History of West Australia/Ernest Arthur Mannheim

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GERMANS have been accredited with phlegmatic temperaments by able scientists of their own schools. Highly desirable as such a slow response to stimuli may be in many ways, it yet conveys the idea, by reason of such an unhappy term as phlegm, of unemotional lethargic disposition. Fortunately this is not the case; if it were, the Germany of commerce would have been unknown. The great writer, Pascal, once said that the individual passed through the same changes as the race. We can, with ample authority for our step, apply the general characteristics to any individual whose life we seek to portray. Cautious and deliberate judgment, that rides supreme over hasty, rash, and consequently illogical decisions; massiveness of intellect, that compares favourably with the acute; a love of the vast and the infinite, which delights the fertile brain; a careful analytical handling of the problematical and speculative—these are the positive factors which the word phlegm should embrace.

Ernest Arthur Mannheim HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Hemus & Hall.

Mr. E. A. Mannheim was born in the province of Posen, in Germany, in 1867. As a student he attended a full course of lectures on mineralogy in the Science and Mining College of Silesia. He blended his theoretical knowledge with practical study of metallurgy in the same town. The land of Bunsen and many other distinguished chemists and scientists imparts first-class instruction. After attaining the necessary certificate of merit, in 1885 Mr. Mannheim sailed for Adelaide.

On his arrival, he found to his regret that mining there was not in so happy a condition as had been represented, and this behoved his engaging in commercial pursuits for a time. Not altogether unfortunate in his first commercial attempt in the colonies, he left for the Teetulpa Gold fields, South Australia, on the first report of their discovery. He laboured on the fields for six months, but no sufficient recompense for work was forthcoming, and scarcity of gold again drove him to the shades of commerce—in the Wimmera, Victoria

Finally, he sailed for Western Australia, where gold discoveries were now being made, and he arrived here just when Yilgarn was opening up. He proceeded as far as Southern Cross, made several lucrative investments, and retired to Adelaide to watch developments. For six months he remained in Adelaide, partly to recruit his health and partly to await news of further discoveries. At last Coolgardie was sensationally reported to be the salvation of the colony. Dame Exaggeration, flying with hasty wings, waxed as she went, and people became so mesmerised that they believed everything and anything. Mr. Mannheim's former visit gave him a favourable impression of the auriferous promise of Western Australia, and the news therefore filled him with little surprise.

In 1892 he reached Coolgardie, soon after the reported discovery of Bayleys. But this was then a famine-stricken place. The scarcity of water was the greatest grievance, while provisions were retailed at exorbitant prices. Such distressing occurrences influenced him to again leave the colony, and he did not return till 1893, when his appearance on the fields was simultaneous with the discovery of Hannan's. He quickly acquired interests in the Crœsus, Young Mount Morgan, Mount Morgan Extended, Crœsus North, and Hannan's Golden Dyke, which realised for him a nice round sum—a multiplication of the original sum invested. About the end of 1893 he set out on a long prospecting tour to Mount Magnet, and worked alluvial gold with a fair measure of success. In 1894 he provided himself with camels, and crossed over the Menzies fields and town (which were then unknown), and Niagara to Mount Malcolm. There he and his party pegged out leases.

Having made a successful tour, he returned to Coolgardie; but, seemingly possessed of indefatigable energy, he again pushed his way into sandy deserts with the true iron spirit of a pioneer. In the Norseman district he pegged out several valuable leases, but insufficient capital to work them rendered them valueless, and he forfeited them. But it turned out to be at once a loss and a gain; and his experience became a potent instrument for subsequent success. His reports were underlined as the impartial narrative of one who saw and knew what he saw. With full confidence in his scientific ability, Mr. E. Kuhnmunich, M.E, appointed him his buyer. Entrusted with such a responsible office, he called into play all the mental elements that go to form the synthetic state of correct judgment, and several valuable properties were acquired for his principal. Among many, the Pride of the Hill, Slug Hill, and Paris Gift are he most notable of these mines.

The tide of success had flown in rapidly after his Norseman tour, and he took a quiet trip to England to extend his sphere of influence. In London he interested himself in the formation of the Mannheim Exploration Company. After flotation he was appointed representative and attorney in Western Australia, and began his return voyage to the colony. But, instead of sailing direct he paid a visit to his home in Germany, and took his mining degree in Freiberg. This degree, he considered, would give him a greater locus standi among his confrères. The first transaction into which he entered for his new company was the purchase of the Lady Charlotte Mine. The purchase was effected in conjunction with the New Zealand Mines Trust, for which Dr. Scheidel is representative. The main object of his company is to take options of properties. Mr. Mannheim has travelled extensively on the goldfields. Every small acre seems familiar to him after his repeated visits, and one can imagine his feelings as he sees the leases which he pegged out between the Great Boulder and Brown Hill, and which he was forced to forfeit, now being floated for hundreds of thousands of pounds. But despite the chagrin that naturally follows such an unwelcome incident, he has good reason to be proud of his flotations, and this happy knowledge of achievement more than counterbalances his former negative feelings. In Adelaide he floated the Crœsus Mine for £52,000, and the conjoint mines of Young Mount Morgan and Mount Morgan Extended were floated in London for £150,000. In the latter place, also, he disposed of the Hannan's Golden Dyke for £15,000, which not long afterwards was floated for £80,000. Mr. Mannheim's sympathies are all showered on Coolgardie. He evinces the warmest interest in every matter pertaining to the welfare of its citizens, and he zealously assists in the promotion of utilitarian schemes.