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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:

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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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


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


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”

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A Rare Wedgwood ‘Egyptian’ jug, 1854

Wedgwood 'Egyptian' Jug, registered 1854, at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

This rare piece of Wedgwood came to Moorabool recently, and is quite a remarkable piece.

  • Wedgwood 'Egyptian' Jug, registered 1854, at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong
  • Wedgwood 'Egyptian' Jug, registered 1854
  • Wedgwood 'Egyptian' Jug, registered 1854, at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong
  • Wedgwood 'Egyptian' Jug, registered 1854, at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong
  • Wedgwood 'Egyptian' Jug, registered 1854, at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

Rare Wedgwood ‘Egyptian Jug’, modelled in black basalt after an Ancient Greek oinochoe, with a faithful painted ‘black-figure’ style panel featuring a bird in flight flanked by two facing sphinx, defined by terracotta slip painted ground colour, with bands below to the foot & to the trefoil lip, the figures with white enamel highlights.

Large impressed registration triangle, with circular inscription “THE EGYPTIAN JUG / SOLD ONLY BY º / WOOLLARD & HATTERSLEY / CAMBRIDGE”. , also ‘WEDGWOOD” and modeller’s marks.

Wedgwood Egyptian Jug
Wedgwood Egyptian Jug

This rarity was made for Woollard & Hattersley, who had the design registered in April 1854 as ‘The Egyptian Jug’ (ref. British Museum’s description), and made at Wedgwood. Established in 1761, Woollard & Hattersley were grocers, who also listed themselves as ‘ University Providers’. Their adverts list the various beverages they stocked, no doubt in great demand in the many Cambridge University halls. This jug is sometimes listed as an ‘ale jug’, and would be quite useful as one – perhaps a promotional giveaway of the early Victorian period….

Greek original, Attic, 5th century BC

It is a superb example of the interest in re-imagining the classical world through the ‘revival’ movements – with one glaring mistake: although claiming to belong to the ‘Egyptian’ removal, it is in fact a faithful copy of a Corinthian Greek archaic style oinochoe, dating to the 6th century BC!

There were several versions made. Although apparently not in the literature, there are two examples in auction records that have a clue to the ambiguous ‘Egyptian’ naming: they are impressed-marked “THE CANTERBURY JUG” instead of “THE EGYPTIAN JUG” – but then the decorator of the jug has painted over the top of the impressed mark, with “EGYPTIAN” !

A- example @ Moorabool Antiques, solid black body with red painted background EGYPTIAN JUG
B- solid red ware example, the background painted in black – EGYPTIAN JUG
C- solid black, red printed registration diamond, red painted background CANTERBURY / EGYPTIAN
D- solid black, red printed registration diamond, red painted background CANTERBURY / EGYPTIAN

‘The Canterbury Jug ‘ was perhaps a reference to an example of a Greek oinochoe jug, in the collection of an antiquarian of the region, as yet untraced. The design was registered in 1854, but promptly re-named, as shown by examples with ‘Egyptian’ painted over ‘Canterbury’. The marking stamp was then modified for the following products, creating the inaccurate name ‘Egyptian Jug’. It is a rarity amongst Wedgwood products due to the registration & patron mark.

A curios example sold in America recently (C) bears the registration diamond for 1854, but also a painted inscription for the word ‘Egyptian’. Careful examination reveals a different impressed word beneath – ‘CANTERBURY’ – so originally it was inscribed ‘THE CANTERBURY JUG’. Another example was sold in America with the exact same feature (D), meaning it was not a unique production issue. We can conclude this mark was original, but for some reason, the name of the custom-order by Woollard & Hattersley was changed to ‘EGYPTIAN’. Subsequent productions also differ in the way the registration diamond is shown; one is printed on in red, while the other is impressed.

Wedgwood 'Egyptian' Jug, registered 1854
Based on a Corinthian Greek ‘Black Figure’ jug of the 6th century BC
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Ellen Ross, artist, with Dickens & Australian High Court connections….

Ellen Ross / Ellen Ross - Mallam - Artist

A fascinating piece of English porcelain has come to Moorabool, which if it wasn’t for the original 1876 exhibition label on the back, would just be an ‘interesting amateur-decorated decorative plate’. However, the name, date & place allows us to extract a story from this piece, which includes a close association with Charles Dickens, and a High Court Judge in Australia!

The porcelain is an anonymous blank, probably of Staffordshire manufacture. Onto it is painted an ‘Aesthetic Movement’ portrait, as was popular in the mid-late Victorian era. Such a piece is not unusual in the Antique World, as it was a favourite occupation for young ladies to learn to paint on porcelain. Watercolour painting was a standard part of any young ladies education, and it is noted that the artist of this piece, Ellen Ross, was a fine watercolorist. A step up from watercolour was painting onto porcelain. For this, studios ran classes, and for the more wealthy, a painting instructor would bring the materials to the students, take away their work to be fired, and bring back the results.

The important part of this plate is the paper label on the back. While it is signed with an elaborate monogram, there’s no record of this in the literature; the paper label, however, is the vital clue as it declares her name ‘Ellen Ross’.

