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A Sensational Tudor Discovery

Christopher Columbus, Santa Maria c.1530

Remarkable objects turn up in Australia.

This early English needlework is an exceptional example.

At the Malvern Antique Fair in 1976, John & Lorraine Rosenberg of Moorabool Antiques purchased a framed needlework from another dealer. Placing it on their own stand for sale, it promptly sold to a local collector, who treasured it for the next 43 years.

She puzzled over its meaning and came to a remarkable conclusion: it depicts the events of the late 15th century, showing the fall of the Moors in Spain, and co-regents Isabella & Ferdinand II unifying the two kingdoms into the one Kingdom of ‘Spain’. It shows the three ships of Christopher Columbus….. and so much more, in a narrative of images, almost like a cartoon. Those familiar with the Bayeux Tapestry will understand the concept of telling a tale in thread. In 2019, it came back to Moorabool with the first elements deciphered above.

Since then, more and more of its remarkable tales have been untangled, and an exciting discovery can be revealed.
This is a 500 year old ‘comic book’ with immense significance for British, Spanish, and American history.

More to come shortly – in-depth analysis & expert opinion to follow.

Each detail in this textile is intentional, carefully sewn in incredible detail over a great length of time. It was a tale that the author had to tell… but what is the tale, and why?

Unravelling the story has been a fascinating journey; we invite you to join us as we explore these details in a series of interactive presentations.

Press Kits are also available.

Send us your details below to keep up-to-date.

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2022 Melbourne Antique Fair, Malvern Town Hall

Moorabool Antiques @ Malvern Town Hall

The 2022 AAADA Melbourne Antique Fair is ‘going back to where it began’ – the Malvern Town Hall.

It was here in 1959 that a young John Rosenberg attended, sharing a stand with Geelong antique dealer R G Hamilton, a good friend & influence on the young dealer. He was just 19 – still the youngest age for acceptance into what is now the AAADA.
Today, his son Paul continues the family business – with a stand in almost the same place in the majestically restored main hall.

Moorabool has attended every Association fair since – and 2019 would have been the 60th consecutive – but it was postponed, and 2020 – and 2021 – were victims of restrictions – so this year, 2022, marks Moorabool’s 60th fair.

We’ve had a fantastic few days, a lot of catching up with our Melbourne friends… thank- you for all who said ‘hi’.

We also received a special surprise – there is a new ‘prize’, a silver cup awarded to the ‘most popular’ stand in the fair – ted by the visitors.

We were very surprised to come second – thank-you to all who voted!

Brought to the Fair, Melbourne 2022

These items are a selection of our stock seen at the fair. Use the ‘see all’ button to view the total fair stock.

60/60 AAADA Fairs, Melbourne
From the first ever fair in 1959, Moorabool has not missed a single one! That’s 60/60 in 2022.
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FreshDiscovery – 1751 Pastel by Perronneau, finest portraitist of his day.

Regarded by the leading expert Neil Jeffares as one of the two ‘best pastel portraitists’ of the 18th century, Jean-Baptiste Perronneau (1716-1783) is rarely seen outside collections. We were very excited to find a previously unrecorded portrait in Melbourne recently.

Close-up of Jeanne-Marie Mallès, aged 18.

It had an inscription on the back which gave us enough clues to find the original sitter, and we were delighted to discover the signature in the top right corner:

Pernooeau’s signature & the date 1751, signed in lead.

There was a modern label to the back covering, with a few details – probably copied from the previous covering. From this we can identify her: Jeanne-Marie Mallès, later Mme Tobie Clarke (1733–1821).

 Jeanne-Marie Mallès was from a seafaring family, her father being a Captain in the East Indies Company. However, he died in 1744; Jean-Marie was fatherless when this portrait was done in 1751, and it was 7 years later she was married to Toby Clarke (1733–1821), merchant of Nantes. They had several children, and a daughter, Marie, married François-Claude de Karuel de Merey, capitaine d’infanterie, who died in 1804 – the year Napoleon crowned himself Emperor – probably no coincidence, with the war with England and Spain raging.

