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National Museum of Australia

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4

Scorpion model vertical boiler and engine (donkey engine)

2009.0021.0035

Scorpion model vertical boiler and engine (donkey engine)

Object information

Physical description

A model vertical stream engine made of brass on a square iron base. The base has four feet with a hole in each foot. The engine has a single cylinder on the right rear and a 60mm diameter flywheel on the left rear. At the base of the boiler there is a rectangular opening for a sprit burner but the burner itself is missing. On the base below the burner opening there is a transfer with a manufacturer's logo and the text 'SCORPION / RED. TRADE MARK'. On the top of the boiler there is a steam whistle and a filler cap incorporating a safety valve. There is a short tubular chimney extending from the top of the boiler.

Statement of significance

The Bruce Macdonald Collection of toy and model trains includes examples of final products, un-assembled components, tools, production drawings and company archival material. It has items from most known Australian makers of toy and model trains, dating from the late-1940s to the early-1960s. The collection was developed in an opportunistic way, by purchase through auction or directly from other collectors, to document the Australian toy train industry.

Toy and model train manufacturing industries developed quickly in Europe, Britain and the United States through the 19th-century. In Australia, however, the smallness of the market and its scattered nature meant a local industry was not viable. The needs of the small and diverse local market were largely met by overseas imports none of which represented local full-scale stock. The small unsophisticated industry creating local supply of both parts and rolling-stock received a boost from WWII shortages. With the renewal of overseas supply, the popularity of smaller scales and the development of alternative attractions, it collapsed in the mid-1960s.

Object information

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