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ALFRED SIMPSON & SONS, IRON MANUFACTURER., ADELAIDE to ERIE PENNSYLVANIA

The airmail advertising cover for Alfred Simpson and Son has four single privately perfined green 1½d Q.E. stamps as well as the 1 shilling Lyre Bird stamp canceled by a G.P.O. ADELAIDE/ AIR/ APR 43/ SOUTH AUST as well as a slogan SEND MONEY/ BY POSTAL NOTE/ OR MONEY ORDER. It was sent to Lovell Manufacturing Co., Erie, Penna, U.S.A. The cover shows no sign of being censored on the front and the reverse was not seen. The advert for A. SIMPSON & SONS LIMITED/ ADELAIDE S.A. is in a faint green colour (Figures 1 & 2).

Alfred Simpson, iron and tin manufacturer, was born on 29 August 1805 in London, son of John Simpson, gentleman, and his wife Anne. He was apprenticed in 1820 as a tin-plate worker, and he also found time to study science and chemistry. He was admitted to the Worshipful Company of Tinplate Workers and in 1829 became a Freeman of the City of London. On 21 June 1838 he married Sarah Neighbour. The prosperity of Simpson's business was checked by a fire and the depression following the collapse of the railway boom, and he and his family were forced to migrate. They sailed in the John Woodhall for Melbourne but disembarked at Port Adelaide on 17 January 1849. After several unsuccessful business ventures and having twice visited the goldfields, in 1853 he turned to tinsmithing, making pots and pans and supplying cans for the Glen Ewin jam factory. In 1862 he leased premises in Gawler Place, Adelaide, which later were rebuilt.

Simpson was an innovator and introduced labour-saving machinery and new products such as fire-proof safes, bedsteads, japanned ware, colonial ovens and gas stoves. He was one of the first members of the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures. Of a retiring disposition, he was esteemed for his commercial ability and consideration to employees. Survived by two of his three children, he died on 23 September 1891 and was buried in the West Terrace cemetery. A memorial window to him and his wife (d.1874) was installed in the Unitarian Church in Wakefield Street. An example of the firm’s fire and thief proof safe is seen in Figure 3.

His son, Alfred Muller Simpson was born on 4 April 1843 in London. He was educated at Martin's Academy in Pirie Street, Adelaide, he learnt drawing at Mrs Hill's School of Arts in 1861 and in the same year joined the Volunteer Corps. Beginning his apprenticeship in 1857 in his father's firm, he became a partner in 1864. On 18 October 1871 he married Catherine Allen. Alfred was an enterprising businessman with an eye for advanced mechanical techniques. At the 1878 Paris exhibition he bought from the American, E. W. Bliss, a double-action press. Under him the firm continued to expand and prosper, in 1901 pioneering the manufacture of enamelware in Australia.

Prominent in business and civic affairs, he was a promoter and director of the Adelaide and Suburban Tramway Co. from its formation in 1876 and was also associated with the Port Adelaide Dock, the Commercial Wharf and the South Australian Gas companies. He was a member of the State Board of Conciliation from 1895, president of the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia in 1898-99, and a trustee of the State Bank of South Australia from 1902. As a member of the Legislative Council for Central District in 1887-94, he was known for his forthright speeches in favour of tariff protection and against payment for members of the council.

Of wide interests, Simpson held a St John Ambulance certificate, he was a prominent Freemason and a strong supporter of the Unitarian Church. His private benefactions included support for Kalyra Consumption Sanatorium, and the Blind, Deaf and Dumb Institute. He presented to the Adelaide City Council Chambers the stained glass windows commemorating the coronation of King Edward VII. After the death of his first wife in 1887, he married Violet Laura Sheridan on 23 August 1888. He died of cancer on 28 September 1917 survived by two sons and three daughters. His 2 sons, Allen and Frederick were directors in the family firm, which merged with Pope Industries and the firm then became Simpson Pope Holdings. The Simpson brand, now owned by Electrolux, continued to produce a variety of household appliances.

The cover was mailed to the Lovell Manufacturing Co. in Erie, Pennsylvania which was founded by Melvin Newton Lovell (1844-1895), a carpenter by trade, who established his home in Erie in 1865. Four years later, he secured patents on several household articles and in the same year, he produced wood products such as stepladders and manual washing machines and wringers. An example of a Lovell wringer bench is seen in Figure 4.

 

I acknowledge that this paper was abstracted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

 
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