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Mining and Geology

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  • Strahan and Macquarie Harbour – Tasmania’s Eldorado

    Subtitled … The Commercial Port for the Western Mineral Fields and … the Gem of the States for Tourists and Travellers. Unsurpassed for Scenic Grandeur and as a Health Resort.

    Originally published by John Ware of Strahan in 1908 and nigh impossible to get. This like for like facsimile was produced by the western Pioneers’ memorial Museum in 1981. Printed by Walch, Hobart.

    Small format, staple bound card covered. Altogether 84 pages, heavily illustrated from period photographs. The last 24 pages with period advertisement as per the original – amazing in themselves.

    Well what a vibrant area it was and Strahan was full steam go ahead just after the turn of the previous century. In those days the Union Line brought two stack steamers to Strahan from Hobart, Launceston and the Mainland … they also embarked on voyages connecting New Zealand the South Sea Islands and Vancouver, via Fiji. The Macquarie Harbour Hotel had sixty rooms available.

    Mining booming … the previous years returns had show 20,548 oz gold, 1,810,559 oz of silver, 7,682 tons copper, 7,400 tons lead, 5,158 tons galena and zinc, tin etc

    It was all go on the West Coast in 1908.


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  • The North East [Tasmania] – Owen Reid

    The North East [Tasmania] – Owen Reid

    A scarce illustrated history of the North east of Tasmania produced under the auspices of the Education Department in 1977.

    Staple bound, large size, card covered, 62 pages with 52 illustrations taken from period photographs … including Bert Hinkler with his aircraft (after his solo England – Australia flight) at Scottsdale and an image of the grandest tree you will ever see. Timber, Mining and the Railways feature well.

    Divided into almost equal parts – early Days and then St Helen’s and the Fingal Valley.

    The Tasmanian North East – a rich history not to be missed – super illustrations


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  • The Elements of Dowsing – Henry de France

    The Elements of Dowsing – Henry de France

    Anyone interested in the extraordinary skill of dowsing, to discover water of valuable minerals, should read this efficient go to book by Le Vicomte Henry de France. This English edition translated by A.H. Bell and published by G Bell, London in 1967.

    We learn that the author was a leading expert in the field who unfortunately packed his clogs before it was published.

    Octavo, 84 pages with the occasional appropriate sketch or diagram. Ownership name marked out on free end paper … otherwise a fine copy in a very good dust jacket.

    Set out in nine chapters we start with the “History of the Art of Dowsing” and then the instruments – the Pendulum and the Rod. This leads to the Technique and Dowsing for Water and Minerals and Metals – enough to get any budding geologist interested. More advanced applications and an introduction to Radiesthesia … in cooking, medical applications and agriculture (some serious money saving ideas for the farmer with time to study and experiment).

    Ever since we saw Jimmy on Opal Hunters get his dowsing rod out we have been hooked.

    Understand and learn the science of dowsing – better than any University degree.


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  • Cased Anemometer By Baird & Tatlock

    Cased Anemometer By Baird & Tatlock

    A pretty good example of a low speed air meter by top maker Baird & Tatlock. Likely designed for and used in the coal mining industry.

    In its original felt lined leather case with attachment screwed to case lid as required. The only blemish is a pressure crack on the face and some paint loss on the blade casing.

    The instrument still works well which is somewhat unusual as discard was one way these instruments left their place of work.

    The instrument comes with a sliding braking system which protects the delicate gearing. Overall a good example now hard to find

    Measure air flow for accuracy and pleasure


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  • Folding Georgian Guinea Scales c1805

    Folding Georgian Guinea Scales c1805

    A good set of early Guinea Scales with contemporary instructions label. Likely by Stephen Houghton who took over from Anthony Wilkinson at Ormskirk, Lancashire. Wilkinson had died in 1804.

    The end pin is bit tight which means the set need to be pulled gently to open.

    Self-erecting and known generally as the Lancashire Gold Balance. The brass beam is rectangular in section and has a hinged “turn and swing” overweight which counter poises the beam for the guinea or half-guinea. This set has an uncommon variation with the weight having two components, clearly designed for additional weighing standards.

    A small rectangular sliding weight on the load arm registers in graduations to show discrepancies in of under-weight coins.

    The collapsing mechanism makes the whole entirely portal in the gentleman’s trouser.

    Functioning Georgian Gold Sovereign Scale


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  • Antique Mineral Testing Kit – “Blowpipe Apparatus” by J.T. Letcher of Cornwall. Circa 1880-90

    Antique Mineral Testing Kit – “Blowpipe Apparatus” by J.T. Letcher of Cornwall. Circa 1880-90

    Museum quality example rarely found with so many remaining pieces. See Powerhouse Museum online for similar example reference H9154; also website 911Metallurgist for a good description of its use.

    These field kits were used in Australia by explorers and early State Geologists – the likes of Logan Jack, Rands, Dunston etc. they include apparatus and chemicals for grinding the sample, heating it and observing the colours in the flame to identify the constituent minerals.

    Designed and manufactured by J.T. Letcher of Truro Cornwall and awarded the Society of Arts Silver Medal and the Colonel Croll Prize in International Competition in 1878. Each set guaranteed to equal that deposited at the Society’s House.

    The use of the blowpipe was invented in Sweden in the 1700’s and further refined there at the Freiberg Mining Academy in the mid 19thC. This design by J.T. Letcher and its accoutrements became the standard in the later Victorian period.

    Original mahogany box containing a lift out tray with multiple compartments and layers containing tools, the blowpipe, a small anvil, rock hammer, spirit lamp, several chemical reagents in original containers etc.

    The containers are made of box wood with names to top lovely patina. Miniature test tubes with labels, test tube holder and much more.

    The original label inside the lid describes the contents full, a hole has been gouged, presumably to rest the crucible confirming this set saw field service. The crucible was made by and marked Royal Worcester – how good is that.

    The box still has it’s lock but the key is long gone. It has a worked patina and is still robust.

    Something special in the mineral field.



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