Posted on Leave a comment

Fresh Stock

Tribal Artifacts at Moorabool Antiques

Welcome to the latest ‘Fresh Stock’ release at Moorabool.com .

Today, there’s a selection of Porcelain & Prints to browse,
and an extra-large selection of ‘Tribal’ art & artifacts to explore.

  • New Caledonia Carved Tribal Figures
  • Death of Cook

FRESH to STOCK

Exploration & Captain Cook

Pacific Tribal Canoes
Pacific Islander Canoes at Moorabool Antiques

The Pacific Ocean is a large part of the surface of the planet – and it was almost entirely populated by mankind, thanks to the ingenuity of the navigators and ship-builders. Early European explorers were surprised to find flourishing cultures in remote corners of the Pacific, and greatly admired their watercraft. We have some fascinating models of these vessels at Moorabool.

#m22-9-23

Tonga

The Friendly Isles

Tonga was explored by Cook in 1774, and named ‘The Friendly Isles’ due to his positive experience there. We have a series of interesting items relating to Tonga, from charts & images produced for the ‘Cook’s Voyages’ volumes printed in the 18th century, to a remarkable cloth map that includes the Captain Cook sites of significance, and the areas where oil was discovered in the 1960’s! For several decades, it looked like an oil rush was about to take place around Tonga, when at least one rich oilfield with millions of barrels potential was found. Today, this is almost forgotten – and Tonga is among the Pacific nations trying to curb the world’s reliance on oil, due to the potentially disastrous affect a rise in sea levels would cause. The ‘Oil Chart’ is a historic irony!

Tribal

Posted on Leave a comment

Tribal Focus

Curated Collections

An exotic collection of ‘Tribal’ has just been launched on Moorabool.com – from Australian Aboriginal, to our closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, and far beyond to the Pacific nations and African cultures, there’s quite a number of interesting ‘tribal’ items to browse.

New Caledonia Carved Tribal Figures
New Caledonia Carved Tribal Figures

Tribal art is important, as while the West became more sophisticated, it remained the same – simple forms, compelling story-telling through highly stylised illustrations in carving and paint.
For this reason, the ‘Modernists’, those artists who dragged the Western World into the modern aesthetic, sought out primitive art for its honest truth and pure, basic forms.

Matisse, Gauguin, and Picasso all collected, and were influenced by art & objects from Africa, South America, and the Pacific. In the 19th century, it had been collected as ‘curios’: in the early 20th century, it was seen as an important aspect of the human art-scape, where tribal people had created pure forms unencumbered by the baggage of the Classical (Greek & Roman) world.

Today, this theme is still very much alive – but it has transformed to something new, with modern artists from the First Nations of a multitude of countries now exploring their own heritage, and merging it with the 21st century.

It certainly makes the world a much more graphically interesting – and colourful – place!

Moorabool’s Tribal

Australia is a terrific source for tribal art. When Europeans first came, they were eager to explore the culture that was already here. Collections were formed – many pieces were shipped overseas – even as the catastrophical encroachment of Western culture destroyed the peoples who had created them. The misfortune of colonisation cannot be overstated- but looking back, it was the Europeans who were fascinated by the Aboriginal People who preserved not only the languages in some areas, but also no end of artefacts which they gathered for their collections. Today, these items are often the only surviving link to long-lost Koori culture that goes back tens of thousands of years.

Elsewhere, the travelling Westerners collected also, and often settled in Australia. As the main British presence in the region, Sydney and Melbourne were the access point for the governing of areas such as Fiji and Papua New Guinea. During WWII, this became particularly important as troops moved into the islands north and east of Australia to deflect the planned Japanese take-over. The soldiers on these expeditions often became very involved in the local situations, and numerous examples of soldiers stationed in New Guinea staying on after the war for decades occur: one of the sources for our present collection was a photographer in WWII for the RAAF, and stayed on in a government role, marrying a PNG local and living there for the next 30 years.

