Ned under the hammer
...One lot included the only known photograph of Ned Kelly other than
those taken for police purposes. Shot in a studio, thought to be in Beechworth,
it portrays Kelly dressed in boxing trunks. It sold for $36,000.
'Lives past captured in print' (Richard Brewster)
According to The Age
Australian Book Auctions Pty
Ltd has organised the sale of 1509 lots of rare books, maps, manuscripts,
prints and photographs, which will go under the hammer over 3 days at
the Malvern Town Hall. The auction begins at 6:30pm Monday 14th of this
month, and continues at 10:30am on Tuesday and Wednesday.
One item is a particularly rare carte-de-visite photograph of Constable
Alex Fitzpatrick, who befriended bushranger Ned Kelly, in his Victoria
Police uniform. Constable Fizpatrick was one of the seminal figures in
the story of the Kelly outbreak, coming out of it with little credit.
Subsequently dismissed for the police force, he faded into obscurity.
17/10/02 Photo auction follow
According to Ned the Exhibition newsletter
The carte-de-visite photograph
of Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick (above),
was purchased by Ned the Exhibition organisers, along with a similar sized
photograph of Constable Thomas Lonigan. They say both photos are in excellent
condition and will be available for viewing soon. Any inquires should
be directed to Matt Shore, email firstname.lastname@example.org
23/09/02 Scrimshaw Horn (see
The bids have closed for the
ebay auction of the Kelly memorabilia scrimshaw horn. The final bid was
AU$510.00, (which was only $10.00 more than the opening bid).
The past few years has seen quite considerable increases in the value
of Kelly memorabilia. Looking at the auctions of such horns over the past
2 years however, it appears they are the only piece of Kellyana that has
managed to contradict this trend.
11/09/02 Kelly Srimshaw on
like another scrimshaw horn is up for auction. It is currently being auctioned
on ebay and the current bid (at 3pm 11/9) stood at AU $500.00. Bidding
closes on on September 16th. There are more photos and a long description,
part of which is below:
"This is a scrimshaw engraving with the front depicting Ned Kelly
with the date 1880, the year of his Glenrowan stand and subsequent hanging
at Melbourne Gaol after recovery from his wounds. He is surrounded by
a simple vine laurel. The back depicts the town of Glenrowan, the Glenrowan
Hotel and it's immediate neighbouring buildings... The carved horn is
2 inches wide at base, is curved and stands 7 inches high. Sotheby's Auction
Rooms has had it inspected by experts at the Melbourne Museum and they
have had it tested and believe it to be a genuine contemporary piece..."
In July 2001 a similar horn
sold for a astonishing $192,225, and earlier this year a pair of horns
were auctioned by Christies and sold for a combined price of $7,050.00.
Despite the fact that they are apparently becoming cheaper, and more of
these 'rare' artifacts are surfacing - compared with previous sale prices
- this one seems like a bargin! :)
Interested? Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=905327288
30/07/02) 'Museum puts gang in picture' (Anthony Bunn)
According to The Border Mail
Christie's auction that sold a fake Ned Kelly photograph also netted Beechworth's
Burke Museum three images with connections to the bushranger.
The museum's manager, Ms Anna Robbins, said yesterday photographs
of Kelly's brother, Dan, and his associates, Aaron Sheritt (picture
below) and Isaiah Wild Wright (picture
right), were bought at the auction for about $13,000. The Sheritt
and Wright images were from the studios of Beechworth photographer Mr
James Bray, but the history of the Dan Kelly shot is unclear with the
only clue being a name, Mr Caroline of Kyneton, on the back.
Robbins said the photographs would become prized items in the museum collection
and had a "tremendous local value" because of the connections
between the men and Beechworth. She said the $13,000 cost had been borne
by private supporters of the museum and it broke down to $5000 for Sheritt,
$4200 for Wright and $1900 for Kelly. Ms Robbins said the fragility of
the photographs, which were the size of old cigarette cards, meant they
were unlikely to be put on permanent display. She said they might be displayed
on special occasions with copies exhibited permanently.