Ellen Ross / Mallam monogram mark
Ellen Ross / Mallam’s monogram mark ‘ER’. This mark is not recorded anywhere else in the literature – and other pieces by her sighted are signed ‘Ellen Mallam’ in full. She was married in 1868, and this piece was made 1876, or slightly earlier, 1874-5…. several years after marriage. If you look at the top of the ‘R’ in the monogram, it could be interpreted as an ‘M’ – probably intentional.
Howell & James ‘Art Pottery Exhibition’ label, dated 1876, with Ellen Ross filled in as painter of exhibit no.3. The partially lost text next to it may have been a title – or could it be an update on her name – the second word looks distinctly like ‘Mallam’, her married name…

Ellen Ross is not noted as an artist or decorator – but we have the entry in Howell & James’s exhibition catalogues, where she is recorded as ‘Mrs Mallam (Ellen Ross)’. Clearly she was married around this time, and with the dates, place & two names it is possible to pinpoint her;
Ellen Mary Anne Hyde Ross, born in St Pancras in 1837 (or 42, or 43 in other online records!?), she married solicitor Dalton Robert Mallam in 1868 in Kensington, London. They had 6 children.

Charles Dickens, miniature at the Dickens Museum, London, painted by Janet Ross (Barrow), aged 18
Charles Dickens, miniature at the Dickens Museum, London, painted by Janet Ross (Barrow), when aged 18, and not yet famous.

Ellen Mallam came from an interesting family; they were well-off, and close to the Dickens family. Their father was a solicitor & well connected.
Ellen’s older sister Janet showed great promise as a miniature artist, and went on to become a miniaturist of note. Her work is held in major collections, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum. She married into the Dickens family, and was his aunt. Fascinatinly, one of her early works is an image regarded as the earliest depiction of Charles Dickens, now in the Charles Dickens Museum, London. In return, Dickens may have immortalised her in his book ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ as ‘Miss La Creevy’, a ‘miniature painter’….

As a young lady, part of Janet’s education would have included drawing & painting. For this, a ‘painting master’ would have been called on. His lessons would have included watercolour painting – and the skill of both Ellen and Janet would have led to their advancement to lessons in the art & technique of miniature painting.

We can imagine the young Ellen growing up with older sister Janet, and seeing her success as a miniature artist; perhaps they had the same painting master? Or did her older sister teach her? Certainly, there is a strong likeness to the technique of miniature painting in Ellen’s works, namely the use of pure strokes of colour in a series of lines.

That it was considered a prestigious occupation worthy of a Lady is shown in the list of the artists who presented pieces for the annual China Painting Exhibition held at the Regent Street store of Howell & James, Jewellers with premises on Regent Street and highly regarded dealers in luxury. Lady Willoughby, Viscountess Hood (neé Havell), the Countess of Warwick, and Colonel Hope Crealock of South Africa’s ‘Zulu War’ fame were all painters who exhibited. Indeed, Lady Augusta Cadogan, daughter of 3rd Earl Cadogan & Aunt of Queen Victoria was both a patron, and exhibited works by her own hand in 1877 and 1878.

In fact, the gentle art of China Painting was worth of the attention of Queen Victoria herself:

Ellen Mallam ne. Ross presented to Queen Victoria 1878
Ellen Mallam ne. Ross presented to Queen Victoria 1878

She also appears in the Yorkshire Industrial Exhibition, held in York 1879.

The Australian Connection

We’re always looking for links to ‘down-under’, which adds a local context to a piece. This work unexpectedly came up with one: a son of Ellen & Dalton Mallam,
Ross Ibbotson Dalton Mallam, was born in 1878. Like his father, he entered the legal profession, moved to Adelaide Australia in 1902, and ended up a Supreme Court Judge (1928-33) in the Northern Territory, before ill-health led to him relocating to Melbourne. You can read more about him on the NT Supreme Court’s website >

It’s been an interesting study, to discover the connections and stories circling around this portrait plate. Ellen Ross / Mallam was certainly born into an interesting place and time, being so familiar with the Dickens family, and receiving high praise for her artistic skills from none other than Queen Victoria……. There may be other pieces from Ellen’s early stages still to be discovered, signed with the monogram ‘ER’ as seen here – and definitely more with her full married name, Ellen Mallam. Let us know if you have any!

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First Fresh Stock release for 2024

Welcome to our first Fresh Stock for 2024. We have a fine selection of interesting items for you to browse, including Sterling, Old Sheffield Plate, Australian Pottery, and a whole range of ‘Green’ ceramics…..

The exceptional piece this time is a plate, which bears an original Exhibition label from 1876. With the place it was exhibited, and the name of the artist, we were able to discover a fascinating ‘back-story’ – with close links to Charles Dickens and an Australian High Court judge from 100 years ago…..

Ellen Ross ‘china painting “HOWELL & JAMES” of Regent Street, exhibition label 1876


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A rare fake ‘TP Dexter’ Sterling Jug: Silver Fraud!

Serling Silver Jugs

These three jugs look very similar, and yet only one is genuine.
Below is a Genuine engraved jug of 1798, a Victorian version of 1888, and another Victorian…. but with marks claiming it is Sheffield 1797.
Can you pick the fake?

Slide down the bar on below image to reveal the dates

Left ImageRight Image

Late 19th century Sterling Silver milk jug, of helmet shape, with elegant curved handle, the body with engraved lines to rim, a central reserve with initials ‘JJC’ to one side , the other blank. 
Hallmarked for Birmingham 1795, also ‘TL’ for an unknown maker –a mark used in documented ‘fraudulent’ pieces of Sterling Silver discovered in the premises of Reuben Lyon in the late 19th century.

