Christopher Dresser was an English designer whose knowledge of past styles and experience with modern manufacturing processes made him a pioneer in professional design. Dresser successfully introduced to British design elements from many cultures across the world, especially Japanese. He created ceramics, metalwork, silver, glass, textiles, wallpaper, and other items. Dresser was notably important in introducing modern industrial techniques by working directly with manufacturers to produce elegant and affordable products. A lot of Dresser’s metalwork designs are still in production today, which are now manufactured by Alessi. One of his Old Hall designs is thought to have inspired Alan Garner’s 1967 novel ‘The Owl Service’.
Drummond & Co. was a partnership between Samuel Brush and William Drummond in Collins Street. It was called the Brush & MacDonnell Company. The name was changed after the death of Samuel Brush in 1878, which was maintained till its closure. The company had been renowned for style and quality since inception. At Drummond & Co., all royalty, entertainers, politicians and gentry have had the Drummond experience, where exclusive jewellery, fine china, crystal and the sniff of snobbery combined to affirm one’s social status. Even some cashed-up underworld figures and brothel madams had a reputable outlet in which to spend their money.
August Brunkhorst was the successor to Henry Steiner and was another notable silverware dealer in Adelaide. After the famous collapse of the Australian economy and the loss of Steiner’s wife and two children from a typhoid epidemic, Steiner decided to sell off his business. The buyer was August Brunkhorst, who was his employee. The business was again sold by August Brunkhorst to Caris Brothers before his death, at the age of seventy-one years. There is not much known about August Brunkhorst and his business, but many historians and museums are trying to fill in the gaps and recover any of the pieces that he sold or made.
Basse-taille, meaning low-cut in French, is an enamelling technique where the artist creates a low-relief pattern in precious metal such as silver and gold by engraving or chasing. The technique was developed in Italy in the 13th century, and its work enamel was very popular in Europe especially during the Gothic and Renaissance periods. This style was used in the late Middle Ages and later revived in the 17th century. And following the invention of the domestic table clock and of the watch in the 16th century, enamelling became one of the most popular forms of decoration for the dials and cases.
J. Henry Steiner was a very prolific silversmith. He exhibited at many of the great 19th century exhibitions across the world. Despite being born and trained in Germany, Henry Steiner was an ace silversmith in Adelaide who displayed his foremost creations at many inter-colonial and international exhibitions. In around 1875, Steiner created one of his most spectacular art and functional pieces, a perfume-bottle holder that incorporated the shape of an emu egg. In 1880, the silver epergne which was made in his workshop became Australia’s largest known centrepiece. Today, the centrepiece has now been confirmed as being originally made for Australia’s first international exhibition held in Sydney in 1879 where it occupied part of Steiner’s exceedingly beautiful display.
Joachim Matthias Wendt was a silversmith and watchmaker. He migrated to Adelaide in 1854. His business flourished and within a short time, he had established himself as a watchmaker in Pirie Street. Wendt soon became a well-known watchmaker, gold and silver smith and jeweller. Wendt’s silverwork included extravagant naturalistic creations, stylish Edwardian domestic designs, and pieces which had a restrained Regency touch. His pieces were undoubtedly the finest produced in Australia in the second half of the 19th century. His contribution to the art of the goldsmith can also be seen in the range of masterworks and small domestic wares at the Art Gallery of South Australia, in public and private collections around the country.
William Edwards was a prolific silversmith who produced work of the highest quality with the best embossing ever seen in Australia. He had the advantage of being able to produce pieces here in Australia, and also to import other work from his family or brother’s workshop. Due to his success, he secured major commissions. Edwards introduced a new range of emu egg ‘novelties’ to Australian silver. The majority of his pieces were designed in the naturalistic and Rococo revival styles. His workshop also produced a number of silver pieces, occasional gold trophies and epergnes, some of which were displayed in many international exhibitions.