The Burke Museum also bid
on the would-be Ned Kelly photograph during the auction, before it was
passed in and eventually sold to an undisclosed buyer for $19,080. The
photograph was later revealed not to depict Kelly and Christie's provided
a refund to the buyer. Despite the revelation, Ms Robbins said the museum
was still interested in buying the photograph because it had been taken
at Bray's studios. She said they might pursue the issue but "perhaps
not immediately. We will wait and see what they do with the photograph,"
she said. "They may resubmit it for sale and despite it being
a fake it may go for quite a bit of money."
3/05/02 The Australian Financial
Review 'Nolan Kelly work fails to hit $1m' (Terry Ingram)
In a major disappointment,
one of the most important paintings by the late Sidney Nolan still
in private hands failed to sell at auction last night. It was passed in
for $850,000. (Observers had expected that it would make more than $1
'After Glenrowan Siege No2',
a 121 x 90 cm. painting on hardboard was from Nolan's second Ned Kelly
series. The first series is mostly tied up in public collections. The
painting offered at Christie's last night, however, was considered desirable
as it was full of narrative and had not been seen for decades. It had
come from a house in rural Victoria.
The same story was also reported
the Herald Sun 3/5/02 'Nolan's Kelly shot down'
23/04/02 The Age 'Transforming
the image of Kelly' (Geoff Maslen)
Quote: "In a curious
way, Nolan transformed our own image of Kelly so that his paintings of
the iconic rebel seem to have become more real than the historical version."
Although this article was
predominantly about a book by T.G. Rosenthal on the celebrated artist
Sidney Nolan, it was however well worth a read. It described how
Nolan was very much dominated by his image of Ned Kelly. It suggests that
Nolan's image of Ned has in some way become Australia's image of Ned.
Nolan is purported to have said that Kelly 'felt like a millstone around
his neck'. So to Bailup, it appears that like a true artist, Nolan
needed to express this emotional tie with Ned in his work over and over.
It is clear that Ned Kelly featured large in Nolan's psyche, just as he
does in the minds of many other Australians.
The article also states that Peter Carey's interest in Ned was triggered
by Nolan's paintings. If this is the case, then Bailup would suggest that
Carey's novel (True History) could be viewed as an attempt to unmask the
impersonal icon created by Nolan, and portray Ned as simply a man. In
much the same way that many hundreds of students of Kelly have attempted
to do in all kinds of medium over the years. Clearly then, there are many
Australian's who do not see Ned as merely as the "iconic rebel"
of Nolan's paintings. For many he has been unmasked.
According to the article,
the highest price yet paid for a Nolan painting from the Kelly series
was two years ago. The 1946 painting 'Death of Constable Scanlon' sold
for $1.32 million. It will be interesting to see if this record is broken
next month by the sale of the 1956 painting, 'After Glenrowan Siege, No.2'.
The painting was passed in at $850,000.
19/04/02 The Age 'Kelly hangs
again - and for a million'
Christie's is in the news
again, this time hanging a Sidney Nolan painting for display before
it is auctioned on May 2. The 1956 painting 'After Glenrowan, 2' has been
in private hands since 1957 and is expected to sell for over a million
The Age 'Kelly matriarch yields secrets of a life less ordinary'
article appearing to be about Ellen King (nee Kelly), it was extensibly
about the sale of a number of Kelly related photographs by Christie's
Auction house on the 26th March. (A follow up article appeared on the
27th. Both articles by Geoff Maslen.)
27/03/02 The Age 'The Kelly
Gang bowled over by cricketers'
"Most sat on their hands
as lot after lot was passed in." Apparently the sale of photos wasn't
as successful as hoped. It was reported that the photos were, "Put
up for sale by descendants of Ellen Kelly, Ned's mother, other relatives
and sympathisers..." (Who exactly remains to be reported). The highest
price went to a photograph of what is widely being referred to as "respectable"
or 'gentleman Ned' (pictured below), which fetched a whopping $19,080.
It was sold to a private collector over the phone. No other sale prices
were reported, but Beechworth museum was said to purchase a number of
photos. Including a picture of Aaron Sherritt, and a dead Joe Byrne.
