Auction 55 Highlights
Welcome to Smalls Auctions Sale 55.
Featured in the sale our two ‘men of letters.’ The first Sir Joseph Banks is regarded as the ‘father’ of Australia. He was part of Captain James Cook’s ‘Voyage of Discovery’ to the Pacific in 1770 ostensibly to view the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun but, also to conduct a secret mission to search for the Great Southern Land. On the voyage they discovered the Eastern Seaboard of Australia and eighteen years later it was settled as a British Penal Colony on the strong recommendation of Banks.
The second letter writer of note was Oliver Wendell Holmes, a true renaissance man and the epitome of a polymath who was equally at home in the fields of law, medicine and the arts. He was recognised as one of the great American poets of the 19th Century and was mentioned in the same breath as revered contemporaries Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Longfellow. His poem ‘The Last Leaf’ was lauded by author and literary critic Edgar Allen Poe “as one of the finest in the English Language.” Holmes’ penned a quick note of thanks to the Australian (William) A(lfred) Callaway who had organised the delivery of books sent to him by the prominent Victorian politician Alfred Deakin who went on to become Australia’s second Prime Minister.
Of no less interest is a letter written in 1953 by the former World Heavyweight Champion, Tommy Burns to an Australian admirer Bill O’Loughlin. Burns was defeated by the Black American challenger Jack Johnson leading to a seven-year search for the ‘Great White Hope’ to reclaim the title for the ‘White Man.’ In this unique letter Burns reveals his racial prejudice at the time of the fight recalling that “the idea of a black man challenging me of the white race was beyond endurance.” In terms of sporting and social significance the ‘1908 Title Fight’ proved a major catalyst for change and is undoubtedly one of the pivotal moments of the 20th Century.
Also, in the sale is a collection of Aviation Trophies mostly won by the indefatigable L. Schultz spanning the period 1932-1955. At a time when cars were scarce on the ground to be an active pilot was certainly a rarity. Some of the trophies bear the insignia of the Royal Aero Club of New South Wales with its symbol of a ‘Flying Kangaroo’ now the calling card of the Australian National Carrier Qantas.
There are also some fascinating official Government Reports and unofficial documents relating to Australia’s early history.
All in all, a fascinating collection of historical memorabilia.