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MAXIMILIAN TANNENBERG, STAMP DESIGNER of AUSTRALIAN STATES

Two postal items have appeared at two auction sites in the past year addressed to Max Tannenberg. The first is a cover described as follows: "use of the India 4a 6p envelope from Rangoon to Melbourne addressed to Maximillian (sic) Tannenberg". It has a RANGOON/ AUG 19 cds with an 8 barred R duplex obliterator and it was sent to Tannenberg, at his home address 19 Canning Street, Carlton, Melbourne, Australia. There is a pencilled ‘36' (registration number?) as well three examples of insufficient postage paid: a black ink manuscript ‘18cts’; a large oval ‘MORE TO PAY’ handstamp with ‘8' inserted in pencil; and, a large ‘T’ in a circle handstamp. The vendor is not sure if the tax markings were applied in India or Victoria., but he is well aware that Max is a known Australian colony stamp designer. The reverse (not seen) shows that 1884 was the year of the cover being posted, and it was postmarked at Bombay, Melbourne and Carlton (Figure 1).

 

 

The second item was the 1d "Naish" Postcard issued in Victoria in 1883 which was postmarked with a duplex MELBOURNE/ 10 A/ FE 4/ 85 with the VICTORIA obliterator, and it was posted to Max Tannenberg, at the same address as on the first item (Figure 2). 

 

The reverse was printed for the Melbourner Deutscher Turn-Verein, 71 Latrobe Street East, giving the program for the months of February and March of 1885, both in German and English. This must have been a very good Social Club for it featured 4 events for Members Only, with free admission. It described two four-hour Balls, one German Theatrical Performance and one English Theatrical Performance. The postcard card was back-stamped with an unframed CARLTON/ A/ FE 4/ 85/ VICTORIA reception postmark  (Figure 3).

 

Somewhat surprisingly, information on Tannenberg is very incomplete, with the best description in Geoff Kellow’s The Stamps of Victoria 1990, page 277. A public competition was held in Victoria in June-July 1890 for the 2½d and 5d stamps and the Postmaster-General chose 2 designs submitted from the nom-de-plume Finis Coronat Opus, and the designer turned out to be Maximilian Tannenberg of Messrs Troedel & Co. of Collins Street, Melbourne. He had been successful in previous stamp design competitions, namely the 1d and 6d values of N.S.W. 1888 Centennial issue, and subsequently he was responsible for the 1894 2½d and 5d stamps of South Australia (designs clearly based on the Victorian design), as well as Victoria’s 1897 Charity issue of the 1d (1 shilling) and 2½d (2 shillings and 6d), with the additional values being for charity.

My enquiry about Max to the Troedel Company failed to produce a direct reply, for they passed on my email to the State Library of Victoria. The Victorian Pictures Collection, passed on my request to the Librarian of the Manuscripts Collection of the SLV, and a four-line reply can be summarized as follows: " The Troedel publishing archive, ms 8490, mentions a Tannenberg in the Artists sections of the earliest wage book, for 11 Nov 1904 - 11 Aug 1910. This employee was paid 5 pounds per week. No other information is listed."

The Turn-Verein existed in Melbourne and Brisbane, and they started life as German Sports Clubs, which developed social and cultural aspects. The clubs started out as a gymnastic movement by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, a gymnasium instructor in Berlin in 1811. The clubs went through troubled political times, with the leaders prosecuted. In the more liberal times of the 1840's, membership of the new clubs was less restrictive than previously with students, academics, and craftsmen admitted, so that almost half of the club members were not gymnasts. The clubs funded libraries and reading rooms, sponsored lectures and even allowed women to be members.

I am not sure when the Australian clubs introduced significant social and cultural events as outlined on the reverse of the postcard. However a ca. 1886-1898 photo outside a building with a banner reading Melbourne Deutscher Turn Verein showed a group of men, one-third clothed as gymnasts, the remainder of men in formal outfits and two women in gowns (Figure 4).

 

A philatelic friend finally found a postcard which gave some more personal information about Maximilian. The Victorian 1d brown ‘Stamp Duty’ card was postmarked with the duplex Melbourne/ 9 S/ JY 21/ 93 Victorian obliterator and was addressed to Mr M. Tannenberg, C/o Troedel & Co, Collins St, City (Figure 5).

 

The reverse had a rubber stamped ‘THE PHILATELIC SOCIETY OF VICTORIA’ as heading, and the remainder was written in a legible hand. Good notice was given for the August 1, 1893 monthly meeting in Rooms at 60 Queen St. (Melbourne). In addition to the order of business and matters related to the stamp exchange, Tannenberg was reminded that he owed 6 shillings & nine pence for book 6, and that the subscription for year 1893/94 was now due. A point of interest was that a woman, Miss Spence, had her name on a ballot proposed by a Mr. Penfold (Figure 6).

 

 Subsequently, I found that Tannenberg had four unsuccessful essays in the 1911 Australian Stamp Design Competition, of which two examples are shown. The first essay #E65 is described as an "Allegorical Figure and Coats-of-Arms"of the six Australian States, endorsed at the bottom as "BE UNITED" I  (Figure 7). 

 

Another essay #67 was described as "Advance Australia Coats-of-Arms" which was endorsed "BE UNITED" III (Figure 8).

 
 

Those designs not shown here were another "Allegorical Figure" seated on this occasion (#E66), and a totally different design showing a Lyre Bird. (#E68). All designs were 1d pen and ink in black on thick card, 7 x 5.5 cms.

 Addendum (October 2010):  In H.L. Chisholm's Centenary of Happiness. The Centennial History of the Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria (Melbourne 1992) the following information is given (Figure 9):

I thank Les Molnar for the postcard shown in Figures 5 and 6 which shows that in addition to being an Australian stamp designer, he was also a stamp collector. Richard Breckon supplied the information used in the addendum for Max Tannenberg, as well as information on other philatelists in the (Royal) Philatrlic Society of Victoria.

 
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