14 July 2021

Life's collection goes under e-hammer

| Sally Hopman
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Collection of Lego pieces on wooden floor.

Vintage Lego up for auction. Photo: ALLBIDS.

So what do ancient Cambodian fragments, vintage Lego and a maple Fred Ward armchair from Canberra University College have in common?

Along with 153 other lots, they represent the lifetime collection of the late Professor Helmut Loofs-Wissowa – archaeologist, photographer, author and former French Foreign Legionnaire – and will go under the auctioneer’s e-hammer today (14 July).

For Head of Art, Antiques and Collectibles at allbids.com.au, Angus Bowers, the collection not only represents one of the most diverse estate sales the Canberra online auction house has organised, but it also illustrates how the former Canberra collector’s passion for acquisition stretched across the world and back home to Canberra again.

Wooden chair on wooden floor.

A classic Fred Ward maple chair. Photo: ALLBIDS.

Mr Bowers said many pieces came from Europe, including antique Baltic pine armoires, tin glaze dishes and Luminarc moulded wine glasses from France, a rare German Eveready Chronos Brass Calendar, and an 18th century Meissen coffee can decorated in puce enamel.

Other pieces show the Professor’s love for discovery with a collection of archaeological fragments from Thailand and Cambodia, South-East Asian earthenware pots, brass and terracotta figures of Ganesh, a South-East Asian cast metal oil lantern complete with bird finial, Burmese opium weights, tribal masks from Sarawak and temple rubbings.

“This is a fantastic collection,” Mr Bowers said.

“What I really love about estate sales like this is that rather than stay in one person’s life, by going into the home, cataloguing every item, photographing it all and then posting it online, we can take one person’s collection out to the rest of the world.”

He said there was also a strong Canberra connection with Fred Ward furniture and an engraving by award-winning Canberra naturalist, draftsman and master printmaker Jorg Schmeisser.

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The Head of Printmaking at the Australian National University’s School of Art for 20 years from 1978, Schmeisser’s work is represented in many of the world’s leading collections, including the National Gallery of Australia.

“There has been strong interest in this sale,” Mr Bowers said. “One of the reasons is that I think people like to build a context to where pieces have come from – they like to know their provenance.

“Also, in this COVID climate, we’ve noticed people have more time and interest in changing things around – perhaps a new painting in the home. Instead of paying for an overseas trip, they are looking to spend money on their homes as they are now spending more time there.”

Painting of body

Yorg Schmeisser’s work is represented in many of the world’s leading collections, including the National Gallery of Australia. Photo: ALLBIDS.

Other items up for auction include vintage toys, including Matchbox pieces, old apothecary bottles, photography equipment, Australian studio ceramics including flatware and glasses and a collection of erotic carved stone. For those Lego lovers, the vintage collection includes Police Station 354.

Buyers also need not worry if they bid on a few more items than planned – there’s a plethora of bookcases, shelves and tables, of all vintages, also up for sale.

For more information about the auction of the estate of the late HH Loofs-Wissowa, go to ALLBIDS.

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