FAKE sterling silver hallmarks
The FAKE sterling silver hallmarks, claiming to be Birmingham 1797

The fraudulent nature of this piece of Sterling Silver is an interesting study. 
The hallmarks are clear, and ye have something different about their wear; particularly notable is the background, which shows up lumps & bumps not usually seen in hallmarks. This is because normal hallmarks verified at the assay office have been struck into the piece using a die, with a flat end incised with the initials; the background is therefore flat. The ‘bumps’ indicate this piece is cast at the time of making, ie. there is some texture from the casting medium that cannot be buffed out from the recessed marks……… something that is only done by a forger. 
This maker’s mark ‘TD’ appears to be copying T.P. Dexter’s mark, which was only registered in 1805. As the registry of marks was not published or accessible in the 19th century like it is now, it would not have been possible for a forger to look up the active dates of a silversmith. In this case, it is a decade out, making identification easier. 
In 1899, the London Goldsmith’s Company published a booklet to expose a group of fakes they had detected and destroyed recently. At the premises of 70-year old Reuben Lyon of Holborn, more than 200 fraudulently hallmarked ‘Antique’ pieces were found by officers of the Goldsmith’s Guild, and the hallmarks of ‘around 50’ makers on the pieces recorded and published. The ‘TD’ mark is one of them. 

These pieces were destroyed by the guild. This is still their practice, and they constantly assess the trade in Anbtqiuue silver to ensure that fraudulent pieces are not circulating as genuine. A silver collector witnessed this in action in London recently: visiting one of the seller son silver, a man entered with a portable anvil, the fake was brought out, and completely mashed into a formless lump with a hammer!

Interestingly, an article written about forged silver at the time refers to the technique of casting marks, ‘…adopted by a forger a year or so ago, who recieved his due punishment…’ This suggests the evidence of casting in a piece puts it into an 1890’s context,  100 years after the marks they were depicting. 

The fakes were detected, and their source investigated by the Guild. Reuben claimed innocence, stating he had purchased the goods ‘from a man named ‘Clarke’ …. who had subsequently disappeared’. He was fined £3,000, an immense amount for the time. It was the end of him and his business…..

This was a time of intense interest in English Silver from the Georgian period, especially by the Americans – and the occasional Australian. I wonder if ‘Clarke’ tried selling to this lucrative market of wealth Australians, far away from the eyes of the Goldsmith’s Guild?
This jug came from a local source, and may well have been imported into Australia as an ‘Antique’ around turn of the century, despite it being pretty recently made! 

The irony is, this is now a rarity; in the UK, the Guild has ‘taken care’ of any examples, and only in a place like Australia are there examples to be seen…. at least knowingly!

Read more on the Reuben Lyon pieces here >

The London Assay Office report >

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Introducing…. artist A. E. Jobson 1868-1955

A E Jobson pastel - with restorations

An interesting recent discovery by Moorabool was this small pastel scene of an Australian beach.
Signed ‘A. E. Jobson’, it is an interesting chalk sketch, done on a coarse textured grey toned paper.

Looking for the artist proved to be pointless; they are not recorded anywhere, and seem to belong to the class of ‘talented amateur’. We believe we have a likely candidate, a local Melbourne author who used the name ‘A.E.Jobson’.

AE Jobson Signature
AE Jobson’s Signature

As with many artistic people, it seems that Jobson could draw as well as write. It was writing which came to dominate, as they found success when they began publishing their short stories.

A report in the ‘Queensland Times’ sheds some light:

they have obtained the ‘sole rights’ to a ‘remarkable clever series of stories’ which they promise are just like Sherlock Holmes….

The first story to be published is interesting. Titled ‘The Hercules Cameo’, it is a story about a carved cameo of Hercules – purchased at Christies for 3000 Guineas – stolen by a German prince, and recovered by a private eye named Russel Howard. Hobson clearly had an active interest in the art world.

Over the next few years, we traced 12 newspaper stories published by A.E. Jobson:

Over the next few years, we traced 12 newspaper stories published by A.E. Jobson:

  • 1: The Hercules Cameo
  • 2: The Seventh Burglary
  • 3: The Removal of the Millionaire
  • 4: The Case of Lord Ponderry
  • 5: The Scheming Lady
  • 6: The Two Wax Candles
  • 7: The Lady with the Pince-Nez
  • 8: The Modern Highwayman
  • 9: The Prince’s Letter
  • 10: The Man Who Stole the Child
  • 11: The Fire Insurance Matter
  • 12: The Open Shaft

But who was A. E. Jobson?

These ‘AE Jobson’ stories, and at least one published book, never give the name of the author beyond the initials. There is a distinct possibility that this was intentional, to hide the author’s true identity. The ‘Queensland Times’ article of 1909 does refer to ‘him’, but they were not necessarily aware of exactly who was writing the stories, being rather a long way away. This is something often seen in the world of literature. Clearly, some research is needed!

Searching the available records, two candidates appear with the right initials and in the right context, an Arthur Earnest Jobson, Banker in Sydney, and Adelaide Ellen Hobson, daughter-in-law to prominent Victorian businessman, John Jobson JP.
Nothing came of researching Arthur the banker, but Adelaide was a different matter.

