Royal Reels: Gambling


This printed to private order ½d “Bell” newspaper wrapper of Victoria was introduced in February 1880, and had the ½d stamp printed in rose red on white paper in sheets of four, without border lines dividing the wrappers. The watermark was the usual Crown and “ONE PENNY/ VICTORIA” of the period. It is clearly postmarked with a duplex MELBOURNE/ 14T/ MR 26/ 85 with the barred obliterator VICTORIA on the stamp. It was addressed to Messrs W. & T. Richardson, Duck Creek, Cannonbar, N.S.Wales (Figure 1).

The reverse is unique for this wrapper has a triangular flap which is not mentioned in Carl L. Stieg’s catalogue and it is from the collection of Brockman. It has no reception postmark, but does have a black ‘belt and buckle’ insignia on the flap of POWERS, RUTHERFORD & CO, MELBOURNE (Figure 2).

The addressee has not been found, but in this time period of the 1880s, in all likelihood the company would have been closely related to the land and the rearing of sheep. The Cannonbar post office opened in 1858 and was finally closed in December 1924. One of the properties in the area is also named Cannonbar. The closest town is Nyngan, (with a population of 2,065 in 2001) which lies 27k to the north-west, and it is shown by a red arrow on the map of N.S.W. (Figures 3 & 4).

Information about Cannonbar on the internet is minimal for the relevant time period, and this information was later obtained from Charles Lyne’s The Industries of New South Wales published in 1882 at Sydney by Thomas Richards, Government Printer. “Cannonbar is a small scattered township, built on the Cannonbar run and watered by Duck Creek, a stream that runs through a very considerable length of the country….Eighteen years ago a post office was established there, and a gentleman who recently sold the Cannonbar run for £160,00 was appointed postmaster; previous to that time, Cannonbar was no more than a camping place for overlanders on their way to Bourke….The opening of the post office led to the opening of an hotel, a general store, and a blacksmith’s shop, and gradually the township assumed its present properties.”

“If it were not for the circumstance that the railway will be taken by a route several miles from Cannonbar, …to a small township called Nyngan, which is about 15 miles away and is to have a railway station, Cannonbar might be expected to progress, and in time become an inland town of importance, but in the choice of Nyngan as a site for a railway station, the people of Cannonbar see the rapid decrease of business in their township; …..and yet Cannonbar is in the centre of a very important pastoral district that is divided into extensive runs on which there are depastured and shorn every year many thousands of sheep….The runs vary in extent and are often very large… Sheep runs number (up to) 200,000 and cattle runs (up to) 12,000.” The rather luxurious cover for the quoted book is shown in Figure 5.

The principals of the firm of Powers, Rutherford & Co., Melbourne in Figure 2 are known. Thomas Power was born in Ireland and arrived in Port Phillip from Launceston in 1839 and he became an auctioneer, a proprietor of land in Victoria as well as a Victoria MLC from 1856- 64. His son Robert joined Gideon Rutherford as pastoral agents in 1855. The company was originally known as Power, Rutherford & Co. and not as ‘Powers’ on the newspaper wrapper flap. Gideon Rutherford was born in Scotland in 1820 and spent his early years on a sheep farm in Scotland. He arrived in Port Phillip in 1841, overlanded to Sydney and partnered Robert Power as auctioneers and stock salesmen. Rutherford was a Victoria MLC from 1859-60. Thus the relationship between the sender and receiver of the newspaper wrapper was probably that of auctioneer, property and sheep sales.

Categories: Business