Royal Reels: Gambling


I found in my own collection three covers sent to James Milson junior all in 1875 from Melbourne, all bearing the same 2d pale mauve Die 1 Victoria stamp, and with the handwriting of the same individual. Even the Melbourne duplex postmark was monotonously the same, except for the time code and the dates, which ranged from August 27 to October 28 to November 15 1875. To break the monotony the middle-dated cover was blue, but of the same size, as the other two. The sender was remarkably consistent in the way he addressed Milson, as follows: James Milson Jr. Esqr, BK New S. Wales, Sydney., N.S.Wales. Just one of these fronts will be shown in Figure 1.

The Sydney reception postmarks on the covers’ reverses are shown to demonstrate that at least 3 different postmarks for reception backstamps existed in Sydney over a period of 7 weeks:

the first was a duplex with a four-ringed oval N.S.W obliterator and L/ AU 30/ 1875/ 2/ SYDNEY postmark [Tobin & Orchard #129, used 3 July 1875 until 30 September 1881];

the second was a SYDNEY/ L/ OC 30/ 75/ B postmark [T & O #122, the datestamp part of a duplex set used 23 February 1872 until 1 October 1878];

and the third was a SYDNEY/ A/ N0 19/ 1873/ N.S.W postmark [T & O #95 used from 6 April 1875 until 14 March 1878], all totally different (Figure 2).

James Milson junior was born on 25 November 1814 at the Field of Mars of Sydney, the eldest son of James Milson and educated at a private school which he left at 16 to serve his mercantile apprenticeship. On his majority, he became a partner in the firm of Robert Campbell junior, the capital being provided by his father. He gained a wide knowledge of ship owning, importing and wool-buying, and won repute as one of Sydney’s most progressive business men. When the firm was hit by the 1841- 45 depression, it was wound up, and Milson went into business on his own account in 1846.

He made a succession of successful businesses: thriving mercantile concern in Sydney; pastoral ventures at a property station in New England; ferry services in Port Jackson; one of the founders of the Milson’s Point Ferry Co. In the 1860s he became a director of the Bank of N.S.W., the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the Australian Gaslight Co., the Sydney Exchange and Assurance Co., as well as the Australian Steam Navigation Co. I the 1870s with other members of the Milson family he acquired pastoral properties in three areas of Queensland.

He was deputy mayor of East St. Leonards, and owner of two estates in Sydney and was associated with W.C. Wentworth as well as with other conservative politicians. He was keenly interested in charities of various kinds: Sydney Sailors’ Home, the Benevolent Asylum, the Oberlin Friendly Aid Society (‘for aid to cultured persons now indigent’). Like his father he was an enthusiastic yachtsman from the 1830s onwards and he became the commodore of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 1863 with his 25 ton yacht Era, as the leader of the fleet!

He had outlived both his wives when he died on 13 January 1903, leaving 3 sons and three of his four daughters.

This paper is based on the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography for James Milson jr. Father, James is another subject at this site.

Categories: Business, Postmarks