Royal Reels: Gambling


This Commonwealth of Australia Post Card with the brown 1½d KGV head was addressed to Wilmot & Johnstone, (merchants of) Launceston and is postmarked HOBART/ 11-P-2 OC 23. There is a vertical manuscript indicating the sender as H. Jones & Co/ 2/10/23 (Figure 1).

The reverse confirms the 2/10/23 date and it was received on OCT 3 1923. The message reads: We have this day forwarded per Rail, 2 c/s Bulk Jam, enclosed with ( ), fr Richards & Co Goods. We trust same will be received in good order, and to your satisfaction. Yours faithfully, H. Jones & Co. Ltd. (Figure 2).

Henry Jones, jam manufacturer, was born on 19 July 1862 in Hobart Town, second son of John Jones, clerk and his wife Emma, née Matheson. Both parents were Welsh. He was educated at Mr Canaway’s school where he excelled in commercial subjects. After beginning work, aged 12, at George Peacock’s jam factory on the Old Wharf, pasting labels on tins, within a few years he had become an expert jam-boiler. On 21 April 1883, Jones married Alice Glover, a capable woman who bore him three sons and nine daughters and who became one of the principal supporters of art in Hobart. In 1885, at a time when the viability of the Tasmanian intercolonial jam trade was threatened by mainland competition, Jones was promoted factory foreman; and in 1889 when Peacock retired he took control as H. Jones & Co. in partnership with A.W, Palfreyman and Peacock’s son Ernest. With Jones as manager the firm slowly recovered: by 1898 new premises had been built, the range of canned products had been diversified, and the partners had entered the hop-production business and the overseas export trade. During the partnership period Jones adopted the brand name IXL (a play on ‘I excel’) and was himself popularly dubbed ‘Jam Tin Jones’.

In 1902 the partnership was dissolved and a limited liability company was formed in July 1903. Jones, as chairman and managing director, was joined by Sir Alfred Ashbolt and George Edwards (a former football team-mate, but also the Federal member for South Sydney, and an expert on tariff matters). The company eventually extended to all Australian States, New Zealand and South Africa. Jones was a shrewd investor in promising Tasmanian undertakings. His greatest profits were not from jam, but from the Thailand tin-dredging industry, whose promoter was Hobart-born.

Jones became a leading Australian financier and one of the early advisers to the Commonwealth Bank. During World War I he advised British government authorities on their Tasmanian investments. His support for the war effort also included the gift of an airplane to the British Army. He was knighted in 1919. Caricatured as the ‘Knight of the Jam Tin’, Jones confronted post-war difficulties with his customary energy. In a visit to England in 1921 he arranged for the erection of woollen mills in Launceston. The rival Hobart jam manufactory, W.D. Peacock & Co. was acquired by purchase after WW I, but an attempt to establish branch factories in California failed. Jones retired in 1922 and Frederick Peacock succeeded him.

Jones accepted appointment to the Executive Council in 1924, although he characteristically shunned public office. He gave freely to charities, including the Methodist Church, was a member of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce and Hobart Rotary, and was consul for Denmark. He died on 29 October 1926 of coronary thrombosis and was survived by his wife and children. His estate was valued for probate at £112,646. His picture is shown in Figure 3.

This paper is based on the entry in the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Categories: Business