James Fairfax, who died in January, was a member of the prominent Australian newspaper publishing family and a well-known philanthropist and magpie collector.
The 5in (12cm) high salts, with marks for 1856, are a much-coveted model.
Similar figures formed part of the Dunn Testimonial, a 20-piece service of antipodean-themed silver presented to John Dunn, the director of the Commercial Bank of Van Diemen’s Land on his retirement in 1856.
An illustration of the £1000 testimonial “executed with that taste and excellence which distinguish the firm of Messrs. Hunt and Roskell, of New Bond Street” appeared in The Illustrated London News of November 18, 1856.
In addition to eight kangaroo salt cellars were similar models of emus and a “wolf dog”, the now extinct thylacine.
A similar pair of Hunt & Roskell kangaroo salts (dated 1854 and 1856) was sold by Catherine Southon in March 2015 for £18,000 – a sum that made the Aus$7000- 10,000 estimate on the Fairfax set appear modest.
Kangaroos provide the subject for some of the most desirable of all Victorian novelty silver. A kangaroo claret jug by Sampson Mordan (1882) took £50,000 as part of the James Walker collection at Christie’s South Kensington in 2006.