Brush & MacDonnell Company was initially founded in 1872 in a partnership of Samuel Brush and William Drummond in Collins Street. However, Samuel Brush died in 1878 and the firm was renamed Drummond & Co. William moved the company to Bourke Street where it had been renowned for style and quality since inception as Drummond later died in 1917.
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, like the Lalique crystal on the mantelpiece. Even some cashed-up underworld figures and brothel madams had a reputable outlet in which to spend their money.
Quotes by Drummond and Co. Clients
”Value this magnificent brooch not only for its artistic beauty but as the symbol of the kindness and loyalty of my people in Australia.” With these written words, Queen Elizabeth thanked Melbourne jeweller W.M. Drummond for the diamond and ruby brooch designed and created for her during her 1954 tour. Later, the Queen Mother received her own diamond and ruby brooch two years after, indicative that W.M. Drummond was fit for two queens.
The store’s closure ends a retail era in which commissionaires kept the riffraff out, knew customers by name and carried parcels to waiting limousines.
Shirley Stern has owned the store since 1978 but her decision to retire closes the door on a charming period of retail history.
“It’s a beautiful place like a museum that had interesting, charming customers”, she said.
“But not everyone with money was a someone! Some of our best customers used to push a barrow at the Victoria Racing Club and were collectors of Lalique”, Mrs. Stern said.
The store’s closure has dismayed those who were doted on by salespeople who served them in the manner to which they were accustomed.
“My customers are broken-hearted”, Mrs. Stern said. “One of them rang and said ‘What do you mean you are shut? I thought you would be here forever”.
Some of the Famous Drummond & Co. Affluent Clientele
Among the famous faces that frequented Drummond & Co. outlet were Paul Keating, who admired the pocket watches, Dame Nellie Melba, Malcolm and Tammy Fraser, and Bob Hawke.
The liquidation of Drummond & Co. after the closure
Sotheby’s will auction has held the stock following month. Most items including diamond jewellery, Christofle silverware, Lalique and Waterford crystal were expected to fetch over $1 million which was a bargain compared with retail prices.
Sotheby’s deputy director Patricia Kontos said a 15.38-carat diamond and ruby bracelet that would normally sell for $72,000 would have a reserve of $10,000 to $15,000.
Everything was being sought for, even the fixtures are sought-after. Art Noveau limed-oak display cabinets with a reserve of $3000-$5000 had sparked interest nationwide.
The State Library was to receive old catalogues, one of the country’s oldest Register of Watches (1858) and a ledger (1922).
The Bourke Street premises, comprising the showroom and upstairs offices, was sold to an investor last immediately for over $3 million and was likely to be refurbished and divided into shops.
The auction was held at W.M. Drummond, 384 Bourke Street, on August 5 and 6 at 6pm. Public viewing from August 1st to August 4th was set for catalogue purchasers only.
Changing names and marks of Drummond & Co. over the years
In the beginning, when it was a partnership between Samuel Brush and William Drummond in Collins Street. It was called the Brush & MacDonnell Company, but the name was changed after the death of Samuel Brush in 1878 to Drummond & Co., which was maintained till its closure by Mrs. Stern.
Their marks changed over the business operating years from DRUMMOND to MELBOURNE to W.D & CO to *965 and finally to STG.
Some of the 84 Surviving pieces made by Drummond & Co.
1. An 18ct yellow gold case pocket watch
- The enamel dial marked WM Drummond & Co Melbourne
- English maker
- Blue enamel hands
- Seconds hand at 6 o’clock
- 18-carat yellow-gold case made by RN, Sheffield in 1925
- Its total weight 111g
2. Vintage silverplate caviar bowl
- With blue glass liner
- Embossed decorative border
- Marked to base for William Drummond & Co, Melbourne
- Diameter 16.5 cm
3. Australian sterling silver salver
- Hallmarked William Drummond & Co.
- Of circular form with a shaped gadrooned rim
- Resting on three ball and claw feet
- Total weight 794gm
- Diameter 30.5 cm
4. The 1972 Wagga Cup
- Twin handled gold cup
- By and inscribed Made by William Drummond & Co Ltd Melbourne
- Of tapering form
- Flanked by shaped handles
- Tapering support on circular foot
- On wood stand
- Total weight 138gm; including screw, not including the base
5. A French carriage clock
- · Retailed by Drummond & Co Melbourne early 20th century
- · With key
- · Having a corniche brass case with visible escapement
- · Gong strike, and Arabic numerals to an enamel chapter ring
- · Carry handle and hard travelling case of issue
- · Dimensions: height 13.5 cm, width 9.5 cm, depth 8.5 cm
6. Antique Australian 15ct gold brooch
- By William Drummond Melbourne
- A well made seed pearl and red gemstone set crescent and star with a hanging
- 9ct Australian charm
- Both marked W9D & W15D
- Total weight 5.95 grams total weight
7. An Art Deco diamond
- Topaz and pearl pendant necklace
- Comprising three round faceted blue topaz
- To a pierced plaque set with transition and baguette
- Cut diamonds totaling 8.40cts
- Signed William Drummond & Co.
- 18ct white gold and platinum
- A triple strand of swagged Akoya pearls
- With hook style clasp in platinum
- Total length 420mm
8. An Adelaide gold pound coin
- Dated 1852
- Second type with a crenellated inner circle on the reverse, weakly struck at the top right and the corresponding position on the reverse,
- Retailed by William Drummond & Co.
- Provenance: gifted to the current owner by Mr Hugh Williamson, General Manager of the Anz Bank 1954-61