An exceptional Australian high carat Gold and Silver miniature Spade.
William Wellington Cairns.
An exceptional Australian silver and 18 carat gold miniature Spade, by Flavelle Brothers of Brisbane, June 1876, presented to the Governor of Queensland, Cairns, on the occasion of the cutting of the first sod of the railway extension from Roma to Dalby.
The presentation of the Spade, together with a miniature silver Wheelbarrow [now missing] was recorded in the local newspaper, ‘The Queenslander‘, of June 10th 1876, which described in detail the ceremony attending the cutting of the first sod of the Dalby and Roma Railway, on a soaking wet day, which was then carried in a polished cedar Wheelbarrow by Cairns. Mr. Overend, on behalf of the contractors, then ‘begged his Excellency’s acceptance of a silver model of a barrow and spade, as a memento of the ceremony. The barrow is a handsome model, 18 inches long and proportionately broad and had been constructed for the Messrs. Overend by Messrs. Flavelle Brothers of this city. On the barrow is the following inscription:- ‘Presented to his Excellency William Wellington Cairns, C.M.G., on the occasion of his turning the first sod of the Queensland Western Railway, at Dalby, on June 6, 1876.’ The spade which accompanied the barrow was inscribed on the blade, which was of gold, with the following:- ‘Presented to Wm. W. Cairns, at Dalby, June 6, 1876.‘
The port of Cairns was named after the Governor later the same year.
The history of Flavelle brothers is given by John B. Hawkins in his two volume work, ‘Nineteenth Century Australian Silver.’ [see volume one, pp. 111-118]. Henry Flavelle has occasionaly been identified as Henry Flavelle, formerly of Dublin, silversmith, but this is an error.
Good with minor surface scratches to the face of the spade and a very small nick to the very edge of the blade.
Length: – 15 cm.; Width of blade:- 2.70 cm.; Weight:- 27 gms.