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WILLIAM BROOKS & CO. LD, SYDNEY to G.E. STECHERT & Co. N.Y.

The advertising cover was sent fom William Brooks & Co., Printers, 17 Castlereagh St., Sydney to G. E. Stechert & Co., 155 West 28th Street, New York and the brown 1½d KGV Head stamp was cancelled with an illegible circular postmark as well as a partial roller slogan ‘WAR SAVINGS CERTIFICATES.’ It was underpaid as shown by the ‘N.S.W./ T/ 30' handstamp, associated with the U.S. ‘DUE/ 6/ CENTS’ and a pair of U.S. 3 cents Postage Dues. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

William Brooks, printer, publisher, politician and patriot, was born on 31 December 1858 at Tiverton, Devonshire, England, son of James Brooks, a lacehand, and his wife Mary Ann. Educated at Tiverton Board School and trained as a compositor, he worked in London before going to South Africa. From 1884 he was in Sydney, and he married Martha Jessie Taylor (d.1931), of Cape Town, on 20 July at a North Shore Congregational church. After working briefly for the Sydney Morning Herald, he set up as a printer. Brooks's business expanded rapidly after he won a Department of Public Instruction tender for school readers, which were widely used in Australian schools; He extended his activities to manufacturing and retailing and William Brooks & Co. Ltd was incorporated in 1901.

Prominent in the Master Printers' and Connected Trades Association, Brooks represented it on wage boards in 1908-11 and was its president in 1911-24. A council member of the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales in 1914-25, he was also on the council of the Employers' Federation of New South Wales in 1913, and its president in 1914-20 and 1921-24. He was a vigorous opponent of the trade unions. Brooks was involved in negotiations for the National Party, and channelled funds to it from New South Wales employers until 1919, and he had been appointed to the Legislative Council in 1917.

Brooks was cofounder with Mary Booth of the Soldiers' Club in 1915. Brooks expected Australians to go to the help of the 'Old Country', to the last man, and he believed that the contribution of those who went should be fully and formally recognized. At the Soldiers' Club in 1915 he helped organize the Returned Soldiers' Association, acting temporarily as its first president.

In 1916 Brooks was a founding member of the Property Taxpayers and Ratepayers' Association, formed in protest against rent control and to fight adult suffrage in local government, and in 1924 he became president of a new Taxpayers' Association. In 1919-27 he represented Bourke Ward on Sydney Municipal Council, serving on its finance and health committees and advocating a separate authority to control electricity. Brooks was honorary treasurer for the Australian National Defence League in 1933 and president in 1925-35 of the Adult Deaf and Dumb Society of New South Wales, a cause his wife had supported since its foundation. She bore him five daughters. Survived by his daughters, Brooks died at his Double Bay home on 14 October 1937 and was buried in the Presbyterian section of South Head cemetery. A picture of William Brooks is seen in Figure 2.

Gustav. E. Stechert, bookscriber and importer of works of Foreign literature, founded his business in 1872 at No. 2 Bond Street New York, and moved to 106 Broadway where he remained to 1887, and subsequently moved to 151-155 W 28th Street New York, dealing at the wholesale and retail level in both the domestic and foreign book trade. He has branch houses at No. 10 Hospital Street, Leipzig and No. 26 King William Street, The Strand, London. From these he draws his foreign books to supply his New York firm. He was a native of Germany, and has resided in the United States for 22 years. He previously had 35 years service in the book trade in Germany. His father was engaged in the same trade in Germany. Stechert was joined by The Swiss immigrant, Alfred Hafner , who worked in various positions for the company, before his name became part of the firm’s name. A 1966 obituary in The New York Times indicated that Otto Hafner was the President of the firm at the time of his death. The Stechert-Hafner company is described as having offices in London, Paris, Stuttgart, Germany and Bogota, Colombia. They specialise in books on science, technical, medical and other nonfiction categories, in languages from around the world. Two items show that they had additional addresses in New York, other than those mentioned above (Figures 3 & 4).

The text and figure associated with William Brooks is extracted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

 
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