With their usually all consuming interest in construction, mechanics, electronics and related sciences, it is rare to find an engineer whose passions are fired by a love of antiques. Still rarer to find one that wants to toss up his profession to buy and run an antique shop. Jim Collins, who died last year, was just such a person. A radio engineer who in the late 1940s began working for the white goods manufacturer Healings, Jim always was interested in antiques – particularly Georgian and Regency furniture and glass.
When Email took over Healings in the 1960s, Jim Collins remained as a senior executive. However, by the time he reached his 50s, the challenges of corporate life were starting to pall, so he retired as an engineer and then bought Rosebud Antiques from Jim Prentice. At last, his hobby had become a working passion and he even became a long time member of the Victorian Antique Dealers Association, occupying the role of treasurer. With advancing years making moving furniture difficult to do, in the mid-1990s Jim sold the shop and retired to the Mornington Peninsula, taking much of the better Georgian furniture he loved with him. Now some of this is up for auction from 11am Sunday at Phillip Caldwell Auctioneer 3-7 Walker Street, Prahran.
One of the more interesting items is a 1760s Georgian wingback armchair in original condition. Another is a Georgian settee which was stripped in 1985 ready for upholstering – a task that is yet to be completed. Jim also had a very rare pair of Georgian wine tables with gallery edge and a love of such early English artists works as J. Horace Hooper (famous for late 18th and early 19th century English landscapes) and George Armfield (with his portraits of small terrier dogs, the 18th century equivalent of John Kelly and his cows).
Another interesting section of the auction are items belonging to Michael Gallagher – for 39 years one of Ballarat’s leading shoe retailers. His shop Gallagher’s Footwear, which closed earlier this year, had been around since the goldrush days and had a couple of endearing icons (that will be in Sunday’s auction) to go with it. One was a giant leather boot, believed to be more than 100 years old, and the other a similar aged model of a man who nodded his head every time anyone walked in the store. In 1968, Michael Gallagher – who accidentally got into shoes some 13 years earlier when he started a Christmas job in Myer’s shoe department – bought an existing business from Alan Pittard and continued to trade under that name for 15 years before changing it to his own. The Caldwell auction also contains French furniture and paintings (valued from $5 to $50,000) from various estates including that belonging to former VRC chairman David Bourke. Viewing is Friday and Saturday from 11am-6pm and Sunday from 9.30am. Contact 9543 2767 or 0411 529 414.