John Jobson, Williamstown, c. 1895- father-in-law to Adelaide Ellen Jobson

Adelaide Ellen Jobson was born at Port Adelaide, 1868, the eldest in her family. Her father, Stedman, died in 1887. Three years later, she married Charles Jobson, son of John Jobson, JP, businessman, Williamstown Football Club president, & Mayor of Williamstown (Victoria) in 1885.  

The pastel has a certain ‘family’ feel to it: there are 6 children represented, plus a few adults. 

The scene could well be Port Phillip Bay, somewhere near Spotswood where a day’s outing with the family would be likely-  with Williamstown’s ‘back beach’ being a prime candidate. 

Williamstown back-beach, 1906 postcard

We propose Adelaide Ellen Jobson was a very creative lady, who raised a family of five, but longed to write and paint to express herself; when her oldest children were entering their teens, she would have had more time to dedicate to writing, and so her first few stories were submitted to the papers for publication. Over the next decade, she produced quite a number of fictional books. A quick read – as they are all rather short stories, suitable for a newspaper – certainly shows an active mind, and perhaps we can see a female perspective: one story, written in 1916, is an interesting study. 

It begins “Samson Greene was an artist, and it happened on one day in September, or it may have been in early October, that he was in Bathurst. Anyway, when he rose in the morning the sun was shining briskly upon everything.”   

The character Samson is something of an old-fashioned gentleman artist, but by the end of the story, he is helplessly in love with a girl he ‘accidentally’ met while out painting – except the whole thing is a set-up by the girl, who has set a trap for him which he falls for, hook line & sinker!  It has a definite twinge of ‘Barbara Cartland’ to it, and attributing it to a female author makes perfect sense. 

Adelaide Jobson, Beach at Williamstown, c. 1910
Adelaide Jobson, Beach at Williamstown, c. 1910

Her other artistic enterprise was pastel art. This small work documents a lazy day at the beach very well, with family members relaxing and children playing. She had five children between 1892-1909, so if this piece was dated to around 1910-15, the children shown could well be her own. The location is not distinct, but the general layout of the water/land conforms to the local area they grew up in; Williamstown has a beach with beautiful white sand like this, and the distant higher ground could be the far side of Port Phillip Bay, a scene still the same today. 

Martha Walter oil painting, beach scene
American artist Martha Walter, beach scene from the same period in oils.

An interesting comparison can be made with American artist Martha Walter. She was active in the early 20th century, the same date as the work we are examining, and the similarity is unmistakable. Rather than a direct influence, it is probably just a result of the shared ‘beach culture’ seen in America and Australia – the gathering of families, the bathing suits – combined with an impressionist style which was the international vogue at the time.
The price is certainly different, with Walter’s work bringing many thousands for even minor paintings!

Adelaide Ellen Jobson could have been a notable artist, but her success as a published author, and no doubt also her dedication to her large family, restricted her opportunities. She’s a talented amateur, previously unrecorded.

We’d love to hear anything else you may have to add to this very brief répertoire!

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A Phar Lap Australian Silver Charm

Sterling medallion commemorating Phar Lap win, 1930 Melbourne Cup

This rare piece of Australiana was produced in Melbourne by a local jeweller in solid Sterling Silver to commemorate the legendary ride of J.E. Pike on ‘Phar Lap’ where he won the Melbourne Cup in 1930 by 3 lengths.

J.E.Pike-Phar Lap Medallion 1930 Melbourne Cup Sterling Silver
J.E.Pike’s ‘Phar Lap’ Medallion, commemorating the 1930 Melbourne Cup win, Australian Sterling Silver

Sterling silver medallion with horse & jockey on front framed within a stirrup, engraved on reverse Phar Lap / Winner 1930 / Melb.Cup / J.E.Pike” , also marked with sculptor’s name ‘Hafner’, and hallmarked ‘925’ & printing press.

Phar Lap wins 1930 Melbourne Cup
Phar Lap wins 1930 Melbourne Cup by 3 lengths… the making of an Australian legend. The silver medallion was made to commemorate this feat.

The shape is reminiscent of religious pendants made to wear as ‘charms’ – however, the design of this piece has a major flaw that would not make it durable. All other charms have a suspension loop cast into the top: this plaque has a very thin wire loop soldered onto the back. This suggests it is just for short-term use – perhaps so you could pin it to a jacket lapel when you were attending the Melbourne Cup….?

It is certainly a rarity, with just one other example being traced on the market.

J.E.Pike-Phar Lap Medallion 1930 Melbourne Cup Sterling Silver Stirrup Commemorative
J.E.Pike-Phar Lap Medallion 1930 Melbourne Cup Sterling Silver Stirrup Commemorative
Emil Hafner mark on Sterling Silver Phar Lap Medallion
Emil Hafner mark on Sterling Silver Phar Lap Medallion

The sculptor’s name ‘Hafner’ gives us the context & date for the piece.
Emil Hafner (1917-2021) was a post-war immigrant artisan from Czechoslovakia. His speciality was die-casting, and he was responsible for a large number of medals, coins, and commemoratives produced in Melbourne in the second half of the 20th century.
Emil Hefner graduated in 1948 at the Art and Trade College in Czechoslovakia. Between 1948 and 1952 he worked as a gun-engraver and die-sinking in Germany and later England. After migrating, he continued his work in Australia with ‘K.G. Luke’ and later with the ‘House of Hawke’, as well as teaching part-time at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) for nine years. He subsequently established his own company, Hafner Mint Manufacturing.
This silver medallion, commemorating the 1930 win of Phar Lap, would logically have been made in 1980 – celebrating 50 years since the event.

