Royal Reels: Gambling


This 1d imprinted Western Australian postcard has a halfpenny green W.A. stamp (ASC #18) attached, for the 2-line postcard’s directions clearly state that the 1 penny rate applies for the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The card is printed on buff stock and when used for any other place an additional halfpenny stamp is required. The postcard is addressed to Messrs. Smith & Wesson, 33 Stockbridge St. Springfield, Mass.USA and it is indistinctly postmarked Yaloginda/ 26 FE 1908/ WESTERN AUSTRALIA (Figure 1).

The reverse confirms the date as 26/2/08 and the sender gives his return address as Yaloginda, Via Nannine, Murchison Goldfields, West Australia. The message is a request as follows:  Sirs, Please mail me your new booklet “The Revolver” at your earliest convenience.  And oblige Yours flly, Albert E. Deacon. In the lower left hand corner the writer gives the source of the request as:  Ad. from The Cosmopolitan Mag.(azine) (Figure 2).

Yaloginda’s only postmark is recorded as Type A27, but this one is only 26 not the stated 27 mm in diameter.  It is a relatively rare postmark with a rating of ‘1 – 2′, where ‘5′ is the most common. The post office closed 1914 and the earliest recorded date of use was 11 FE 1908, with a 2-letter month and a 4-figure year, and a dot before and after the post office name. Only 35 post offices have been identified with postmarks of this configuration, their earliest recorded dates ranging from 1907 to 1915.

The addressee is of considerable importance as the premier US handgun manufacturer. The postcard’s reverse confirms that the sender was showing an interest in the purchase of a revolver. Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson came from old New England families and their firearm experience dated back to the 1840’s. The 2 men formed their partnership in Norwich Connecticut, with the aim of marketing a lever-action repeating pistol that could fire a fully self-contained cartridge. By 1854 the venture was not a success, and they sold the company to a shirt manufacturer, Oliver Winchester. With the original lever-action design, Winchester’s company emerged as the famous Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1866.

In 1856, Smith & Wesson formed their second company to produce a small revolver designed to fire their patented Rimfire cartridge. The revolver was the first successful fully self-contained cartridge revolver available in the world and this was the birth of a preeminent company, which continues as a world leader in handgun manufacturing into the 21st century.

Initially, the information obtained on Yaloginda was extremely limited, over and above that mentioned about the postmark. Of postal interest, it is recorded in a philatelic source as one of the many Murchison Goldfield post offices, Yaloginda having dates from 1907-1914. It is far less known than some of the other gold mine towns, such as Cue, Day Dawn, Meekatharra, Mount Magnet, and Nannine. A single gold reference stated that “secondary gold, including nuggets, was recovered at Meekatharra, Nannine, Yaloginda, Ruby Well, Hohens Find etc.”

The positional co-ordinates for the 3 towns relevant to this postcard, Yaloginda 26S 40 and 118 E 25, Nannine 26 S 53and 118E 20, and Meekatharra 26S 36 and 118E 29, clearly place Yaloginda closer to Meekatharra than to Nannine.  The address given as “Yaloginda via Nannine” was queried by one of my many W.A. research contacts, who considered that it should have read “via Meekatharra”. A possible reason for the ‘via Nannine’ may have been that in 1891 the Murchison Goldfields were proclaimed with headquarters at Nannine. The only other information I could find about Yaloginda mentioned the presence of a train stop, hotel, farm, and the post office in Yaloginda.

A group of metallurgists with interests in W.A. goldmines were contacted and they were so generous with their knowledge, that there was an “embarrassment of riches”. The shortest description of the town, most suitable for a philatelically inspired paper, was as follows: “The name Yaloginda refers to a group of goldmining leases situated around Yaloginda Bore, several km to the east of the Great Northern Highway, about 13 km south of Meekatharra, and 22 km north of Nannine (Figure 3)”.

“Up to 1945 about 33 registered leases operated in the Yaloginda area, 17 of which produced alluvial gold. The area covers about 77 square km of auriferous ground. In 1914 Nannine was a thriving town whereas to-day it is totally desolate. Meekatharra flourished as a major mining centre during the 1930’s and still thrives as the north Murchison’s regional centre.”

“Yaloginda was first known as Yallowgindat, and a rich alluvial patch was found by a well- known prospector, H. Reed at Yaloginda in about 1899. The first lease was pegged in 1902-03 and there were about 40 leases in the district. Most of the gold was obtained before 1914, but there was a minor revival in the late 1930’s. The mining centre produced about 21,000 ounces of gold from 28,000 tons of ore up to 1945. The largest mine in the area during 1906-1910 period was called Karangahaki (not shown on map) which produced 12,627 ounces of the total”.

Albert E. Deacon unfortunately has not been identified, although several deceased Western Australians with that surname are listed. His name is not known in association with mining, but it is intriguing to guess the purpose of his inquiring about a revolver from Smith & Wesson. At least his name is perpetuated in a history joining Yaloginda, Murchison Goldfields Western Australia to the Smith & Wesson handgun firm in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Categories: Mining, Postcards