ANTIQUES and COLLECTABLES

Wonderful Colonial cedar sideboard from the mid 1800s.

Collect the past and invest for your future. Enjoy a great hobby, collecting, that will last you a lifetime. Now is a great time to collect in the antiques line as prices are not strong and bargains are there to be had. Like all things, antiques have their troughs and peaks but, they always come back into vogue. Now is the time to get out there and find! 

Remember to visit our local haunts – Don and Kate at Antique Solutions – (now moved to Muldoon Street) in Taree, Sue at Delinquent Funk in Isabella Street in Wingham and Barry at “Isadora’s” in Victoria Street Taree.

Our new shop in Isabella Street (Antiques & Old Wares) in Wingham, has received lots of positive comments and we have enjoyed meeting many locals as well as visitors to the area. Drop in and say hello.

I received a nice surprise last week. A parcel arrived by post and both Jen and I had no inkling as to what it might have been. 

Turns out it was the latest Carter Sisters Handbook and Price Guide to Antiques and Collectables – Vintage and Retro in Australia. 

Allan Carter’s daughters, Christine and Julie, have taken over the reins and now publish this book. The price guides have been a yearly hit, for me, since 1985. I had pre-ordered the book a number of months ago. It is a book crammed with antiques for sale and in collections from all over Australia. Each antique has a coloured picture, a description and a price range of the expected price. A great reference. I am always amazed at the items that turn up. 

This year’s book is over 600 pages and has thousands of entries. The books are not cheap, but they are a wonderful guide.

No upcoming events, in terms of Fairs and Markets. We live in different times under the Covid 19 umbrella. 

I love Australiana. The short two hundred and thirty-two year history (from white settlement) of our country is fascinating, as is the sixty thousand year habitation of Aboriginal people. The story of cedar is a great example of the new settlers exploitation of resources. One lovely piece of cedar furniture can be found in our Museum in Wingham. It is a large gentleman’s chest of drawers set in two heights. Truly magnificent. Drop in and have a look at this piece and also the incredible revamped museum displays. 

Jenny and I were lucky enough a number of years ago to be offered a beautiful three piece cedar bedroom suite consisting of a wardrobe, dressing table and bedside cabinet. The cedar was cut locally, shipped to England, constructed and transported back to Australia and offloaded at Croki. It was made for the first solicitor in Taree. I believe his surname was Coleman. 

As soon as the early settlers started to cut trees in NSW they quickly discovered the value of cedar as a premium quality cabinet timber, and the race for it resembled a ’Gold Rush.’ As a matter of fact cedar was known as “Red Gold”. The Cedar ‘getters’ became unconscious pioneers and were responsible for opening up new areas as the search moved ever northward. 

In 1795 cedar became Australia’s first export as it was not economically sensible to send ships back on a six month voyage with an empty hold. Governor King, (governor 1800-1806), warned, in 1802, that the supply of cedar might be finite and should be subject to regulation. He was right. By 1900 the supply of cedar was close to exhausted. What remained was not enough to satisfy any large commercial demand.

Australian Red Cedar was given the botanical name Toona. Few of the present generation in this state have seen this beautiful tree growing. Except in places remote from the destructive hand of man. It has disappeared as completely as though it had never existed. The early cabinetmakers called this wood ‘Mahogany Cedar’ because it showed all the figure and other characteristics which had made Mahogany from South America, Cuba and the West Indies the most fashionable timber of the day in England. 

The use of highly figured, dense timber is an essential component of the early furniture history of this country because the decoration is in the wood itself. As the supply seemed endless, only the best trees were felled for cabinet making. The life of the timber getters was a hard life with men often living in the forested areas for months at a time. The era of the bullock teams coincides with this period.

As the timber cutters moved progressively northward, it became obvious that in the tall, hotter climate, rainforest trees produced timber of less figure, less density and of lighter colour. 

Recently, Australian Red Cedar was renamed Toona Ciliata, as DNA tests have proved that the species grows from the south coast of NSW up through Queensland and New Guinea to Southeast Asia, all the way to India. The quality of the wood however, and its suitability for fine furniture deteriorates as we move towards the equator. 

Today, the Golden Age (1788-1850) of cabinetmaking in NSW is considered to be bound up with the high quality timber surrounding Sydney, Hunter, Manning and Hastings regions. It is the furniture from this period that is the most highly prized today by collectors and museum curators. By the time steam machinery came into use about 1850, the best was in the past.

Please keep safe. Do what you can to protect yourself and your families. Adapt and enjoy the life while observing the Covid rules. Life can change in the blink of an eye!

 If you have interesting antique items you are not sure of, I may be able to help with information, appraisals and/or sales. I am still collecting and I love the history and stories of old and unique items (from old shed goods to household gems). 

Take care and stay safe. Happy collecting!

Phone Rex – 0427 880 546

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