See Emil Hafner’s pieces in Museums Victoria Collection here >

J.E.Pike-Phar Lap Medallion 1930 Melbourne Cup Sterling Silver Printing Press Hallmark
Phar Lap Medallion with .925 designating ‘Sterling’ silver standard, and ‘Printing Press’ Hallmark for the silversmith. Note an apparent border for another hallmark protruding from the side of the printing press mark.
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C. Dudley Wood’s portrait of RAAF officer Peter N. Munro

Clifford Dudley Wood was born in Geelong,

This splendid wartime watercolour portrait depicts a very distinct character.

By his stripes he’s an NCO Sargent, and reading his brevet – the badge with ‘AG’ and a wing on his shirt – he was an air-gunner in the Australian Airforce.

It’s a signed watercolour by Clifford Dudley Wood. He was born in Geelong, studied at Swinburne in the early 1920’s, and exhibited with the Victorian Artists Society. He became a commercial artist, but always followed his own path in oils & watercolours. By the 1940’s he was a successful artist in his own right, being a finalist in the 1941 Archibald Prize twice . He has been described as a ‘Romantic Realist’.

During the War years, he was posted to both Queensland and Darwin, his role…. camouflage artist! While in military service, he produced a number of art works. Several feature RAAF officers, like this handsome one of WO Peter N. Munro of Orange.

Clifford Dudley-Wood's portrait of RAAF officer Peter Napier Munro, 1945

MUNRO, PETER NAPIER : Service Number – 405764 : Date of birth – 11 Jul 1918 : Place of birth – BRISBANE QLD : Place of enlistment – BRISBANE

Official Military Record Entry
PN Munro- RAAF - Dudley-Wood's inscription to the back.
Sgt. PN Munro- RAAF – Dudley-Wood’s inscription to the back.

Munro was a WO – a Warrant Officer – in the RAAF, serving in the No.21 Squadron.

No. 21 Squadron

No 21 squadron was formed in 1936 at Laverton, near Melbourne, and entered the war years with the task of training and convoy escort duty. As war with Japan became more likely, it was moved to Singapore, and then on to Malay in late 1941, where 5 days later they had their first taste of conflict, and it didn’t go well; they were pulled back to Singapore, then to Java, and shipped back to Fremantle in 1942 and disbanded.

21st Squadron undergoing training at Laverton – the man far left looks a little like PN Munro…

At this time, Munro was married:

A very quiet wedding took place at the Presbytery on Wednesday night, when Elizabeth Patricia (Beth), only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pat Williams, of Summer Street, was married to Sergeant Air Gunner Peter Munro, R.A.A.F., son of the late Mr. Munro and Mrs. Munro, of Brisbane. The bride looked very attractive in a beige tucked frock, white hat and gloves and navy accessories and a shoulder spray of lily of the valley……….

LEADER newspaper, Orange – Friday 30 October 1942:

One year later, Squadron No. 21 was re-formed in South Australia, and quickly transferred to Queensland with updated American planes. After four months of training, the 21st was transferred to New Guinea. Here it used Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers, but as the Japanese advance was stopped and then reversed, longer range aircraft were needed. No. 21 was withdrawn to Queensland, and the squadron trained on American bombers, the Consolidated B-24 ‘Liberator’. It was probably at this stage that Munro, the subject of this painting, was trained and became a part of the crew of MJ-W. A gossip column in the Orange ‘Leader’ follows his story:

Flight Sergeant Peter Munro received his promotion to the rank of Flight Sergeant in May last.

LEADER newspaper, Orange – Friday 3rd December 1943

October 1944 mentions a baby daughter has been born, and Peter Munro is home on leave from the Air Force. By the end of the year, the squadron transferred to Fenton airbase, south of Darwin, where a series of photos of the crew were taken. In the following photograph, we see the dapper Peter N. Munro, dressed in the same shirt with the same insignia with ‘AG’ indicating ‘Air Gunner’. This meant he had one of the most dangerous jobs of all: the gun torrent either at the front or the back was a primary target for any attacking aircraft, as it could potentially guard the bomber from any attack.

Left ImageRight Image

As you can see above, Munro is easily identified by C. Dudley Wood’s excellent watercolour depiction.

Meanwhile, the stiff resistance in New Guinea meant Japanese paused, then withdrew; No. 21 squadron flew constant missions from Fenton in the first months of 1945, making the use of the long range the bombers had.

The final conflict for the squadron were the landings at Borneo, with the Battle of Balikpapan on July 1st commencing with large landing parties of Australian troops, preceded by multiple bombing raids by the RAAF. These were the last flights, as enemy resistance was gradually overcome. Two months later, on the 2nd September, Japan surrendered. One more flight remained, and Munro’s flight home was recorded…..

