ‘copies’ seem to have been dispersed at some time, and this rarity found its way to a collection in Melbourne, Australia.

Also ‘Fresh’…..

Coming Soon…..

Pottery coming soon
Some early English Pottery @ Moorabool Antiques
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Mother’s Day Gift ideas-

A small selection of Mother’s Day gift ideas for this up coming special day on 12th May 2024- still plenty of time to post !

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Fresh Stock – Torquay Art Pottery + more…

Toruquay Pottery Devon UK

Welcome to another Moorabool ‘Fresh Stock’.
This one features a collection of English ‘Art Pottery’ from the distinct Devon potters of Torquay. They’re always nicely made pieces, with a rich terracotta-toned body slipped in colours, often scratched-through or finely painted with stylish scenes, but most notable for their inscriptions. This gives rise to a popular nick-name, ‘Mottoware’.

We have some pretty fun ones, and they read like a scroll through some Instagram memes –

There would be no shadows
If the sun were not shining
~
Empty vessels make the most noise
~
Don’t worry, it may never happen
~
To Have a Friend is to Be One …

Some were souvenirs – for example, the mini teapot is inscribed ‘The Oldest Chemist Shoppe in England, Knaresborough Est. 1720 ‘.

Among them are two particularly interesting pieces. One commemorates the friendship between Britain and the USA; the other is commemorating the Boer War.

May They Ever Be United-USA UK Torquay Devon pottery mug
“May They Ever Be United” -unusual commemorative USA & UK Torquay (Devon) art pottery mug c. 1917

This commemorative is a bit of a mystery; the inscription ‘May They Ever Be United’ suggests an event, such as the ‘Great White Fleet’ of 1907-09, where the US sent a group of their battleships around the world on a publicity cruise – including to Australia, where many souvenirs of the event were made. However, they never visited Britain!

Instead, the mug could have been made circa 1917, when America entered WWI on the 6th April. A thankful Britain hosted American ships & troops on their way to the battlefields, and a souvenir like this would have been readily sold to the visitors. They seem to be very scarce.


Aller Vale Torquay Pottery Boer War commemorative Tommy Atkins mug
Rare Torquay pottery Boer War Commemorative ‘Tommy Atkins’ mug, by Aller Vale, c. 1900

This unusual piece was made to commemorate the Boer War. Marked ‘Aller Vale’, it was made at the Aller Vale pottery, Torquay.


The Torquay Potters

A quick history.

Torquay Pottery
Torquay Pottery vase, c. 1910. This is reminiscent of Dresser designs of the 1870’s.

The Devon potters of the Torquay region were active back into pre-history, with a bountiful supply of rich terracotta-toned clay to use. In the late 19th century, the ‘Arts & Crafts’ movement arose, and the region came to support a flourishing industry into the 20th century of Art Potters.

The present industry was started by a Mr Allen, who established the Watcombe Clay Company Ltd on the outskirts of Torquay in 1869, with Mr Charles Brock of Staffordshire as the manager. In 1901 it merged with the Torquay pottery firm of Aller Vale, but continued to make ‘Watcombe’ marked pieces.

The styles of the group of companies in the area are often very similar – they were tapping into the same market, and the Arts & Crafts tradition provided a wonderful stimulus for shapes & decoration. Dr Christopher Dresser was the origin of some incredibly ‘modern’ designs produced at the Watcombe Pottery in the 1870’s, and this simplicity and elegance can be seen in the products of the Torquay potteries for the next few decades.

Another line sometimes seen were terracotta plaques, complete with moulded frames, ready to hang on the wall. Some quite talented artists used these as their ‘canvas’, painting in oils.

An example we have sighted comes with an interesting provenance: it has theme of Beatrice Charlotte Henty (1867-1950) on the back, with her address at ‘Tarring’, Kew. She was the granddaughter of James Henty, who is regarded as the first of the settlers to arrive in what is now Victoria in the 1830’s. The painting, of a shipwreck with survivors struggling ashore, is very well painted, and as there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of Beatrice being such a competent artist, the inscription is probably one of ownership – in fact, pieces like this were brought out to the 1880 Exhibition in Melbourne, and continued to be available in the luxury stores of Melbourne in the late 19th century.

The Torquay Pottery Firms include:

The Torquay Pottery at Heel Cross, Devon, (known as Watcombe after the nearby Country House) commenced production in 1875, making terracotta vessels and plaques as seen above. It was after their merge with nearby Aller Vale that they began to make the ‘Motto Ware’, and used their ‘Royal Torquay Pottery’ mark from 1924.
The introduction of restrictions during WWII stressed the firm to the point of closure before the war finished, in the early 1940’s.

