A Gentleman’s Collection: The Estate of Rodney Permezel

For many regular Leonard Joel clientele, Wednesday viewing days are an unmissable ritual that forms part of their weekly routine, serving as both a shopping exercise and a social event. This was true for long-time patron, Rodney Permezel. Every Wednesday, he would be seen visiting all departments, effortlessly engaging in lengthy discussions on antiques or art, often leaving all parties much the wiser.

Indeed, many clients and staff knew Rod by name, or if not by name, by his unmistakable uniform: formal blazer, tie, chinos, beret, gloves, and leather briefcase.

I have many fond memories of talking to Rod on his regular Wednesday visits, where he keenly bestowed priceless information. Rod was remarkably conversant on a variety of art and antique subjects, and his collection is an assemblage of this keen interest in and knowledge of antiques.

Having a rich colonial family history, Rod fostered his affinity for history and design during his days as an Interior Design student at RMIT, and through experience in the soft furnishing department at Georges in the late 1950s. In the early 60s, he opened an Interior Design practice before transitioning into the antiques trade, opening a shop on Malvern Road, Outpost Antiques and later Design House on High Street, Armadale. The shop closed in the mid-1980s, but this did not stop Rod’s passion from his Armadale home, where he continued to research, with copious notes and books that documented and complimented his collection.

We now have the privilege of sharing Rod’s library and collection with the public. The collection speaks volumes about his extensive knowledge, eye for style and commitment to antiques and history. Each piece reflects his niche interests which included early English drinking glasses, Georgian silhouettes, armorial porcelain, antique boxes, early cutlery, Australiana, examples of rare glass globes, vintage sporting equipment and, astonishingly, a large collection of games and dolls house furniture.

A highlight from his Australiana collection is a unique early 1800s Port Arthur Colonial convict’s cap. These caps are extremely rare, with all documented examples currently housed in public collections around Australia including the Powerhouse and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. They are distinctive and represent the harsh conditions experienced by many as part of Australia’s early penal colonies.

In addition to early English glass drinking vessels, Rod also coveted a small collection of Mercury glass vessels. Mid-19th Century lustrous silvered glass is considered one of the earliest forms of Victorian art glass. In addition to the inherent artistic value, mercury glass was a popular economic alternative to real silver, sometimes referred to as the peasant’s or farmer’s silver, and gifted to newlywed couples. Highlights from Rod’s mercury glass collection include a rare table candelabra with four matching mercury glass candles.

A traditional antique highlight is a large 19th Century white marble bust of Corneille Van Cleve, modelled after the work of French artist Jean-Jacques Caffieri. This finely carved bust depicting the much-celebrated sculptor Van Cleve once again epitomises Rod’s fine taste as a gentleman collector, with an appreciation for European sculpture masters.

It is with great pleasure that Leonard Joel presents the Rodney Permezel collection at auction on Sunday February 28, 2021. It is a collection full of surprises, classics, and pieces of sentimental value, representing a set of unique items that bring together one man’s lifelong commitment to art, style and pure craftmanship. Any serious collector or individual interested in finding that unique piece or compliment to a beloved collection should not miss this opportunity.

CHIARA CURCIO / Head of Decorative Arts

February 2021