Royal Reels: Gambling


This colourful double weight cover has six KGV Heads stamps, made up of a pair of the 1d red, two single 1d reds, and 2 singles of the ½d green, making up a total of 5d postage, canceled by two SHIP ROOM/ 11 JUL 1916/ SYDNEY N.S.W plus one same date SYDNEY roller postmarks (Figure 1).

The sender is well identified as P.L.C. SHEPHERD & SON, Ltd., Seedsmen, Nurserymen, Florists/ Retail Establishment, 202 Pitt Street/ Wholesale Establishment, 51 Day Street, both in Sydney. The receiver is a famous Nursery company, Messrs. C.C. Morse & Co. of 737-759 Front Street, San Francisco, California U.S.A., the subject of a previous paper at this site.

Only one item of information was found on the internet about the founder of the Sydney firm which will be quoted in detail, as he was a man of considerable interest. Patrick Lindesay Crawford Shepherd was born in Sydney on 17 March 1831 and he died on 3 Jul 1903 at Burwood, Sydney prior to when this cover was sent (Figure 2).

Patrick was the son of Thomas Shepherd, a nursery man, and Jane Henderson. Patrick was first married to Isabella Deane on May 19, 1857 and they had an issue of 5 sons and 5 daughters, and then he married for a second time to Sarah Jane Una Barnier ca.1875, having an additional 2 sons and 5 daughters. He gained pastoral experience overlanding cattle in his youth and then he helped his father at Darling Nursery, in the Sydney suburb of Newtown.

Patrick later established PLC Shepherd & Co., seedman & plant merchants in Sydney with nurseries at Bowral and Colo Vale (both south of Sydney, near Mittagong NSW). His interests were many for he became president of the Horticultural Society of NSW, and a trustee of the Berrima hospital in 1889. He had joined the Volunteer Artillery in 1861, at a time when he was made a Justice of the Peace. He was commissioned in 1868 and retired as a major in 1876. In addition, he was a member of the Church of England Synod, and a Royal commissioner on Colonial Defence in 1870-71.

All of the above information was found on a Parliament of New South Wales website which provided his parliamentary career. He was a member of the lower House (Legislative Assembly) from December 1874 until October 1877, sitting as the MLA for the district of Nepean. He then became a member of the Legislative Council (MLC) for almost 15½ years from February 1888 until the time of his death in July 1903, for he had been granted a life appointment under the Constitution Act of December 1887.

No further information was found about his career as a nurseryman nor about the longevity of the firm he had founded. I found it unusual that in spite of his having a total of seven sons by his two wives, that at the time of this cover in 1911, the company was described as “& Son”.

Addendum: A second cover became available from PLC Shepherd & Son, Ltd also sent to C.C. Morse from Sydney in 1916 with inadequate postage of 2½d and it had 3 tax markings, a large boxed shield with ‘T/ 50’, a purple ‘US CHARGE 10 CENTS’ and a purple boxed ‘Please advice your/ correspondent that/ the postage rate/ from Australia to/ U.S.A. is 2½d. each ½ oz’ There were no markings on the cover’s reverse (Figure 3).

I have dealt with C.C. Morse & Co., San Francisco in a paper listed under ‘Miscellaneous Covers’ entitled “John Lewis Childs & C.C. Morse, Plantsmen”. A short discussion of the Morse company follows: Charles Morse founded his company in 1877 and he was a pioneer breeder of Sweet Peas. His son Lester continued his work, but the company was destroyed in 1906 by the San Francisco earthquake and fire. It was restarted again, was incorporated as the Ferry-Morse Seed Co., finally becoming part of France’s Groupe Limagrain in 1981 (considered the largest breeder-producer of seed in the world).

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