Formerly the property of the late John Cuthill Sword,c.1896 Salvesen Steam Cart

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Lot 148
Formerly the property of the late John Cuthill Sword, c.1896 Salvesen Steam Cart
Registration no. not provided

Sold for £ 69,700 (US$ 91,683) inc. premium
Formerly the property of the late John Cuthill Sword
c.1896 Salvesen Steam Cart
Registration no. not provided
This pioneer steam carriage was the oldest self-propelled vehicle in the 180-car collection assembled by the late John Cuthill Sword, a wealthy Scottish entrepreneur who had started his business life as van boy in his father’s bakery and built up a business empire that encompassed many diverse companies, including the Western Scottish Motor traction Company of Kilmarnock. He owned “hundreds of buses, aeroplanes (he started the air ambulance service from Renfrew to the Western Isles that has saved so very many lives), a number of farms, two steam yachts, studs of hackneys and Arabian horses…”

After his death in 1960 at the age of 67, Sword’s collection at East Balgray in Ayrshire was auctioned off in two landmark sales (see lot 25), several of the cars being acquired by George Milligen, including the unique Salvesen steamer, designed and assembled by a member of the Salvesen family and used by him on his estate at Polmont “as a sort of Land-Rover of its day”.

The Salvesen family came to Scotland from Norway in the mid-19th century, when Christian Salvesen founded the well-known shipping and trading company that bears his name in the port of Leith, on the River Forth near Edinburgh. The Polmont estate was near Grangemouth, the second port on the Forth adopted by the Christian Salvesen company.
Built on a substantial channel steel chassis, this remarkable Victorian steamer has an underfloor horizontal double-acting twin-cylinder power unit and a rear-mounted vertical coal-fired boiler; final drive is by side chains. The axles, springs and iron-tyred wheels bear a similarlty to those of the Coventry Daimler factory, and were perhaps supplied to Salvesen by John Stirling’s Hamilton Carriage, Motor Car & Cycle Works-an old-established Scottish coachbuilder that bought Coventry Daimler chassis and fitted them with its own coachwork, finishing the first such car (fitted with a Panhard-Levassor engine) as early as January 1897, several weeks before the first Coventry Daimler car was sold.

Its wooden-sided body has two rows of bench seats facing one another, with the driver sitting at the front of the offside bench, controlling the carriage with a horizontal wheel incorporating a vertical handgrip. A substantial lever applies brake shoes to the iron tyres of the rear wheels.

As a steam car aged almost 110 years, the Salvesen will, of course, need careful recommissioning and a full boiler inspection, but appears to be in sound order. We are informed that George Milligen had the car running in the 1960s and drove it down the road although we have been unable to verify this. It would certainly be a star of any veteran car gathering and a likely early number on the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
Formerly the property of the late John Cuthill Sword,c.1896 Salvesen Steam Cart
Formerly the property of the late John Cuthill Sword,c.1896 Salvesen Steam Cart
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Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £2,500 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2,500 up to and including £300,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £300,000 up to and including £3,000,000;
and 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £3,000,000.

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