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John Laycock Collection, Singapore
THE JOHN LAYCOCK COLLECTION (lots 184 - 192)
The late John Laycock (1887-1960) was born in England, and was admitted as a solicitor in London in 1907. He had a distinguished military career, rising to the position of Major, and was awarded the Military Cross (1914-1918).
In 1920, John Laycock arrived in Singapore to join a legal firm (Braddell Brothers) and subsequently started his own law firm, Laycock and Ong. He married Alice, a Chinese Singaporean, and they subsequently adopted five local children.
He was actively involved in Singapore politics, and was elected to Singapore's Legislative Council. He was instrumental in founding the Singapore Progressive Party which played a large part in Singapore obtaining self government, and was a tireless advocate for the disadvantaged.
He was also a great horticulturalist, and collected orchid specimens from the jungles of Malaya and beyond. This collection, and his subsequent hybridization of orchids, laid the foundation for the emergence and growth of the orchid export industry in Singapore - a business which his daughter Amy (Ede), and her husband, subsequently developed.
The pieces in his collection of Chinese art were mainly purchased from dealers on his business trips to Hong Kong between 1925 and 1955, in particular from T. Y. King & Sons. When the Japanese invaded Singapore in 1942 the family buried the collection in the garden before escaping to India and fortunately some pieces escaped the war unscathed.