Three postal items were found addressed to an important Western Australian gold mining company at Kalgoorlie, W.A., and three men were identified to be significantly involved with the gold mining industry. The first man identified was the least important and he was the addressee on 2 of the items. In dated sequence, the first item was an ‘On Public Service Only’ cover addressed to E. Gunther Esq., London & Hamburg Gold Rec. Cy, Box 64, GPO, Kalgoorlie. The source of the cover was the ‘Western Australian International Mining and Industrial Exhibition. Coolgardie, 1899. This stampless cover had a purple double-ringed handstamp ‘WESTERN AUSTRALIA EXHIBITION/ FRANK/ [Swan]/ STAMP/ COOLGARDIE 1899 with an overlying duplex of a unframed COOLGARDIE/ 2/ AP 25/ 1899/ WESTERN AUSTRALIA, with the barred obliterator P.O. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).
The second item was an unstamped On Her Majesty’s Service cover addressed to The London & Hamburg Gold Recovery Coytd, PO Box 64 – Kalgoorlie and it had an unframed incomplete duplex of BOULDER/ 2/ AU 3/ 00/ W.A as well as a purple double oval POST & TELEGRAPH OFFICE/ 3 AUG. 99/ BOULDER. W.A. handstamp. The reverse was not seen (Figure 2).
The third was a Western Australian postcard with a printed brown ‘Swan HALF PENNY’ stamp to which a grey ‘Swan HALF PENNY’ stamp was added, and both were postmarked with a single duplex KALGOORLIE/ 7/ AU 5/ 03/ W.A. The same E. Gunther Esqr, London & Hamburg G Recovery, Kalgoorlie was the addressee (Figure 3).
The card’s reverse was printed: “The Chamber of Mines of Western Australia, Incorporated, Kalgoorlie, August 4th , 1903. Dear Sir, The Executive Council desires the pleasure of your Company at a gathering of Members of the Chamber, to be held in this office on Saturday, the 8 th inst., at 12 noon, for the purpose of wishing “bon voyage” to the President (Mr. Richard Hamilton) prior to his departure for London.
Yours faithfully, Thomas Maughan, General Secretary, R.S.V.P. (Figure 4).
The second of the 3 men to be identified was the addressee on two of the three philatelic items, E. Gunther Esq. care of the London & Hamburg Recovery Gold Mine. He was a busy man who would have been working out in the gold mine with little time for the town of Kalgoorlie, except perhaps when he was attending the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia in Kalgoorlie. The Kalgoorlie Western Argus of Tuesday 6 November 1900 , page 17 was the only reference to him to-date , as follows: …the extraction (of gold) was not up to anticipations, and thereupon the Hannans Star (goldmine) directors entered into an agreement with the London and Hamburg Company for the remodelling of the plant to adapt it to the Diehl process (of gold extraction). The additional plant has been designed by Mr. E. Guenther (sic, an anglicised rendition of the germanic Günther), the chief engineer of the London and Hamburg Company…”. A picture of Gunther has not been seen but the onsite offices of the London & Hamburg Gold Recovery Co. Ltd., Brown Hill are seen in Figure 5.
The Diehl process of gold extraction is largely attributed to Ludwig Diehl, a German who had a partnership with Edmund Davis, an Australian with many financial interests not only in German Southwest Africa, but also in Western Australia, Queensland and N.S.W. gold mines. Davis gradually withdrew from many of the goldmines, but maintained his financial interest in the London & Hamburg Gold Recovery Co. His colleague Ludwig Diehl and his German team of metallurgical chemists were instrumental in increasing the yield of gold from difficult deposits. In mid-1895 the 2 men, together with W.F. Turner, secured a State patent and formed the Gold Ore Treatment of Western Australia, and in the following year, the London & Hamburg Gold Recovery Co. was formed, as well as acquiring a share of Hannan’s Brown Hill Gold Mine, utilising Diehl’s team method to increase the recovery of gold. I am not going into the details of the process of extraction, but this can be explored in a Google book on Ludwig Diehl Gold Extraction. A picture of the metallurgist Ludwig Diehl is seen in Figure 6.
The third man in the story behind these 3 philatelic items was Richard Hamilton. The West Australian (Perth), 17 March 1943, page 2, headlined ‘Mr. R. Hamilton Dies. Loss to Gold Industry. End of a Long Career’. One of the oldest and best-known mining men in this State, the former general manager of the Great Boulder Proprietary, Ltd, died yesterday. Born at Williamstown, Victoria on April 23, 1855 he marked an epoch in goldmining in this State. He had a life-long association with mining not only in this State but also overseas, and was for 43 years president of the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia.
Son of the late Mr. Henry West Hamilton of County Antrum Eire, he was educated at the School of Mines, Bendigo and received mining experience during the hey-day of the Victorian gold-fields. In the early 1880’s he took over the management of a goldmine in India and later managed a gold-mine in Arizona, USA. In 1896 he managed the Great Boulder Mine and he retired from active mining in 1927. In 1897 he was elected president of the Chamber of Mines of W.A., and held that position until his death. He left 2 sons and a daughter. A picture of Richard Hamilton is seen in Figure 7.