Captain Cook

These prints are dramatic records of the British exploration of the Pacific in the 18th century – ‘CNN reporting live from the South Pacific’. They were published by numerous firms in London, and later in France, for many decades, in various sizes.

Pacific Tribal Canoes
Moorabool’s Pacific Tribal Canoe models

Australian

Australian Aboriginal culture, or as it is now popularly called ‘First Nation’, is the oldest continual culture on the planet. Early European contact was dismissive of their achievements, but we now see just how impressive it is for a culture to survive that period of time in an environment Europeans could not survive in for long.
We do see a large amount of Australian Aboriginal artifacts at Moorabool – the largest being the ‘woomera’ shown below. This is a prime example of their superior survival skills and technical innovation: a woomera is a spear-thrower, basically a long leaver-extension for a hunting spear. When used to launch a spear, it resulted in an incredible 60% extra force and massive increase in distance. This particular example, at 2.66 meters, is the longest we have seen, and is an original usable piece made without European tools or materials.

Papua New Guinea

Trobiand Islands

The Trobiand Islands are part of the Solomon Island group, to the north-east of Papua New Guinea. They were the origin of a remarkable style of tribal art, with very stylised, elegant scrolling forms, often in shallow carved format filled with lime pigment to make them stand out.

Trobiand Island canoe splashboard

A Trobian Islands Canoe Board

Impressive carved & painted canoe board, with symmetric-carved columns & scrolls, pierced & layered for dramatic effect, incorporating a small seated figure at the very top, the whole picked out in traditional white & red colours.

Solomon Islands/ Trobiand Islands – Milne Bay

earlier 20th century

Provenance: from a Melbourne, Australia, collection

The same iconography can be seen on an example in the British Museum –

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Oc-M-340

These canoe boards were used by the communities of the Solomon Islands, in particular those of the Trobiand Islands, where the vast Milne Bay region supported a flourishing trade network connected by large trading canoes. When voyages of trade were made, they were festival occasions, and both the crew and the canoe was ‘dressed to impress’. These extremely elaborate boards (also known as ‘splashboards’) were placed at the front & back of the dugout canoes, closing off the ends & helping keep water out. They are called ‘migila waga’,  roughly translating as ‘the face of the canoe’.

An excellent eyewitness image can be found in the work of the Royal Geographical Society fellow Ellis Silas. He travelled through the region in the 1920’s and sketched numerous examples of the elaborate canoe decorations, now in the British Museum collection.

Ellis Silas Trobiand Canoe splashboard sketch 1921-4
Early 1920’s sketch by Ellis Silas showing a Trobiand canoe with splashboard in place.  British Museum.

The carvings are all meaningful: the seated figure in the centre of this board in particular appears consistently. This is the most important aspect of the piece: known as the bwalai, it must be ‘spelled’ with the right magic by the canoe owner prior to a journey. If the canoe capsizes, the bwalai comes to the rescue by summoning a giant fish that will take the sailors safely ashore. If the magic used is not correct or if the canoe owner forgets to utter the spell, the bwalai will turn into sharks and sea monsters and devour the crew!

The trade ritual was known as the ‘Kula‘, and was different from the commercial trade for goods. The items exchanged were ‘non-use’ decorations, solely to enhance one’s social status. The act of giving was a display of greatness, but given with a show of exaggerated modesty; the goods also had to be passed on within a short period of time, and as they passed through the circle of participants, it is known as the ‘Kula Ring’. It incorporated a large number of wide-spread island communities to the north and east of, including the Massim of the Trobiand Islands. Goods traded were pearlshell plaques, armbands, necklaces, and other distinct items.

Massim Wealth Axe Head
Massim Wealth Axe Head

The large polished adze heads are another aspect of Kula trade. These are extremely robust, and the dense mottled green stone must have taken a huge effort to polish and shape. They were highly treasured items of wealth & status, and while we have dated ours to ’19th century’, it is quite plausible that they are many centuries older, passed from generation to generation. The example with the chips shows an amount of wear to the chip-sites, which can only happen through lots of handling – suggesting a very great age.

