Roll up, roll up for memories of the Birdcage

By Don Milne

For those looking for the odd, the cranky, the quirky, then the start of this year's auction season is just the thing.

Cordy's antique and art sale, in two sessions next Tuesday, has a splendidly eclectic offering including a William Seuffert card table, a 1914-15 All Black's cap, two samples of the Martin brothers' bizarre pottery and a raft of Royal Doulton, much of it rare.

Dunbar Sloane, in a sale the same afternoon, is offering about 600 lots of collectables and second-hand goods, with no reserve.

Then next Saturday morning, Cordy's offers on-site nearly 40 wonderfully varied lots from the historic Birdcage Hotel near Victoria Park. The building is to be lifted and shifted several metres to make way for the new motorway tunnel.

And on February 25, Art+Object has what it describes as "a veritable cornucopia of decorative arts" from the estate of renowned collector Pat Newman. Centre of the collection is a grouping of rare mechanised automata which toured New Zealand in the 1920s.

Webb's A2 sale a day earlier, offering art works with an upper limit of around $15,000, is relatively sober by comparison.

Sloane's offering includes the Bill Goodisson estate, a collection of collectables accrued over 20 years, along with the contents of the Barry Keene private museum in Whangarei and the part contents of the What Not Shop, formerly in Jervois Rd, Herne Bay. Potential buyers are urged to bring boxes and packing materials to take away their purchases.

Highlights of Cordy's Birdcage sale include vintage furniture, cast iron fountain fittings and an impressive marble statue of classical figures. Nearly four metres across, it is estimated at $20,000.

Regular Birdcage tipplers may be attracted by a pair of large glass whisky dispensers from around 1900 (estimate $1600), while a cast iron spiral staircase more than four metres high is expected to go for around $5000.

Among the automata marking A+O's first sale for the year are a superb last supper based on Leonardo da Vinci's original and a scene of a Pierrot serenading the moon.

Also included in the catalogue are vintage motorbikes and parts, banknotes, Gothic revival organs, music boxes, Victoriana and a collection of over 50 clocks and rare watchmaking tools.

Webb's increasingly popular Thursday sales continue, as do Cordy's Monday sales.

For true collectors of the strange and unusual, both have the capacity to turn up the unexpected - and, just occasionally, the unrecognised.

Webb's A2 sale, on the other hand, is the first true art offering of the year. Will it be a guide to the state of a market which survived remarkably well in 2009?


Tuesday: Cordy's, antiques and art; Dunbar Sloane, antiques and collectables.
Saturday, February 13: Cordy's, the Birdcage collection.
February 23: Webb's, A2 art.
February 24: Webb's, jewellery.
February 25: Art+Object, Newman collection; Webb's, antiques and decorative arts.
March 14: Bethunes@Webb's, rare books.
March 26: Art+Object, important paintings.
March 29: Webb's, Maori artefacts and oceanic arts; International Art Centre, important, early and rare works.

- NZ Herald

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