Royal Reels: Gambling


Four of these covers appeared on Ebay in March of 2005 and all demonstrated a plethora of postmarks both on the front and reverse. Although the majority of markings were legible, in each example there were postmarks that left much to the imagination only. The covers ranged from 1903 to 1908, and will be described from the earliest to the latest.

The earliest cover was sent from MURPHY’S CREEK/ SE 5/ 03/ QUEENSLAND and had two examples of the unframed Type 3c (23-24 mm, short dash at sides, year as 2 figures) with a rarity rating of ‘R’ (‘4R’, the most rare) applied in the top R.H., where the stamps were not. The pair of purple on blue paper 2½d ‘four corners’ stamps were placed at the bottom L.H. and they were cancelled with 2 examples of the two-line REGISTERED/ MURPHY’S CREEK stamping and there was the usual red crayon cross of registration. The manuscript ’88’ in the top L.H. was the accounting number used at the postoffice for registered items. Murphy’s Creek is 15 km NE of Toowoomba. The cover had the usual spindle hole of Tattersall’s mail and one of its multiple mailing addresses.

The reverse had a transit postmark of an unframed TOOWOOMBA/ 4/ SP 5/ 03/ QUEENSLAND (Type 3c [common], but code 4 is not listed) and a reception postmark of HOBART/ A/ SE 11/ 03/ TASMANIA.. There were 2 examples of different T.P.O. postmarks the first with the large lettered T.P.O. dated 5 SE 03 (inverted, and uncertain railway) and the other Southern & Western Railway dated UP/ SP 6/ 1903. For good measure, two more two-line REGISTERED/ MURPHY’S CREEK were added.

The second cover has a pair of the ‘four corners’ brown 3d and a single orange 1d and they are postmarked with two Type 2b 10 barred number ‘565’ (rated: common) of One Mile (Creek) which is confirmed in the lower R.H. by the unframed Type 4at (with time) ONE MILE CREEK/ 7 P/ NO 06/ 03/ QUEENSLAND (the date is difficult), and it is rated: ‘R’. One Mile creek is 1.5 km S of Gympie.

The reverse has a reception mark of HOBART/ A/ NO 15/ 1903 and the large lettered T.P.O. NO 4/ 1 NO 03/ QUEENSLAND but the railway can’t be read. A fainter and different T.P.O. S & W. R’WAY/ DOWN/ NO 3/ 03 completes the markings.

The third cover was ‘Registered’, with an accounting number of ‘269’, both in manuscript, and the five ‘four corners’ 1d orange stamps were postmarked with 3 examples of the Type 1e ‘rays’ number ‘142’ of Ilfracombe (rated: common). This was confirmed in the lower L.H. corner with the unframed Type 4b (year in full) ILFRACOMBE/ OC 20/ 1904/ QUEENSLAND (rated: common). There was a two-line stamping of REGISTERED/ ILFRACOMBE, the sender’s name from a (cattle?) Station in manuscript as well as blue crayon cross-hatching. Ilfracombe is 29 km E of Longreach.

The reverse has a transit postmark of REGISTERED/ OC 22/ 1904/ ROCKHAMPTON and two different TPO’s, one being a large lettered T.P.O. of the S & W (Southern & Western) Ry, dated 25 OCT 04 and the other T.P.O NO 3 N.C.R/ 23 OC 04 (North Coast Railway). The Hobart reception date is an indefinite OC/04 date.

The last cover has a two-line REGISTERED/ PRAIRIE stamping, a ’55’ manuscript accounting mark, plus blue crayon cross-hatching, and a pair of both the 1d orange and 2d blue ‘four corners’ stamps each pair postmarked with the unframed Type 3b (with diamonds, each side) PRAIRIE/ JU 3/ 07/ QUEENSLAND, which is repeated at the lower R.H. This postmark is rated as Scarce, and Prairie is 42 km E of Hughenden.

The two-line Registered Prairie is repeated on the reverse and there is a transit mark of a Type 1t (time across) GLADSTONE/ 5 JE 07/ QUEENSLAND (rated: common) and a reception mark of HOBART/ 11 JE/ 07. There is a definite postmark of T.P.O NO 1 N.C / 5 JE/ 07/ QUEENSLAND (North Coast Railway) as well as an illegible second mark, almost certainly a different T.P.O.

These four covers illustrate several interesting points:

  1. The diversity of addresses used for mail sent to Tattersall’s (to divert attention from the ‘illicit’ gambling involved, for money was obviously enclosed);
  2. Even small Queensland towns had the special 2-line REGISTRATION postmark in use;
  3. Mail from these small towns often had 2 different T.P.O. cancellations, and if they had been more legible might have indicated the need for 2 different railways, prior to reaching a seaport for travel to Tasmania by ship;
  4. The importance of the massive volumes of mail sent to Tattersall’s for giving information concerning the postal history of the Australian Colonies. This is exemplified in the different types of Queensland town postmarks seen in this small sample of four.
Categories: Postmarks, Tattersall’s