Aller Vale was one of the larger potteries in the Torquay group. Founded near Newton Abbot in 1881 by John Phillips, it was heavily influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement, and absorbed the Watcombe and Longpark potteries in the early 20th century, before being absorbed in turn by the Watcombe Pottery.
It gained a ‘Royal’ addition to its name after visits and purchases of the wares by Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, and Alexandra, wife of Edward VII.
Liberty’s of London stocked Aller Vale slipware decorated pieces.
It closed in 1932.

Barton Pottery was founded by four workmen from other Torquay potteries in 1922, and made a variety of ‘typical’ Torquay-style Motto Wares. By 1926 this partnership had broken up, and a Limited Company established – reflected in the mark. It closed in 1935.

Longpark Pottery was founded in 1883, but it was in 1903 when Aller Vale Pottery took them over that they began making the slip-decorated ‘Motto Ware’. As well as ‘LONNGPARK’, they used the name ‘TORMOHUN’. The firm was still running after WWII, but gradually declined, closing in 1957.

There are more firms not mentioned here, but this short list covers the examples you’ll find below. They’re a rather cheerful, even inspirational thing to collect – I mean the advice alone is worth it!

‘All that Glitters is not Gold’…..

FRESH to STOCK

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Minton rarities, Australian Pottery, American Ceramics – and more, Fresh to Stock

Welcome to an interesting Moorabool ‘Fresh Stock Release’.

Featured are a small collection of early Victorian ‘Staffordshire Cottages’ – pastille burners that were made as mini houses with working chimneys to allow the smoke out!

Minton Majolica 'Chinaman' teapot, bright majolica colours, 1874
Our latest character to arrive at Moorabool….

There’s a couple of rare British Pottery pieces, the most noticeable being the Minton Majolica ‘Chinaman’ teapot. This remarkable design is a ‘Minton Classic’, chosen in the 20th century as one of their reproduction lines – but ours is original, and very early: the design appears in the early 1870’s, and this example bears the date code for 1874.

He’s an interesting character, dressed in a magnificent flower-decorated pale blue coat and green pants incised with bamboo. His hair is in a thick platt, and loops around as the handle. He’s holding a mask, a ferocious dark character, from whose mouth protrudes the green-glaze spout. His head lifts off as the lid, and his hair is held up with a tall comb that acts as the knob – which brings to mind the possibility that this is in fact a woman!

The other notable item is a pair of ‘Moon Flasks’, the name & shape borrowed from the Chinese. These are painted with cherubs catching butterflies amongst apple blossom – so very Victorian!
They are signed by the artist, and this opens up an interesting background: two sisters, Eliza J. and Rosa J. Strutt, were employed at the London workshop known as ‘Minton’s Art Studio Pottery, South Kensington’. Minton had set this up in 1870 in South Kensington. These flasks are by Eliza J. Strutt.

Pair of Minton Art Studio Moonflasks, painted by Eliza J. Strutt, 1873

This fascinating Art Pottery studio actually owes its origins to the establishment of the Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington. When this was being set up, the museum’s interior decorations were planned to include lavish tile panels, and Minton was commissioned to execute them. From this came the idea for a London based decorating studio; land was leased by Minton right next to the Royal Albert Hall – and they shared the smokestack used for their kilns with the heating apparatus for the hall!
The Minton Art Pottery Studio opened in 1871 with the great designer W.J. Coleman as the director. The blank pots were made at Minton, and decorated in the new studio by students from the Government’s ‘National Art Training Schools’. 3/4 of these were women, and a contemporary account stated ‘…it was worthy of notice as the only place in London devoted to the manufacture of high-class pottery’.
Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the complex in 1875 and it was never re-built.

An interesting Minton fact: there’s a change in the name/mark, illustrated perfectly in these two pieces: from 1873, the first mark ‘MINTON’ (as seen on the teapot) is changed to ‘MINTON’S’ (as seen on the vases).

MINTON MINTON'S marks, 1873 1874

British Pottery Rarities

Australian Pottery

Plus more!

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Frederick Strange, View of Launceston from Sandhill c.1858

Frederick Strange - View of Hobart Town circa 1850

An important Freshly Discovered Colonial work of art by a notable Convict Artist.

