Royal Reels: Gambling


The Commonwealth of Australia, New South Wales postcard has a printed red 1d ‘Shield stamp of N.S.W. which was perfined OS/ NSW and a blue-green ½d QV stamp has been added, and it was also perfined OS/ NSW. The stamps were postmarked with a roller cancel of SYDNEY/ NSW/ 1911, and the postcard was addressed to the Librarian, Peabody Museum of American Archeology & Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (Figure 1).

The reverse has a mostly printed text from The Australian Museum, Sydney. New South Wales and it is hand stamped JAN 12 1911. It bears a ‘belt & buckle’ crest of the Australian Museum Sydney, which encircles a Crown. There is a printed message acknowledging the receipt of the Memoirs. The reverse proves that printed red 1d stamp was issued perfined right through the postcard, and it was signed by ‘S. Sinclair, Secretary and Librarian (Figure 2).

The first formal position of Librarian, the Australian Museum, Sydney was held by Sutherland Sinclair, appointed Secretary, Storekeeper and Librarian in 1891. The second Librarian was William Alfred Rainbow who joined the Museum in 1902 and held the position of Librarian from 1917-1951.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University is oldest museum devoted to anthropology in the United States. It was founded in 1866 through the efforts of the paleontologist Othoniel Charles Marsh (1831–1899). Marsh encouraged his uncle, George Peabody (1795–1869), to donate the funds necessary to endow a museum to document the remains of early man in America. Marsh also persuaded his uncle to make a matching donation to Yale University for the purpose of creating a museum to house the ancient remains of animals and plants, the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

The Peabody Museum at Harvard began with some fifty specimens of stone implements, pottery, and osteological remains of North American Indians, all of which fit into a single display case. Soon after its founding, the museum began to receive ethnological objects from antiquarian societies throughout the region, many of which fell outside its early focus on the prehistory of native America.

Eventually, through purchase, gift, and field expeditions, the Peabody Museum would amass a permanent collection of millions of archaeological and ethnological objects, documenting the history of human culture throughout the Americas, Africa, Oceania, Asia, and Europe. The museum’s archaeological holdings comprise the majority of the permanent collection, with particular strengths in North, Central, and South America. Though smaller in number, the ethnographic collections have established the museum’s reputation as a pre–eminent repository of anthropological objects relating to Native American, Pre–Columbian, African, Oceanic, and Asian cultural groups. There are also extensive archival collections, which document the museum’s collections and history, as well as the development anthropology as an academic discipline. A picture of the main entrance of the museum at Harvard is seen in Figure 3.

Jeffries Wyman became the Hersey Professor of Anatomy at Harvard College, where he remained until his death in 1874, becoming the first curator of the Peabody Museum of American Archeology & Ethnology in 1866 (Figure 4).

Born on Feb. 18, 1795, in Danvers, Mass., George Peabody had a limited education before being apprenticed to a grocer at the age of 11. He subsequently was involved in other mercantile establishments, and became a partner of Elisha Riggs in a wholesale dry-goods establishment in Georgetown, D.C., in 1812. The partners opened branches in Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia, and Peabody went to London in 1827. When Riggs retired 2 years later, Peabody became the senior partner. He settled permanently in England in 1837.

Peabody arrived on London’s financial scene with appreciation of the need for foreign capital in America and the opportunities which awaited those involved in such capital movements. In 1835 he arranged for a substantial loan for Maryland in London. A year later he was one of the incorporators and the president of the Eastern Railroad—one of the first successful railroads in New England. His firm, George Peabody and Company, specialized in foreign exchange and American securities. In 1843 he ended his mercantile pursuits, and over the next 20 years he accumulated the bulk of his $12 million fortune acting as an international banker and offering diversified services to British and American clients. He also acted as an unofficial ambassador to England, strengthening Anglo-American ties whenever possible.

Peabody showed a sensitivity to current conditions that enabled his firm to sidestep the effects of the Panic of 1837, which destroyed some of his competitors. During the years that followed, he bought substantial amounts of depressed securities and influenced American businesses and other political entities to honor their obligations to foreign bondholders. The consequence was great personal advantage to Peabody and Company as well as considerable benefit to the political entities involved when normal economic conditions were restored. While engaged in international banking and acting as the chief institution funneling British capital into the United States, Peabody personally began the systematic program of donations which made him the world’s first great philanthropist. The bulk of his fortune went to various scientific and educational institutions and to programs supporting the poor of England and the United States. He died in London on November 4, 1869, and a picture of George Peabody is seen in Figure 5.

Categories: Places, Postcards, Science