Royal Reels: Gambling


The front of the card shows an imposing two-level building clearly labeled G.P. Fitzgerald & Co. in colour, and the reverse is addressed to a lady living at Constitution Hill, Tasmania. The stampless card has a POSTAGE PAID/ 1/ DEC 20/ 1907/ HOBART TAS postmark, as well as a reception postmark for Constitution Hill (now, Dysart), Tasmania the same day. The printed message reads: “With all Good Wishes/ for a/ Merry Christmas/ and may the New Year/ bring you every success/ and prosperity/ G.P. Fitzgerald & CO./ Mail Order Dept. (Figures 1 & 2).

 George Parker Fitzgerald, the son of James Fizgerald and Ellen Scott was born in Hobart on 13 February 1843 and married Emma Caroline Gwatkin Lovett on 5 August 1882 in St. John’s Church of England, Newtown, Tasmania. They had 2 children, Douglas Fitzgerald born in 1883 and Kathleen Mignon Fitzgerald, born in 1888. Surprisingly little could learnt of the parents: George died in Hobart on 28 March 1917 and Emma’s date of death was not found, but she died in Anglesea Street, Hobart and was buried in Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart.

This paucity of personal information for George was in spite of the fact that he was well known on several accounts for he was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly (M.H.A) for West Hobart on 26 July 1886 and was a parliamentary Minister from 1888 until 22 May 1891, when he was defeated.

He founded G.P. Fitzgerald, a Tasmania-wide department store in the mid 1880’s and the postcard picture of the main store on 71 Collins Street attests to its affluence. He had effective advertising for this store as shown by the cartoon advertisement produced by Thomas Claude Wade Midwood. This shows a crowd of buyers, mostly women, pushing in and coming out of the store which is labeled as Wholesale Warehousemen, and the left-hand banner states “Supply the Public at Closest Trade Prices for Prompt Net Cash”. The right-hand banner describes the “Departments: Blankets, Flannels, Sheetings, Calicoes, Millinery, Dresses, Mantles, Gloves, Hosiery, Carpets, Linoleums, Curtains, Mens Clothing. Hats, Caps, Sunshades, Laces, Silks, Haberdashery” with a statement to “TRY THEM”. This was one of the State’s largest retail chains, and additional goods sold were ready-made clothing, tents and tarpaulins (Figure 3).

 An additional piece of advertising is on a paper serviette with a map of Tasmania with FitzGeralds prominently above (undated ca. 1960’s), the map surrounded by a fish on a line, a sailing boat, points of a compass, a shell, and a crustacean. Over the map is a banner stating “7 Stores to Serve you Throughout Tasmania” and the places where they are located are shown: Burnie, Ulverstone, Devonport and Launceston in the north and New Norfolk, Moonah and Hobart in the south (Figure 4).

The company existed as G.P. Fitzgerald and Co. Ltd until 1918, but it was taken over in 1911 and became a  part of Charles Davis Ltd, until the name was changed again in 1995 to Harris Scarfe Holdings. G.P. Fitzgerald was a founding Director of the famous Cascades Brewery in Hobart and was one of three office bearers, the Hon. G. P. Fitzgerald as President, responsible in 1909 for changing the name of Cascades Sports Club to the South Hobart Soccer Club. Fitzgerald was one of 3 new members appointed as a Salmon Commissioner whilst he was an M.H.A. He is shown in a picture taken from the Parliamentary website in Figure 5.