Solomon Islands War Canoe & Nguzu Nguzu

This large model of a War Canoe from the Solomon Islands is quite dramatic.
When the Royals Kate & William visited in 2014, they were treated to a ride in one, as shown below.

Solomon Islands Tamoko War Canoe model
Solomon Islands Tomako War Canoe model (mocked-up photo of it afloat!)

Pacific Islands

Tapa Cloth

Gilbert Islands (Kiribati)

Posted on Leave a comment

Fresh Stock – Australian Art, Cast Iron, Royalty, and Elephants!

Welcome to our latest Fresh Stock release.

There’s some superb items this week, from the quirky 1852 ‘Dog’ umbrella stand below, to a herd of ebony elephants, with some remarkable Australian Art with fresh research to enjoy.

Coalbrookdale Dog & Whip Umbrella Stand, 1875Coalbrookdale Catalogue 1875 v- Dog Umbrella Stand
“I think the dog wants to go for a walk…..” A delightful finely detailed Coabrookdale cast iron umbrella & stick stand, with original catalogue entry, 1875. The design bears the registration mark for 1852.

Royalty Prints

A selection of rare 17th century prints illustrating the ladies of the Royal Families of Europe. Of particular note: Christiane Eberhardine, the wife of August the Strong ( of Meissen fame ) – the ‘Queen of Poland’, although she never actually set foot on Polish soil her whole life!

A Billiken….

….. the most perfect sales strategy of all time!

A curio with a tale! Completely made-up in the early 20th century, the BILLIKEN was was first created by American art teacher and illustrator Florence Pretz. It is said that she saw the mysterious figure in a dream. In 1908, she obtained a design patent for the Billiken. To buy a billiken was said to have given the purchaser luck, but to have one given would be better luck. The Billiken is considered the God of Happiness, the God of Luck, and The God Of Things As They Ought To Be.

This example dates to the very first production of these curios, being made by William Vale & Son, Birmingham, in 1908. Is one of 2 variations made by them, this one with his hands on his belly and name on soles of feet.

Elephants are fascinating, and we seem to have a whole herd here at Moorabool at the moment!

These black ebony wood examples were generally catalogued as ‘African’ – but we have recently discovered their actual source, due to examples that have been made as souvenirs of Ceylon – they are Sri Lankan, and Indian elephants, not African. There are a lot to be found in Australia, probably due to the number of travellers to Australia who had a stop-over there, when the passenger ships used Colombo to resupply.

The very unusual pieces below are the ‘Hippos’ – basically elephants without a trunk, clearly made in the same workshops – and we’ve never seen another….

Posted on Leave a comment

Fresh…. Marine Art, Australiana, and more!

Jack Tar cast iron umbrella stand, c. 1860
Jack Tar Umbrella Stand
‘Jack Tar’ Victorian Umbrella Stand

Ahoy! Moorabool has a definite Marine Theme for you to enjoy, with today’s Fresh Stock featuring the first of a series of interesting Nautical theme collections.

The fantastic umbrella & stick stand shown here sets the scene – a handy ‘Jack’ to have by the front door, handy with a rope which he uses to hold your umbrella and walking stick! He dates to the 1860’s , and is a fine example with original paint in good condition.


Why the curious name?
‘Jack Tar’ was the generic name for any sailor in the Georgian/Victorian era. ‘Jack’ was a place-keeper name for any wiring class man, the ‘John Smith’ of the day. The ‘Tar’ comes from the concept of a tarpaulin: literally a canvas sheet smeared with water-proofing tar, it was used on board all ships, and was turned into waterproof clothing by the sailors.

Early Australiana

Some very early Australiana, Fresh to our stock, relates to the early visits of the French to ‘Nouvelle Holland’, and includes an 1802 view of Sydney, printed in the 1807 publication on the Baudin Expedition.

