Royal Reels: Gambling


This telegraphic message cover has postmark interest for in addition to the duplex postmark of HAMILTON/ FE 5/ 83/ VICTORIA with the barred numeral ‘46′ , there was a blue POSTMASTER-GENERAL / VICTORIA/ FRANK STAMP, as well as the faint blue double oval POST AND TELEGRAPH OFFICE/ HAMILTON/ FE 5/ 1883 ‘Belt & Buckle’ cancellation. The cover was addressed to Rev. C.W. Schurmann, Hochkirk. There was also an illegible manuscript which may have been the name of the sender on the front, as well as an unframed HOCHKIRK/ VICTORIA on the reverse, which was not seen (Figures 1 & 2).

The Postmaster-General frank stamp was in the original 1864 allocation of frank stamps for nine governmental ministries and five for various military personnel. The 1864 Victorian Act stated that the frank stamps exempted OHMS mail from use of postage stamps. This hand-stamped frank stamp is seen in blue, violet and red whereas the printed frank is available in blue, black and red, and the printed format is seen on different sizes of envelopes as well as postcards.

J.R.W. (Bill) Purves wrote about the Post and Telegraph Offices ‘belt & buckles’ in 1954 and later Davies and de Righi wrote about them in Philately from Australia (PTA) December 1982, pages 78-86, under the title of ‘Victoria: The Emergency Cancellations Updated’. Although they were intended for use as official cachets on telegrams and other documents of record kept within post offices, they were used as obliterators in many post offices between 1880 and 1894. In the latter article they were considered together with the Money Order and Savings Banks (M.O. & S.B.) cancels, and Davies & de Righi found that the two cancels were never used concurrently. They considered that the former were used as cancels for registered mail, and I am not sure if this was a fact, particularly when Purves earlier had felt they had been used when the original canceller was not available.

Davies and de Righi have maintained the original classification into two types by Russell Jones in Sept. 1975 PTA ( but they reversed Jones’ classification, type A becoming B, whereas Watson, Webster & Wood in The Post Offices and Hand-Held Datestamps of Victoria followed Jones’ classification totally). The differences in Types A and B are best shown in Davies & Righi’s paper on page 80. Most of the cancels on single stamps are very incomplete for the cancel is approximately double the size of most Victorian stamps, and they are seen mostly in black, blue as in the present case being less frequent (Figure 3).

Interestingly, the post office at Hamilton is not in their list for the ‘belt & buckle’ cancels, but it does have three different types of M.O. & S.B. cancels listed as used from 1896-1912.

Clamor Wilhelm Schürmann was born on 7 June 1815 at Schledehausen, Hanover and he lost his father at the age of 1 year and mother at 11 years. After his elementary education he applied to Jaenicke’s Missionschule in Berlin and was accepted at age 17. The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society of Dresden was looking for missionaries to go to South Australia and he entered the society’s seminary and was ordained as a Lutheran pastor in 1838. He and a colleague, Christian Teichelmann, reached Adelaide in October of that year. The two missionaries established the first school for Aborigines near Adelaide gaol, and they published a book on one of the Aboriginals’ dialects vocabularies in 1840. Governor Gawler paid tribute to their work, and Schürmann was appointed as deputy protector of Aborigines at Port Lincoln. He published The Aboriginal Tribes of Port Lincoln in 1846. In 1853 he was called to Portland, Victoria to minister to a German community and he travelled extensively through the Wimmera serving German settlers. In 1885 he became president of the Victorian district of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Australia.

Schürmann was small in stature with a ruddy complexion and a genial disposition. He was a gifted linguist and a compassionate and dedicated missionary. He was predeceased by his wife and he died on 3 March 1893 while attending synod at Bethany, South Australia, survived by 4 sons. He was interred in Adelaide, but later re-interred in South Hamilton cemetery.

The ‘belt and buckle’ design has been a favorite of firms, particularly hotels, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, appearing on the envelope’s flap, as shown in Figure 4.

This a very shortened summary of the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography, which coupled the 2 Lutheran missionaries in one biography.