The cover has considerable intrinsic interest on account of the advertising matter on its front and reverse, the type of postmark and the tax markings to warrant publication of the information it provides. The Western Australian stamp is the yellow 2d Swan issued on 4 Jan.1902 and it is postmarked with the duplex SHIP MAIL ROOM/ 11/ NO 21/ 03/ PERTH W.A. with the 8-bar GPO obliterator. It was received in New York DEC 27 and there are two tax markings : a large 'T' in a hexagon plus a DUE 2 CENTS in a circle (Figure 1).
The reverse of the cover has a different postmark NEW YORK/ 12-28/ 7A/ M.I.&R. with a small 1903 at the base, between the circle and the obliterator applied to the 2 cents U.S. postage due (Figure 2).
Both the front and back are full of advertising information about cars and other vehicles. I share the auction vendor's enthusiasm: ".... spectacular item. [ A very early automobile advertisement & one of the finest advertising envelopes we have seen from Australia]", and I have to admit I never knew that all the items existed any where in the United States, especially not in Australia, in 1903.
The front shows an 'open-air car', and lists: "Electric, Gasoline and Steam Cars of all descriptions"; "We can supply you with Anything in the Motor Line"; "Write to us for information". The reverse shows a large motorised delivery van and lists additional services: "We Stock all Parts and Accessories" "Repairs to all makes a Specialty" "Motor Cycles, Tricycles, Quads, Cars, Busses and Delivery Vans a Specialty." The full address is partly obscured by the postage due stamp, but Surrey Chamber, Perth, Western Australia is legible. Both the illustrations are real photographs, and they are in a sepia tone on similarly coloured paper.
The Battye Library, Perth W.A. has provided the following information about the sender of the advertising cover: "It appears to have been a very short lived company as it only appears in the Western Australian Post Office Directory from 1904-1909." An advertisement from the 1908 Directory was attached in the email, and it read: "American Motor Car & Vehicle Co. (C.W. Deane, mgr.), manufacturers & importers of motor cars; agents for the Darracqs, Argylls, Waverley Electric Car, Milnes Daimler Co., Londonderry Steam Lorry, Ramblers, 853 Hay St. Perth. See advt." This advertisement features "The Bulldog of the Motor World, the Darracq (Figure 3).
The Battye Library email continues: "The only other mention I can find is a note of the registration of the company in the Gazette of the Trade Protection Association of Western Australia of 25 July 1903: Registered 18 July 1903 by Claude W. Deane of the Melbourne Hotel, Perth - late manager of Monger's W.A. Stores Ltd, Fremantle." Thus this cover was mailed less than 6 months after the inception of the company.
The email continues: "In the Gazette of the Trade Protection Association of Western Australia of 9 Jan. 1909 there is a note of the company losing a case in the Supreme Court against the photographer J.J. Dwyer. There are no further mentions of this company". One has to suspect that this law case may have played a part in the premature closure of the company in 1909.
The intriguing advertisement of the Darracq in Figure 3 prompted me to look the car brand up in a great website, http://www.brighton-early.com/darracq.html and I learnt that the "huge 22½-litre v-8 Darracq took the world's land speed record in 1905 at 109.65 mph" even faster than the claims in the advertisement. As a bonus the site showed another view of the 1903 Darracq Type JJ 24hp (Figure 4).
To date there has been an unsuccessful internet search for the E.A. LaRoche Co. 652 Hudson Street, New York, but the New York Public Library conducted a search of their archives., and stated that F.A Laroche Company was an electrical manufacturing company situated at 652-654 Hudson St. in New York and Fred A. Laroche of 40 Gramercy Park was its President.
The considerable assistance of Glenda Oakley, JS Battye Library of Western Australian History, State Library of Western Australia, Perth WA is gratefully acknowledged, in adding flesh to the bare bones.
Addendum (March 2008, the original written in April 2005): John Parker, an Australian car enthusiast and author of books on cars, supplied names of numerous other cars that Deane sold. When the original company closed in 1909, Claude W. Deane visited London to talk with agents and manufacturers and this trip was to establish agencies for the many cars he later advertised available in WA. He relocated in 1908-09 at 853 Hay St. Perth and set up his own firm, the Deane Motor Car & Vehicle Co. until 1912 (as shown in Fig.3). John stated that 'Cab' rather than 'Vehicle' was included in the company name.