Correspondence with Mr Jeffares has resulted in the authentication of the signature, making it a ‘signature piece’, and it is now added to the online ‘catalogue resonné’ of Perronneau, listing of every example authenticated, part of the amazing record freely accessible on Mr Jeffares site, .
You’ll find it as part of the following document:

An interesting note in Jeffares’ comments is that he sometimes dropped – or added – an ‘n’ to his name. Our example is the shortened version, Perroneau.
There are also several other examples of his sitters ‘as Dianna’ , obviously an interesting option to choose when having your portrait done. How fascinating, this beautiful young lady who had lost her father aged 11, had this portrait done showing her as the strong Goddess of the Hunt in 1751, and only married 7 years later. You can see her character in the twinkle of her eye..

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A new Spin on Antiques…

We’ve been busily working on a terrific new way of viewing our stock on You may have already noticed our photos are larger than before, and you can explore the pieces in greater detail by zooming in. While that’s a help, we have something even better to offer: Spins!

Spin Sample
Spin me – mouse or finger, both work well! And don’t forget you can zoom in….

As you’ll notice above, we can now take images from all sides and create a ‘spin’! This is perfect for turning something around to see the other side…. and you can zoom in also! The 18th century English enamel salt cellar above needs to be seen from every angle – and this new technique is perfect to show what it’s like in reality.

It does take a little time to set up, so we are doing fresh pieces and some older pieces, with more being added constantly.

If you just want to take a few pieces ‘for a spin’ – follow this link to the Tag ‘360’ – every item that has been done will appear in this gallery.

Have fun spinning!

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A Box or Two….

Soth East Asian Ceramic Boxes

Some fascinating ancient boxes, just released on

We’re pleased to offer a small selection of South-East Asian ceramic boxes, fresh to

Collection of South East Asian Ceramic Boxes

These pottery and porcelain objects were produced in vast quantities in certain places as trade goods, and as a result are found all across South-East Asia.

Khmer bird pot, 12th century
Khmer bird pot, 12th century

The earliest we have are the Khmer examples, with one delightfully shaped like a small plump bird; his beak and eyes protrude from one side, balanced by a tail at the rear. A small conical cap to the top is almost a miniature Buddhist stupa….

Song Dynasty, 13th century
Song Dynasty Qingbai, 13th century

Equal date is the amazing large white glazed porcelain box with a peony rose moulded to the top. This is from Song Dynasty China, 12th-13th century, of a type known as ‘Qingbai’.

Thai 15th century

I like the Thai pieces from the 15th century for their sophisticated moulded patterns. The ‘Deer’ and the ‘Flower’ boxes we have are particularly tactile pieces, encouraging you to explore their design with your fingertips.

Swipe Left, South Australian Museum:Swipe Right, our example. Thai, Swankalok,

The other Thai pieces are a larger form, made to hold more. These are a distinct high-fired stoneware, and the kiln sites for these were traced & excavated in the 1980’s in Thailand, known as Sawankalok. Australian scholars were a major part of this study, and an important collection of these pieces can be seen in the Art Gallery of South Australia. Interestingly, there is an almost identical box to one of our pieces there, the only difference being a complete reversal of the colour scheme; ours is like the ‘negative’ of theirs!

What were they used for?
The answer to that is “whatever you need a box for!”
Much like a Tupperware box today, they would have been used for whatever the locals needed a small container to hold. In some regions they were probably highly prized expensive imports, used in such prestigious occasions as wedding dowries and burials of the more wealthy. In some of the Indonesian island kingdoms, for example, they are found in ‘caches’, large groups of buried ‘treasure’ including ceramics and precious metals – probably a local wealthy person burying their prized possessions in a time of conflict and never coming back for them.

