Beeswax and Tall Tales: Memories of an Aussie Antique Dealer 

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       September 24, 2023


Author  Jane Crowley with Athol Salter

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9781922923035
Publisher:         Ventura Press
Release Date:   August 2023  


The world of Antique dealing is one that is not only filled with beautiful furniture as well as interesting and intriguing bric-a-brac, but stories, legends and some of the most fascinating, people, rich and poor that make up the antiques industry, beloved of the bargain hunter in search of a really good buy and the discerning client in search of a treasure.

Jane Cowley, daughter of Athol Salter, a woman who grew up in the burgeoning world of antiques, learning the trade from her father went on as an adult to have her own business in the world of antiques and trading.

The myriad of stories told in Beeswax and Tall Tales are those her father told over his many years in the trade. An avid storyteller, Athol and his stories have bought the colourful world and the flamboyant characters of antique dealing into the modern world with a flourish.

Commencing with The Bath, we meet Bertie Rutland, a character who never, ever let what he considered a bargain pass him by. Known for his cry ‘Oh, that would be grand for the orphanage’, he would out bid on any items and was widely detested within the auction rooms. His come-uppence was truly spectacular!

A marvellously ‘ripe’ tale of the clearance of an old farmhouse is an absolute classic of a tale with a delightfully funny endnote, which just proves you never ever know what people are going to want to purchase.  

Full of surprises in many ways, house clearances often hold unexpected treasures. The wooden chest at the end of an iron bed held Victorian scrapbooks, the wobbly legged desk held letters from the 1800’s, telling a small history of the people whom had once lived in the dilapidated timber slab house.

Eventually travelling to England to glean some different stock for his shop, Athol found himself the ‘victim’ when he bought what he thought were several china Victorian chamber pots, ‘potties’, from local farmer in Brunton, for one quid each. When the container holding the new stock and the ‘potties’ arrived in Waga-Waga. it was discovered he had purchased one hundred and ninety-two china ‘potties’!

These and many more stories make up a wonderful collection of times past, as well as a fascinating walk through the history of Antique dealing, in the days before manufactured flat pack furniture became vogue.

Beeswax and Tall Tales told by Jane Crowley with Athol Salter is an absolutely delightful, funny, at times poignant,captivating read with wide audience appeal.