Gentleman Ned Photograph
of the newly discovered 'gentleman Ned' photograph has not been publicly
established, but respected 'Kelly experts' Ian Jones and Keith McMenomy
are both confident that it is Ned Kelly. At this point however - I reserve
judgment! I am not questioning the genuineness of the vendor, nor the
idea that Ned was a 'gentlemanly' man - but there are some anomalies in
the picture that cause me to question the subject's identity. Namely,
the eyebrows, cheekbones, ears and the colouring of the man pictured.
every authenticated photograph of Ned (i.e. his prison photos), Ned's
eyebrows are very clearly dark, flat and straight. Yet this picture shows
lighter and quite distinctly curved eyebrows! Another detail that is somewhat
different would be the man's ears. Ned's ears appeared flatter against
his head, almost curved, whereas this man's ears turn out and are larger
at the top. Ned also had very prominent cheekbones, and in this picture
the subject does not appear to have particularly defined cheekbones at
all. The light colouring of the features of the man in the photo has been
explained by the strong light from a skylight in the room where the picture
was taken. Yet a skylight would more likely have highlighted the prominence
of his cheekbones rather than disguised them. Even when the photograph
has been re-printed and considerably darkened (as below) - the general
colouring of the subject's features are markedly lighter than other photos
of Ned Kelly. The hair also appears to be lighter in contrast to the beard
- this too was unlike Ned. However all that aside, it does indeed resemble
Ned Kelly - but then again so did many of his relatives. (Any number of
which could have had their photo taken with those particular props, which
were most likely provided by the Beechworth photographer James Bray).
The biggest claim to its authenticity seems to be of all things, the belt
and boots - but these are hardly reliable factors in my opinion. Old photos
are often misidentified even by family members, and this is possibly the
case in this instance, (see note below). If this photograph is not that
of Ned Kelly, it could possibly be one of his relatives!
Tell us your opinion? (Have
a look at some of the feedback so far)
We have all seen the photo of George King in 'A
short life' by Ian Jones, (p. 53). This photograph was up for auction
by Christies recently. (It is from the Ellen King - Ellen Knight - Elsie
Pettifer collection of historically significant Kelly photographs.) But
it does show how easily even family members can misidentify photos!
No.119 'George King, second husband of Ellen Kelly'
Re the identification of this picture....Quote from the Christie's catalogue
"This portrait was unidentified for many years until a family member
noted a resemblance to Joe Byrne, lieutenant of the Kelly gang, and inscribed
Joe's name on the back of the mount. Aware that the police had confused
Joe Byrne with George King in 1878, Ian Jones suggested to descendants
in 1995 that this could be in fact a portrait of King. After comparison
with several portraits of King's children, family members accepted the
The Scrimshaw Horns
One auction item at the recent
Christie's sale (26/3/02) that was a not
widely publicised, was a matching pair of engraved bullock's horns, (lot
In July 2001, a scrimshaw
horn was sold for a then record price for Kelly memorabilia. It was engraved
with the likenesses of Ned and Kate Kelly, and Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick.
It was sold for an astonishing $192,225 (which included GST and buyers
premium). The seller of this horn was Noble Numismatics, and the buyer
was an unknown Victorian. According to Melbourne newspaper 'The Age' (19/7/01
edition) the same horn was sold at auction 30 years earlier for $25,000.
(It was sold to a dealer, who later sold it to a private collector.)
After the news of this
remarkable sale price was released, several papers carried the story of
a Ballarat woman who had purchased a very similar horn ten years earlier
for a mere $7.00. (After this discovery, Noble Numismatics claimed that
it was possible that this horn could also bring a similar price to the
So, what price did the
pair of similarly engraved horns bring at the Christie's auction recently?
Their combined sale price totaled just $7,050.00! (Which was $2,050.00
above the estimated maximum.)
Is this an unfortunate example of the reason for
the phrase 'buyers beware'? Bailup wonders how many more of these horns
are out there? Also we find that we must beg the question, what is the
current value of the horn sold in July of 2001.
Dave White has been following this story.
My thanks to the various sources who brought to my attention
many of the above articles and information, particularly D. White and
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