Orange’s ‘Leader’ paper reports on the 14th September, 1945:

Clifford Dudley-Wood's portrait of RAAF officer Peter Napier Munro, 1945

“W.O. Peter Monro, R.A.A.F., left Borneo by plane on Sunday and was in Darwin for tea and Sydney for breakfast. He arrived in Orange on Tuesday afternoon for six weeks leave with his wife and baby Cherilyn.”

More gossip column reports speak of ‘Sergeant Air Gunner Peter Munro and his pretty young wife…. this attractive pair are always a welcome addition to the Orange Younger Set’.

We can see this character in the eyes of the handsome, strong character Dudley-Wood has painted.

So back to the original question: where did Clifford Dudley Wood and Peter Munro cross paths?

The base at Lowood, Queensland, was where they may have met, but Dudley Wood was also sent to Darwin. He may have come across Munro there, and there are a scattering of other military portraits it would be interesting to cross-reference with.

Being a commercial artist, it is probable that Clifford Dudley-Wood was able to secure commissions from people in the services like Peter Munro, as what better way to surprise a loved one – like Mrs Peter Monroe back in Orange – with an image of his very handsome mug in uniform!

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Australian Portraits: A ‘unique’ Sir Henry Parkes profile, + Miniature of Lady Parkes as a young girl.

Sir Henry Parkes & Lady Eleanor Parkes

Australia became a Nation in 1901, but it was a long process that made this possible. The six far-flung colonies had each developed in their separate ways, and it was the perseverance of Sir Henry Parkes that brought them together. He deserves the title ‘The Father of Federation’.

An amusing Australian adaptation…. Charles Dickens as Sir Henry Parkes!

Moorabool has recently discovered two items that relate to Sir Henry Parkes and his wife, Lady Parkes.
The first is a cast-iron plaque showing a portrait of a bearded gentleman. Mounted onto a turned cowrie pine back, it is typical of the Victorian plaques of notable people, made in large numbers to adorn public buildings like halls and libraries. This example is identified around the edge as ‘SIR Henry Parkes’.

Brass ‘Dickens’ plaque

HOWEVER…. it’s actually a terrific example of Aussie ingenuity.
You see, this is not intended as a portrait of Sir Henry Parkes – rather, it was cast in Britain in the 1860’s-70’s as the literary giant, Charles Dickens – who sported a similar magnificent beard and wild hair. Imported into Australia, and perhaps displayed on a library wall somewhere, when Sir Henry Parkes rose to fame in the latter 19th century, an enterprising scholar has added the inscription to make it the ‘Father of Federation’!

Henry Parkes, Fancy Goods & Toy Seller

Did you know the ‘Father of Federation’ spent a lot of his time retailing ‘fancy goods’ in Sydney? His adverts make fascinating reading, giving a glimpse into the parlours and nurseries of Sydney in the mid-19th century.

Here’s a sample – from the stock of Moorabool Antiques, 170 years later! His shop must have been a present-day Antique Collector’s Aladdin’s Cave….

Adverts for Parkes, 1840’s-50’s

Sir Henry Parkes would have felt quite at home at Moorabool Antiques…. he was a business man and craftsman, learning the trade of ivory-turning before migrating to Australia in 1839. He opened a shop in Hunter Street, Sydney, where he sold ivory products he made, as well as a broad range of imported decorative & useful items:

“Bohemian Glass, Vases of rich and various patterns, handsome China ornaments, PORCELAIN FIGURES From one inch stature, and comprising a hundred varieties. Also, FIGURES IN BISCUIT CHINA. Children’s China, dinner, dessert, tea, and coffee Services. CHINA PUNCH BOWLS, Vases, flower-pots, pomatum jars, match cups, mugs, cream ewers, plates, teapots, etc. ROSEWOOD DRESSING CASES, work-boxes, fancy baskets, FANCY SMALL WARES: TORTOlSESHELL, enammelled and fine leather ladies’ companions, alabaster and enamelled jewel boxes, tortoiseshell and sandlewood card caes, fine leather and enamelled netting boxes, alabaster and silk paper weights, enamelled letter cases and toilet stands, tortoiseshell and leather cigar cases…….”

Another advert from 1846 is fascinating, as it is solely advertising Pacific Tribal Artifacts:

“ISLAND CURIOSITIES – To Gentlemen proceeding to Europe – A variety of bows and arrows, clubs, spears, battle axes, canoe paddles, stone adzes and other South Sea Island weapons &ect.”

Sounds familiar…. you’ll find exactly the same at Moorabool Antiques today – but now they’re Antique!

The second ‘Parkes’ item is a very personal portrait miniature. Purchased in original frame and untitled, an investigation of the backing discovered two inscriptions: firstly, it is a hand-coloured photographic portrait, with a printed back stating it is ‘Photographed at Bachelder’s, 41 Collins Street E, Melbourne’.
Second, it has an inscription declaring it depicts ‘Lady Parkes as Young Girl’.

It suddenly becomes an important part of the story of Australia.

Portrait of Lady Parkes as a Young Girl
Portrait of ‘Lady Parkes as Young Girl’

The frame and mount are original, with the backing paper replaced with opening to show back of photo.

'Botterill Artist'.

The inscription on the back reads ‘PHOTOGRAPHED AT BATCHELDER’S 41 COLLINS ST E., MELBOURNE’, over which is inscribed in pencil ‘Botterill / Artist’.

