The unusual salmon pink cover is addressed to Messrs. Schoellkopf & Co., 91 Mississippi St., Buffalo, N. Y., U.S.A. and it has the dark blue 2½d QV stamp of New South Wales cancelled with the duplex postmark of THE EXCHANGE/ 2/ (MR 25)/ (00)/ N.S.W. together with the barred numeral ‘113(4)’ (Figure 1).
The reverse clearly identifies that date of sending, for the transit postmark is a duplex SYDNEY/ MR 25/ 1-P-M/ 00/ 24 with the oval barred N.S.W obliterator. There is a duplex transit CHICAGO ILL./ AOR 24/ 11:30 PM/ 1900 with two reception marks an oval RECEIVED/ 1 and a BUFFALO/ APR 25/ 6-30 P/ 19 00. The address of the sender is identified with a printed in black GEO. WILCOX & CO/ SYDNEY (Figure 2).
The sender was not identified until the addressee was identified after a preliminary search. I thought I would have to state to a Sydney librarian that “the firm used an uncommon salmon pink envelope and their address was in the central business district of Sydney, near The Exchange.” With the identification of the Buffalo N.Y. firm I was confident, after a brief NLA beta newspaper search, that identification did not need a librarian search. The Argus (Melbourne) on Thursday, 20 December 1900, page 6, headed a short entry: “NEW SOUTH WALES, Sydney, Wednesday. A fire occurred to-night in the establishment of Messrs. George Wilcox and Co., hide and skin exporters, in Young-street, near Circular Quay. A large quantity of sheep and kangaroo skins were destroyed…….the damage will run into several thousands of pounds…….”. (Figure 3).
The Sydney Morning Herald on page 7 of the same date gives a least 5 times the space, describing the fire and its containment for within an hour of the call to the fire brigades, the fire was under control. This newspaper describes the firm as follows: The firm of George Wilcox & Co. is well known in both Sydney and Adelaide. The present members of the company are Messrs. Sidney Wilcox, George H. Wilcox and Murray Wilcox, who carry on the Sydney business, and Mr. G.G. L…….(indistinct) who is the Adelaide partner. The firm originally carried on the business in Young-street, opposite to the premises now in use. The present building was erected by the company some five years ago on land held under a long lease. The building and stock were insured – the former for £2,500 and the latter for £10,000.
Buffalo enjoys the distinction of having the largest tannery in the world in which sheep hides are turned into leather. Schoellkopf & Company is the gigantic establishment at the corner of Perry and Mississippi Streets, originally established by Lymburner & Torrey in 1862. In 1877 it was purchased by Jacob F. Schoellkopf, the prominent manufacturer and founder of the largest industrial establishment on the Niagara frontier. In the late 1800s 2000 skins were processsed each day, but by 1904, 12,000 skins per day were being tanned. The factory produced all sorts of sheep leather for gloves, shoes etc in all styles and colours. A picture of the Schoellkopf Company tanning factory is seen in Figure 4.
Jacob F. Schoellkopf senior was born on November 15, 1819 in Kercheim below the Teck in Germany and came to the USA in 1841, having learnt the family trade carrying on the tanning business learnt from his father and grandfather. He settled in Buffalo in 1844 and with money from his father he started up his first small tanning firm in Buffalo. He remained the senior partner of the largest tannery in the USA, and he expanded into other States, as well as other business ventures. In 1848 he married Christine Dürr of Kircheim and they had 6 sons and 1 daughter. Jacob senior died on September 15, 1899 and by this time the firm was in the hands of his sons. A picture of Jacob senior and his wife are seen in Figure 5.
Jacob junior was the most prominent of his sons and the first member of the family born in the USA in Buffalo on February 27, 1858. He was trained as a chemist and was involved in further developing the Niagara area power company started by his father. He developed the Schoellkopf Aniline and Chemical Works in Buffalo, and was highly acceptable in the Buffalo social community. A picture of Jacob junior is seen in Figure 6.
I am indebted to a librarian at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society for the enormous amount of information provided in an email Chat Session.
The Sydney Morning Herald