Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover has a pair of the ‘ONE PENNY POSTAGE’ stamp of Victoria canceled with the third Bairnsdale double circle duplex BAIRNSDALE/ AM/ 1 30/ 9.9.07/ VIC with the barred numeral ‘174′. It is addressed to Mr. Godfrey Fisher, 260 Murray St., Hobart, Tasmania and the reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

Once again I can recommend David McNamee’s book ‘Catalogue and Handbook of Tattersall’s Covers’ (2006) which recounts how George Adams operated sweepstake lotteries on major Australian horse races, in which he shows the many guises of names and addresses which were used as a subterfuge to get around the postal ban for buying tickets, when this was promulgated by the Commonwealth Postmaster-General on January 31, 1902. This handbook and catalogue researches the more than 165 names and over more than 600 variations in addresses by which this subterfuge was carried out. Godfrey Fisher (with variant George Fisher) had offices in George Adams’ Hobart Stock Exchange building, from which he managed the Adams’ weekly, The Dramatic and Sporting Chat. He was proscribed by the Commonwealth Postmaster-General in 1909 and Godfrey died in 1928, aged 63 years. He used addresses of 12 Stock Exchange using the alias of George, as well as 15 Stock Exchange as Godfrey at 260 Murray St. on page 71, and the Dramatic and Sporting Chat on page 65. The B. & W. scans shown in the book are presented as Figures 2 and 3.

George Adams owned a weekly newsletter, The Dramatic and Sporting Chat, which was distributed by news agents throughout Australia. The network of news agents was a key part of the private mail network set up to circumvent the Federal Government’s ban on delivering mail addressed to Tattersall. The offices of this newsletter were in the Adams Buildings at 69 Collins Street, co-located with Tattersall’s other businesses.

The Advertiser (Adelaide), 9 April 1907 headlined ‘TATTERSALL’S SWEEPS. Charge Against Alleged Agents. Over £3,000 a Month to Tasmania’. Melbourne, April 8. “It was stated that since the passing of the Gaming Suppressions Act, the firm known as the Tasmanian Parcels Delivery Company had adopted a new method of transmitting applications for sweep tickets to Hobart. Instead of a person going to 97, Queen-street, and asking for a ticket in Tattersall’s sweeps, he now asked to become a subscriber to a certain newspaper, Dramatic and Sporting Chat…..a ticket in the sweep would be sent by post to the subscriber, and would be followed by results slips. The addressed envelopes were made up in bundles and forwarded to Godfrey Fisher. All money received in the office was paid to the credit of Godfrey Fisher in the bank”. The result of the trial was not given, but as mentioned above, Godfrey Fisher and his addresses were on a ‘black-list’ as proscribed by the Postmaster-General in 1909.

Tattersall lottery tickets for 2 of the most prestigious  horse races in Victoria are shown in Figures 4 and 5.

I acknowledge my indebtedness to David McNamee and his book ‘Catalogue and Handbook of Tattersall’s Covers (Sydney, 2006).

Categories: Business, Tattersall’s