Benjamin Charles Ronalds

Benjamin Charles RONALDS (1892-1970) was born at Hove, Brighton, England, on 17th June, 1892. At nineteen he migrated to Australia, having served an apprenticeship in the glass trade in England. In spite of his qualifications he worked as a farmhand for a Mr Butt in the Palmwoods-Maleny area for a short period before he came to Brisbane and obtained employment with Oxlades, a leading glazing firm.

About 1924 Ben Ronalds commenced the Decorative Glass Company at 57 Vulture Street, West End, Brisbane. In addition to carrying out glazing work he stocked glassware and ceramics. He first started collecting fine pieces of china and glassware in about 1935. In the post-war years he won his first big glazing contracts – the M.L.C. Building at the corner of Adelaide and Edward Streets, and the South Brisbane Auxiliary Hospital (now the Princess Alexandra Hospital). His success enabled him to carry out a desire, formed in 1946, to specialise in collecting Royal Worcester porcelain. He built up a remarkable collection of this factory’s products. As well as collecting locally, he made several trips overseas and many to Melbourne and Adelaide.

Through Mr Sims, Queensland manager of Hardy Brothers Ltd, the Australian representative of the Worcester Royal Porcelain Company inspected his collection in 1966 and was amazed at his world-standard holdings of Royal Worcester. The complete collection, of about 800 items, also contains comparative pieces from other British, European and Oriental ceramics manufacturers, a wide range of glassware, and a few selected pieces representing other applied arts; all items collected with care and considerable knowledge by Mr Ronalds.

Ben. Ronalds died on 30th August, 1970. J.C.H. Gill, the chairman-elect of the Queensland Museum Board of Trustees, had suggested to Mr Ronalds that he might like to bequeath the collection to the Queensland Museum as a memorial to his work. Subsequently the matter was raised with his widow, Mrs Alvia May Ronalds, and his son, Charles William Ronalds, and Mrs Ronalds bequeathed the collection to the Queensland Museum in her will. Failing health necessitated her leaving her home where the collection was maintained as it had been left by Mr Ronalds, so rather than place the collection at risk, she made an immediate gift of it to the Museum. The collection was moved to the Museum in August, 1976, where it is to be maintained as the ‘Ben Ronalds Collection’, a fitting tribute to the man whose love of fine things had led to its assembly.

[Dan Robinson, text prepared for a Queensland Museum exhibition of the Ben Ronalds Collection following its receipt in 1976]
Place of Birth
Brighton, Sussex, England
Place of Death
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


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