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THE SANITARIUM HEALTH FOOD Co. and MORAN & CATO, GROCERS

This advertising cover brings back early memories in Sydney for I went into their Hunter Street store many years ago to buy freshly ground peanut butter. The cover was posted from Sydney on 12 July 1917 with a roller cancel and there is also a roller cancel of a Melbourne reception postmark on the red N.S.W. 1d ‘Shield’ stamp. The green advertisement describes the company as manufacturers, importers, exporters of choice cereal products (for) Infants, Invalids foods. Nut ----------a specialty. The central figure of a large building is not the store at 45 Hunter Street, Sydney, but a real Sanitarium. The cover is addressed to Messrs Moran and Cato, Brunswick St. Fitzroy, Victoria (Figure 1).

 

 

The Sydney Sanitarium opened in Wahroonga, Sydney on 1 January 1903 with a bed capacity of 70. The original building was designed by the American, Dr. Merritt Kellogg, the brother of John Harvey Kellogg of breakfast cereals fame. It is now called the Sydney Adventist Hospital, better known as the “San” and is operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, whose headquarters are in the immediate vicinity. A view of the Sanitarium is seen in Figure 2.

 

 

Ellen Gould White (1827-1915), Seven Day Adventist prophet and author, and one of her sons, William Clarence (both Americans) played a big part in the setting up of the Hospital and William played a major role in establishing health-food manufacture in Australia.

The company addressed, Moran & Cato is lesser known by me, and was started by Frederick John Cato and his cousin Thomas Edwin Moran. The latter had 2 grocery shops in Fitzroy and Carlton suburbs of Melbourne, and Cato asked to join the business. On the 24 July 1881 they entered a partnership, Moran having two-thirds of the shares. The partnership prospered and when Moran died at the age of 30 in 1890, his widow joined the partnership which by then had 35 branches. Cato was one of the first in 1893 when he introduced six o’clock closing. By 1935 there were about 120 branches in Victoria and Tasmania, and 40 in N.S.W., with about 1,000 employees.

Cato was a founder of the Rosella Preserving Co., and became its chairman of directors. He was also a founder in 1911 and chairman of the Austral Grain & Produce Pty Ltd. and chairman of Hagita Pty Ltd. coconut-planters of Papua. Cato was an ardent Methodist and he supported Methodist Missions in Arnhem Land, New Britain and India. He donated freely to church schools and when he died in 1935 at 77 in Hawthorn, Melbourne his estate was valued at more than £600,000, in spite of the fact that he had donated to Methodist institutions more than £450,000 over many years. He was survived by two of his four sons of whom Edward went into the business and Edwin became a doctor, and by three of his four daughters.

Some of the Moran & Cato grocery stores were upscale general stores in appearance for the times, whereas others were rather more pedestrian self-help establishments with a cluttered look (Figures 3 & 4).

 

 

 

 

Packaging of some of their items, such as tea, were eye-catching and were available in several grades that were colour coded (Figure 5).

 

 

The information on Cato is derived from the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Addendum (November 2007):  A sample label for Moran & Cato, Tea Merchants and Importers mailed from Fitzroy, Victoria to Wattle Grove Tasmania (Figure 6).

 

 

 

Addendum (December 2009):  An interesting postcard has been seen emphasising the Health side of this paper.   It was posted without a stamp and had a T2d tax mark and a pair of green 1d N.S.W. Postage dues were added which were postmarked WAHROONGA/ DE 23/ 1908/ N.S.W.   It was addressed to a patient at The Sanitarium, Wahroonga, N. Shore Line.  There was a plaintive message:  Just a little thought.  Can only wish you sister dear.  "Free of Pain".  Hope you can sooner get away than you think.  Will think of you, Love from Darkie  (Figure 7).

In addition a superior postcard scene for The Sanitarium, Wahroonga was found (Figure 8).

 

 

 
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