April 2018 Newsletter

  • By Antiques-Art-Design Sydney

“Life would be tragic if it weren't funny.”

Stephen Hawking

Italian 18k yellow gold Florentine finish bracelet c.1965 $8450 together with a pair of 18k yellow gold double sided clip earrings c.1965 $1250 pictured against vintage Nuit de Noel perfume coffrets

Hello again,
This month, as we move into Autumn, we find lovely places to sit in the sun, things to read and discuss, and the many colours of gold. It's exciting to note we will be exhibiting again at the Sydney Fair which will be held from 17-20 May. Housed in the Royal Hall of Industries at Moore Park, there will be an amazing display of 20th century and antique jewellery, furniture, vintage fashion and more. Invitations will be sent out at the end of April. If you have friends who are interested in attending, please supply their name and email address to store@antiques-art-design and we can be sure to send out a complimentary day pass invitation to them. For more information on the Sydney Fair, please click on the following link:

Blowing out the Candles in April ... birthday dinner for eight
Pulitzer scribbles, Dupain snaps, Morse taps with Temple, Bette Davis struts, Ballesteros putts, Rostand ripostes ...while Einstein keeps things relatively simple....
April is the cruellest month...
Not in this hemisphere Mr E*, it’s autumn in Sydney, a brief interlude between strapless & backless and hoodies & boots. Perfect weather for garden gazing which is why I’m at Pier 5 Circular Quay waiting for the ferry to Milsons Point.  After a short, bumpy and glorious ride it’s a harbourside stroll along Peter Kingston Walkway, where his delightful miniature sculptures commemorate iconic figures from Australia’s popular culture including the Magic Pudding, Ginger Meggs & Snugglepot & Cuddlepie, past Arthur Barton Park honouring the renowned artist who worked at Luna Park for thirty-five years and created the famous face, with it’s Michael Leunig designed memorial to the victims of the Luna Park fire, through the railway underpass and up the stairs to find Wendy’s Secret Garden in the Lavender Bay Parklands. Created by Wendy Whiteley from the neglected wasteland in front of the house she shared with her husband, artist Brett Whiteley and their daughter Arkie, it’s a rambling paradise - part rainforest part suburban backyard filled with an assortment of fine sculpture, found objects and an eclectic collection of garden furniture. Everything is rough hewn and handmade, the opposite of grand and the effect is sublime. 

Twenty-somethings picnic noisily at a table on the first level, a determined cohort of English tourists tackle the undergrowth, office-workers grab a sandwich, two elderly ladies feast under a fig tree, a man in high viz unlocks a gate revealing the working railyard next door, wide-eyed children shriek with delight as they discover a tiny shrine to Ganesha, but take a step and turn a corner and all is silent again. On the upper level there’s a view of the harbour and the bridge and right on cue a fat kookaburra swoops in and claims dominion. 

Image from

As I turn to look at the house a woman gets into a waiting taxi. The distinctive headscarf gives her away, it’s Wendy, like a shy hostess leaving her guests to enjoy the party, she’s gone before I can say thank you for having me. 

Please see the link for the location

*TS Eliot

Lorna Lesley
Ode to Autumn - the colour of Gold

“The falling leaves drift by my window,
 The falling leaves of red and gold….” 

(Lyrics from Autumn Leaves by Eva Cassidy)

Gold is not just a colour but a symbol of wealth, and also actual wealth, a bastion of security, a protector of power, an object of desire, envy and lust, an investment, a gamble, a maker of nations, and the hunt for it: favorable to a few but the ruin of many.
And yet this most pliable of metals is one that we have also choosen to wear… for  all of the reasons above, but also because it is inert. When pure, it doesn’t oxidise or tarnish and can be finished to be shiny and bright, or gleam with the softest of sheens to resemble satin. 
It is also versatile; it can be plain, set with stones, enamelled, plated, brushed, moulded, solid, hollow, chased, or engraved. It can weigh a tonne or be hammered so thin that it is lighter than a feather and you can actually see through it. So just how pliable is it?  A single ounce of Gold (approx. 31grms) can be drawn out into wire nearly 100 kilometres long.

