Set into the front service wall of the former Post and Telegraph Office in Clunes is a cast-iron reminder of the centrality of mail to daily life for greatest part of the past 200 years.
The 2c and 5c 'B4' stamp dispensers date from any time between the late 1940s and the 1960s - the changeover to decimal currency was accommodated by a simple change of coin slot mechanism.
Surprisingly, the invention of the coil stamp (making the machine possible) dates to the 1900s, when they were installed at the Melbourne GPO. The last stamp available through the machines was the 10c Sturt's Desert Pea issue of 1975. When postage increased to 18c in September 1975, 'no combination of coil stamps existed that could be dispensed by the B4 machines using a maximum of three coins of the same denomination.'
Stamps and telegrams may no longer be available in the magnificent, two-storey building in Clunes, but if you're of a mind to buy a post office complete, then the chance is coming up.
The 1879 brick-and-bluestone public Renaissance Revival design is being offered for sale for the first time in decades, after its post-postal life as a bookstore.
The Clunes Post and Telegraph Office was built to a design by the Public Works Department. As with many goldfields-era public buildings, it complimented the local town hall and courthouse and was constructed to reflect the importance and power of government institutions in daily life.
McGrath Estate Agents' Matthew Edwards says his research shows the principal building was constructed by Messrs Lewis and Roberts at a cost of £4099, and the kitchen outbuildings were constructed by Charles Morgan and Co for an additional £279. The building replaced an earlier, smaller post office built in 1861.
The building is designed in an Italian Renaissance "palazzo" style, constructed of rendered brick with a slate roof. The ground floor post and telegraph office is entered via a 'recessed arcaded loggia' with the entrance to the postmaster's residence on the first floor via a lobby to the side of the building.
In fact the building does resemble a grand Italian country home found in Sicily or Umbria, and Mr Edwards says the inclusion of arches is also a common and symbolic feature of many late 19th Century post offices.
He says it's hard to accurately value a building of the scale of the post office, which has the potential for five bedrooms and an impressively large series of open spaces downstairs.
The former Clunes Post Office is for sale by tender, with offers to be submitted in the form of a contract of sale to McGrath Estate Agents by 4pm on April 2.