Royal Reels: Gambling


This Pharmaceutical Society of New South Wales, 7 Richmond Terrace, Domain (Sydney) cover had a red 1d ‘N.S.W. Shield’ stamp and a red ‘Cinderella’ of the Australasian Philatelic Exhibition, Sydney 1911, both postmarked with a roller cancel ‘SYDNEY N.S.W. OC 14 1911′. It was addressed to R J Clarke Esq, Harwoods Pharmacy, Raymond Terrace, (NSW). The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The First Australasian Philatelic Exhibition, Sydney 1911 was the first competitive show and was organised by the members of the Australian Philatelic Societies. It also combined with the First Australasian Congress, which lasted from October 12th until the 19th, and there were many delegates from Australia and New Zealand. The ‘cinderella’ was clearly identified as a ‘Souvenir Stamp’, it was issued in sheets of twenty and printed in four colours: blue-black, red, light blue and green, perforated 11. No information seems available as to the quantities printed. Sales of the ‘cinderella’ brought £12. 13 shillings and 7 pence, and they were sold as sets of four, one of each colour. The exhibition was staged in Kings’ Hall, in Phillip Street, Sydney and there were 17 competition classes. A catalogue of 36 pages was free, and the total cost of the Exhibition was £211.7. 7d. Four thousand visitors were recorded as having visited the two-day stamp show on October 11 and 12. A lower left marginal block of four is shown in Figure 2.

The first medical person to land in Australia was an apothecary. Jeromius Cornelisz had plied his pills and potions in Holland, until at the age of 30 when he gave up his profession and joined the Dutch East India Company fleet as a second mate. He was the leader of the mutineers after the wreck of the Batavia on the Abroholos Islands off the coast of Western Australia.

When the first fleet arrived in Port Jackson in January 1788, the first batch of outcasts were in the care of naval doctors and the Surgeon General was John White. White observed the aborigines in the area collecting the dark gum that exudes from the Red Gum tree. It was employed with moderate success as an astringent treatment for dysentery. White also distilled an oil from the leaves of the “Sydney Peppermint”, an eucalypt growing around Sydney Cove. It was not until 1852 that Joseph Bosisto from Yorkshire in England, decided to extract the oil commercially and he commenced operations in a crudely constructed still at Dandenong Creek in Victoria. For the next 80 years, Australia dominated the world eucalyptus market*.

The naval surgeons who came to Australia provided a modicum of medical care to the settlers, convicts and their guards whilst in the colony. Some of the convicts had come from a medical background and their skills were used in the first hospitals as aides or dispensers. For many years, the two professions of medicine and pharmacy were not separate disciplines. By 1840 there were at least six doctors who kept “dispensing shops” where they could be consulted. William Redfern was employed at the Sydney Hospital and he also had a private practice. He supplied his private patients with medicines from the hospital stores.

In 1820 a Medical Board was established to examine the competence of anyone wishing to practice medicine as well as pharmacy, because the doctors were reluctant to relinquish a profitable part of their practice. It was this board which granted John Tawell, who opened the first chemist shop in Sydney in 1820, a certificate to practise as an apothecary and to compound and dispense medicines. He had worked in the Sydney Hospital until granted his pardon by the Governor. A picture of John Tawell’s advertisement in Sydney ca. 1820 is seen in Figure 3.

The first pharmacy owned by a trained pharmacist was Michael Bates, a Yorkshireman who started his pharmacy in Launceston in Tasmania in 1825. This business still trades as Hatton & Laws Pharmacy today. Tasmania was the first colony to create a medical licensing and registration, as it enacted the first Medical Act in 1842, and the first Pharmacist registered in the British Dominions was Landon Fairthorne who received his license in Hobart on January 15th 1846. In 1844 Ambrose Foss headed a group of Sydney pharmacists who formed the Pharmaceutical Society of New South Wales. This was the first such society outside England in the English speaking world.

I am indebted to Ben Palmer (The Royal Sydney Philatelic Club) for providing me with a short article from the Australian and New Zealand Philatelic Exhibitions by Robert Kennedy (1988).

* An article on Joseph Bosisto and his involvement with Eucalyptus oil in Australia can be found at this website in the Category: Business.

Categories: Event, Health Sciences