This small but detailed watercolour was recently discovered in a Geelong residence. It is no surprise that it turns out to be an important piece of colonial art: it comes directly from the collection of Clifford Craig, the great early collector of Australiana.

Frederick Strange was born in 1807, and claimed to be a ‘portrait and house painter’ from Nottingham, according to records from 1837 when he was arrested for robbery in Colchester. This involved the theft of a number of items from a number of shops, including silver spoons and a gold pocket watch which he was wearing when arrested.

The name ‘Frederick Strange’ may well have been an alias given to the court at this time. Sentenced to Transportation for Life to Van Diemans Land, he was sent on board the ‘Neptune’ late 1837, and arrived in Hobart in early 1838. He was initially ‘unassigned’ – most other convicts were given work in the local region – but an article in the Colonial Times in 1840 shows he was ‘assigned to Mr Woodcock Graves’.


Note: this evidence has apparently been overlooked by previous researches: we have discovered a report in an 1840 Tasmanian paper that adds a fascinating context for the early years of Frederick Strange in Tasmania.


John Woodcock Graves had arrived in Hobart in 1833, and set up a business which advertised itself as able to ‘repair, paint, and varnish carriages, undertake Portrait Miniature and Heraldic painting in Oil and Water, as well as undertake House, Sign and Ornamental Painting’. Strange being assigned to this business was logical, considering his claimed background in England.
However…. things were not good at the Graves establishment.
In the early 1840’s, John W Graves spent some time in the Debtors Goal and Hospital for the Insane at New Norfolk.
This is probably directly related to the 1840 Colonial Times report (above), where despite Strange’s good behaviour & hard work, he claimed Graves was irrational – “so outrageous that the man (ie Strange) is in fear for his life….” .

Colonial Times, Tasmania 1840

Frederick Strange appeared to claim the protection of the Government, he being assigned to Mr. Woodcock Graves.
It appeared from his statement that he is an artist, and that he has, ever since he has been assigned to Mr. Graves, been the principal support to the family, and entirely so at the time Mr Graves was away at Sydney; and although he had been at all times unremitting in his endeavours for the family, his master was in the habit of beating him, and has latterly become so outrageous , that the man is in fear of his life; his worship very properly returned him to Government.

Colonial Times, Hobart, 1 December 1840

Soon after Frederick Strange had been ‘returned’, John Woodcock Graves was sent to the “Debtors Goal and Hospital for the Insane at New Norfolk” – for ‘insanity, although probably also edging on the status of ‘Debtor’ if Strange’s claims of being the one who did all the work in the business was true. Frederick Strange is recorded in 1841 as being employed as a ‘Government messenger’, and granted a ‘pass’ of freedom the same year. He set himself up for a respectable life in Launceston as a portrait painter and art teacher.

In a newspaper report in June 1843, he describes himself as ‘…a prisoner of the Crown, employed as a watchman at the Female House of Correction…’ . This article is an interesting read, describing a moment of drama he found himself mixed up in one day in Launceston:

The irony is remarkable: In England, Frederick Strange had been convicted for theft, the key item identified as a pocket watch; transported to Tasmania, he was then witness to the opportunistic theft of four pocket watches, by soldiers no less, and gave chase, so when the shop assistant caught up with them, Frederick Strange was standing there with them in his hands… having picked them up after the thieves ran straight towards him and threw them on the ground just three yards away!
The soldiers were sentenced to ‘transportation for life’ – and one made the enigmatic remark “I am much obliged to you, and would be happy to do the same for you.” Perhaps there is more to this story than meets the eye…?

Frederick Strange received his ‘ticket of leave’ in 1845, and a conditional pardon in 1849. Throughout the 1850’s he was actively painting and exhibiting his works, while always looking for commissions. He seems to have found favour amongst the Scottish community, and a small number of his portraits survive. His advert in 1855 advertised ‘Lessons given in Landscape Drawing, Portraits painted in oil, or taken by Daguerreotype’.

The inclusion of ‘dagerotype photography’ in his business is interesting. No ‘known’Strange’ photographic images have been discovered, and in some ways it is at complete odds to his profession, as a topographical artist. His images were intended to record the landscapes of his time – but the emergence of absolutely accurate photographs of the same scenes, which took a fraction of the time to produce that a detailed watercolour took to paint, would have rapidly taken away from his painting business. Perhaps the colour factor, which meant a much more pleasing image on the wall, was the one thing that still appealed to his customers.