Hoi An Shipwreck, c. 1490
Hoi An Shipwreck, c. 1490

Another amazing source of these boxes are shipments that never made it to the market place. Boxes from well-known shipwrecks that we have include the Vietnamese products from the late 15th century Hoi An wreck, and a few from the early 17th century Ming Dynasty Bihn Thuan wreck, sold off in Melbourne a few years ago.

Here’s a selection currently in stock:

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The Prince Rupert casket

The Prince Rupert Casket

A fascinating recent discovery was this stunning little casket, or tea caddy. It has a terrific tale to tell, and even has a link to a great name in English ceramics, John Dwight of Fulham.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine, by John Dwight of Fulham, c. 1678

Made from a golden toned oak, it has elaborate sterling silver mounts of 17th century design. Inside, it has been lined with a tin/lead foil, a method used in tea caddies to ensure fresh tea.

This is of course an anomaly; tea caddies do not appear like this in the 17th century. A casket for precious items or documents would be possible, but tea caddies were not yet invented in the 17th century: tea was stored in metal or glass. The ‘tea caddy’ this piece appears to be would be early 18th century at best, but it is also a bit too small compared to others.
The answer to this problem lies in the various documents that came with the box. The original hand-written note explains all:

So who was this Price Rupert of the Rhine? And what exactly was his ‘house’?

The mid 17th century was a time of great turmoil for England, and the English Civil War of 1642-51 involved the struggle for England between those supporting the Monarchy (the ‘Royalists’ or ‘Cavaliers’) and those against (the ‘Parliamentarians’ or ‘Roundheads’). Prince Rupert (1619-82) was a Royalist commander. In his day, and to those generations who remembered the Civil War afterwards, he became something of a celebrity, a dashing ‘Cavalier’.

As his name suggests, he was originally from present day Germany – where his father was Frederick V of the Palatine. His mother was Elizabeth, eldest child of James I – so his English connections were strong, where he had the title Duke of Cumberland. He had been a soldier from 14 in Europe, and when called on by the Royalists in England, rose to the occasion. He became a favorite of James I, rising to the most senior post of command.
In 1643, the Roundheads overran Liverpool, and based themselves in the castle. All across the town they dug a series of trenches three meters deep….. and waited. Prince Rupert arrived in early 1644, and promptly brought in his cannon: and so the bombardment began. (18 days later, and less 1500 casualties, he finally took town & castle back for the Royalists).
In order to coordinate the siege, he commandeered a house with a decent view over the town, on Everton Brow. It is this house that is described as the source of the wood for this box – a decent medieval merchant’s house rather than a ‘cottage’, having a stone two-story frontage with a large bay window – no doubt of great use as a viewpoint as Prince Rupert planned his attack.

An article in the Illustrated London News, 17 May 1845 illustrates the building, along with its history, noting it had just been demolished as ‘… the modern improvements in the locality …. rendered its removal a matter of necessity, not of taste’ .

This 1845 date of demolition is very interesting; at this time, ‘Antiquarian’ interest in things such as the Civil War and great people like Nelson and Prince Rupert led to a thriving trade in ‘relics’ made from parts of buildings – or in the case of Nelson, his flagship the ‘Victory’. These were often useful items, such as letter openers and snuff boxes. The tea caddy we are examining fits this scenario perfectly, and so we can attribute it to a very clever ‘curio’ creator of the early Victorian period, circa 1845. While the before mentioned relics were made in quantity, the bespoke nature of this piece – and the apparent re-use of original 17th century silver mounts – suggests this is a unique creation.

See this magnificent relic here >>

‘TeaCaddy – Wood from the beam in Prince Ruperts Cottage / …. mounted)

The other three documents that came with the casket add to the story; Alstons & Hallam goldsmiths & silversmiths, described it as ‘Antique’ and by John Wakelyn – no doubt going by the maker’s marks on the silver mounts, reading ‘IW’ – but this cannot be accurate, as John Wakelyn only registers a similar mark in the 1770’s.
This card was probably written close to the date on the other card, 1938 – when ‘Mother’, being Mrs W. G. Hamilton, of Highgate, London, gave it to her child – assumably a son – ‘with love from your father & mother, Christmas 1938’.
(‘Hamilton’ is of course an old local Western District surname, local to us in Geelong where this piece was found, and so a likely reason for this piece appearing in Australia).


