Royal Reels: Gambling


This registered cover from Brisbane to Boston, Mass. had an uncommon strip of five 1d red KGV Head stamps and a single green ½ d KGV Head stamp to make up the 5½ d rate. This WWI cover was postmarked with 5 blue REGISTERED/ 3-P 1 MR 1916/ BRISBANE cancels as well as a red BRISBANE registration label and it had 2 different red OPENED BY CENSOR labels. It was addressed to Irving P. Fox Esq., “The Spatula”, 14 Sudbury, Boston Mass., USA as well as a purple ‘96713′ handstamp (Figure 1).

The reverse had an identical blue Registered Brisbane cancel, a transit purple SAN FRANCISCO, CAL/ MAR 27/ 1916/ REG. DIV. as well as a purple arrival BOSTON MASS. MAR 31/ 1916 cancel (Figure 2).

A map of Boston was made by Osgood Carlton, a leading cartographer who surveyed a plan of Boston in 1795, and his 1800 map clearly showed Sudbury Street (see solid red arrow) and Beacon Hill, is shown for the reader’s orientation, by a hollow red arrow. Don’t be confused by the partially obscured Mill Pond, for this is now completely paved over (Figure 3).

Details about Irving P. Fox were very sketchy on the internet, but a clue as to his identity lay in ‘The Spatula’ of his address. Fox was a publisher and in 1898 he published Anna Christy Fall’s book entitled ‘A Widow’s Third’. His other publications were ‘The Spatula’, Spatula Publishing Company, Boston from October 1894-September 1925, which was a monthly publication of 31 illustrated volumes, a magazine for pharmacists. This is now a rare magazine, for only one source was found in the USA, and no copies have been found in the hands of Pharmacy Departments at Canadian Universities. ‘The Spatula’ was subsequently merged into ‘The Practical Druggist’. In addition Fox was the author and publisher (as the Spatula Publishing Company) for the third edition in 1912, and the fourth edition in 1921 of ‘One Thousand Ways and Schemes to Attract Trade. Gathered from Actual Experiences of Successful Merchants’, the first with co-author B.A. Forbes, and the second as sole author.

Irving P. and his wife Helen Joy Fox were both graduates of Boston University (B.U.) Class of 1883; and, several requests of the Alumni Association and the archivist produced no real biographical information on Fox or his wife, for the first year book kept at the University was for 1886. A request for information on Irving P. Fox at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., was also unsuccessful.

The Fox children, a son Fred Joy Fox and daughter (Mrs. Archibald Crossley) donated a valuable collection to the B.U. Archives, consisting of letters and signatures of prominent American clergymen, politicians and public figures, including Benedict Arnold, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Oliver Wendell Holmes, George Washington and Daniel Webster. Irving’s interest in collecting letters written by famous people must have been influenced by his father, the Reverend Henry J. Fox, for the Boston University Collection also contains an autograph book with 72 letters presented by his father to Fox, and then to the University.

This paper was published by me in the New South Wales Philatelist in November 2004 (pages 28-30) as ‘An Uncommon Use of the KGV Redhead’.

Categories: Family History, Postmarks