Royal Reels: Gambling


The Tattersall’s cover was addressed to Mr. D. Black, Waterloo House, Murray Street, Hobart, Tasmania. The cover was franked with a vertical pair of the pink ‘ONE PENNY’ QV stamps of Victpria which were cancelled by the duplex CLUNES/ SE 17/ 07/ VICTORIA with the stamps obliterated by the barred numeral ‘147′. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The editor’s domicile was better known than David Black, for it has a considerable history in Hobart. It started out as an inn and a favorite of the sea captains visiting the town. The ownership of ‘The Waterloo’ and the licence passed through several hands from the original owner John James, a prominent Hobart brewer, through to the founder of Hobart’s “Mercury’ newspaper, John Davies. In the 1860s the building was refurbished , converted to a boarding establishment and renamed Waterloo House.

The property was sold in 1868 and then again in 1907, when the new owner was George Adams, decided to rebuild it. While major structural changes were made, the building to-day looks very similar to the old boarding house and hotel that once stood on the site. It is located at the corner of Murray and Davey Streets and the picture was taken ca. 1893 (Figure 2).

David Black was not very well documented in his short life, except for his obituary that was found in ‘The Mercury’ Hobart on Saturday 4 December 1909 on page 5. What follows is excerpted with minor changes. “OBITUARY. MR. DAVID BLACK: It is with the deepest regret that we announce the death of Mr. David Black, editor of “The Tasmanian Mail”. He became seriously ill of an old-standing disease of the lungs on Wednesday evening, and passed away in his sleep early yesterday morning. Some months ago he suffered a seizure, and on medical advice visited North Queensland. On his return he seemed to have improved in health, but he new that it was only a temporary change for the better. That he was a man of indomitable courage is shown by the fact that, with the shadow of death over hm, he went about his duties and pursued the ordinary course of his life with the utmost cheerfulness. He was one of the best bowling skips in the State, and on Saturday last led a team to victory against the Buckinghams.

Mr. Black was 19 years of age, and was born at Paisley, in Scotland. He joined the press in that country, and was on the staff of the “Paisley Gazette”. Owing to lung trouble, he came out to Australia in 1891, and for a time resided with Dr. McCall, and shortly after became a member of the reporting staff of “The Mercury”. For some years he represented this paper at Launceston, but finally returned to the Hobart Office, and became editor of “The Mail”. He was a most competent journalist, and did all classes of work with the greatest ease. He was a man of the finest character, and in the best sense of the word was popular with every body. Wherever he was known the news of his death will be received with the keenest regret. Amongst his colleagues the fact that he was dead was heard with a feeling that the word “regret” does not sufficiently express, and in that feeling the proprietors of “The Mercury” and “Tasmanian Mail” share.

Mr. Black died at Lindisfarne at the residence of his friend, Mr. Arthur Oldham. The funeral will take place at 3 o’clock to-morrow (Sunday) afternoon from the Athenaeum Club, the members of which have taken charge of the arrangements. Information of the event was cabled yesterday to the Agent-General, with the request that he would break the sad news to Mr. Black’s father and sisters”.

David MacNamee in his book ‘Catalogue and Handbook of Tattersall’s Covers’ (2006) shows a cover sent to D. Black, Waterloo House, Murray St., Hobart, Tasmania also from Clunes, Victoria on April 25 1907, and this is shown as Figure 3.