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Mining and Geology

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  • Prospecting for Gold. From the Dish to the Hydraulic Plant and from the Dolly to the Stamper Battery. With Chapters on Tin, Osmiridium, Platinum, Opals and Oil – Ion Idriess

    Prospecting for Gold. From the Dish to the Hydraulic Plant and from the Dolly to the Stamper Battery. With Chapters on Tin, Osmiridium, Platinum, Opals and Oil – Ion Idriess

    Ion Idriess wrote Prospecting for Gold from his own experiences and the knowledge of his gold bug mates. He had been commissioned by the Australian Government to encourage self-employment.

    Published by Angus and Robertson, Sydney. Octavo, x, 296 pages, illustrated and with a very helpful glossary. A separate chapter by Government Geologist W.G. Woolnough on Prospecting for Oil.

    Osmiridium is an interesting one. Read about the element Osmium … essential for good pen nibs. Stay away from the Tetroxide. Tasmania had its own Osmium boom starting the 1920’s … still quite a few undeveloped prospects. What can we do with the world’s heaviest element?

    About the book .. unusual for Idriess – not a yarn to be seen – solid practical information that may have stood the test of time.

    Ion Idriess – a guide to finding your fortune in the bush



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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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  • A King Island Settler’s Tale – Jim Paterson – Self published

    A King Island Settler’s Tale – Jim Paterson – Self published

    Scarce self published, Hobart 2001.

    Soft cover, perfect bound, octavo size, 302 pages, illustrated from period photographs, fine condition.

    Jim Patterson was born in 1992 in Sydney .. he moved around Australia, married had jobs of sheep stations, woolscour sorter, driver … WWII came long and afterwards in the 1950’s was awarded a War Service Land Settlement block on King Island. This enthralling account is all about the trials and tribulations associated with that life. Politic gets in the way – well it does.

    This is a life in a book and the chapters headings give a clue … such as “they burnt the bloody pub down” and “disaster after disaster” … “a boat with one oar” .. the epilogue is more uplifting and it has a nice poem. Don’t be put off – this is a unique account and Jim comes out with a positive conclusion.

    King Islands Post War Settler tells the Truth .


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  • [Tasmania] The Zinc Works – Producing Zinc at Risden 1916-1991 – Alison Alexander

    [Tasmania] The Zinc Works – Producing Zinc at Risden 1916-1991 – Alison Alexander

    Commissioned by Pasminco and written by distinguished and thorough historian Alison Alexander.

    Large octavo, perfect bound soft cover, 360 pages with about as many illustrations mainly from period photographs.

    One of our favourites among our collection of industrial histories of Tasmania.

    This a significant business employing many Tasmanians an enterprise of international scale. So much so it attracted the attention of the Japanese during WWII. The Japanese carried micro reconnaissance aircraft on their submarines, and one was launched to photograph the works. Hobart already had anti-aircraft guns on the go – but they did not fire because the didn’t want to expose their position.

    Some very good content about the growth and investment and success of the business and some of the lighter side such as the “belching” competitions in the metallurgy department. Well people were easily amused back then

    Zinc works – now that’s a real business.


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  • Beaconsfield Gold [Tasmania] – Janet Kerrison

    Beaconsfield Gold [Tasmania] – Janet Kerrison

    Published a few time by the local community Rotarians. This edition 1981. Card covers, unpaginated but 45 pages, illustrated nicely from historic images.

    Set before the re-opening of the mine and the later terrible accident which culminated in maybe the greatest Australian mine survival story.

    Starting with the gold rush in 1877 to the delightfully named Brandy Creek … by the 1890’s a substantial mine was in operation, with its enormous 180 foot chimney stack. The mining technology in place by the turn of the century was second to none.

    As with many mines, reserves became depleted and the mine was wound down during WWI. Locals rumours abounded for years that there was a high grade parallel lode. So true that after this publication the mine was re-opened as mentioned above … and then again.

    Mailing costs will be reduced on this item

    Beaconsfield Gold – the back history and it’s significant


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  • Gold Panning is Easy – Roy Lagal

    Gold Panning is Easy – Roy Lagal

    An American standard but translates well for Australian’s with the gold bug.

    A nice early one published in 1979. Softcover, 70 pages, illustrated throughout. Sticker removal mark on front otherwise a very good copy. Has the stamp of “Treasure Island Detectors” Sandy Bay Hobart on a blank at front a nice local touch.

    The author a legendary panner from way back takes the reader through the choice of pans (crucial) the dry and wet panning, metal detecting, ore identification, dredging and super jets etc. we learned that it is important to learn to blow very gently … to get the last of the dust off the pan and leave the glitter behind. Images prove that all that is learned works.

    Get the pans out today .. well the right ones.


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