Measuring 1m (3ft 4in) across, the model relates to a mining firm that operated in Western Australia between 1897-1948.
It was probably made as a salesman sample or as a boardroom novelty, features two mills fed by a single metal lined hopper with the ‘crushers’ driven by cams and leather belts.
Mills such as this (also called stamp batteries or stamping mills) were an important part of the Australian ‘gold rush’ and were used to break down metallic ores after extraction.
‘Salesman samples’ or ‘patent models’ were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as they were easily transportable and allowed dealers to display a variety of items in their showrooms that could then be ordered directly from a manufacturer. Unlike toy versions aimed at children, they are typically made with working parts to demonstrate full functionality.
They have a strong following in the collecting market and this one offered with a modest guide of £1000-2000 at Flints (24% buyer’s premium) in Thatcham, Berkshire, on November 18, sold at £17,500.