Royal Reels: Gambling


The New South Wales Post Card with the printed red 1d ‘Shield’ stamp is addressed to Messrs Freeman & Wallace, Medical Institute, 227½ Elizabeth street, Sydney. The stamp is cancelled with the ‘624′ Ray of Luddenham (Figure 1).

The reverse has the following penned message: Post Office, Luddenham, April 24th 1905. To Messrs Freeman & Wallace, Sirs, Will you kindly send me one of your Medical Work Books as I am anxious to read your works and have been asked by my neighbours to send for one of —- ——– which I will hand around to them, Yours faithfully, R. Willmington, Storekeeper, Luddenham. There is also an incomplete LUDDENHAM/ AP 24/ 1905/ N.S.W cancel on the reverse (Figure 2).

The internet gives very little information about the firm, other than 2 out-of-print books, the first by Freeman, H. & Wallace, R., entitled Sydney Electro-Medical & Surgical Institute 1902, revised edition. More information is given about the second book which is a revised and enlarged 510 page book, printed in Sydney, 1900. The book is entitled Clinical experiences on Nervous and Private Diseases by the Electro-Medical and Surgical Institute by Drs. Freeman and Wallace L.R.C.P. Edinbrough, L.F.P.S. Glasgow 1864, L.M., M.D. California, U.S.A., Etc., Surgeon. The Institute is given at Bathurst and Elizabeth Street. It contains sexual content which had to be suppressed after the passage of Legislation in 1900, which gave control of unqualified practice. After a court case instituted by an outraged client in which the judge denounced the perpetrators as frauds and grasping cheats, the firm closed in 1908. Testimonials were included and there was a photograph of Mr. Howard Freeman, The Director of the Institute.

Professor Sir Dr. Edward Ford in his Bibliography of Australian Medicine 1790-1900 gives additional information for Dr. Howard Freeman and Dr. Richard Wallace. Their book is described as follows: A vividly illustrated treatise on sexual complaints, published by a partnership which later became the Electro-Medical and Surgical Institute, Sydney. Includes such chapters as youthful follies leading to demoralization, nervous debility, masturbation, spermatorrhea, impotence, and venereal diseases.

Howard Freeman’s qualifications were given as M.B.S.A, Professor of Electricity, Member of Harmon’s College, Washinton Cor., California, U.S.A., legally qualified by medical boards in Great Britain, U.S. and Australasia, an American who conducted the Progressive Remedy Institute in Brisbane in 1892. He was unregistered in any Australian State. Richard Wallace was given the qualifications cited above, and he had served in the British Army and was on the staff of the Homeopathic Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria. He apparently joined Freeman about 1898, and he left the Sydney Electro-Medical Institute before 1906. He was at New Lambton, N.S.W. in 1911.

Their second book was re-issued with all references to sexual contents removed and Freeman’s medical titles were dropped.  Edward Ford gives more information re the law case mentioned above: The Institute was marked by “cruel, cunning, unmeasured audacity and hypocritical presence. Persons who applied to advertisements were lured on by stock letters to arouse their terrors, get them into their clutches, and obtain their money”. In 1908 the Post Office stopped delivery of the firm’s mail and it closed soon after.

An article From Quackery to Qualification: Massage and Electrotherapy in Australia 1870-1914 gives additional information on Howard Freeman, as follows: Howard Freeman, one of Australia’s most prominent unorthodox practitioners had formed a partnership with J. Hoerchner in Brisbane in 1892-93, practising in medical electricity. Hoerchner’s reputation somehow survived this experience, as he continued practising in this trade until the late 1890’s.

In an article headed Sydney Homeopathic Hospital, “it was in 1895 that Richard Wallace gave a lecture before The Assistant Chemists’ Association of New South Wales, recommending the establishment of a homeopathic hospital in Sydney – the only city with over 300,000 inhabitants which has not one.”

This the sum total that I have found on Freeman and Wallace to-date.

Addendum:  A fence was found with an advertisement on it, which read as follows:  Sydney’s Leading Specialists, Freeman & Wallace, Fee Pound 1, by Letter (Figure 3).

Additional information was found in the website NLA Beta Newspapers which informed visitors to Melbourne or Sydney of their expertise and gave additional information on the qualifications of the staff.  In the second columd there was the first mention of a Dr. Kempster, whose credentials appear to be impeccable! (Figure 4).

In the ‘Argus’ (Melbourne) Friday 11 December 1908, under the heading THE FREEMAN INSOLVENCY:  ‘American Medical Degrees, Sydney Thursday’, a long column of print not seen at any other source was found.  The Registrar in Bankruptcy in the matter of Howard Freeman and Richard Wallace:  (The following has been abbreviated).  Henry Louis Rosenberg, known as Howard Freeman, in answer to the Registrar:  I was born in New York , and reared and educated in California, I left America ca. 23 years ago, went to Melbourne Exhibition, took an office, started getting orders for printing, under the name of Rosenberg for 2 years, went to Sydney and went into medical business with Benjamin Cressman(?), about 20 years ago.  I bought him out and carried on business withh hired medical men:  Dr. Harper, who had an American diploma, not accepted by the New Zealand (medical) board, went to Brisbane and started a medical institute under the name of Howard Freeman.  I employed Dr. Campbell and carried on for 6 years, was acquitted for an unspecified case by a jury, left Brisbane and went to Sydney at the corner of Elizabeth & Bathurst Streets, and had a Dr. Cooper in my employ.  He then went on to talk about his medical training in the U.S. and he was given an MD diploma for about eight pounds, as wel as an M.B.A. (Medical botanist of America).  I assumed the title of “Professor of Electricity”. He admitted that his business had fallen off very largely in the past 2 years, on account of his letters of business were under an embargo of non-delivery., and he lost money by buying 2 trotting horses. 

This should be enough to prove that Dr. Freeman was a charlatan! 

Categories: Health Sciences, Postcards