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My great great great grandfather Wilhelm Nitschke (his daughter Anna married Carl Robert May) was originally a coppersmith by trade, and came to Adelaide in 1849. Nitschke was born in 1817 in Striegau, then in Silesia, now Strzegom in Poland. As a demonstration of his proficiency as a craftsman, Nitschke crafted a miniature tea-set made from copper and silver coins. According to a later obituary, he exhibited a miniature tea-set at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851. At the Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne in 1866, he also displayed ‘some very ingenious specimens of hammer work, in addition to a large distilling apparatus’.
A bare catalogue of Mr. Nitschke’s handy-work is interesting:— A copper vase, beaten out of a solid block of copper, without any soldering; a copper crucifix, beaten out of a solid block of copper, without any soldering; a copper pipe, worked out of one piece of copper, without any soldering ; a silver cup— body made out of a crown piece, the foot out of a Prussian two-dollar piece, leaving the inscription on the rim intact ; a silver cap worked out of other coins in the same way; a miniature tea pot with cover, worked out of a shilling, the bottom showing the face and reverse of the shilling; a second without cover worked out of a shilling in a similar manner; a milk jug worked out of a threepenny piece; a jug worked out of a Prussian silver groschen; a copper jug worked out of a German penny ; and two small vases worked out of Prussian coins. These, of course, are amusing to the curious rather than works of utility. South Australian Register, 5 November 1866.
He was awarded a silver medal for his distilling apparatus. Nitschke established premises in Hindley Street, later moving to Hackney Road in a house later owned by Dr Mildred Mocatta.
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