Royal Reels: Gambling


A mourning cover from Australia led to an exciting story of Nova Scotia stamps remainders. It was addressed to A.A. Bartlett Esq, “The Hill”, Charlottetown, P.E. I. (Prince Edward Island), Canada and it had a manuscript Per SS “Moama” . The red 1d and green ½d Victorian stamps were postmarked MELBOURNE/ PM/ 2 30/ 13 3 00 (Figure 1).

The reverse did not show any evidence that it was a mourning cover. There was a transit mark for WINDSOR/AM/ AP 10/ 00/ ONT and a reception mark for CHARLOTTETOWN/ 2/ AP 13/ 00/ P.E.I. In addition there was a multicoloured monogram of K/?A/C on the flap (Figure 2).

Arthur Alison Bartlett was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada on November 5, 1852 and died in Charlottetown, the capital city of the smallest Province of Canada on December 14, 1920. Arthur’s parents were United Empire Loyalists, his father being James Bartlett. In August 1882, Arthur married Margaret Scott Rankin, the daughter of the Mayor of Charlottetown. They had one daughter, Mary Florence (Bartlett) Cosh who died in 1971. Arthur’s hobby was stamp collecting and he built up a fine collection which he sold in England for $20,000 in 1906 or 1907. He is shown in military costume, and there is a reference to a Captain A.A. Bartlett partaking in a Royal Salute of 21 guns in June 1902 in Honor of Peace after the Boer War (Figure 3).

During his days as a stamp dealer he was part of a consortium who owned remainders of stamps of both Nova Scotia and P.E.I., and he decided to have a colorful and ornate letterhead produced in Hamburg, Germany as advertising. The cost was $750 per thousand, but his daughter rejects this cost: “Father would not have been able to do anything like that.”

The advertising matter on the sheets read as follows:
Top Left – Prince Edward Island stamps in quantities for dealers or single specimens for collectors. Also in sheets entire and also a few on covers.

Top Right – The only large assortment of Nova Scotia Bill stamps in existence for sale.

Centred below stamps – Arthur A. Bartlett/ Managing Director of the Syndicate owning the Nova Scotia Remainders/ Managing Director of Owners of Prince Edward Island Remainders/ British Colonial Postage Stamps for Collectors and Dealers/ P.O. BOX 33/ Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/ Canada (Figure 4).

The stamps were bought in 1873, and Bartlett was taken to court as this letter head was thought to be too good, and that items might be cut from it and used to defraud collectors. A good clean unfolded sheet can sell for about $100. In the end he was allowed to keep all sheets he had printed, but not allowed to print any more.

So what started out as interest in an Australian Colonial Mourning cover produced an exciting Canadian philatelic story. This story is told in much greater detail by Robert Carr in BNA Topics, February 1966, pages 39-41. Assistance in researching this paper was obtained at the website .

Addendum:   Two more covers were addressed to Bartlett & King, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.  The first was sent from PRAHRAN/ A/ JY 25/ 03/ VICTORIA, had a red on yellow paper 1 d half penny stamp and the rare on cover 9d pink stamp.  It also had front stamping of ‘R’ in circle (for registration) as well as backstamps of Melbourne, Montreal and Charlottetown, PEI.  The name of King was added to the cover’s company, and the BNA (British North America) TOPICS of February 1966, page 40, states who King was.  There was a syndicate behind the sale of these Nova Scotia remainders, with Arthur A. Bartlett as manager, Donald A. King, postmaster at Halifax, Nova Scotia was the active partner, and four others were silent partners.  One of the latter was the influential Sir Louis Davies, member of the Laurier Cabinet and later Chief Justice of Canada.  The vendor stated that the cover was overpaid with a total of 10d half penny, three times the base rate of 3d half penny postage, plus the registration rate of 3d (Figure 5).

The second was another mourning cover sent registered to Mr. A.A. Bartlett care of the firm Messrs Bartlett & King (Stamp Merchants), P.O. Box 652, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. It had a blue 6d stamp of Victoria with a large thin ‘R’ in a circle as well as a double circle REGISTERED MELBOURNE/ AM/ 10 30/ 9 4 00/ 4 postmark (Figure 6).

The reverse had four postmarks, a transit at WINDSOR/ PM/ MY 9/ 00/ ONTARIO, another transit at MONTREAL CANADA/ ( ? MY 11)/ 00, yet another transit at MONCTON & CAMPBELLTON/ 5/ MY 12/ 00 (is this a TPO?) with an arrival postmark at CHARLOTTETOWN/ 2 / MY 12/ 00/ P.E.I.  Quite a smorgasbord of fine cancels (Figure 7).

Addendum (April 2008): This paper has been published at the Philatelic Database website:, a website I can highly recommend to postal history lovers.

Addendum (August 2008):  Yet another 2 covers have come on the market, the first sent by the stamp dealer Wm. Ackland from Melbourne, both registered and both sent to Bartlett’s P.O. Box in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.  The first was cancelled REGISTERED/ 11/  DE 20/ 99/ MELBOURNE, and the reverse was not seen (Figure 8).

The second, also from Melbourne, had the stamps cancelled with a large ‘R’ in a circle with a REGISTERED/  2.30P-7 SE06/  MELBOURNE cancel alongside.  The reverse was not seen (Figure 9).

Addendum (December 2009):  Yet another cover from Melbourne or its suburb, Prahan.  This registered cover from Melbourne was to the usual address in P.E.I, Canada, dated MELBOURNE/ 2P- 5 MA 07.