VICTORIAN EYE and EAR HOSPITAL FUND RAISING LETTER
The envelope shown ( partially reduced in size) was an entire that had been folded to one-sixth of the size, and the quality of the paper had to be superior for it has withstood 96 years of existence. It was addressed to THE TOWN CLERK, Maryboro' Boro' Council, Maryborough. The pale green bantam Halfpenny 'POSTAGE' stamp was cancelled with a roller MELBOURNE/ 12.15 AM/ DEC 14 09 postmark. The reverse had a single reception postmark of MARYBOROUGH/ B/ DE 14/ 09/ VIC, which is not shown (Figure 1).
With all the information provided on the inside 2 pages, a surprising omission is that the full address of the hospital is not given, simply Melbourne with a date stamp 9 - DEC 1909. In the top L.H corner we learn that the Hospital was established in 1866 and incorporated in 1876. In the top R.H. corner the Hospital is for "Diseases of the EYE, EAR, NOSE and THROAT". The Board of Management (total of 13 including 2 designated as doctors) are all thoroughly Anglo-Saxon as are the Medical Staff, with the exception of the sole Dental Surgeon. The staff of 16 (with their degrees and diplomas, obtained in Melbourne, Adelaide, London, Edinburgh and Ireland) appear to be suitably well qualified (Figure 2).
The main thrust of the printed letter's contents is a request of the Council for financial funding as a result of "the recent enlargement of the Hospital to meet the growing demands on its resources, in affording relief to the large number of patients who attend from the various parts of the Commonwealth but more especially from the Country districts of Victoria." The letter is signed by Thos. G. Leslie, Supt. and Secretary (Figure 3).
The second page shows a charming old-world photo of the 16 nursing staff decorously arraigned and the majority appear youthful for such an important Hospital (Figure 4).
The Facts and Figures section of the page lists the all important demographics to support the plea for funding and there must have been a considerable enlargement of the number of beds, supporting the statement in the fund-raising letter. Thus the number of beds is now listed as 84, whereas the number of inpatients, last year averaged only 16 per week, suggesting a five-fold increase in available beds.
The expenditure last year exceeded the income, and with the enlargement of the facilities the bottom line AMOUNT STILL REQUIRED was £3,875. In small print "These figures represent the position on 31st August, 1909.
One has to wonder how many different people or businesses were recipients of this impressive letter, and how successful was the funding campaign?
An update: The Hospital is now known as the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH). It is the sole specialist teaching hospital in eye and ear medicine in Australia. The hospital treats 12,000 inpatients and over 120,000 outpatient services per annum. As the premier specialist hospital, RVEEH receives referrals from all over Victoria and also from interstate and internationally.