Marine Art

Ships were essential for nearly every aspect of Australia’s development, from the very first European encounters to the gradual colonisation. Once established, they were the life-line to the rest of the world, and therefore are all represented in the world of Art & Antiques. We have an extensive collection of ‘Nautical Antiques’ to offer, starting with this selection.

Australian Marine Artists of the 20th century

Dennis Adams - Decks Awash - Australian Marine Art

The nostalgia for the Age of Sail has always been strong, originating in the artists who were able to sail on the ‘Last of the Windjammers’ in the earlier 20th century, and continuing into the present.
One such sailor-artist was Dennis Adams, featured below. He managed to find a job on one of the few remaining commercial cargo ships, and left Australia in 1935, London-bound. He was able to paint his experiences for posterity, accurately depicting the life of a sailor from actual hands-on experience.

Dorca Charles Sewell (1907-79)

Dorca Charles Sewell was born in London, studied art in London & Paris, and became known for his marine art. He exhibited at the Royal Society of Marine Artists, the British Society of Artists, and the United Society of Artists in London. In around 1939, he migrated to Australia and found a job in the Public Service as an architect. He continued to paint, mostly watercolours, and exhibited in Sydney and Melbourne in the 1970’s.

Dennis Adams (1914-2001)

Dennis Adams was born in Sydney in 1914, where at the docks he watched the few remaining sailing ships pass Sydney Heads for distant ports. His father was a retired seaman, and his head was full of his tales of life on board the ‘Last of the Windjammers’. He studied art at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, and in 1935 headed off to London to study at the Royal Academy of Arts on a sailing ship as a ‘seaman’. This voyage set the theme for his art: for the next 50 years, he painted dramatic scenes of the life of the sailor, not just the ships themselves. He was an official War artist during WWII, and his work in paint & in bronze sculpture is to be found in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, as well as numerous other state memorials and galleries around Australia.

Warwick A Andrews (1930-2021)

Warwick Anthony Andrews was born in Sydney in 1930, and grew up to be a saltwater sailing enthusiast. He joined the Australian Navy Reserve, and later moved to Melbourne where he was involved with the Beaumaris Probus Club and the local arts scene. His works are often historical re-creations, using prints or old photos as a source which he ‘brought to life’ with his distinctive techniques in Oil and Watercolour.

A Krakatoa Curio

Victorian image of Krakatoa, c. 1883

An unusual small Victorian oil painting (painted on a glass panel) depicts a strange, glowing mountain, with ships passing by apparently at nighttime.
We’ve interpreted this as a record of Krakatoa ‘before’ the catastrophic eruption of 1883, a most unusual record of a ship passenger, probably on their way to Australia.

Read more about this interesting image >

An unusual ‘page-turner’, printed both sides with world maps & calendar for 1899, with red lines tracing the remarkable achievement of the Victorian era: the International Telegraphic Cable network, spread all-over the globe by the closing year of the 19th century.
Produced by ‘THE EASTERN EXTENSION TELEGRAPHIC COMPANY’ 1899. The printer, Waterlow & Sons, was the provider of stationary for the company, and produced these curios, shaped like a traditional Chinese or Japanese ‘page turner’, throughout the 1890’s.

The Ocean Liners & Wartime….

The advent of Steam, and internal combustion engines changed the face of sea travel forever. The reliability of a propulsion method that didn’t rely on the weather was gladly adapted, and sails rapidly disappeared in the first decades of the 20th century. Australia’s coastal trade was catered for by coastal steamers, and they became a regular sight often depicted in art of the period. One major change is the rise of the ‘Ocean Liner’ – entire ships built only to take passengers. During WWI, these were re-purposed as troop carriers – and many didn’t make it through.. the ‘SS Otway’ below being a prime example.

