Updated April 15, 2003

It now seems impossible to keep track of every time Ned Kelly is in the news, but if it is important we will cover it here. Just as importantly we are interested in your views on the Kelly Outbreak so please have your say.

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Ned under the hammer

24/02/03 'The Don's Invincible cap scores a record' (Chris Evans)
Source: The Age http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/02/23/1045935277531.html

...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.

12/10/02 '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 up
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 matt@pinnaclemanagementgroup.com.au

23/09/02 Scrimshaw Horn (see below)

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 ebay

Looks 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

11/06/02 (updated 30/07/02) 'Museum puts gang in picture' (Anthony Bunn)
According to The Border Mail

The 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.

Ms 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 Million).

'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 dollars.

23/03/02 The Age 'Kelly matriarch yields secrets of a life less ordinary'

Despite this 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

The authenticity 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.

Firstly, in 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)

Misidentified Photo
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 (p.29)
"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 identification."

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 No. 165)
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 first.)
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 L. Cowie.

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