The three ‘Lady Parkes’

Who was the subject?

Clarinda Parkes, 1880s

Lady Clarinda 1813-1888

There were three ‘Lady Parkes’, as Sir Henry always seems to have needed a companion – especially in his old age, where he had terrible luck with his partners.

His first wife, Lady Clarinda Parkes, was a Birmingham Dressmaker & Sunday-School teacher who married 21-year old Henry Parkes in Birmingham in 1836, when he was just ‘Mr Parkes’, son of a farmer and a novice businessman (which didn’t prosper for him). She came out to Australia with him, having their first child just 2 days before they landed, the first of 12. She had little public interaction, even when he became a notable in New South Wales government. She died in Sydney in 1888, aged 75 – and as this image we are considering is of a young ‘Mrs Parkes’, and is taken by a Melbourne photographer, it cannot be Clarinda who is depicted. She had 12 children, 6 of whom were still alive in 1888.

Eleanor Parkes, n.d.

Lady Eleanor 1857-1895

The second ‘Lady Parkes’ was Lady Eleanor Parkes, a Sydney resident who married Sir Henry a few months after his first wife had died, in 1889. She took a keen interest in Politics, particularly social matters such as the plight of the ‘waifs’, the homeless youth of the time. She travelled with her husband as his political position grew, and appears to have been actively interested and supportive of his policies. She died from cancer in 1895, and they had five children.

Lady Julia 1872-1919

The third ‘Lady Parkes’ was Lady Julia Parkes, an Irish migrant born in 1872, employed as Nanny & House-keeper in the Parkes household, where she nursed the weakening Lady Eleanor. She married the 79 year old Sir Henry in 1895 – just months after the death of Eleanor. This was the shortest marriage, as Sir Henry died just 6 months later, in April 1896.

Setting out the three ‘Lady Parkes’ as above makes him look awfully unlucky – and afraid of being lonely….
But unlike Henry VIII, he wasn’t desperately seeking an heir – he’d already fathered a dozen children. Rather, he sought someone of the opposite sex to make his home ‘homely’, a companion for his old age and protector of his children.

So which of the three is the portrait at Moorabool?

Clarinda, the first Mrs Parkes, who married him when he was just a lad of 21, was apparently the love-of-his-life for the next five decades – but it was only months after she died (after a long illness) that Eleanor was married to Henry. As a contemporary commentator said in the papers, ‘…the community was startled by a report which was published, that Sir HENRY PARKES had just been married”…. The shock wasn’t just that ‘….she is considerably younger than her husband’ – 32, when he was 74 – but also the fact they had been an item while his elderly wife was ailing, and in fact already had two children together! So the untold story was that Sir Henry Parkes had married his mistress after his wife had died. His political opponents and the papers made the most of the situation….

This relationship was contentious – his daughters were reported to have left the house in disgust, his servants all quit before he returned with his bride, and the doors of Parliament were closed to him due to his ‘indiscretion’.

Lady-Eleanor-Parkes aged 14, by John Botterill, 1870

It was justified in the press:

The facts of the matter are, we learn, that the aged statesman, feeling the loneliness of his life when State cares, gave him a brief respite, determined some short time ago—for he is not a man to dilly-dally in such an important matter—that his final days should be soothed and made happy by a second partner of his joys and sorrows. …..

However, the plan of being soothed by Eleanor came crashing down when she became ill and soon died, in 1895.

Sir Henry Parkes continued his career of scandal by marrying his housekeeper, Julia, only three months after Eleanor passed away! Julia was an Irish migrant, and had been employed as the housekeeper / nanny in the Parkes household. She nursed the ailing Lady Eleanor, and it is said that Eleanor herself requested that Julia marry the elderly Sir Henry Parkes. Although somewhat scandalous, this made sense in the Victorian world: there were five young children in the household, and Henry had died penniless and in debt. Julia fulfilled his wish – she dedicated the rest of her life to this step-family, never re-marrying and going to great lengths to provide them with a stable upbringing. She was a remarkable woman.

The Image: both a Photograph and a hand-painted Miniature.

Lady Parkes as a Young Girl
“Lady Eleanor Parkes as a Young Girl”

This very engaging image is actually an albumen silver carte-de-visite, the traditional way of providing images for family & friends; however, while most would be placed into specially made albums with spaces the exact size of the image, this example is intact in it’s original Victorian frame, and behind glass. This is essential, as the fine painted surface, applied over the photographic image, is very vulnerable. The effect is superb, to the degree that when this was sold as a portrait of an unknown girl, it was also described as a ‘portrait miniature’ rather than a hand-coloured photograph.

The work is produced in the Batchelder studio, 41 Collins Street East, Melbourne. This was established by the well-known American Batchelder brothers, who had come to the Australian goldfields directly from the Californian goldfields with the sole purpose of setting up a photographic business. While they had left by the stage this photo was taken, the studio name remained associated with the address for several decades.

41 Collins St E- premises of Batchelder & Co, upstairs.

Batchelder’s was regarded as a premium establishment, and many of the images of notable members of Melbourne society of the period were the product of the studio. In 1867, an advert reminds the public that Batchelder’s has now been going for 11 years – ie since 1856 – and has stored over 25,000 negatives in case you would like a re-print!

