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After weeks of speculation and 100's of hours of research, the Colonial South Australian Bookcase, the rarest one of its kind finally went under the auctioneers hammer.


As the crowds gathered and Auctioneer Tobias Crilly read the description, the tension was felt throughout the crowd, not only how much will it sell for.............but will SA retain such an important piece of history?


Luckily for South Australia, and setting the pace for local philanthropy, The Mayor of Clare Mr Allan Aughey purchased the bookcase as a donation to the local Clare Community.


In a short interview after the auction, Mr Aughey commented he was determined to keep such a historic piece in South Australia and was very happy to donate the bookcase to his local community.


The bookcase will sit proud in the local Clare Library until the Clare Art Gallery is built, where it will be rehoused and be the centre piece of South Australian Colonial History.


An amazing outcome for a local piece of South Australian history unearthed by the dedicated team at Scammells.


Special mention to the tireless efforts of Justin Gare and Andrew Kleinke whom, with Peter Scammell and Tobias Crilly amassed an amazing array of history and provenance for the bookcase.






This bookcase is possibly a unique example of the use of River Red Gum timber in the manufacture of Australian Colonial furniture.


Constructed from solid Australian River Red Gum “Eucalyptus Camaldulensis” this early 19th century breakfront bookcase is in the English “Regency Gothic” style, fashionable in the 1830's & 40's.


A similar design appears in J C Loudon's, 1833 London edition of his “Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm & Villa Architecture & Furniture”.


Construction most likely took place during the acrimonious governorships of Lt. Colonel, Sir George Gawler & Captain George Grey, 1838-1845. A significant period in the development of Parliamentary & Local Government in South Australia.



Part of a domestic estate from the Adelaide Coastal Suburb of Semaphore, Glanville, three generations by descent.


Condition Report


  • Exceptional for its age and size

  • No signs of restoration, any obvious damage or repair

  • Retains original glass, hardware and patina

  • However the terminals of the four trefoil column clusters, to the upper section appear to lack the necessary crocketed pinnacles that the design would suggest. Also, the large gap in the crenelated pediment would suggest an intended armorial or crest. ie. Vice Regal, Parliamentary or Corporate.



Height: 310cm

Width: 244cm

Depth: 73cm

The South Australian Register”, Newspaper-Saturday the 28th October 1843


The furniture of the Legislative Council Chamber, which is much admired, is all, we believe, of native timber, and manufactured in the colony. The chairs, which have only lately been finished, are formed of the black-wood (which is the finest of the colonial woods), and look particularly beautiful. We are not aware who is the maker, but we may add that they do him very great credit.

- A southern Australian