SS Otway

The SS Otway was almost brand-new when she was painted by the local amateur ship artist Glanville. Named for the famous cape in Victoria, Australia, which in turn was named in 1800 by Lieutenant James Grant after Vice-Admiral William Albany Otway, a Navy Captain from Nelson’s era. She was built & launched in Glasgow in 1909, an important part of the Orient Line’s fleet of 5 passenger ships that allowed weekly sailings to & from Australia. However, this did not last for long, as the tide of war swept ships such as this before it. Requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1914, she became the HMS Otway, and once mounted with guns became an Armed Merchant Cruiser. Her service took her to colder climates, spending much of the following year patrolling off the north of England, around Iceland, and across to Norway. Her luck ran out on July 23rd, 1917, when she was torpedoed and sunk by a German u-boat with the loss of 10 lives.


The world’s Navies were also transformed, with mighty floating-fortress ships being seemingly impenetrable. The commemoratives for ‘H.M.A.S. SYDNEY (I) relate to one of Australia’s iconic stories; a light cruiser built in 1912, it was a formidable piece of technology in WWI which became a legend when it destroyed the German cruiser Emden in what is remembered as ‘Australia’s first victory at sea’.

A WWI commemorative HMAS SYDNEY 1914 plate

The German cruiser Emden had been sulking around South-East Asia causing major problems for the Allies, in a short time sinking or capturing 25 allied steamers, a Russian cruiser and a French destroyer. A dozen Allied warships were tied up in the region searching for a German battleship; the Germans had added an extra funnel to the Emden, and were masquerading as an Allied ship! Their next target was the station in the Cocos Islands, housing the all-important cable that connected the Pacific – and Australia- to Europe. On the 9th November, 1914, the Sydney came across the Emden as it closed in on the cable station, and successfully pounded it into submission. There’s a dramatic photograph taken by the staff of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company (see the ‘page turner’ illustrated above!) on Direction Island watching the ships on the horizon battle it out, before they headed out to rescue survivors of the defeated Emden.
Note: There’s another ‘HMAS SYDNEY’ of great fame in WWII – recorded as the greatest loss in Australian Navy history, and a mystery until 2008 when the remains were discovered and her story re-constructed. But this is the second Navy ship with this name, ironically sharing a similar legendary status, although for polar-opposite reasons…..

‘General’ Fresh Stock:

Coming Soon….

There’s a ship-load of Nautical items on the horizon…

Including this amazing original early 20th century diving helmet: the front glass element is missing, I’m sure there’s a fantastic story about how that happened….?

We have some early English rarities coming, including this somewhat controversial ‘Pope & Devil’ stirrup cup. These were used in the classic British Hunt, for a quick dash of rum before heading off on horseback to chase whatever was trying to escape: the devil-side rip holds the drink, the pope simply cannot!
Dating to around 1790, it’s a fine example of Pratt high-fired pottery.

Posted on Leave a comment

Fresh Stock – Furniture, Metalwork, Australiana, and more!

French Chandelier at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

Welcome to the latest Fresh Stock on Moorabool.com.

This week there’s a good selection to browse, from a ‘Madam Vestris’ figure to a French Chandelier.

Spode Ironstone Imari Service c. 1815
Spode Ironstone Imari Service c. 1815 & Doulton Burslem with Georges Leonce designs, c. 1885

Australiana

Our ‘Australian’ additions include some more interesting artworks, some silver, and other interesting items with an Australian connection.

Brass & Bronze

Brass and Bronze are basically the same thing; alloys of other metals, including copper, tin, zinc, and lead – mixed at different ratios to produce metals for different purposes.

Marine Art Preview

Our ‘Spring Special’ this year will involve a rolling exhibition of Marine Art & Artefacts.

Australia is a nation built on ships & shipping, and so it is not surprising to find a rich heritage of Ship Art. We’re currently preparing a whole feet of fascinating ship pictures – often with fascinating stories of what they achieved, and what their fate was…..

Edith Holmes sailing ship
‘Edith Holmes’ Australian sailing ship, late 19th century

Posted on Leave a comment

Fresh 18th century Porcelain, Venetian Glass, Australian Art + more

We’re pleased to offer a fine selection of fresh-to-the-market items today, including a stunning micro-carved ivory plaque, an 18th c. enamel egg, and some local watercolours by Arnold Jarvis.

