The cover was addressed to Mr. James C. Entrican, for Messrs A.J. Entrican & Co., Merchants, Auckland, New Zealand, and there was a vertical pair of the 1d ‘Shield’ stamp of N.S.W. cancelled with a duplex NEWCASTLE/ OC 8/ 2 35 PM/ 00/ N.S.W, with the barred numeral ‘55′ (Figure 1).
The reverse showed a picture of a 2 storey business, identified by ‘LASKER BROTHERS/ HIGH CLASS/ TAILORS & Mercers. On the sides reading up there was ‘82 & 84 HUNTER ST’.,on the left and ‘NEW CASTLE’ on the right. On the top floor balcony there were 12 staff members as well as 7 more standing on the street below. There is a reception postmark AUCKLAND/ 7 PM/ 15 OC 00/ N.Z (Figure 2).
For what appeared to be a large firm, it was surprisingly difficult to research on the internet, with the finding of only 2 items on the National Library of Australia newspapers website. The first found at The Sydney Morning Herald on 28 October 1903 was a half column with the heading TROUBLE IN THE TAILORING TRADE./ THE DEMAND FOR PIECE WORK./ UNION OFFICIALS RETICENT. The text stated that ‘the dispute was now running well into its second week, (and) is extending…. following up the decisions arrived at by the Journeyman Tailors’ Union on Monday night, the employees in several city establishments gave notice yesterday morning, and requested that piecework should be substituted in place of the weekly wage system…’ In the next para Messrs. Lasker Brothers was the first mentioned company involved with 4 other companies in the dispute. An even shorter piece was found in the same newspaper on 21 January 1908 with the heading SUMMARY OF THE DAMAGE/ OVER £100,000, and a fire had destroyed several buildings, with Lasker Bros, tailoring establishment, partially destroyed.
In a biography of John Lamb (1885-1974), a businessman, at the website of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, there is a small amount of relevant information re the Lasker Brothers Co., as follows: “Lamb joined T.A. Braye, a solicitor, as a partner in Elliott & Cowman, a Newcastle firm of tailors and mercers founded by the Lasker Brothers in 1887. The business was promoted as ‘The House that Value built” and was expanded to include a second shop in 1917. By 1920 the company had become Elliotts Ltd, menswear outfitters”.
What provided more information was a photograph of a 3 storey building, of a presumed later design than on the cover, which was found at the Library of the University of Newcastle described as “Photograph taken late 1800s to early 1900s in Newcastle. Image shows the Lasker Brothers store on Hunter Street. The store employed tailors, mercers and milners sic (milliners).” The extra wording on the building expanded the scope of the firm by adding ‘Hosiers’, ‘Hatters’, ‘Macintosh Makers’ and their motto ‘Best of Goods at Bottom Prices’(Figure 3).
A biography of the addressee was found in The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District] which identified him as Mr. James Cuthbertson Entrican, and what follows is an excerpt. Mr. James Cuthbertson Entrican, a member of the firm of A.J. Entrican and Co., was born near Sion, County Tyrone, Ireland, in th year 1864, and received his education at the Edward’s National School, Castlecrag. On leaving school Mr. Entrican was indentured to a Liverpool merchant, and, after completing his apprenticeship he decided to go to the colonies. In 1885 he came to this Colony, in the s.s. “Tongariro”, and made Auckland his home. Shortly after his arrival he entered into partnership with Mr. R.W. Gallaugher, under the style of Gallaugher and Entrican, grocers and Italian warehousemen, Victoria Street West, Auckland. At the end of 7 years he retired from the firm, and joined his brother, Mr. A.J. Entican, in the business founded by the latter a few years previously. Mr. J.C. Entrican resides at Stanley Street Devonport and he occupied a seat in the local Borough Council for several years. He is a Sunday School teacher and represented his church at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, held in Christchurch. Mr. Entrican is an enthusiastic numismatist and philatelist. A picture of J.C. Entrican is seen in Figure 4.
The firm of A.J. Entrican listed on the cover’s address was described as General Merchants, Tyrone Buildings, Customs Street, Auckland was established in 1887 and A. J. Entrican was the senior partner when J.C. Entrican joined his brother. A long list of firms for which the Entrican company served as an agent, was given. A photograph of Andrew Jack Entrican is shown in Figure 5.