Royal Reels: Gambling


This cover was sent per Emeu, steamer, with an imperforate 4-margin, deep steel grey ‘Diadem’ SIX PENCE New South Wales stamp, cancelled with a barred obliterator & a diamond of dots. It had a red LONDON/ EV/ AP 12/ 58/ PAID reception postmark, and was addressed to Augustus Gore Esq, 4 (–) Coal Exchange, London (Figures 1 & 2).

The reverse had a black unframed SYDNEY/ D/ MY 10/ 1858/ NEW SOUTH WALES as well as a 2-line purple handstamp of John F. Seybold, Syracuse N.Y. (Figure 3).

The steamer ‘Emeu’ of the European & Australian Royal Mail Company was almost invariably, and unless this voyage was an exception, the arrival date as interpreted was incorrect. By September 1857 the company was insolvent, it was taken over by the Royal Mail, which completed the Australian contract on its own behalf from 1 July 1858.

Adhesive stamps were introduced in N.S.W. on 1 January 1850 and the obliterators were used to deface the stamps so they could not be used again. Tobin and Orchard describe and illustrate the different types of obliterators introduced from 1850 until the early 1900s on pages 13 -20 in their Circular Datestamps of Sydney. The present example is probably Figure 38, heavily struck on account of the dark colour of the stamp, which is on page 16. If so, it has the latest recorded date of 14 April 1858.

The addressee, Augustus Gore has not been identified as yet, but there is a considerable amount of information about the Coal Exchange in Lower Thames Street, London, which was opened October 30,1849 by the then Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal. The walls of the interior are decorated with views of celebrated English collieries as well as some of the principal ports from whence coal is shipped. In the dome there are exhibits of the flowers and fossil plants found in the coal. The handsomely decorated upper offices are occupied by the gentlemen ‘coal factors’ who do the deals and buying, whereas the lower offices are occupied by those who include the inquisitive sailors off the colliers and the lower echelon merchants. One reference refers to the Coal Exchange as an open market, but states that the great dealers have obtained a complete monopoly, and the consumers of coal are prevented from buying. An undated picture of the Coal Exchange is seen in Figure 4.

When I saw John F. Seybold’s purple handstruck name on the cover’s reverse, I thought that he was the sender of the cover from Sydney, but very quickly I recognised from my research that he was laying a claim to the cover as belonging to him. I learnt from an archived book (Warren H. Colson’s Postage Stamps and Their Collection) that when he was a boy he first entered the ranks as a collector and he climbed to the heights as a philatelic collector of stamps on envelopes and he continued this speciality of collecting early covers: the 12 pence Canada on 2 covers; a very fine Brattleboro on cover; a pair of 2 fine 5 cent St. Louis on cover; a pair of 2 fine Nova Scotia shillings on a piece of the original cover; the early Hawaiian stamps on cover; early German and Swiss stamps on cover; and, many of the fine old numerals on cover, etc. So he became known as one of the earliest collectors of covers throughout his philatelic career.

John F. Seybold was born of German parents on 22 July 1859 in Syracuse, New York. He became the owner of one of the largest dry-goods stores in that city. He amassed a large and valuable whole world and US revenue stamps, but stamps on covers remained his passion. In addition he had a large philatelic library, particularly strong in the English and German language, and he bequeathed 1500 items with 385 bound volumes to the Boston Philatelic Society. His death on August 13, 1909 was due to suicide, and it was thought that he had become known to be a homosexual, which led to his depression, as expressed in the New York Times (Figure 5).

A picture of John F. Seybold is seen in Figure 6.

Categories: Philatelists, Places, Postmarks