John “Hurlo” Hurlston was often referred to as a bon vivant. Although a pharmacist by trade, his interests resided in many other areas, which later manifested into forming parts of his collection, including epicurean utensils, fine wines, textiles, automobiles, walking sticks and musical instruments. Hurlston was dedicated to his interests and often travelled at least one a year, searching for items of interest to add to his broad collection.

Tony Bingham, close friend of Hurlston, recalls that John would collect and surround himself with his areas of passion, his main being collecting old and vintage plucked stringed instruments, and other old items that he found interesting or amusing. When Tony first met Hurlston in London in the late 1960s, he was buying mostly guitars, when Hurlston returned to Melbourne in the early 1970s, he started seriously collecting other stringed instruments, many of museum quality. Hulrston had started buying instruments at the age of thirteen, and was a member of several bands throughout his life, ritually playing the guitar at least once a day. This passion for instruments expanded and John started not only collecting but trading; starting many businesses including ‘Fretted Instruments’, ‘At Large’, ‘Guitar Trader’ and later ‘Warehouse Sound’. Guitarists from all over the world would visit John in search for a rare guitar.

The John Hurlston Collection Part I, on 7th October, featured John’s prized instruments, related accessories and extensive reference library. Among this extraordinary, museum quality collections of musical instruments and rare guitars, was an American acoustic guitar by Gibson, which sold for an impressive $21,080, and a hollow body electro-acoustic guitar by John D’Angelico, which sold for a remarkable $39,680.

Part II was offered on 8th October, forming the first section of the Decorative Arts Auction, and included John’s epicurean antiques, a variety of antique flat ware, Georgian glasses and antique boxes. All of these pieces were used regularly by John and his long-term partner, Sandy, when they hosted their well-known soirées and dinners.

CHIARA CURCIO / Head of Decorative Arts