Micro-Carving – a miniature masterpiece

A needle, to compare size....
A needle, to compare size….

This beautiful little piece is no bigger than the bottom of your tea-cup – and yet the detail is as good as a large sculpture. Set into a very early lacquer & gold mount, probably from new, it is a type sometimes seen mounted as a snuff box lid. Often catalogued as ‘French’, we have attributed it to the English carvers Stephany & Dresch, ‘Carvers in Miniature to his majesty George III’ .

Stephany and Dresch attributed micro carved ivory plaque, circa 1795, Moorabool Antiques Geelong
Stephany and Dresch (attributed) micro-carved ivory plaque, circa 1795, Moorabool Antiques Geelong

A Salviati Aventurine Centerpiece

Salviati Murano Venetian glass centrepiece with dolphins, Aventurine, circa 1880
Salviati Murano Venetian glass centrepiece with dolphins, Copper Aventurine, circa 1880

This flamboyant piece of glass is – believe it or not – Italian! Actually a stunning example of an interesting period in the development of the ‘Murano Glass’ we are familiar with, it dates to the later 19th century years when the revival of the Italian Art Glass was just beginning. It comes from the workshop of Antonio Salviati (1816-1890), who paired up with an English archaeologist, Sir Austen H. Layard, M.P. (1817-94).

Salviati’s products, the ‘Compagnia Venezia-Murano’, won the highest prize, a gold medal indicating the First Order of Merit. After the exhibition closed in 1881, 130 pieces were purchased for the Gallery, which still retains a good number of them. At the same time, the impressive wealth in Melbourne meant the top-end department stores were also offering these luxury products for sale. As this piece was sourced in Melbourne generations ago, it is most probably from one of those sources.

We have an article on this splendid centrepiece and the connection with the 1880 International Exhibition in Melbourne.

Arnold Jarvis 1881-1959 – local artist of interest

Arnold Jarvis (1881-1951) watercolour
Arnold Jarvis (1881-1951) watercolour
Arnold Jarvis (1881-1951) watercolour
Arnold Jarvis (1881-1951) watercolour – Victorian Southern Coastal Scene

Arnold Jarvis was a prolific artist, specialising in classic Australian vistas with ancient River Redgums, and was once described as ‘The other Hans Heyson’. However, he doesn’t even come close to Hans Heyson’s value today, and his story is somewhat neglected.

He was born in South Australia, and literally ‘joined the circus’ in his teens, travelling as far as Perth to perform on stage. He had balance & tightrope acts – and a ‘speed painting’ show, where he would produce a painting from a blank canvas ready to hang on the wall in under 3 minutes! This was no doubt a brilliant way to refine his brushwork, as they say practice makes perfect, and he certainly perfected his impressions of ancient river redgums. By 1901, he was no longer a juggler, but a full-time artist.

Arnold Jarvis (1881-1951) watercolour
Arnold Jarvis (1881-1959) watercolour, English thatch cottage & steamship, c. 1910


We have a group of four Arnold Jarvis watercolours to show you today, including one remarkable example which includes an English thatched cottage, set on the Victorian coast! We have an interesting interpretation of this work, read more in the blog page dedicated to Arnold Jarvis.

Posted on Leave a comment

A Salviati Aventurine Centerpiece

Salviati Murano Venetian glass centrepiece with dolphins, Aventurine, circa 1880
Antonio Salviati 1816-90

This flamboyant piece of glass is – believe it or not – Italian! Actually a stunning example of an interesting period in the development of the ‘Murano Glass’ we are familiar with, it dates to the later 19th century years when the revival of the Italian artworks was just beginning. It comes from the workshop of Antonio Salviati (1816-1890), who paired up with an English archaeologist, Sir Austen H. Layard, M.P. (1817-94).


