Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover has two pairs of the pink 1d Victoria ‘Postage’ stamp, socked on the nose with four examples of the barred numeral ‘958′ of Wandong, which is 55 km north of Melbourne G.P.O. It is addressed to Mr. A.P. Miller, Chemist, Hobart, Tasmania. There is an unframed postmark of WANDONG/ SE 26/ 03/ VICTORIA and the adherent partial lilac label shows that it was destined for Tattersalls. Of further interest is that this cover is illustrated in ‘The Numeral Cancellations of Victoria’ by H.H. Freeman & G.T. White (1997, page 269), as the example of the only barred numeral for Wandong (Figure 1).

Messrs A.P. Miller & Son, Chemists & Druggists, Distillers of Eucalyptus Oil, etc., corner of Liverpool and Murray Streets, Hobart were situated in one of the most striking buildings in the centre of the city. The three storey building was constructed in 1890 from red brick and Tasmanian freestone, and ‘The Cyclopedia of Tasmania’ describes it fully in extravagant terms. However Miller had a previous corner store ca. 1880 which was less ornate, but clearly showed his occupancy (Figure 2).

Miller was a man of great enterprise and he immediately introduced a number of specialties which made his name famous for he was one of the first in Tasmania to manufacture eucalyptus oil from the leaves of the pure blue-gum tree and the product was formulated into eucalyptus toilet vinegar, ointment & salve, veterinary ointment, pastilles, cream, dentifrice, and soap, as well as many others. His eucalyptus oil was shipped world-wide and included the Parke, Davis & Co. firm in Detroit, Michigan. In addition he distilled on his premises a “a fragrant and refreshing perfume, being an exquisite combination of exotic and Tasmanian flowers …..put up in elegant ‘Tasma caskets” of Tasmanian ornamental woods, containing the perfume in chaste cut-glass bottles” of 2 sizes, costing £2 2s. and £3 3s.

Mr. Andrew Paton Miller was educated at Ayr Academy in Ayr, Scotland, he served his apprenticeship in Paisley, Scotland, and came out to Melbourne in 1856, where he remained until he settled in Hobart in 1871. His son Andrew John Miller was born in Hobart on 26 January 1872, was educated locally, joined the VDL Bank in 1889, and after 18 months he apprenticed with his father, later graduating in Melbourne at the College of Pharmacy, became associated with his father’s pharmacy again, and in 1893 was admitted into partnership in the firm.

This information was extracted from ‘The Cyclopedia of Tasmania’ article (Volume 1, 1900) which spent so much time extolling the virtues of the 3-story (second) building, as well as the myriad of the medicaments made from the distilled eucalyptus oil, that it never mentioned his full name, nor when A.P. Miller was born (he was said to be 28 in 1871, so his birth was ca. 1843), and he was still alive at the time of publication of the article. An idea of the extensiveness of the business is given by the number of those employed, 13 in their town premises, and from 12 to 15 at the Eucalyptus Distillery.

Andrew Paton Miller was described as a good employer, public-spirited and a liberal-minded citizen, prominent in all important movements for the improvement of Hobart, and the promotion of healthy recreation amongst its citizens. He had been a pioneer mining speculator, but not prominent in political life, although he had considerable influence with the electors generally. He is pictured in Figure 3.

Once again I am indebted to Margaret Harman, Heritage Collections, State Library of Tasmania, Hobart, for the information used in preparing this article.

Addendum (November 2007):   This registered cover from DALBY/ 9A/ DE 28/ 1905/ QUEENSLAND is addressed to Mr. A.P. Miller, Chemist , Hobart, Tasmania (Figure 4).

Addendum (April 2011):  Another cover was found addressed to A.P. Miller, Chemist, Hobart , Tasmania and it was franked with four pink singles ‘ONE PENNY, POSTAGE’ stamps of Victoria cancelled with ink, and the datestamp was illegible (Fig. 5).

The reverse was of interest because of the ‘FOUND OPEN’/ OFFICIALLY SEALED’ label of Victoria, which has a pencilled date of 20/6/05.  There was a delayed reception date at HOBART/ 9–27.JE.05/ TASMANIA (Fig. 6),

David McNamee’s definitive book  ‘Catalogue and Handbook of Tattersall’s Covers (2006)’ gives additional information on the Miller father and son on page 127. I highly recommend this book in regards to the great documentation of Tattersall’s covers.