Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover has a blue 2½d Q.V.stamp of N.S.W. with a duplex SYDNEY/ JA 7/ NOON/ O2/ 26 with the obliterator canceling the stamp. It is addressed to Messrs Bishop & Babcock Co., Cleveland, Ohio U.S.A. (Figure 1).

The reverse has 2 superimposed postmarks, a transit SAN FRANCISCO CAL. STA D/ JAN 27/ 53( ) PM 1902 with an indistinct Cleveland, Ohio underlying arrival roller postmark. The flap has a printed sender’s name E.A. DAWBARN & CO., MERCHANTS, SYDNEY (Figure 2).

The E.A. Dawbarn & CO., Sydney has been identified as Importers, Indentors and Manufacturers of Drugs, Chemicals, Confectionery, Corks, Capsules, Tinfoil, Brewers’ Requisites, Bakers’ and Confectioners’ Requisites, Tobacco Leaf and Cigars, a most unusual combination of products. No additional information has been found on the company (Figure 3).

William Augustus Babcock (1843-95) was born in the family homestead in Coventry, Ohio to William and Ester (Loomis) Babcock. Father William was a farmer with 30 acres of land growing primarily Indian corn. He was engaged in the process of making wool “slave” hats in the 1830s – 50s. William Augustus received a common school education in Coventry Ohio and he learned the machinist trade at Taunton Massachusetts, worked for a time in Springfield Mass, and was a traveling agent for the Morse Twist Drill Company of New Bedford. Stephen Morse was a creative engineer and held many patents, some of which applied to elevator mechanisms.

William Augustus married Gertrude Bunker of Brooklyn N.Y. in 1876 and around 1880 he became associated with the Bishop and Babcock Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It is not certain if he was the originator of the company, or if it was started by another Babcock. He eventually became president and general manager of the firm. The firm produced faucets pumps and brass goods associated with beer distribution. In the 1880s William was credited with a number of patents, and among these were 3 hydraulic air compressors, a faucet, a valve and an aerator for the aquarium at the Chicago Exposition of 1893. He moved from Coventry to Cleveland in the early 1880s, but returned to the family home in Coventry during the summers, where he enjoyed one of his favorite pleasures, fishing with his friends.

In September 1895 William and a friend left their homes in Cleveland for a tour of the U.S.A. northwest. They hunted in North Dakota, then joined a party of friends for a horseback ride in Yellowstone Park and Babcock was thrown from a horse and died on the spot. His body was taken to Cleveland for services and then accompanied by his partner, Mr. Bishop to Coventry for burial. William and both his parents are interred in the Nathan Hale cemetery.

The family home descended to his wife, Gertrude, and his two sisters, Mary and Ellen, then eventually to Ellen, and then Ellen’s son, William. The Bishop and Babcock Company was sold to Honeywell in 1937.

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