VIC JENSEN "THE HUSSLING SHOEMEN" (1875-1954)
This attractive advertising cover was posted at the airmail rate of 1/6d with ASC#140 6d brown kookaburra and ASC#141 1/- green lyre bird, postmarked 1 AIR MAIL 1/ 530P20NO36/ BRISBANE/ QLD. It was addressed to Leeds, Yorkshire, England and there was no postmark on the reverse. All space was utilised on the front and reverse, and everything pertained to advertising matter, except for the blue BY AIR MAIL/ PAR AVION sticker and the typewritten BY AIR MAIL at the top and bottom of the front (Figure 1).
A certain degree of hyperbole is seen in the pronouncement of ' The House of a Million Shoes' 'From Vic Jensen/ The Hussling Shoemen', with the use of the plural probably referring to the 'Four Big Shoe Stores/Brisbane/ Also at Toowoomba and Ipswich'. This is followed up by 'YES! We Do Repairs/ By Electricity'.
The reverse is even more crowded and repeats 'The House of a Million Shoes'. It extols the virtues of Dr. Goode Health Shoes (exclusive to Vic.Jensens, constructed on strictly surgical lines and recommended for tired nervous feet), and all at the one price of One Guinea. Branches of the store are located at 'Valley, George Street, Woolloongabba, Toowoomba and Ipswich' (Figure 2).
The cover begged further research on Vic Jensen but the internet was relatively silent on the man himself. The major finding referred to his home "Halcyon", the quality of which confirmed that Vic was a successful business man. Halcyon at Hawthorne in Brisbane was a 3-level Mediterranean-style villa on a rise giving its residents an unobstructed view of New Farm Park. It was originally built by Vic Jensen in 1924, and was bought in 1987 by a well-known restaurant owner. It was commandeered and used by American Officers during World War 2. Vic Jensen was given short shrift on the web, with the only reference to several schoolboy Rugby Cups bearing his name.
Enquiries, on my account, by my sister who lives in Brisbane found the Head Office of Jensen shoes in Melbourne Street in the Brisbane telephone book. She learnt that all the Jensen stores had been closed, the last at Booval closing about 3 years ago. She subsequently learnt that the chain was bought by Mathers, who in turn was taken over by Colorado, but the Jensen stores were simply closed down. A short obituary was attached to the email obtained from the Courier Mail of 19.10.54.
"Victor died on 18.10. 54 at the age of 79 having had a heart ailment for 18 months. He had been the owner of one of Queensland's largest shoe store chains. He was born in Elizabeth Street, opposite the Theatre Royal, and was educated at the Wooloongabba, Kangaroo Point and Brisbane Normal State schools. He left school at 15 and served an apprenticeship in a boot factory, but by 1911 he started his own business in Queen Street. This grew into a seven store chain as well as a shoe factory. He was very sports oriented as a cross-country runner, a wing forward in Rugby Union and a cricketer. He became a life member, then president and patron of the Queensland Rugby League. He was also a president of the Boot and Shoe Retailers' Association".
There was more than shoes and sports in the life of Victor Jensen for he was Chairman of the East Brisbane State School, a past member of the Brisbane Operatic Society, a committee member of the Brisbane Eisteddfod and was involved in Patriotic Charitable organisations. An undated cartoon by an unnamed artist documents several aspects of this respected entrepreneur's life (Figure 3).
The assistance of Claire Russell (Brisbane) and the John Oxley Library, Queensland is gratefully acknowledged.
This paper was published in The Queensland Stamp Collector, February-April 2004, Volume 21 Number 1, pages 8-11.