Ship model, revenue cutter, timber construction, hull made of horizontal cross planking, timber mast and bowsprit with striped cotton sails, [Australia]; A A Stewart Collection (OF).
This model is a part of the A. A. Stewart collection of ship, mechanical, and railway models acquired by the Powerhouse Museum over nearly 30 years from 1938 to 1963. Albyn A. Stewart was a trained engineer fascinated by engineering models and he constructed some of those in the collection. Others however were brought from amateur and commercial modellers at great expense to Stewart who travelled regularly to England to seek out models. In January 1938, Percival Marshall, the editor of 'The Model Engineer' England's premier modelling magazine devoted editorial space to the collection where he stated that "Mr. Stewart has been fortunate in acquiring some excellent examples of both screw and paddle marine engines of considerable value as records of real prototype practice."
In April of the same year he expanded his comments on the collection by saying, "As a trained engineer himself, his judgement of the technical merits of a model is very sound, and I should imagine that his collection is now the finest of its kind in Australia, in private hands. Many of the models are undoubtedly worthy of careful preservation, and I hope that they will eventually find a suitable resting place in one or other of the Australian national museums."
Stewart was first contacted by the Technological Museum, as the Powerhouse Museum was then known, in 1933. The then Director/Curator A. R. Penfold immediately recognised the importance of the engineering models and in 1935 began to loan items for display. Penfold expanded the area available for displaying the models as they were seen as instructive for students at the adjacent Technical College as they were for the general public.
In early 1938 Stewart's company 'Lymdale Ltd.' which owned most of the models was approached about the purchase of a large part of the collection. Stewart was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Museum and in July 1938 it began to purchase the models it had loaned as well as the best examples in the rest of the collection. The cost of this was estimated at over 3000.00 pounds. By 1943 the museum was still acquiring material from the collection and the Advisory Committee made a special appropriation request to the Minister of Education. "In view of the advantage of retaining a collection intact, and the national asset which the museum possesses, the committee recommends the purchase of the remainder of the Stewart collection offered at approximately 2,400. This sum was approved and between 1943 and 1945 around 80 more models were purchased. Apart from the monetary limitations the acquisition was spread over a number of years because some of Stewart's models needed to be finished before they could be sold.
The high costs reflected the quality of the models. Many of the working steam engines are one-off examples hand crafted by amateur modellers over the course of years. The same is true of some of the ship and locomotive models many of which are made to exact scale and include working parts. The models were carefully collected by Stewart who collected as much for posterity as he did for personal interest. Once contacted by the museum he deliberately sought models which would fill historical and technological gaps and as a result the collection is one of the most significant in still extant in Australia. A. A. Stewart died in 1961.
The museum purchased this model in 1942.
Geoff Barker, March, 2007
Marshall, Percival, 'The Model Engineer ', London, April 29, 1937
Marshall, Percival, 'The Model Engineer ', London, May, 27, 1937
Marshall, Percival, 'The Model Engineer ', London, January, 27, 1938
Marshall, Percival, 'The Model Engineer ', London, April, 14, 1938
Chalmers, A. Mar, 'The Model Engineer in Australia and New Zealand, Melbourne, January, 1939
Davison, G., Webber, K., 'Yesterday's Tomorrows; the Powerhouse Museum and its precursors 1880-2005', Powerhouse Publishing, 2005
Lavery, B. and Stephens, S., 'Ship Models; their purpose and development from 1650 to the present', Zwemmer, London, 1995
For over 150 years from the beginning of the eighteenth century, smuggling of brandy, silks, tea and tobacco was rife around the British coastline. Around the 1740s, tea smuggling was so prevalent that the then Customs Department estimated that duty was paid on less than half the tea brought into the country. H.M.Customs used revenue cutters of the type shown in this model to catch the smugglers. The design of cutters suitable for service with H.M. Customs to combat smuggling had three main features: ability to be sea-going in any weather, ability to carry a large crew and to be fast. Early cutters were capable of eight knots, and later designs of eleven to twelve knots. To this end, they carried a large and extensive sail rig, which they needed to catch up to and apprehend the fast luggers, cutters, sloops and schooners used by smugglers.