The privately printed advertising ‘CIRCULAR ONLY’ cover has an illustration of an elderly lady sitting on a barrel placed on a bar of stone which is labeled ‘Magic Soap’, shown on a ‘medallion’ which is inscribed ‘USE MILLERS MAGIC SOAP. In the background there is a view of washing hanging on a clothes line.Below the medallion is an advert for R. Miller & Co, Soap and Candle Manufactures, Macquarie St., Hobart and Elizabeth Street, Launceston. The red embossed One Penny Tasmanian stamp is cancelled with a duplex HOBART/ H/ AP 27/ 94/ P – R with the ‘TASMANIA’ obliterator on the stamp.It is addressed to Mr. J.G. Brian, New Norfolk, Tas (Figure 1).
The reverse states that ‘our Representative Mr. W.T. Bates will have the pleasure of calling on you …etc. and it has additional advertising matter for ‘Miller’s Magic Soap, Registered. The Original & Premier Self-Washer’ and ‘THREE DON’TS’ and is GUARANTEED TO BE FREE OF ALL KEROSENE (Figures 2 & 3).
Biographical data are scarce on Richard Miller other than an obituary found in the Launceston Examiner ,Monday 18 May 1890 which is quoted in full: A Telegram was received in town last evening from Melbourne giving the melancholy intelligence that Mr, Richard Miller, of Messrs R. Miller and Sons, of Launceston, had died very suddenly on Saturday night. The late Mr. Miller left for Melbourne per s.s. Klingainite on the 10th instant., accompanied by Mrs. Miller, to transact some matters in connection with the firm’s business, and was considered then to be in good health and had not suffered from any serious illness at any time, although he was under medical treatment some time ago in connection with an ear complaint. Mr. Miller was born in Bolton, Lancashire about 51 years ago, and came of a family well known for their religious zeal and Christian charity, as stern upholders of Primitive Methodism. Twenty-seven years ago last August Mr. Miller arrived in Victoria, and after working in the country for some time went to Melbourne and was engaged in a large soap and candle factory. On his arrival in this colony Mr. Miller went to work in Kenyon’s factory, then occupyig the position in Brisbane-street on which has since been erected the Fire Bell Tower. After the breaking up of that factory Mr Miller opened business in the soap and candle trade, which has of late years developed very largely, a branch having been opened in Hobart under the charge of Mr George Miller, son of the deceased gentleman. Mr Miller left a family of two sons and two daughters, besides a widow and father, to mourn the sad demise.
Two copies of a photo of the same large factory were seen, one being a very fine copy, both being clearly marked as being R. Miller & Co. agent for J.K. Blogg & Co. LMTD. The poorer quality photo gave additional information about the company, such as ‘Soap,Candle and Chemical Manufacturers, Lower Macquarie-St, Hobart, and Elizabeth-St, Launceston. The factory was identified as being the one at Hobart, and as the makers of The Celebrated ‘ANCHOR’ & ‘SUNLIGHT’ SOAPS. The mention of J.K. Bloggs & Co. at the top of the photos applied to the agency of this Tasmanian firm for the Bloggs manufacturing company in London, Melbourne and Sydney. The two photos found at the Tasmanian Archives website are shown as Figures 4 & 5.
The Launceston Examiner 26 May 1885, page 3 reported that R. Miller & Co. exhibited its products at the Tasmanian Exhibition of 1885. The company occupied a central position on the east side, their exhibits being 9 different varieties of soaps, candles figured strongly in all colours, as well as soda crystals. Decorative figures of tallow showed that fancy work was not neglected. There was a large decoration of Cleopatra’s Needle. Specimens of resin, soda crystals an articles used in the manufacture of soaps were shown. This exhibit totalled about 5 tons. No pains have been spared to make a creditable exhibit and the company was awarded with success.
The latest reference to the firm (after a non-exhaustive search in the archived newspapers) was a long paper in The Mercury (Hobart) on Saturday 17 February 1923, page 11 headed ‘Soap and Candle Making, R. Miller & Co.’s Factory, Science and Soap, Fat Rendering Without Nuisance.” Mr. E. Miller controlled the business at that time and the Hobart factory had been in operation about 60 years, at the same Macquarie Street address. At one stage the company had 4 factories in Tasmania, but 3 were sold in order to concentrate at the Hobart site. Mr. E. Miller had been in charge for some 12 years of the firm which had been started by his grandfather.
Permission has been granted for the use of Figures 4 & 5 by Robyn Eastley of the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office.