Royal Reels: Gambling


It should be stated at the beginning of this paper, that the name of this short lived firm of Sydney stamp dealers was registered as Smyth & Nicolle at 14 Hunter Street, Sydney. The only reason for my reversing their names is on account of the unavailability of a cover to or from Smyth. James H. Smyth and Thomas H. Nicolle had formed a stamp dealer partnership in 1893, but it was dissolved in 1902, and both continued as dealers in their own right, independently. Nicolle continued dealing until at least 1930, and Smyth until his death in 1923. The first edition of their catalogue ‘Priced Catalogue of Australasian Stamps, Sets & Packets’ was first published in 1899 and it consisted of 32 pages; the third edition (1901) was 60 pages and the fifth (1903) was 56 pages. In addition a 1900 and 1902 editions have been seen and there could have been a sixth edition before Fred Hagen’s takeover of Smyth’s business. There was no evidence that the catalogue was resuscitated with Smyth’s new business from 1910 onwards.

The printed blue ‘ONE PENNY’ Swan stamp on the Western Australia was cancelled PERTH/ 7 30P/ 29 JY 07/ WESTERN AUSTRALIA, and the postcard was addressed to T. H. Nicolle Esq, 14 Hunter Street, Sydney (Figure 1).

The reverse was dated 29th July 1907, and contained the message ‘Kindly send me your “Illustrated price list”’. It was signed G.M. Kay, 30 Colin Street, Perth, W.A. The purple handstamp ‘H. REHLEN’, was probably of significance (see later), but the sender of the postcard has not been identified (Figure 2).

T.H. Nicolle was at a different address later as shown on a 1928 cover which shows he was at 108 Pitt Street, Sydney. The cover was addressed to the stamp catalogue firm of Gebruder & Senf at Leipzig, Germany. It was underpaid with the pink ‘ONE PENNY’ stamp of Victoria, but it was not taxed, and the stamp was cancelled by a roller cancel SYDNEY/ 18 JUN/ 1929/ 10 AM/ N.S.W., with the slogan ‘ COMMONWEALTH LOAN/ NOW OPEN/ APPLY AT ONCE. The reverse was not seen (Figure 3).

A photograph of Thomas H. Nicolle was shown as well as the frontispiece of the first edition of the Smyth & Nicolle’s ‘1899 Priced Catalogue Australasian Stamps Sets & Packets’ Postage Stamp Dealers, 14 Hunter St., Sydney N.S.W.’, as seen in Figures 4 & 5.

The next photo shows a scene at Smyth & Nicolle’s stand at the 1900 Philatelic Exhibition held in Sydney 7 and 8 September 1900. It was at this exhibition that their new magazine ‘The Australian Journal of Philately’ was launched (Figure 6).

The Queensland illustrated postcard has a printed brown ‘ONE PENNY’ stamp and it is addressed to Mr. T.H. Nicolle, 14 Hunter St, Sydney, N.S.W. The illustration was described as ‘Pineapple Plantation, Nundah, near Brisbane, and the stamp was cancelled JONDARYAN/ 9 30A/ 23 JE 06/ QUEENSLAND, the other postmark was illegible (Figure 7).

The reverse had the sender’s address as Jondaryan, Queensland and was dated June 22nd 06. The message read ‘Dear Sir, Please send me your illustrated Price List of Stamps and oblige Yours truly E.F. Turner’. The special point of interest was that it also had the same purple handstamp of H. REHLEN, who probably was a person who worked at the firm and had attended to the request. At a dealer’s website, the unseen description of another Nicolle addressed cover stated that the same ‘H. REHLEN’ handstamp was also seen (Figure 8).

James H. Smyth was the editor for the short-lived ‘Australian Journal of Philately’ and at the turn of the century the ‘Australian Philatelist’ was the only philatelic periodical being published in Australia and New Zealand. The stated motivation for its publication was Federation of Australia, and the promise of an uniform Australian issue instead of the Colony stamps. The 12 to 16 page monthly cost 3d and at first it was published at Smith & Nicolle at 14 Hunter St., Sydney. When the partnership in June 1902 ended, future issues were published by J.H. Smyth & Co. at 88 King Street. Publication ceased in August 1905 when Fred Hagen bought out Smyth. A copy of the contents page of the Australian Journal of Philately is seen in Figure 9.

A fine photograph of James H. Smyth (1856-1923) pictured in his office in Sydney in 1916, which also includes information on his other publications, is seen in Figure 10.

I acknowledge that the vast majority of the text and the photographs, other than the cover and the 2 postcards, was taken from a comprehensive 3-part paper by Geoff Kellow and Richard Breckon entitled ‘The History of Philatelic Publishing in Australia and New Zealand, Part 2, 1894-1918’, which appeared in The Australian Philatelist Nov/Dec1987, pages 50-57.

Categories: Philatelists, Postcards