Layard is an interesting character. While considered ‘English’ (sitting in British Government 1852-69), he was raised in Italy, buying a palazzo and living there – but is best known for his travels through Persia in the 1840’s, which resulted in identification and the first excavations in Nineveh, Nimrud, and Babylon. His discoveries form the greater part of the collection in the British Museum. While he was in Venice, he collected early glass and artworks, and came to befriend Salviati – after which they formed a company with one ambition, to revive the golden-days of Venetian glasswork.

ints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details- Charles Locke Eastlake 1868 - Murano Salviati Glass
Illustration depicting ‘Modern Glass’, 1868 book by Charles Lock Eastlake, 1868 -‘Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details’- Charles Locke Eastlake 1868 – Murano Salviati Glass’

The result of this partnership was remarkable. Venetian glass making had stagnated, but they were able to kick-start it again in the later 19th century. They did this by looking backwards to the magnificent original Venetian creations of the 16th and 17th centuries – but as many of the techniques had not been used for generations, they found themselves re-inventing the sometimes very complex recipes from scratch.

Copper Aventurine glass from the Salviati workshop, Venice, later 19th century

This centerpiece is ‘Aventurine’, designed to simulate the semiprecious stone by the same name. It was developed in Venice, with legend of glass-making monks accidentally putting copper shavings into molten glass; however, an early 17th century date is now considered the first production of this glass type.
It involves a mixture of copper, iron, and tin oxides, introduced into the glass mixture, which is then fired in a reducing low-oxygen kiln, causing them to form compact crystalline clumps which reflect the light in their unique manner.  The new glass structure with the glitter effect is not stable and would deteriorate rapidly in the air, but a method of enclosing it in a layer of clear glass ensures it is preserved.

This large piece was sourced in Melbourne, and may have been here all of its life. The National Gallery of Victoria has a magnificent collection of Venetian 19th century glass, acquired in its early years, with a group of ‘modern’ glass selected for them by Antonio Salviati himself in 1874. When Melbourne hosted the massive 1880-1 International Exhibition, there was a splendid display of Murano glass, with many pieces ending up in the Gallery’s collection where they remain to this day. The Italian glass was highly popular with the Victorians- it was noted for its ‘ethereality’, and ‘might as well be called gossamer glass’ ! It was of course all products of Salviati’s company, the ‘Compagnia Venezia-Murano‘, and it won the highest prize, a gold medal indicating the First Order of Merit.

German/Austrian glass appears in this 1880 International Exhibition photo in the background, while the cuttings from the reports of the time describe the Italian glass display, and their ‘recent revival’. Speaking in general of the exhibits, the special correspondent states “It is to be hoped they will all remain in Australia to guide and emulate our young glass-workers”.
1880 Melbourne InternationalExhibition-Ceramics+Glass
A general view across part of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, showing masses of Ceramics+Glass – mostly British in this view. No photo of the Italian Glass has been found – yet.
First prize, Gold Medal awarded to ‘Compagnia Venezia-Murano

After the exhibition closed in 1881, 130 pieces were purchased for the Gallery. At the same time, the impressive wealth in Melbourne meant the top-end department stores were also offering these luxury products for sale.

Moorabool is very pleased to offer this remarkable large & early piece of Venetian Glass.

Not Melbourne, but the 1881 display in Milan’s ‘Exposition’ where Salviati once again took out top-prize for their glass. The background is an example of the mosaics they were producing.

In the Met Museum NY is this design for a similar centrepiece, note the gold inclusions. From a book of designs from Salviati’s “Compagnia Venezia-Murano”, dating to 1870’s-80’s.

Some more interesting connections, including designs from a design book at the Met Museum, New York.

In the Met Museum NY is this design for a similar bottle, note the two options: ‘for water’ (no stopper?) and ‘for wine’. From a book of designs from Salviati’s “Compagnia Venezia-Murano”, dating to 1870’s-80’s.
An early Salviati glass flask, in the Rosenberg Collection, Geelong
Posted on Leave a comment

Fresh Stock – ‘Drama’ – and Flowers….