However, within a few years of the 1855 advert, Frederick Strange lost interest in his painting, and is listed as a ‘Grocer’. He died in 1873, but nothing is attributed to these last years of his eventful life.

Frederick Strange (1807-1873) – View of Launceston, c.1858. Watercolour and pencil on paper – 35.7×21.9cm. Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

Launceston, 1860 :oil painting by Frederick Strange,
Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Provenance

The interest in convict artists developed in the first half of the 20th century. For Frederick Strange, the key researcher who ‘re-discovered’ him was Clifford Craig. Coming from Melbourne to practice as a doctor in Hobart in the 1920’s, where he fell in love with the early colonial history.

Together with his wife Edith, (who was the driving force behind the establishment of the National Trust of Australia in the 1960’s), the Craigs accumulated a collection of colonial furniture that came to be considered one of the best of its kind in Australia. Having amassed an extensive assortment of early ‘Tasmaniana’, comprising documents, books, maps and prints, they sold 2350 items at a three-day auction at Launceston in 1975.

Prior to this he co-published Early Colonial Furniture in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land in 1972.

In 1963 he wrote (along with Isabella Mead) the first in-depth examination of Frederic Strange, ‘Frederick Strange – Artist – c.1807-1873’ , published in the Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania.

He lists the known Strange works at the end of his article – 35 in total, all in public collections except for the final two, which are ‘… privately owned in Hobart but no details are available’….

This painting doesn’t appear on his 1963 list, and may well have been one of the two works in Hobart, or an example he found in subsequent years.  It was inherited by his son, and the last artwork kept by him as he downsized, before coming to Moorabool Antiques.

View-of-Hobart-Frederick-Strange c.1850

The watercolour came to Geelong when he retired there in the 1980’s, and has been in the Craig family ever since.

View-of-Hobart-Frederick-Strange c.1850

Location

It’s an interesting exercise to compare the present-day view with Strange’s watercolour.

Left ImageRight Image

Slide the line to see a then / now comparison.

We can pinpoint the location Strange sketched from as being along the route now known as ‘Normanstun Road’.
The identity of this suggested location is supported considering the magnificent cart-load of flour sacks passing by: it is the route from the flour mill built at the mouth of the Cataract Gorge in the 1840’s.

This Frederick Strange watercolour compares well with the watercolour View of Launceston sold by Bonhams, 22nd April 2023 (click to see). The size is almost identical, being 20.5×32.5 compared to our 21.9×35.7cm.

Launceston from the South – late 1850’s – Stevens Collection, Melbourne

The other work by Strange that must be noted is in the Stevens Collection, Melbourne, and was exhibited in the 2017 Exhibition “The Enigmatic Mr Strange”, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. This is another view of Launceston, from almost the same position, with the same post-in-rail fence and even apparently the same cart being pulled by a four-horse team – although the cargo on our example is much more neatly loaded!

View-of-Launceston-Frederick-Strange c.1858
Frederick Strange – View of Launceston, circa 1858 – Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

Resources on Frederick Strange:

Frederick Strange Death Notice
Frederick Strange’s death notice, 1873

An interesting local Geelong connection : Convict artist paints another Convict, with both of them finding success and freedom in Australia”

https://www.grlc.vic.gov.au/news/long-standing-mystery-solved

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Fresh Stock – Australian Art, Indian Metalwares & Textiles, Studio Pottery, and more…

Welcome to our latest ‘Fresh Stock’ post.

It’s a great variety – Asian, Indian, and Australian!

We have a vast number of exciting English & Continental Ceramics coming in the next few weeks, for those who are looking for something a little ‘finer’ than today’s offerings….

Enjoy!

Asian Items

Indian Items

The Dawn of Moorcroft…. a William Moorcroft teapot, Macintyre-made 1898

James Macintyre & Co employed the ceramic artist William Moorcroft in 1897, where he was responsible for the introduction of the slip-decorated designs they called ‘Aurelian Ware’. This was of course to blossom into the famous Moorcroft firm when William left Macintyre in 1913 and set up his own works, with the help of Liberty’s of London.

This piece bears the registration number 311,909.
The British Registration numbers for 1897 ended with 311,657;  the registration of this teapot design was the 252nd for 1898, indicating it was probably prepared in 1897, the first year of William Moorcroft’s employment at Macintyre’s works, and submitted early in 1898. Despite the damage to the spout, it is a desirable rarity illustrating the beginning of the epic Moorcroft art form that continues to this day!