Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover is illustrated with two hovering angels with the stylistic address on a ‘ribbon’ placed underneath of Louis Sullivan & Co. LTD , Manufacturers’ Consignees, Wine, Spirits and General Merchants, “The Pantheon”, Sylvester St., Coolgardie, W. A. The cover is franked with a pair of grey ‘POSTAGE TWO PENCE’ Swan stamps of Western Australia cancelled with a duplex SHIP MAIL ROOM / 10/ JY 1/ 01/ PERTH W.A. It was addressed to Mr. Parker Co., Stamp Dealer, 173 Broadway, New York City, U.S.A. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

On page 43 of the Western Australian Directory (Wise’s) 1898 containing Coolgardie Advertisements, there was a full page advertisement for Louis Sullivan & Company, Manufacturers’ Consignees: Wine, Spirit, Timber, Glass & General Merchants, over an even more eye catching drawing than the above cover. It shows an elephant with the word ‘DISINFECTANT’ printed on its side, stamping on a large snake which has printed on its coils the words ‘INFLUENZA, DIPHTHERIA, TYPHOID, CHOLERA’.

Underneath this figure is a list of Sole Agents for 37 companies of which the vast majority were international companies located in London, Glasgow, Dublin, Leith, St. Louis, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago USA, Riposto Sicily, and one Western Australian company of Bunning Bros., Timber Merchants, Perth. There is a preponderance of whisky, spirits, wine and lager beer manufacturers, as well as a sprinkling of some different products: crystallised egg, Fumagraph Novelty Co., rubber roofing, weather strips, lithographing Co., asbestos, manufacturing chemists, cycles and a shipping agent.

The company was also a direct importer of five other whisky, ale and stout and champagne companies. In addition to being Special Agents in London and throughout the world, the firm was proprietors of the ‘Largest Cool Storage Cellars in Western Australia’. The company had branches at Fremantle, Kalgoorlie and outlying centres in W.A., and the gave the same address in Coolgardie as on the cover, with the addition of the building’s name of ‘Temple Court’ (Figure 2).

In view of the extravagant pictorial advertising and even more the full page advertisement, one would expect that this company was a large one, but to date no biographical data has been found on Louis Sullivan at the State Library of Western Australia. Just as surprising, the usually productive research on the NLA Beta newspapers for either the period late 1880s and early 1900s for Louis Sullivan, or The Pantheon, Coolgardie has produced minimal information on the man or his company.

What follows does little credit to the man, but does not give proof that it is the Louis Sullivan of this cover and advertisement. The entry in The West Australian (Perth), Tuesday 5 April 1898, page 5 reads: “Coolgardie, April 3 – Louis Sullivan, the merchant charged with disorderly conduct by using obscene language towards Patk. Mahone, a bailiff’s assistant, when the latter was in charge of the Great Western Hotel, came before the court on Saturday. Defendant was alleged to have urged Benner, the proprietor of the hotel, to put Mahone off the premises. Several witnesses gave evidence to the effect that there were no obscene expressions used. The Bench held that the case was not proved, and dismissed the charges.” (Figure 3).

The above entry does not particularly harm Louis Sullivan and his firm, but additional newspaper information in 1898-99, mainly in regards to law suits against Sullivan and his firm, were found and these were complex, ongoing, difficult to interpret, and definitely more damaging. Claims of perjury and bankruptcy were leveled against Sullivan, and he wrote a reply in The Western Australian denying that he was bankrupt. I do not include an instance of Louis Sullivan shooting a person, or his involvement with an underage female, for I believe that there was a second Louis Sullivan in Western Australia during the same time period. There was one definite piece of information in The West Australian (Perth) dated 18 April 1898 that “Louis Sullivan & Co. Ltd, Sylvester St., Coolgardie was registered as a company last week”.