What a fascinating character Prince Rupert was! The British Museum states that he was “….highly intellectual with artistic and scientific interests; played an important role in the development of mezzotint as well as experimenting with gunpowder, metallurgy, gunnery, glass manufacture etc.”

Bust of Prince Rupert
Bust of Prince Rupert, Stoneware, from the works of John Dwight of Fulham c.1678
© British Museum

He is a very familiar face for anyone who has studied the history of early English ceramics: he was a celebrity in the days of the fabulous John Dwight of Fulham and his sophisticated pottery works. He produced a massive almost life-size bust of the Prince in around 1680, in high-fired stoneware – an extraordinary feat that now resides in the British Museum.

Also the British Museum, there is a magnificent bracket clock that was apparently designed by him, and dozens of his engravings and lithographic prints. I’ve put a few in the gallery below. These are fascinating, showing his strong interest in the arts. A box such as this one is a fine tribute to him indeed!

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April 2020.

What a month….. we’re sorry to have been ‘away’ for the past 6 weeks, and no doubt the ‘C’-crisis is a glaringly obvious reason, as the world is paralysed by the hidden menace of the virus pandemic.

But the real reason is the other ‘C’: Cancer. John Rosenberg, founder of the firm back in the 1950’s, was taken to Hospital quite unwell in late March, and cancer was found. He has undergone major surgery – the result is that the doctors were satisfied they got it all. This is a great relief to us all.

Needless to say, this ensured our attention was no longer on our ‘Fresh Stock’ updates – and the timing with the required shop closure due to covid-19 was remarkable.
John is now back home and is recovering well – but is of course itching to get back to the shop!

John recovering back at home this week.

We have just instigated our ‘Recovery’ plan, representing both our post-Covid and John’s new reality, both of which require ‘social distancing’….. so we now have an Appointments booking service on our website.
When you are thinking of visiting Moorabool, simply pop into our web page and with a few clicks you can find a time, weekdays 10-4, plus a few hours on a Saturday. This will allow us to comply with the strict requirements for businesses to stay social-distancing aware.
John also has his own appointment page, with a Wednesday afternoon time-slot for anyone who would like to catch up. He’ll be up in the Lorraine Rosenberg Reference Library, a great place to experience his passion for ceramics…. so many tales to tell!

…where’s the Fresh Stock ?

Our ‘Fresh Stock Tuesdays’ were constant weekly tasks for the past 6 years…. and while we are most certainly not ceasing the release of fresh stock, it’s time for a change to this method. We will shortly have ‘Something Fresh’ to share….

A young John Rosenberg, back in the 1950’s when he joined the Dealers Association.

We were of course heading into our 2020 Fair time, to open May 1st in the Malvern Town Hall. This is postponed until the same time next year, but was to be a special occasion for Moorabool: a young John Rosenberg joined the Victorian Antique Dealers Association (now the AAADA) in 1958, the year they held their first Fair in the Malvern Town Hall. It had been born the previous year, and young John was asked to join by a local ‘founding member’. He was able to exhibit in the 1959 Malvern Fair for the first time – and continued to do so for the next 59 years straight!
2019 would have been the 60th Melbourne Dealers Fair Moorabool had exhibited in, but was cancelled. This year, 2020, was then to be the 60th….. now we look forward to making 2021 that milestone!

The late Lorraine Rosenberg, pictured at the Dealers Fair in the Malvern Town Hall, some time in the 1960’s.

We had great plans…. our stand was going to ‘pop’, with a unique design celebrating 60 years, and some stunning Fresh pieces sourced just for the occasion. Instead, these will be released as part of our ‘SOMETHING FRESH’ over the next few months.

