Royal Reels: Gambling


This common red 1d ‘Shields’ N.S.W. postcard postmarked with a SYDNEY/ NO 01/ 01/ 22 duplex was simply addressed to Mr. I. Himmelhoch, Financier, Sydney (Figure 1).

He was surprisingly difficult to research on the internet, and the only information that I could find was as follows: In 1859 and 1866 Rate Books there were four properties listed in Leichhardt Street, Glebe – 2 houses were owned by Golden, one by Fotheringham, and one by Lackermann. Golden remained an owner at 8 Leichhardt Street until ca. 1880, then it was occupied by Harry Wood. In 1890 when ownership passed to I. Himmelhoch, the house was described as ‘Leichhardt House’ and later it was known as ‘Leichhardt Villa’. Not an auspicious start to my research.

A librarian at the State Library of N.S.W. came up with some interesting findings. Polish-born Isaac Himmelhoch, a Sydney financier married his wife Miriam in Sydney in 1863, and they had seven children: Henry, Rachel, Hyman, Solmon, Minnie Beatrice, Albert and Fanny, and there birth dates ranged from 1864 for Henry until 1883 for Albert (but the date for the last named Fanny was given as 1878, which was totally out of date sequence. A death notice in the Sydney Morning Herald dated 13 June 1911 stated: HIMMELHOCH – June 12, at his late residence, Mona, Mona Road, Darling Point, Isaac, the beloved husband of Miriam Himmelhoch, in his 72nd year. By request, no flowers. Minyon Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 8 o’clock.

The following extract is taken from “Forgotten Sydney”: “Polish-born Himmelhoch, a Sydney financier, took up winemaking at the turn of the (20th) century. The result of his hobby was a vineyard called “Grodno”, which was the largest and most successful vineyard in Eckersley. By 1901his 259 hectares selection had 7 ha under Hermitage and Malbec grapes and 6 ha which would receive new vines that season from cuttings planted in 1900. He constructed a large stone cellar and a number of wells and irrigation channels to supply water to his vines. The Grodno Cellars are shown in Figure 2.

THE SYDNEY MAIL , Saturday May 4, 1901 (5 weeks before Isaacs death) had a whole page spread on page 1097 on Himmelhoch and his Grodno Vineyard. The Minister for Mines and Agriculture plus several members of the N.S.W. Parliament toured the vineyard which was situated about 8 miles from Liverpool. The local mayor and Professor Biunno, the Government Wine Expert were hosted by Mr. Isaac Himmelhoch and one of his sons. A toast to the owner was delivered: By establishing his industry in the district, and spending his money in that direction, Himmelhoch had formed the nucleus of what must inevitably be a large winegrowing centre owing to the adaptability of the soil. It was stated that in many respects, the country resembles that of the Gruenne and Languedoc provinces of France. Isaac Himmelhoch, in perhaps his last photo, is seen in Figures 3 & 4.

The original area for the vineyard was known as Eckersley and the post office opened there in 1891 and closed in 1912. At least he Isaac Himelhoch never lived to see the destruction of his entire vineyard when the land was taken over by the Australian Army as a Prisoner of War Camp in World War 1. If he had survived there was a strong chance that he would have been interned there.

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