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JAMES HENRY BRETT WALCH of J. WALCH & SONS PTY LTD, HOBART (1)

The cover is addressed to J. Walch & Son, Newspaper Agents. Hobart, Tasmania and the two red 1d ‘Shield’ stamps of N.S.W. have 2 copies of the barred numeral ‘1711'. There is a transit roller cancel of SYDNEY/ SEP 22/ 12 M/ 1905/ 15 overlying the postmark of origin RILEY’S HILL/ SP 20/ 1905/ N.S.W (Type 1 D (i), opened 1893, closed 1978, 29 k from Ballina. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

 

The Walch family history has been traced back 3 centuries and James William Henry of the third generation and Eliza Nash had 13 children of which James Henry Brett Walch was fourth in line. He was born October 22, 1828 at Cannanore, Tamil Nadu, India and died November 5, 1897 at Hobart, Tasmania. James Henry first married Eliza Watchorn (2 children) and then Jane Crosby who had 13 children, seven of which were sons who did not die in childhood.

The Cyclopedia of Tasmania states that ‘Messrs. J. Walch & Sons Pty. Ltd., Publishers, Manufacturing Stationers, etc., Hobart’ was established at Wellington Bridge in 1836 presumably by his father, James Henry. An advertisement for Walch & Son at Wellington Bridge advertising books and stationery, shows other items listed as FANCY GOODS, comprising cabinet, papier maché and glass ware, as well as PERFUMERY. This was not the only items sold at the Wellington Bridge store at the corner of Elizabeth and Liverpool Streets for the store sold English, French and German pianos imported from Europe for prices from £42 to £52, which could be paid by instalments (Figure 2).

In 1861, a manufactory and warehouse was erected in Macquarie Street, Hobart, and in 1873 ‘Downing’s Store’ was purchased in Davey Street. The original building was sold in 1921 and the business activities were concentrated at the other 2 sites. Their bookstore was situated a Walch’s Corner at Elizabeth and Liverpool Streets, Hobart.

James Henry B. Walch "was for 52 years a member of the firm" and his birth date in India is now given as "1825". He was educated in England, coming out to Tasmania with his father’s family in 1842 (six years after the firm’s start-up date). " It was to the labour and perseverance of James Walch that the public owe the invaluable Red Book" (an Almanac listing postmasters, justices of the peace, coroners, registrars of births, deaths & marriages, magistrates & police departments, doctors, dentists and ecclesiasticals, etc). "From the first issue in 1863 he edited the Red Book for 36 years. An example of advertising in Walch’s Almanac is seen in Figure 3.

James Walch occupied many public and business positions, and took an active part in the introduction of railways into Tasmania". The Cyclopedia lists his death as 1898, a year later. The Red Book was last published by the Walch firm in 1980. James Henry Brett Walch’s picture is seen in Figure 4.

One of his younger brothers, Charles Edward Walch (also born at Cannonore, India in May 1830) took over the firm after James’ death. He had spent 6 years at sea, gold digging in Victoria in 1852 for a few months, and the same year joined the firm, and he died in 1915. The Cyclopedia states that Richard Crosby Walch, son of James entered the firm in 1883, until he also died in 1915. The family history lists three of James sons’ names with ‘Crosby’ in them, but no Richard Crosby! Geoffry and Percival Walch took over in an unspecified year.

Although Messrs Walch have been listed as stationers and booksellers, they advertised regularly in The Mercury as importers of homeopathic medicines for the public. The were keen to promote homeopathy in Tasmania as they published monthly Notes on Homeopathy from September 1870 to August 1871.

To return to a philatelic focus, the firm issued some fine multicolored pictorial postcards, mostly in the early 1900s, and this one showed GREETINGS FROM HOBART, and pictured Hobart’s Post Office (Figure 5).

Prior to the pictorial postcards J. Walch & Sons. forced the government to reconsider the issue of post cards. In 1875 the desirability for the issue of Tasmanian postcards was considered and rejected on inadequate grounds ("they presented an opportunity for anonymous scurrility"). In 1880 J. Walch printed and sold a card bearing the inscription "Walch’s Tasmanian Post Card. All persons who approve of a PENNY POSTAL CARD for delivery in any part of the Colony are solicited to encourage the movement by the use of this card". The INLAND POSTAGE was listed as 2d and the TOWN POSTAGE as 1d. The cards were printed on white and yellow board and the reverse is totally blank (Figure 6).

This card sold at threepence a dozen and the response was so great that the Government was left in no doubt about the convenience and usefulness of this proposal, and official post cards at a postal rate of 1d were issued on 1 January 1882.

A lesser known very rare item is one where the above card is embossed with the oval QV Tasmanian stamps of ½d plus 1d for overseas use (Figure 7).

Addendum (August 2009):  This fine postcard from J. Walch & Sons of Hobart was sent to Paris and showed a view of Launceston, Tasmania from Trevallyn (Figure 8).

A great family and a remarkable business.

 
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