Royal Reels: Gambling


A single newspaper wrapper is unlikely to excite me, but this one did because of the recipient’s name and her address. There can’t be too many foreign baroness in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, but Rose Bay would be a likely locale for finding one. The wrapper, without any identifier of the sender, is postmarked twice by BENDIGO/ 2/ 6-P/ 20 NO 19/ VIC on the ‘No Inscription’ type ½d green plus ½d green KGV head (with the 2 stamp images printed at different levels) wrapper issued in 1918. It is addressed to Baroness A.N. de Koenneritz, “Saint Cloud, Collins Avenue, Rose Bay, Sydney (Figure 1).

Collins Avenue, Rose Bay still exists, and “Saint Cloud” previously existed at #19, whereas the Koenneritz name in Australia was difficult to find. It was a proud name in Europe with people living in Germany, France and Italy. A Baroness Maria Koenneritz was found in Milan in 1885, and there were two de Koenneritz’s identified in France. There was an Otto von Koenneritz in Germany (1835-1866) and he married Countess Mathilde, in 1859. Leonce Robert Baron von Koenneritz was born in Paris in 1835, became the Finance Minister in Dresden and died in 1890 in Dresden. I stress the possible origins of the ‘de’ and ‘von’ Koenneritz’s, for the definite ancestry of the Australian branch is still not totally established even after extensive research.

A cover seen later, was posted 18 years earlier than the wrapper. It is a long ‘On His Majesty’s Service’, Commonwealth Defence Mourning cover sent to M. L. Von Koenneritz, Riley St, Kogarah, Sydney, NSW. It is clearly cancelled with a MELBOURNE/ AM/ (?)45/ 21 5 01/ 1 postmark. The Melbourne postmark obscures a faint blue frank stamp of the MINISTER OF DEFENCE/ VICTORIA (Figure 2).

A Local History Librarian at the Woollahra Library, (which includes Rose Bay in their area), was able to supply information about “Saint Cloud”. The land on which the house was built was originally the home of the aboriginal group, the Cadigal people. The 1130 acres became a part of the Point Piper Estate which was a grant to two emancipated convicts in 1830. The estate was broken up and went through a series of owners, and one lot was registered in the name of Mrs A. Koenneritz in 1913. The house known as “St Cloud” was built on her lot (at 19 Collins Avenue, Rose Bay) in 1914-15, and the Council rate and assessment books of 1914 show the owner as Madame Aimee Nathalie de Koenneritz, her previous address being listed as Riley Street, Kogarah.

The Sands Directories first lists the house in Collins Avenue in 1917 with the occupant Leon de Koenneritz. The N.S.W. Births, Deaths & Marriages listing record Leon’s death in 1923 and state that his parents names were Otto and Matilda (presumed to be the above Otto von Koenneritz and his wife Countesse Mathilde). Madame de Koenneritz died in 1941 at Rose Bay. “St Cloud” was demolished ca. 1973, and a new house was built on the site in 1977.

Around 1913 the family name was changed from ‘von’ to ‘de’, and the assumption is that this was before WWI in 1914. Although the viewed records have listed Aimee Nathalie as variously Comtesse, Madame or Mrs, the title of Baroness was used on the wrapper.

Additional information was obtained from a librarian at the State Library of N.S.W. Aimee Nathalie (maiden name Bandol or Baudol) married Edward Ernst in 1879, prior to marrying Leo. They had a son, Maurice who was born and died in 1881, and then Edward died in 1883, with Aimee marrying Leo in 1885. The Electoral Rolls from 1915 until 1919 showed that four de Koenneritz’s lived at “St. Cloud”, Rose Bay: Aimee Nathalie, Leonine Nathalie Aimee (born 1887), Charles Otto Albert Louis (“Karl” born 1891), and Leo. In 1919, only Leo appears on the Roll and, from 1921 until 1925, Leo and (Aimee) Nathalie appear until 1925, when only Aimee appears to 1940.