We hope you’re all keeping well, and that our website has been a source of consolation in these peculiar times….

Best wishes & stay safe,
from Paul Rosenberg, John Rosenberg,
& all @ Moorabool….
…. still very much in business !

We’ll leave you with a ‘Fresh’ photo-
this is a wonderfully wild ‘ShiShi’ , the Japanese version of the the Chinese Buddhist lion-dog, or ‘Foo’ dog. He’s a censor, his head lifting off to take the incense – with the smoke coming out his mouth, nostrils, ears, and between the spines down his back!
Meiji period, earlier 19th century.
Coming to Moorabool stock shortly!

Shi Shi
A Japanese porcelain ‘ShiShi’ censor, Meiji period, earlier 19th century – coming soon!
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Take Care out there….

In light of the current situation gripping the World…. Moorabool is closing our physical shopfront and concentrating on this website.

Moorabool wishes all customers the best of health, and please take care out there.
We are still functioning behind the scenes, manning our website, and our postal system will continue, although naturally not as quick as usual.
If you are buying/selling, we are available by email, facetime, or telephone; our website is monitored, so please feel free to continue on as ‘usual’ as possible in this rapidly changing world….

As soon as we are ‘free’ of this invisible menace, we will have some exciting events to promote – having used all this down-time to prepare!

Sincere best wishes, from John Rosenberg, Paul Rosenberg, Alard Pett, Lindsay Wilson, and all @ Moorabool Antiques, Geelong.

Florence Nightingale & friends
Staffordshire figures of the 1860’s including Florence Nightingale (and a German porcelain Turk!)

Illustrated here is Florence Nightingale & friends practicing ‘Social Distancing’ …. She was of course responsible (in the 1850’s) for the very first idea of how to contain a disease as it spread…. she would approve whole-heartedly of the incredible response our Governments are undertaking to tackle this age-defining catastrophe that is currently unfolding….

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2019 Exhibition, opened 5th October

Pair of 18th century Dummy Boards

It’s Exhibition time again at Moorabool Antiques – time to showcase our recent exciting finds with a display & sale of over 500 exciting items.

Pair of 18th century Dummy Boards
Pair of 18th century Dummy Boards

From a lovely pair of 18th century ‘dummy boards’ – almost life-size – to a dazzling array of Ceramics, there’s a huge variety of items to be seen.

Our local purchases included a remarkable collection of late 18th / early 19th century English pottery of all descriptions, a collection of coffee cans, ditto spill vases, and a large number of early 19th century English porcelain pieces. We’re particularly struck by the beauty of the ‘Dry Bodies’, a group of feldspathic stonewares which have incredible detail to their decoration due to absence of glaze.

Chetham & Woolley drybody sucrier, brown ground white sprigged children, c. 1800
A delightful Chetham & Woolley drybody sucrier, the brown ground panels with white sprigged children, circa 1800

In porcelains, you’ll find the collectable, and the unusual: Coalport, Daniel, Davenport, Derby, Spode, Swansea, Worcester are familiar names; less known are Wolfe, Machin and Mayer. And there’s plenty more to add to that list!

From 18th century Europe comes a selection of Meissen, Sevres, and other Porcelain makers.

Exotics include the humorous Japanese Satsuma ‘turtle’ kettle, some Italian creamwares, and an interesting array of Antiquities beginning with a 4,500 year old ‘Indus Valley Culture’ pottery bull from the John Kenny collection, Melbourne.

Indus Valley Culture Bull, 2,500 BC
Indus Valley Culture Bull, from Northern Pakistan, circa 2,500 BC

We are busily cataloguing several hundred more pieces, and adding them to the website Preview Gallery on a daily basis. Keep an eye on the uploads, and feel free to send through a ‘query’ if there’s anything you wish to know.

Otherwise…. see you on Saturday 5th October! And for all who are simply too far away – feel free to email or call.

best wishes from all @ Moorabool.

Now, back to cataloguing….

More info here >>

Preview upcoming items here >>