Royal Reels: Gambling


I am always intrigued how inadequately addressed mail is sent out into the world, and this postcard really takes the prize. It is an English postcard, identified in green print vertically placed on the left hand side as being produced by the Cyn( )cas Publishing Co., Ltd , Tayport, Fifeshire. The postcard is simply addressed to Miss Isabel Pi( )y, Pekin (sic) China!

The red 1d N.S.W. ‘Shield’ stamp is postmarked INVERELL/ 1/ NO 21/ O5/ N.S.W, a Type D2 (i) with a code ‘1′ cancel(used at Inverell from 1885 until 1907), but there is no evidence of the obliterator numeral ‘135′, which is normally part of the duplex . There is also a routing roller cancel at SYDNEY/ NO 22/ 12 ( )( )M/ 1905/ 15 and a tax marking of N.S.W./ T/ 5 enclosed in a ‘shield’. There is an onward transit postmark for VICTORIA/ 6 30/ DE 05 (Hong Kong), with another onward transit to SHANGHAI/ 23 DEC/ 15 as well as an arrival postmark of PEKING/ 23 DEC (Figure 1).

The reverse shows that the sender is Miss Hawke, Belgravia, Inverell, N.S. Wales, Australia and her message is as follows: “I hope this is the kind of card you collect. Will you please send me views of China for so far I have not got any of China”. The watercolour painting (I cannot read the painter’s signature) shows three male urchins struggling with a home-made fishing stick and line, and it is entitled “Three to bait the line” (Figure 2).

When one considers how important this exchange of postcards was to the young woman from Inverell, you would think that she might have had more concern about an adequate address for a city of Peking’s size even in 1905, and that she should have taken care to have adequate postage. Another interesting point is the speed of the postcard’s journey from Inverell overland to Sydney, passage by ship (through the Torres Strait that separates Australia from Papua New Guinea) to Victoria, Hong Kong, and on to Shanghai, and then overland to Pekin, a total of 32 days. The present day’s shortest shipping route from three Australian cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to Shanghai is shown in Figure 3.

The Victoria postmark almost certainly would have been at Hong Kong, and the three destinations in China are shown by a red arrow at Hong Kong, a green arrow at Shanghai and a black arrow at Pekin(g), aka Peiping, and now as Beijing (Figure 4).

Victoria City or the City of Victoria was one of the first urban settlements in Hong Kong after it became a British Colony in 1842; it was initially known as Queenstown, and then Victoria, a name which is rarely used to-day.

It is not very often that a postcard has such extensive postmarks showing the routing so clearly.

Another comparable fine routing is also found listed under Postcards as ‘Postcard to Tamatave, Madagascar from Brisbane’, with routing through Colombo and Mauritius.