This Victorian Post Card with the brown One Penny ‘Stamp Duty’ stamp has a duplex MELBOURNE/ T/ MR 14/ 92 postmark and the six barred VICTORIA obliterator. It is addressed to the company of Mess Fraser Bro & Devonshire in Yarram, Victoria (Figure 1).
The reverse shows a remarkable amount of information about the sending company of Rosenthal, Aronson & Co., which is listed at four addresses: 362 Little Collins Street, Melbourne (whence the card was sent), 26 Fore Street, E.C., London, George Street, Launceston, and 2 Wynyard Street, Sydney. The purpose of the card was that “Our Mr. Graham will have the pleasure of calling upon you (on) 22/3/92, when the favor of your esteemed orders will oblige, Yours faithfully, ROSENTHAL, ARONSON & Co.
There is a remarkable elaboration on what the company sells, with a Full Stock Always On Hand Of China, Glassware, Earthenware, Saddlery, Cutlery, Stationery, Fancy Goods, Watches, Clocks, Pianos, Concertinas, Plated Ware, Tobacconists’ Goods, and Storekeepers’ Sundries of every description. They are also Wholesale and Manufacturing Jewellers.
Sole Agents for the Celebrated Olfato Cigars. Guaranteed Imported.. Always Dr. Law’s Cough Balsam and his Celebrated Preparations. Clarke’s Eye Lotion. The mighty Tonic LECTAR, has received an award at Centennial International Exhibition. There is a reception postmark with an unframed YARRAM YARRAM/ MR 15/ 92/ VICTORIA (Figure 2).
The reverse of another Victorian Post Card from the company is also shown, which has an illegible date, and it is significant for two reasons: The address for the Melbourne store has been changed to 275-281 Lonsdale Street, and although most of the advertising matter is same, changes are noted, namely the firm is now an agent for an additional brand of cigars, and Liver Stimulant has been added to the other medications (Figure 3).
The name of the business was known by several variations and has been seen as early as the 1840’s until the 1900’s, with additional branches in Brisbane and Perth. The business in Launceston, Tasmania was a 3-storey building and the signs read on the ground floor ‘Crockery & Glass Department, and on the windows, Ironmongery, Hardware, Cutlery, E.P. Ware and Patent Medicine, as well as several goods that are illegible. The building photo was dated ?1888 (Figure 4).
The first date that the firm appears in Launceston was 1884, and they operated there from 1884 until 1901. In 1894 the premises at 57 George Street, Launceston were listed under the name of Norman N. Aronson & Co. In 1898, it was listed as Norman N. Aronson and Abraham Phillips now at 95 Charles Street, Launceston.
David Rosenthal, wholesale jeweller and importer, Melbourne, in the 1860’s-1870’s combined with Saul Philip Aronson from ca.1844 to 1931, and traded as David Rosenthal & Co. in 1874-78, and with the addition of brother, George Alfred Aronson, traded as Rosenthal, Aronson & Co., Melbourne as general merchants and manufacturing jewellers from 1878-1900 (the time of these postcards). The London, England company (Saul Aronson) traded from ca.1878-1915, the Brisbane traded from1887-93 and Perth from 1897-1905. A third brother, Frederick Aronson was a partner in the wholesale jewellers in Sydney and traded as Lazarus & Aronson from 1884-86, Lazarus, Aronson & Co. from 1886-99, and as F. Aronson & Co. from 1899. The Melbourne firm lasted until 1930, the London firm until ca. 1931 and in Sydney the company was a wholesaler and exporter to 1947.
The combinations of partners and businesses in all 6 city sites over a century are only approximate, and to date after almost 2 years of very intermittent research, little is known about the partners. It is somewhat ironic that the most, but still minimal, information is known about Frederick Aronson (1850-1928) because he married Zara (née Baar) Aronson, who has a personal citation in the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography. Frederick is mentioned en passant, and then only very briefly.
Zara (1864-1944) was Sydney-born to a merchant of Hanover and London, educated in England and Germany, and she returned to Sydney in 1879. She married Frederick at the Great Synagogue, Sydney in October 1882, and they lived in Woollahra, a Sydney suburb. She became very active in many charities, turned to feminist activities (but was known as Mrs Fred Aronson) and became a well respected journalist and author. “By 1899 her husband had set up Frederick Aronson & Co. wholesale jewellers and importers. In 1901 she accompanied him when he took charge of the Melbourne branch of the firm.” “About 1912 Aronson set up a branch of his jewellery business in Perth and Zara joined the staff of the Western Mail“.
Acknowledgment: The information on Zara and Frederick Aronson was obtained in the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography. Sue McClarron (Launceston Library) provided most of the information on Rosenthal, Aronson & Co. in Launceston.