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WALSH BROTHERS, MELBOURNE, LARGEST JEWELRY BUSINESS, COLONIAL VICTORIA

The cover has a ms. ‘Via Marseilles’ and is addressed to Mr.W.J. Taylor, 33 Little Queen Street, Holborn, London and the purple on pink paper ‘TEN PENCE’ QV stamp of Victoria is postmarked with a duplex MELBOURNE/ 7X/ JY 27/ 87 with the obliterator VICTORIA canceling the stamp. The addressee has added a ms. In black ink of ‘Replied to 27 Sept/ afternoon/ 4 o’clock’. No information has been found on the addressee (Figure 1).

The reverse has no reception postmarks, but the flap has a black printed double circle with WALSH BROTHERS/ Jewellers/ MELBOURNE (Figure 2).

Walsh Bros., the largest jewellery and watch business in colonial Victoria was set up by Henry Sallows Walsh who arrived from England in Victoria in 1849. Walsh was born in ?1804 at Lewes, Sussex to Thomas and Eliza Walsh. He first married Charlotte Wade and they had 3 sons; his second marriage was to Phoebe Sallows, and they had no issue. HS Walsh was first recorded in the directories as a trader in 1850, and in 1854 he took into partnership Edwin Jones, and the company was known as Walsh, Jones & Co. from ca. 1854, later Walsh and Sons. In 1855 H.S. Walsh took into partnership two of his sons, Frederick and Alfred, the firm becoming Walsh Bros after his retirement in about 1861. The firm of Walsh Brothers was located at 63 Collins Street East, Melbourne. H.S. Walsh died on 8 July 1877 at Hawthorn, Victoria, and his two sons retired in 1881.

Henry Walsh was a Justice of the Peace, the first chairman of the City of Melbourne Gas Company and of the Suburban Railway Company, a Melbourne city councillor in 1852 as well as mayor of Melbourne in 1858-1859. He was first chairman of Boroondara Road Board (1856-1857), and presided over the first eleection of Hawthorn councillors in 1860. He was a Member of the Victorian Legislative Council I September 1869 and he resigned im May 1871. He had unsuccessfully contested the South Bourke electorate as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in 1857.

In addition to the making and retailing of jewellery and watches, the firm manufactured and retailed presentation silver. In particular the firm was known for the Goldsborough Cup which the large Goldsborough pastoral houses of the time presented as form of sponsorship of the wool industry. An example of this cup was presented to H.C. Douglas of North Yanco for ‘Pen, Two Best Merino Rams, over 2 Tooth’ on September 10, 1879. The base was stamped ‘Sterling Silver’ and ‘W. Bros’. The firm was also responsible for the Brookong Corinthian Cup of 1881, for which four horses’ entered the race at Urana, Victoria. A century later this racing trophy is considered an outstanding example of late nineteenth century design and craftsmanship. This cup is shown in Figure 3.

A picture of Henry Sallows Walsh taken from the Parliament of Victoria website is seen in Figure 4.

 
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