Royal Reels: Gambling


This cover has a strip of three ½d green ‘Roo on map of Australia’ stamps plus a single red 1d stamp of the same design.  The stamps are cancelled with four examples of the LAMEROO/ JY/  11/ 13/ S.A squared circle postmarks.  There is a printed red illustration with at least half of the diagram obscured by the three green stamps.  The cover is addressed to Dr. J. Berg Esenwein, Correspondence School, Dept. 348  Springfield Mass., United States America.  The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The Red diagram is based on the Rechabite crest which has been described as a strange conglomeration of images, supported by two biblically clothed female figures, the one on the left an angel, the central part with a diembodied all-seeing eye, and images including a beehive, a sheaf of wheat, a sword, a lamb, sun, moon and stars, a snake, an unrecognisable animal, and three tents in the desert.   Below is the motto:  ‘Peace & Plenty the Reward of Temperance’ (Figure 2).

The Independent Order of Rechabites was founded in August 25 August 1835 at Salford, Lancashire, England.  The name for this abstinent Friendly Society, or Temperance Group, was derived from the people who make up the Rechab tribe of the Old Testament.  “We shall drink no wine, for Jonadab, the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying ‘Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye nor your sons, forever’” (Jeremiah 35:6).

The Order was first introduced into Australia in 1839 in Sydney and Adelaide, and Western Australia in 1876.   It is hard to recognise the fact now that  the Rechabites were once a major force in W.A. social life, for by the 1920s the Order had grown in W.A. to nearly 2,000 members.  The South Australian Rechabite District was No. 81 in Adelaide.  The office bearers in the Rechabites had some odd titles:  Guardian, Levite, Deputy Chief Ruler, and Chief Ruler based on the Bible, and each office holder wore ceremonial regalia and a kind of necklace with the name of their office.  During the meeting a pledge of abstinence was made in unison repeating the words of the Chief Ruler.  The Rechabites were non-religious and non-denominational, even though the meetings may have been held in a church.

In an advertisement in Scribner’s magazine dated April 1929, Dr. Joseph Berg Esenwein (1867-1946) invited people to enrol in his correspondence course in short story writing, with claims “One pupil won a $2000 prize.  Another pupil earned over $5000 in spare time.  Hundreds are selling constantly to leading publishers.”  Particulars of Dr. Esenwein’s famous forty-lesson course in writing and marketing of the Short-Story and sample copy of THE WRITER’S MONTHLY free.  Write today.  The Home Correspondence School Dept.64  Springfield, Mass.    A picture of Dr. Esenwein is shown in the advertisement (Figure 3).

Dr. Esenwein authored several teaching publications on the art of writing.  He was editor of Lippincott’s magazine, but I could not find any evidence of him having a doctorate.  He authored the 1908 textbook Writing the Short-Story.  A Practical Handbook on the Rise , Structure, Writing and Sale of the Modern Short-Story.  The frontispiece of Writing for the Magazines by J. Berg Esenwein, F.R.S.A. states that his other credentials included Editor of “The Writer’s Monthly” and former Director in the Periodical Publishers’ Association of America. (Figure 4).