The de Koenneritz’s appeared to have been a very private family as a check of post office and telephone directories failed to find them. Similarly, a check of newspaper indexes for obituaries produced no information. This privacy issue revolves around their immigrant status from Germany, the naturalization of Leo Baron Von Koenneritz in 1913-1914, the change in family name from ‘von’ to ‘de’ Koenneritz, the World War I (1914-18) and the evidence that Leo was a person of interest to both the N.S.W. and Federal Intelligence Bureaus. In fact there are Koenneritz intelligence files extending well past Leo’s death in 1923 (at least to 31 December 1940). Details as to the reasons for these files were not available to me.

An extensive search of Australians involved in the Boer War (1901-1902) failed to find either a ‘de’ or a ‘von’ Koenneritz in the records, or a Koenig, or an anglicized equivalent of the name. The only son, Charles was still alive in 1919, so he obviously was not the person unidentified in the Mourning cover. Thus the reason for the Mourning cover sent to Leo de Koenneritz in 1901 is still an unsolved mystery.

An interesting side-bar to the name of the property “Saint Cloud” at Rose Bay is the fact that the Local Government area of Woollahra (includes Rose Bay) became the sister city of St Cloud, a suburb of Paris, in 1986.

I wish to acknowledge the help of Prof. John Courtis, Hong Kong for providing the wrapper, and two Australian Librarians, Libby Watters (Local History Librarian, Woollahra Library) and Melissa Jackson (Readers Services, State Library N.S.W.) who provided much of the salient information about the Rose Bay family and property.

Addenda:  In the troubled times before and during WW1, people with German names may have wanted to down-play their names, and this French-style was adopted by Von Koenneritz, as seen on a return label from the Dead Letter Office on a mourning cover.  The purple hand-struck “MONEY” IS A GOOD SOLDIER/ INVEST IN THE WAR LOAN is unusual (Figure 3).

This 1893 was the usual form of address to Leo Von Koenneritz well before WW1 sent to his Riley Street, Kogarah, Sydney address (Figure 4). 

 This postcard shows a different form of address with the true Germanic form of address, where the ‘oe’ in his name is replaced by an umlaut on the ‘o’.  The address was incomplete simply addressed to Paddington and there is a red manuscript ‘Not Known” (Figure 5).

The reason fot this spelling is obvious on the reverse as it came from the Deutscher Club in Castlereagh Street Sydney (Figure 6)

Yet another item, a postcard sent from Switzerland to L. Koenneritz at his Kogarah, Sydney N.S.W. address has been found.  It was postmarked DERLIKON/ 2 VIII 00 –3, with an arrival in Sydney on August 7 1900 and received at Kogarah on the same day (Figure 7).

Addendum (August 2010):  Over the six years I have seen at least six additional philatelic communications, and the only reason to include this one is due to the fact that it was sent to a daughter of the Koenneritz family, at Riley Street, Kogarah. The cancellation reads POSTAGE PAID SYDNEY/ 10  6/ 1901/ 12/ Id/ N.S.W, and the reverse was not seen (Figure 8).

Because of this addition I decided to look for personal information on the Koenneritz family at the TROVE newspaper site and was rewarded with the following in the S.M.H. 29 May 1923 on p. 9, as follows:  THE LATE BARON KOENNERITZ.  Baron Leon Koenneritz who died at his residence, St. Cloud, Collins Avenue, Rose Bay on Sunday was born at Dresden, Austria and arrived in Sydney during 1892.  He was a son of the late Baron Otto Koenneritz, and grandson of the Prince d’Anhalt amd of General Chreilien de Koenneritz.  He was also related to the late Duchess of Connaught and was a cousin of Count Bernsdorf, the Geman Ambassador to the United States.before the war.  The Baron was Australian correspondent fot the “Frankfurter Zeitung”.  For the last five years he had suffered from chronic colitis, but only took to his bed five weeks ago.  He leaves a widow and grown-up family of sons and daughters.

He was a frequent writer to the editor of thr S.M.H. in an attempt to explain German policy in the years leading up to WWI.