Left: Austrian Art Deco 14k yellow gold brutalist bracelet c.1947 $10,500
Right: 18k yellow gold and diamond half hoop earrings c.1970 $6,750
It can be pure, and as one customer told me, it can also be “diluted”. Acccording to the French and the Eastern Europeans anything less than 18 karat is “polluted” and cannot be considered as Gold at all. 
Gold comes in various standards 24, 22, 20, 18, 15, 14, 10, 9, and in Germany even 8, though again, to the French, this is tinsel.
In Australia, the most common standards are 18, 14, and 9. The numerical standard for 18 karat is 750 and this literally represents its purity: it is 75.0% pure, By the same token, 375 is the numerical standard for 9 karat and it is therefore 37.5% pure. In the case of 9 karat Gold the remaining 62.5% is what gives 9k its hardness.  Pure Gold is notoriously soft and so the attraction of the smaller standards is that they are more durable, especially for things like chains and rings.  
Left: Georg Jensen 18k gold "splash" Henning Koppel brooch c.1970 $4,950
Right: Italian 18k yellow gold and diamond chain fringe bracelet c.1950 $12,500
…..But back to the colour. Pure Gold is a saturated yellow, and its inert quality is that which allows it to bond with other metals and therefore to change its colour.  As a result we have red, rose, pink, green, black and white….. apart from all the shades of yellow of course.  There is also purple and blue, but both are brittle and are only used in decoration or inlays rather than as items of jewellery by themselves. And so, in 18 karat Gold it is the other 25% that determines its colour. It is a popular myth that rose or pink Gold is only 9 karat. It can come in any standard up to 18k and it is copper which is added to the Gold in varying strengths mixed with silver for paler effects.

It is also a myth that white gold is white; it usually has still a slight hint of yellow about it and so to make it brighter it is Rhodium plated to give it its true white reflect. Because of the amount of other metal, 9 karat white Gold can naturally be made the whitest, while in 18k the natural yellow colour of the Gold will show through. The addition of nickel, palladium or manganese, or a mixture of these creates white Gold.
Gold is an elusive treasure, it is said that it is more likely that you would find a five carat diamond than to find a single nugget of gold of 1 ounce or more, but yet, it is now Autumn, and while the trees this year resist it, their fleeting golden treasure is not so hard to find; it fills the space outside my window and is a joy to behold……

Christopher Becker
Left: Loetz Candia Papillon iridescent yellow vase c.1900 Czechoslovakia $695
Right: Chopard 18k yellow gold ladies bracelet watch c.1970 Switzerland $11,500

At the other side of the world there’s another celebrated garden, the grounds of the Villa Cimbrone. Perched above the Italian village of Ravello, it was created by Lord Grimthorpe, Victorian banker, art collector and womaniser and became a haven for writers and artists, beloved by the Bloomsburys and enjoyed, although ridiculed by D.H. Lawrence. 

Grimthorpe, his wives, lovers and children are the subject of Michael Holroyd’s “A Book Of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers” which explores his relationships with Eve Fairfax (a favourite sitter of Auguste Rodin) and Alice Keppel (mistress of King Edward VII  and great-grandmother of the Duchess Of Cornwall) and the scandalous love affair between their daughter Violet Trefusis and Vita-Sackville West, who was the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s gender-morphing title character in “Orlando”.

Holroyd draws on the letters, diaries and novels of the principals, conversations with their descendents and contemporary researchers and his own visits to the enchanted villa in this absorbing exploration of the complex relationship between biography and fiction. 

Lorna Lesley

Photo of Violet Trefusis & Vita Sackville-West from Pinterest

A Book Of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers Vintage Publishing, 2011 

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