Auction 131 highlights

Welcome to Smalls Auctions Sale 131.

This sale has over fifty jewellery items most in gold peppered with precious gemstones. They are priced to sell and with gold again on an upward trajectory (AUD $2,475 Troy ounce at the time of writing) it is certainly worth getting out the calculator to investigate their underlying intrinsic worth. You might be pleasantly surprised.

The sale also includes rare explorer medals stuck to commemorate voyages of discovery to the Pacific in the 18th and 19th centuries. Explorers like Cook, Banks, Solander, La Perouse and Baudin captured the bravery of setting forth into the great unknown with little or no backup if circumstances turned against them. The constant threat of the elements, hostile natives, disease, and political intrigue made their voyages even more remarkable. The explorers were the celebrities of their era and while some returned triumphant to their homelands, others were destined for a watery grave.

Two medals in the Sale which are particularly intriguing are those struck for the ill-fated La Perouse Expedition. What are the chances that you get to examine two exceedingly rare medals supposedly struck from the same dies only to discover that this is not true and that two varieties exist? The two La Perouse Expedition medals are such an example. Not only does one medal have a suspension mount added to its rim reminiscent of Cook’s ‘Resolution & Adventure’ medals struck in platina which were meant to be worn but, it is also struck on a slightly different obverse die.

A study of the truncation of the portrait of Louis XVI on the obverse of the medal reveals a different placement of the medallist’s name and the date 1785. On the medal with the suspension loop the raised name is lower, and the 1785 date sits completely in the field proving that at least two obverse dies were used to produce the small mintage of 100 medals struck in silver and bronze. The silver and bronze medals all appear to be struck from the same reverse die with a die flaw evident at 1 o’clock while the obverse of silver medals seem to mirror the bronze medal without loop. What the split is between silver, and the two bronze varieties will likely never be determined but suffice to say that the edge mounted bronze example is the first we have encountered and is likely to be the rarest of the types. Certainly, one for the specialist collector.

In the sale there is also three varieties of the ‘Resolution and Adventure’ medals struck for Cook’s Second Voyage. These were commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks and were struck at the Soho Mint in Platina (Brass) and Silver with just two specimens struck in Gold for Banks and King George III. However, a couple of unrecorded examples have surfaced through the years struck in pure copper and it is likely that these were trial strikes for the silver and gold issues. You can never own a gold medal, but you can acquire the equally rare copper issue. Another for the specialist collector.

The Sale also includes some Australian Art from the famous Lindsay brothers. The highlight is a pen drawing from Norman showing all the characteristics of his exquisite draftsmanship and rapier wit. Titled ‘It was in vain she caressed him’ it captures the terror in the eyes of a timid youth matched with a more experienced lover. Perhaps a wedding night best forgotten.

We hope you find something to intrigue you in our sale.

Smalls Auctions