As a kid, I was always into collecting things. My parents were involved in various hospital auxiliaries in Adelaide and I loved going through the jumble sales to see what I could find.
When I was nine, I began my first collection when I bought a piece of silver. I always wanted to see if I could get complete sets together or if I could put things back together.
It was during a holiday to Sydney that I first met Kerry. I was studying to be a psychiatric nurse and he was involved in publishing but when we met I was just captured by him. It was his eyes which did it for me. I was 19 and he was 23 and, as of next January, we will have been together 40 years.
I moved to Sydney in 1969 to be with Kerry and to continue studying nursing. The first teapot I bought was a red enamel one which I picked up at a Lifeline shop for 50 cents. The simple reason I bought it was that we needed a teapot.
At that same time I was also operating a stall at Paddy’s Markets every Friday. I was buying and selling all over the place, and I met Ron Hooper who owned Glenbrook Cottage Antiques.
Ron had started his own teapot collection and, by the time we joined forces as business partners to begin Bygone Beautys in Leura 20 years ago, he already had 1,600 teapots.
As Ron had so many, I figured I had to balance out the collection, which sent me off on this wild passion to find teapots.
One of the things I really love about teapots is that they have been used and they can tell us about the period when they were used. One of the things that most fascinates me is what transpired between people as all of these teapots were being used.
We have teapots from all over the world. We did not have one from Spain until recently when we found one in a little shop in Mildura.
On a recent holiday to Adelaide, we purchased another 60 -“ I really can’t go anywhere without picking up a teapot. There is a fine line between passion and obsession, but I have found that sometimes those two things go hand in hand.
There are now about 4,600 teapots in the collection and it is impossible to put a value on them but I can say that five of them have been individually valued at $20,000 each. The oldest teapots we have date from the 1600s, with every century since well-represented.
About three years ago, we received a phone call from The Guinness Book Of Records asking about the collection. One of their representatives came to see us and it seems we have the largest private collection of teapots in the world.
We now have to catalogue the entire collection, which is something wehave been working on ever since. Once that is done, we will be listed in The Guinness Book Of Records.
One of the reasons I was glad we moved from Sydney to Leura years ago was to get my boyfriend away from the city and away from all those vultures. But a lot of the city always comes up to visit for the Three Sisters Winter Ball, which was held on the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
It is always a highlight of the year for all of us in the Blue Mountains, and Kerry and I have been about 15 times. It is a chance to catch up with people from all kinds of areas. In the past we have won the awards for Best Table and Best Group about five times.
This year, we had a group of 40 at the Ball, with friends from the mountains and the city. The theme was Out Of Africa, so I went as a missionary and Kerry as a gorilla, and we had the tables decorated with giraffes.
The Queen’s Birthday weekend is always a delight as there are a huge number of gay visitors in the Mountains and it is always fun to see them coming through Bygone Beautys. It is a lovely time of the year for all of us.
Interview by John Burfitt