The image is signed in pencil to the back, ‘Botterill / Artist’. This is a very interesting detail: the ‘artist’ was John Botterill, described as miniaturist, portrait painter and professional photographer. He was active in Melbourne in the mid 1850’s joined the organising committee for the 1853 Victorian Fine Arts Society’s exhibition, to which he contributed eight works including a miniature self-portrait. In 1859, he is working as a ‘visiting master’ at  Woodford House, a school for Young Ladies in Park Street. In 1861, he joined Batchelder’s Photographic Portrait Rooms in Collins Street East, ‘engaged … to paint miniatures and portraits in oil, watercolour or mezzotint – these deserve what they are receiving, a wide reputation’. He also gained knowledge of photography from somewhere, so probably learnt ‘on the job’ in the busy studio. In 1866, he became one of the partners of the firm alongside Dunn & Wilson, and in 1867 the firm won a medal at the Intercolonial Exhibition for their tinted photographs. This was the work of Botterill, as the advertising from that year emphasises:

“…the PORTRAITS… painted by Mr J. Botterill, artist…. on view in the Fine Art Department , (at the) Exhibition, and to state that Mr Botterill is still at Batchelder and Co’s, 41 Collins St East..”

The use of ‘is still at‘ is curious, and perhaps reveals problems in the company. They parted ways at around this time. In his 1869 adverts, Botterill declares:
“J. BOTTERILL. Portrait
Painter and Photographer, REMOVED from
Batchelder’s to 19 Collins Street East”
He continues at this address for several years, before opening in Elizabeth Street for his final years. He died in 1881.

Lady Parkes as a Young Girl
“Lady Parkes as a Young Girl” – but which one?

Who is ‘Lady Parkes’?

The subject of this photo would be hard to place if it didn’t have the inscription, added to the backing of the original. Sir William Parkes had 3 wives, but we can identify who this one is by the fact the photography studio was in Melbourne. His first, Clarinda, was born in England in 1813 and far too old when they migrated to Sydney in 1839. The third, Julia was born in 1872 – probably after this photo was taken – so she’s not possible. The  second, Eleanor, was born in 1857, so is the right age for a Melbourne photograph in the late 1860’s, early 70’s.

John Botterill signature, Melbourne Artist c.1870
John Botterill’s signature, Portrait of Eleanor Dixon/Lady Parkes 1870

John Botterill signed this piece, on a Batchelder-branded photograph. Note there is no ‘partnership’ described, as was the case 1866-68. Having the partnership details removed would suggest it belongs to a transitional period – the photograph taken at 41 Collins Street East, with the painting done by Botterill a few doors down at his studio, 19 Collins Street East. There was still a strong connection, as after Botterill died in 1881, the Batchelder studio advertises that they have added the archive of Botterill’s negatives to their own extensive archive.

The final dating evidence is the arrival of Eleanor Dixon, the future Lady Parkes, in Melbourne as a migrant. She was from Wooler, Northumberland, one of five children, her father listed as a ‘Master Shoemaker’. He died in 1869, and several months later, Eleanor’s elder brother was married and promptly left for Australia. Eleanor and three siblings followed in 1870, accompanied by their mother.

Lady Eleanor Parkes as a girl, c.1870

1870 becomes the most probable date for the portrait. Eleanor would have been 12 or 13, an appropriate age for the girl in the photo, who still has her hair ‘out’, indicating she was not yet considered an adult. Around her neck is a black ribbon with large gold locket: this is typical Victorian mourning jewellery, and no doubt had a portrait of her late father in it.

Lady-Eleanor-Parkes aged 14, by John Botterill, 1870

We can imagine the scene: the newly arrived family caught up in the bustle & thrill of Marvellous Melbourne in the post-Gold rush boomtown, celebrating their new life with a very fine portrait. She engages the viewer with a very frank, inquisitive look. There’s a pink rose on her dress, and she is presented as a true ‘English Rose’, her hair spilling wildly out over her lace-trimmed dress, not yet constrained on top of the head in an adult style. For the young Eleanor, the future was as golden as the mounts of this image; anything was possible – and indeed, for a few years in the 1890’s she achieved something remarkable, marrying one of the most powerful men of the age, the ‘Father of Federation’.

On the theme of a ‘Golden Future’, there’s a wonderful image of Lady Eleanor Parkes on tour with Sir Henry: they were visiting the offices of Bushman’s Mine in around 1890; sitting to the right with her son is Eleanor, beside a very strong table on which sits a big lump of gold castings. The label at the front reveals its weight to be 1,347oz – and named “The Lady Parkes” in her honour!

Bushman’s Mine, Parkes: a 1,347oz ingot titled “The Lady Parkes”, with its namesake sitting to the side! Sir Henry is unmistakable on the other side with his wild white hair & beard.
1895 newsprint photo of Lady Eleanor Parkes
©Paul Rosenberg, Moorabool Antiques, Geelong.    Please contact if you wish to reproduce any part of this documentation.   Images from various online sources, mostly TROVE-accessed archives. 

Further Info on John Botterill & the Batchelder & Co Studio.

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The 1866 partnership names appear on the lower image; the circa 1870 card back on the portrait of Lady Eleanor Parkes has had this removed, reflecting the updated state of the company.
1851 John Botterill miniature, English Market 2010’s