The Sword of Menzies

BY:MICHAELA BOLAND From: The Australian March 20, 2013 12:00AM

In Melbourne on May 21, a solid gold coin produced in 1958 commemorating the papacy of John XXIII will go under the hammer with an asking price of more than $3000. Valued at the same amount is a chair from the Queen’s 1953 coronation for which Menzies and his wife Pattie travelled to London.

Giles Moon from Leonard Joel Auctions says he does not know precisely how the chair came to be among the former prime minister’s personal possessions.



“The chairs were available for people to acquire following the inauguration,” Moon says. “Pre- sumably that’s what Menzies did.”

Most valuable of the auction lots is a sword given to the prime minister in the 1950s by a relative who recently bought it at auction in London. The sword had been presented to a British naval lieutenant Charles Menzies 150 years earlier, in 1806, in recognition of his bravery in the Napoleonic Wars.

Charles Menzies had been named inaugural superintendent of the town in Newcastle, NSW, in 1804 but finding himself unsuited to the role he had returned to Europe.

The prime minister’s grandson and namesake, actor Robert Menzies, says he had not found any evidence linking his family with the naval lieutenant.

The sword is expected to fetch more than $80,000. It was displayed for many years at his grandfather’s Melbourne haunt the Savage Club, then after his grandfather’s death it was housed at the actor’s parents’ home in Brighton.

“It’s too valuable an item to be left to any one person so we decided to sell it and divide the income,” the Melbourne stage actor says.

One of 10 grandchildren, Menzies spent his Christmas holidays at the Lodge until the age of 11 when his grandfather’s 17-year leadership ended. He recalls a rambling property with a wire perimeter fence in those days regularly penetrated by local children who came to play cricket games.

The Lodge boasted one full-time staff member. Visitors dined on poultry, eggs and vegies grown on the grounds.

Menzies’ grandmother answered the phone, did most of the cooking and much of the housework.

“It was a pretty frugal life as I remember it,” he says.

These items will be offered in our upcoming Decorative Arts Auction on Tuesday  the 21st of May 2013 at 6:30pm

For further enquiries please contact
Giles Moon
t: 03 8825 5635
e: Giles Moon