From Thomas Edison’s first attempt to create a music recording and playing device in 1877 to Alexander Graham Bell’s graphophone, inventors had been trying to find an effective way to record sound. Fortunately, Emile Berliner invented the first-ever sound recorder, which was called the gramophone. The gramophone proved to be more practical than its earlier counterparts and made it possible to mass-produce records. Berliner then formed the Gramophone Company to sell and distribute his products worldwide. Only a few of these once popular gramophones are in existence now, so they are a good investment. The invention of the gramophone is a testament to how science can do great wonders for the arts and vice-versa.
English silver has, for centuries, been accepted as the finest in the world. This is due to the unique system of Hallmarks, the zeal and zealous traditions of the Guild of English Goldsmiths. The birth of the industrial revolution and the introduction of tea as a national drink in the 18th century provided wealth for the common person. They could buy silver and the crafting of silver became a major art form. It must be noted that most English Silversmiths concentrated on good quality and design, instead of price. The high quality is the reason why English silver has lasted so long and will continue to be enjoyed by many future generations.
The telephone evolution has come a very long way through history and is probably yet evolving. From the need of communication to having aesthetically pleasing devices, the various designs of telephones emerged to fit the need of the time. Antique Telephones can be said to have become a major collectable at least 80 years after they started being produced and exhibited, meaning that the Candlestick Telephones were the first set of Antique Telephones. Although, even relatively newer designs are considered as collectables because of their archaic and unique designs. Special designs that were beautifully crafted in the past eras, and later became obsolete, were kept and preserved as memoirs by individuals and museums.
Bronze Antiques thrive for their durability, and are highly priced and valued collectables that are associated with prestige. Bronze has been used for centuries to make vital basic implements, platters, parts of furniture, figurines, axes, coins and medals, musical instruments, plaques, and other artefacts. At some point in history, bronze figurines were melted and used to make ammunition and weapons for war. Bronze being tougher than other formerly used materials like copper and stone was a better choice for sculptors, builders, armour makers and bronze smiths. Bronze Antiques have been collectables of high value. Having Bronze Antiques is a thing of pride even for elites and royals.
Rugs are a thing of beauty, especially the nicely coloured and patterned rugs. They can be used as pieces of furniture or ornaments. However, in past times, they were quite functional to the people of the Asian regions. These rugs were known with the nomads of Southern Asia who made rugs just for their own use for comfort and for warmth from the wool of their herds. Eventually, from the 15th century when designs changed, rug making became commercial and ways of production changed. Rugs have become antiques and they are valued for their intricacies. Older pieces can still be found in museums today.
Comics are not only pieces of entertainment but over the decades, they accrued in value as they got older. People collect comics for various reasons, from completing a series to just having them as a keepsake for nostalgia. Instead of going out of fashion, they became collectable and pricey antiques. The existence of comics dates as far back as the 1930s, making them antiques by definition. However, some comics are not necessarily over 80 years old, yet still, fall in this class and are usually referred to as vintage comics. Preservation of legendary authors and artists, their memories and their works is a milestone achieved by preserving the comics.
We all grew up with at least one bike in the household. Bicycles are still the purest form of mechanical transportation for whatever reason we use them. The huge popularity of cycling spurred multiple designers and hundreds of manufacturers to give birth to the “Safety Bicycle” that still is the foundation of bike design today. By the late 1870s, bicycles were being imported to Australia. Bikes remained expensive though and a handful of brave entrepreneurs had started manufacturing in Australia. As with anything you collect, the interest comes from association with it. Some collect just to show off the bikes, some collect to ride them and many do both.
A very rare piece of Tasmanian “Convict Period” silver by Joseph Forrester (1805–c. 1860) was up for sale in Devonport by Island State Auctions. The main side of the salver is ornately chased with decorations of kangaroos, swans and other birds, with native Flora and is amongst the earliest examples of the use of Australian flora and fauna in decorative arts…
Wendt’s silverwork included extravagant naturalistic creations, stylish domestic designs and pieces which showed restrained Regency taste and ranks with the finest produced in Australia in the second half of the nineteenth century. To this day his works are highly sought after by silver and Australiana collectors.