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Australia's Most Informative & Entertaining Antiques Magazine

WHAT'S IT WORTH - A Specialist's Opinion

Each issue our panel of specialists assess the value of readers' items. The service is free and can be accessed via email: info@speediegraphics.com.au

Letters and replies will appear in the magazine Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure & Profit BEFORE they appear here.

Experts include Damien Kalmar, Jessie Wilkinson and David Freeman.

Australia’s Most Informative & Entertaining Antiques Magazine

Can you please advise on the following item? It has been in the family for 100 years. We believe it was originally owned by William Couch, who left England around 1863. The pin is approximately 5.5cm long and appears to be silver, although there are no mint marks.

Your help is appreciated.

Regards Edward S, via email.

Your pin is quite attractive, Edward, and would have had a stopper at the bottom which has gone missing (better to lose the stopper rather than the pin, though!). You say it is silver, however from the photos it looks gold, so I will give you a value for both. The enamel scene is just lovely and if silver I would say around $350 and if gold (let's say 9ct rather than 18) I would say around the value is $800 or so retail.


Australia’s Most Informative & Entertaining Antiques Magazine


Please find attached two paintings which were originally my aunt's, purchased by her from various places. One is an original oil by Frank Benier, size 750mm high x 550mm wide. I believe this painting was purchased directly from the man himself whilst my aunt was working as PA to the Philips CEO, approx. 1960-1979. The other is an original ochre by William Arthur Bryam Mansell, titled 'Aboriginal Smoke' and painted in earth colours dug in Central Australia. It measures 410mm high x 400mm wide and was purchased from his studio in Killara, NSW, date unknown - see photo of the back of the painting.

I would appreciate any information and value if possible.

Thank you, Les B. via email

Thank you for your enquiry, Les. Both works are by minor artists, but still attractive and well executed. William Arthur Byram Mansell (1899-1977) was born in Sydney in 1899. Mansell received commissions from all over Australia, to design textiles and ceramic murals with aboriginal motifs. His works are frequently painted with natural pigments and self-ground ochre tints. Mansell died in 1977. One hundred and four artworks, murals and sculptures by him have been sold through the mainstream auction rooms in the last 40 years, ranging up to $1300 at auction. The highest price for a painting was $1265 at Sotheby's London 19/10/1994. Recent prices have been far lower, and in the current market your work will be valued at auction in the range of $200 to $300.

Frank Benier (1919-1998) was born in Hindmarsh in South Australia. At the age of 14 he began submitting cartoons to the Adelaide Express and Journal, and had his first cartoon published in 1934. After leaving school he started work on the Adelaide News, with the intent of becoming a journalist, but soon moved to the art department. During the Second World War Benier joined the army and served in the Middle East and New Guinea. He returned to Adelaide after the war and moved to Sydney in 1956, where he worked in film animation. He got his chance to draw daily cartoons for the Sydney Sun when their regular cartoonist, Emile Mercier, went on holidays. Benier spent some years in London at the Daily Herald. He returned to Australia to work on the Sydney Sun after Mercier's retirement in 1968. In 1971, Rupert Murdoch invited him to join the Sydney Daily Mirror. Benier replaced Cole Buchanan and retired from the Daily Mirror in 1986. Only 14 works have come up for sale on the mainstream auction market in the last 40 years, mostly cartoons and half have been unsold. The highest ever price for a cartoon was $250. Your work is not so typical, and therefore will have a market value of around $100 to $150.


Australia’s Most Informative & Entertaining Antiques Magazine


I have two items I would love your opinion on, please. First is a porcelain figure. Sorry the photos are not that good, the colours are quite a bit brighter than they appear in the pictures. It's a figure group and is in perfect condition with no chips or cracks, I think it is hand painted. It measures 18.5cm high x 12cm wide at the base and it has some gilded decoration. I have photographed the mark to the base, which I thought could be Meissen but I'm not sure. What date do you think it might be? The other item is a Chinese vase, which I believe has the marks for Qianlong Emperor 1736-1796.

It would be very exciting if it really is this old but I know a lot of reproductions were made... The colours are very vibrant and the panels are painted with two different scenes, with flowers on a deep blue background on the rest of the vase. I have photographed the mark to the base.

The vase is 31.5cm high and it's in perfect condition. Any information, including a value on both items if possible, would be very helpful.

Thank you, Desiree M. via email

Your beautiful porcelain figure group is delightful, Desiree. It was made by the Scheibe-Alsbach factory in Germany and is hand painted. The mark on the bottom was used between 1925 and 1972. I would sell this piece for $150 to $200 in my shop.

The Chinese polychrome bottle form vase is early to mid 20th century, unfortunately, but it is still very decorative and also hand painted. The value is around $100 retail.