Shakespeare Ceramics
Theatrical Antiques
Theatrical Antiques

There’s a lot of Drama in today’s ‘Fresh Stock’….. we have a Theatrical special for you!

There’s also a NEW ‘Curated Collection’ dedicated to items relating to Literature and The Stage. You’ll find all the usual suspects – Shakespeare, Burns, Dickens – plus some other fascinating aspects of what we now call ‘pop culture’.

You’ll also find a selection of lovely flower decorated pieces including a remarkable ‘inkwell’, shaped like a Roman oil lamp, covered in flowers & gold…. an oddity, if used as an inkwell the quills unbalance the whole thing. However, we have another explanation that makes perfect sense, especially when considering the decoration of this beautiful example – have a look at the lamp’s page to see what we have worked out –

Coalport Roman Oil Lamp
Coalport ‘Roman’ Oil Lamp, of uncertain usage, circa 1820. Click to see our new idea about how this was used….

Fresh to Stock

Posted on Leave a comment

Fresh Stock – Ceramics, Art, and…. Batons!

It’s an eclectic mix today, with a fine selection of diverse items to browse.


There’s some fascinating ‘Local Music History’ items, in particular conductor’s batons.
The first is a presentation piece, made in Melbourne and still in its original box, with a lengthy inscription explaining its significance: given to Professor Hardeman in 1897 by the Richmond Amateur Orchestra. This opens up some fascinating research, where we found an 1897 newspaper description of the event which describes the exact baton in great detail!

1897 Australian Silver mounted conductor's baton, Hardeman, Richmond Orchestra

The second is a simpler form, presented to E. Sage by the St Johns Presbyterian Choir, Ballarat. This interesting piece has a moonstone set in the end, and would have been made by a local jeweller.

As well, there are some other batons of a similar period – very useful for anyone considering a career in amateur (or professional) orchestra!

Antique Conductor's Batons - Moorabool Antiques Geelong
Antique Conductor’s Batons
Moor of Moor Hall, c. 1740

This illustrated piece of music was printed in London in 1740.
It’s from a ‘Burlesque Opera’  first performed in 1737,  ‘The Dragon of Wantley‘.

It contains the line: “He’s a Man every inch I assure you, stout vig’rous active & Tall…” !

While on the surface it’s a comic tale for entertainment, the lyurics are open to interpretation – the Dragon perhaps representing the excesses of a corrupt government, and Moore the hero who defends the common people…. a theme still very active in today’s politics and pop-culture….

Fresh Art

Fresh Stock

Posted on Leave a comment

A Tournai Sauceboat

Tournai Sauceboat c.1770

This extraordinary example of Tournai porcelain shows the quality they were able to produce.

Tournai Sauceboat c.1770
Tournai Sauceboat c.1770

Dating to circa 1770, the elegant form with robust yet stylish handle, and boat-shaped stand, is a premonition of the Neoclassical simplicity which comes to dominate French design in the last decades of the 18th century. While this aspect looks forward, the decoration is the opposite. It is taken from a print published mid 18th century, after a painting by Francois Boucher, and is the essence of the Rococo style.

The mark is always misunderstood: ‘crossed swords are Meissen’ is the usual assessment, however this piece is clearly soft-paste porcelain, not the hard-paste of Meissen. As a vast number of other makers ‘borrowed’ crossed swords, it is easily attributed to one of these fraudulent makers, like Samson of Paris.
However…. this mark is well documented on Tournai porcelain. In the underglaze blue & white products, it is not uncommon. Gold on glaze is rare, but does appear on their better decorated pieces, suggesting it was a mark for their ‘premier products’.

There is a single example in public collections, not published in the literature. This is a sauceboat in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (id=#1968-172-1) , documented on their website. It lacks the stand, but has the same lavish decoration – with a few variations.

A stunning recent discovery shows Tournai porcelain at its best - a Sauceboat & Stand with Cherubs after Boucher, c. 1770
In the fore is our example; the back shows the Philadelphia Museum’s slight variation.