A relatively ordinary front to this 1880 postcard reveals an interesting story about early settlers in Western Australia. The one-half penny postcard is addressed to a customer in Fremantle and it is postmarked with a FREMANTLE duplex, the date being illegible (Figure 1).
The reverse is quite revealing and is printed as follows: Chaff, Butter, Cheese, Raisins, Dates, Potatoes,/ LIONEL SAMSON & SON,/ (Government Auctioneers.)/ Have received instructions to sell by Public Auction at the Platform near south jetty Fremantle, on Tuesday next, 6th inst.,/ 5 Tons Chaff, 6 kegs prime Butter, 2 cases prime Cheese, 20 boxes Raisins, 20 boxes Persian Dates, 50 bag Potatoes, 130 bags Barley,/ Sale/ at 11 O’clock (italics denotes manuscript). There are 3 names written above the advert (Figure 2).
Lionel and William Samson arrived on the Calista in August 1829 at the fledgling Swan River Colony only two months after the arrival of the founding party led by Lieutenant Governor Captain James Stirling. The Samson brothers were from a wealthy London family of English Jewry, with Lionel being born in 1789 and William in 1803. Each settler was entitled to a grant of 40 acres for each 3 pounds sterling of capital brought into the colony. Lionel received a grant of 4696 acres on the Upper Swan in the vicinity of Henley Brook. On 5th September 1829, Lionel purchased Fremantle town lots at the first land sale.
William was appointed Government Auctioneer for no specific term and this office passed to Lionel in 1835, and finally to the firm of Lionel Samson and Son. This appointment terminated in 1900. The spirit license was finally issued to Lionel Samson and has been renewed since its introduction. Lionel also held the position of Postmaster of Fremantle until 1832.
Lionel moved to Perth Town, on the corner of St George’s Terrace and Barrack Street in 1839 leaving William in charge at Fremantle. William married in 1840 to Elizabeth Mary Pace and Lionel married Fanny Levi on his return visit to England in 1842. Members of the Levi family returned with the newly weds to Australia with the Levi’s travelling on to Adelaide. Philip Levi became a successful businessman and owned large grazing properties in South Australia.
William settled in S.A. in 1846 and the partnership was dissolved. He ran an auctioneer’s business until his death in 1880. Lionel continued to trade in Perth, but returned to Fremantle in 1852. In 1853 he was elected Chairman of the first Western Australian Chamber of Commerce. Lionel formed a partnership with Michael in 1867, the company becoming Lionel Samson and Son. William, the younger son joined the company in 1877, before his father died in 1878.
The Samson family of Fanny and her six children continued to run Lionel Samson & Son expanding the wine and spirits section to represent many leading wine and spirit merchants. Fanny Samson passed away at Fremantle in 1888. 1897 saw the first manager of the Company appointed, he was Philip D J Campbell, a nephew of Fanny who had been trained in Adelaide in the office of her brother Philip Levi. New offices, a warehouse, and cellar were completed in 1898 and are still the headquarters of the Samson Group of Companies today.
Commencing its 177th year of operations, since the founding in 1829 as a family owned company, Lionel Samson and Son is embarking on changing and improving its operations in 2006 so that its five principal business lines will consistently meet its growing customer demands now, and into the future.
Addendum: Another postcard from the Lionel Samson & Son company to the same Mr. Marshall in Fremantle was found, and although the date on the Fremantle duplex postmark is illegible, this one is an updated version of their former advertisement (Fig. 3).
The advertisement on the reverse is printed more clearly than before and much more than produce is up for Public Auction, for it includes an iron safe, washing machine, aerated waters, cordials, jams, honey, golden syrup, cheese, bulk & bottled ale, kerosene, corrugated iron, nails etc. The sale was slated for noon on Friday 12th November, 1888 (Figure 4).