Royal Reels: Gambling


This registered cover is postmarked REGISTERED/ FE 22/ 01/ ROCKHAMPTON and there is plenty information that the cover is registered, other than the above, as shown by the ms. ‘931′, the crossed red crayon and the large ‘R’ in the oval on the cover and on both the brown 3d and blue 2d ‘FOUR CORNERS’ Queensland stamps. It is addressed to “Tattersall”, c/o G. Adams, Hobart, Tasmania (Figure 1).

The advertisement on the reverse is quite spectacular with the central illustration of a rider on a bucking horse, (and note the rider’s hat on the ground) with a central ‘TRADE MARK/ REGISTERED’, surrounded by an ornate ‘belt and buckle’ which contains the name of the company R.E. JARMAN SADDLER & C., EDWARD ST, BRISBANE, the address lined-out, and a ms. ‘R’htn’ (an abbreviation for Rockhampton). To the left of the central illustration there is ‘ANTIM SULPH/ HORSE/ MANGE/ MIXTURE/ TRY IT’ and to the right, ‘LARGEST/ PRIZE WINNER/ IN/ AUSTRALIA’. There is also a black HOBART/ JE 28/ TASMANIA reception postmark (Figure 2).

I am no expert on the treatment of horse mange, and the long list of medications for the condition probably attests to their non-efficacy, but this concoction obviously contains antimony and sulphur as its main ingredients. You could be excused if you interpreted that the sender had previously won a large prize in the Tattersall’s lotteries, but all will be revealed later.

I was surprised that research of this company and the man behind it produced very lean information, as far as biographical data was concerned. The most informative source was 1½ columns in the Brisbane Courier dated 11 January, 1897, on page 3, which I have summarized: “WEST AUSTRALIA. A QUEENSLANDER’S IMPRESSIONS. Mr. R.E. Jarman, Saddler of Edward-street (Brisbane), has just returned from an extended business visit to West Australia…..(he) left Brisbane last February with the object of establishing a branch of his business in Perth, and having succeeded in doing so, remained in the colony some two months. He states that the people there are very hopeful as to the prospects of progress…..the stream of arrivals is as already as ever, a thousand a week often finding their way to Perth…..” He continues by naming Queenslanders who have invested there, the economy, the Western Australian Government, particularly with kudos to Sir John Forrest, that Federation was not a burning question there, as well as the Coolgardie water supply scheme, but nothing about himself and his prospects for the saddlery branch firm in Perth.

In the same newspaper I learnt of the funeral of Richard’s son, Henry Archibald Jarman, in February 1896 as a result of a boating accident, and that his body was identified in the morgue by John McGregor Fisher, who was the manager for Mr. R.E. Jarman saddler company, Brisbane. At a meeting in January 1879, Mr. R.E. Jarman, saddler, stated that he found it impossible to compete with the Sydney market under the present tariff on saddlery, harness strapping &c., and a committee of saddlers including Jarman was set up to address the Treasurer on the imposition of a 12½ per cent tax. In March 1883, Mr. R.E. Jarman, saddler of Queen-street was ‘influentially waited upon with the view to induce him to contest the election (in West Ward, Brisbane), but that in the shortness of the time, he declined to come forward. Mr. Jarman expressed his intention to seek election on the next vacancy.’

In 1895 and likely earlier, R.E. Jarman ran a small advertisement in the Brisbane Courier, as follows: “Biggest Score on Record – What is likely to stand as the permanent record for all time has just been made by R.E. Jarman, Premier Saddler, who was awarded Seventeen First Prizes for Seventeen Exhibits, or a first prize for every exhibit besides two specials. This requires no comment further than to remark the impossibility of beating this score.” So this may have been the reason for the “Largest Prize Winner in Australia” on the covers reverse!

The likely site and time where this prize success occurred was the Brisbane Exhibition of 1893 which was written up in the Brisbane Courier on 10 August 1893: ” Mr. R.E. Jarman had, as usual, a captivating display of saddles, twelve in all, the work in some of them being chaste and exquisite. Mr. Jarman’s work is too well known to need commendation; he has had for many years been before the public, and is now willing to match his saddles against any which can be manufactured in any part of the world. The display this year adds another feather to his already crowded cap, and he has good reason to be gratified with the many commendations bestowed upon him so liberally by qualified judges. He also shows some elaborate ladies’ belts (Swiss patterns), the handiwork of his son and one of Professor Gilivray’s celebrated horse turning tackles.”

The following advertisement in the Brisbane Courier of 25 September 1897 shows that Jarman’s star was not always in ascendancy, for there was an early expiration of the lease on his property at Edwards and Adelaide Streets in Brisbane and he decided to clear the whole of his first class stock of saddlery and harness (Figure 3).

I learnt that Richard Jarman died in 1899, for in September of that year there was an estate sale and in November 1899 there was a preliminary advert for sale of the home ‘Wynnum,’ as Mrs. Jarman was intending to leave Brisbane. Research on Jarman is far from complete, for I do not know any of his early history, including family history, date of birth, where born, and if born outside of Australia, as well as when he came to Queensland and set up the saddlery business.