Historical information

This book, ‘The Practical Measurer’, by Alexander Peddie, is subtitled ‘Tradesman and Wood Merchant’s Assistant’. It is a tradesman’s guide to measuring and contains many tables of measurement. The inscription in the front of the book shows that it belonged to Thomas Osborne and that he obtained it from D. McColl who is identified in the inscription as the Chief Engineer of the steam ship, ‘Julia Percy’. There is a record of a Donald McColl owning the vessel ‘Mimmie Dyke’ and sailing it to Mauritius in 1856 and there is also a record of the death of a Donald McColl in 1880 so these two facts may refer to the D.McColl mentioned by Thomas Osborne (especially as he refers to him as ‘poor old Mr D. McColl’). Thomas Hamilton Osborne was born in Port Fairy in 1851. He had a lifelong interest in ships and in Warrnambool was the Secretary and then Manager of the Western Steam Navigation Company for 16 years. Osborne wrote many articles with nautical themes using the nom-de-plume of ‘Sliding Gunter’ and had a great love of, and interest in, the ship, ‘Julia Percy’ and when he died in 1902 his body was put on board the ‘Julia Percy’ and he was buried at sea. The ‘Julia Percy’ (built 1876) was a well-known steamship on the western Victorian coast for many years. Later it plied the Queensland coast, saw service in West Australian waters, was renamed the ‘Leeuin’ and was used as a coal hulk until it was scuttled in 1935. The signature in the book of T. Hyland may indicate that he donated the book to the Warrnambool and District Historical Society.


This book is of prime importance because:-
1. As a book printed in 1863 it is of antiquarian interest.
2. The connection with Thomas Osborne is of key interest as he was a notable figure in Warrnambool’s 19th century history, especially in maritime circles.
3. The connection with the ship, ‘Julia Percy’, is of particular interest as it was a prominent ship in Warrnambool’s maritime history.

Physical description

This is a hard cover book of 448 pages with brown and gold leather binding on the spine and cover edges and a brown and tan mottled pattern cover. The book has a Preface, a Contents page, information on how to measure all types of solid figures and how to measure work involved in the various trades – masons, carpenters, painters, glaziers, plumbers etc. It also has two Appendices with information on the measurement of sawn timber. The text has many tables and diagrams. The first page has a handwritten inscription in black ink and the back pages have some mathematical calculations written in pencil and a mathematical problem with its solution written in ink.

Inscriptions & markings

Handwritten: ‘T. P. Hyland’
Stamped: ‘T.H.Osborne’
Typed label: ‘Mr T. H. Osborne, Warrnambool’
Handwritten: ‘T.H. Osborne, Warrnamool, Australia, given to me by poor old Mr D. McColl, Chf. Engineer, Julia Percy S.S., 1888’