Several letters posted to Arthur King, Chemist have been used as an introduction to the important firm of Washington H. Soul and Company. The first was a mourning cover sent to Arthur King, Chemist, 2 Gurner St., Paddington, Sydney in October 1907 with a pair of 1d red N.S.W. ‘Shield’ stamps, postmarked with an Unanderra N.S.W. and the ‘Rays 292′ (Figure 1).

Two other covers were addressed to him at the 2 Gurner Street address, one from a N.S.W. country address as shown by the duplex BN ‘684′ (Cobar) and another from Bathurst NSW. Yet another cover was addressed to him at the same address, but it was listed as “2 Gurner St., Glenmore Road”, with another country address of Windsor 21 AU 08, with a pair of the same stamps obliterated by the BN ‘3′ (Figure 2).

However the cover, addressed to the same chemist at the same address, and that segued into the main topic of Washington H. Soul & Co. had a pair of the halfpenny NSW stamps with a roller Sydney NSW cancel of DE 18 1907 (Figure 3).

The reverse of this cover had a stylish rendition with curlicues, printed in blue, of Washington H. Soul & Co./ Manufacturing/ Importing & Dispensing/ Chemists/ 160 & 268 Pitt Street/ Sydney on the flap and immediately below (Figure 4).

All of the above covers are dated 1907 or 1908, and the Sands Directory listed Alfred King as a Chemist and Druggist, living at the 2 Gurner Street, Paddington address, and the listing went back to 1899 and forward to 1912. In 1913 he had moved to 250 Glenmore Road, Paddington. Alfred King married Susan Rogers and they had 2 boys and 3 girls. One can’t be certain that this man is the same as on the covers, for he was described as a Chemist and Druggist in different Sydney suburbs of Auburn Road, Auburn and Church Street, Rookwood.

Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited (as now called) has an extensive. Caleb Soul, an Englishman (born 13 Jan 1817 – died 31 Aug 1894) came to Sydney in 1863, having spent some years working in the drug industry in both England and the U.S.A. He took a job with the Colonial Sugar Refinery and later with Tucker & Company in the Newcastle area, as a commercial traveler. He then opened his own wine and spirit business at Morpeth, together with his son, Washington Handley Soul (1845-1927). He quickly realised the opportunity for a retail chemist to import his own drugs and patent medicines directly from the U.K. and U.S.A.. In 1872 he opened a pharmacy at 177 Pitt St., Sydney, advertising “all goods sold at New York and London prices”. The venture was an immediate success, and because he considered his son’s name sounded more honest than his own, he traded as Washington H. Soul.

He moved to 158-160 Pitt Street, the present head office of the Company, and was the first in Australia to include a soda fountain and milk bar. He opened a separate Ladies Department under the control of a trained nurse, another first and an immediate success. A favorite drink sold by the milk bar was Soul’s Spartan Tonic, which largely consisted of alcohol, plus minerals and salts, a drink favored by teetotalers that frequented the milk bar!

Lewy Myall Pattinson, an engineer joined his brother, William in a pharmacy business in England and he read of Soul’s success in Australia, so he came to Australia to appraise the situation. He later returned to Australia in 1866 and opened a pharmacy at Balmain, a Sydney suburb. Soul and Lewy became friends, both businesses thrived and when the bubonic plague in Sydney closed up Pattinson’s head office, he moved into Washington Soul’s head office, and by mutual agreement he bought out the firm, and Washington H. Soul Pattinson & Company Ltd. was incorporated on 21 January 1903.

Acknowledgments: The research provided by Libby Watters, Librarian at the Woollahra Library, Sydney was very helpful in regards to the Chemist, Arthur King.

Addendum: Washington H. Soul & Co. provided envelopes to place patient’s prescriptions in, and such an ornate envelope for P. E. Browne Esq, proclaimed “We charge the lowest prices consistent with purity and excellence of drugs” (Figure 5 ).

The prescription written by a distinguished physician who was a specialist, Dr. Harold Ritchie at 225 Macquarie Street, Sydney on 5/6/28 for the above Mr. Browne is shown in Figure 6.