Royal Reels: Gambling


This advertising cover of McCarron, Stewart & Co., Printers & Stationers, 44 Pitt St, Sydney had a blue 2½d New South Wales stamp canceled with a SYDNEY/ 9 JA 07 11–AM/ 20 postmark. The addressee was very faint but it was confirmed that it was sent to His Excellency, Dr. Solf, Samoa (Figure 1).

The addressee’s name and address is shown more clearly in Figure 2.

The reverse shows McCarron, Stewart & Co., Printers in blue on the flap and there is a fine reception postmark of APIA/ 20. 1. 07. 0-10V/ SAMOA (Figure 3).

John Francis McCarron (1848-1900), printer and publisher, was born on 2 August 1848 at Carronside, near Enniskillen, Ireland, son of Francis McCarron and his wife Sydney Frances. He arrived in Adelaide with his parents in 1854. Two years later the family moved to Melbourne where McCarron attended St James’s School. In 1858 he joined the printing office of A. Goulding at St Kilda, and next year went to W. Goodhugh & Co. in Flinders Lane where he learnt the trade of compositor. He remained with the firm and its successor Fergusson & Moore until April 1872 when he established McCarron, Bird & Co., which included Andrew Stewart as a partner. In 1877 the firm moved to Collins Street and greatly expanded the business to include sections on lithography, engraving, bookbinding and stationary. McCarron also bought the Sydney business of Gibbs, Shallard & Co., but I have no information when the Sydney business as named on the cover was formed., and he continued to live in Melbourne, where he died, on 6 June, 1900 of a cerebral hemorrhage whilst dancing a polka.

Many nations have been involved with the Pacific Island of Samoa, starting with its discovery by a Dutchman Captain Jacob Roggeveen in 1722, and it was revisited by the French Captain Louis-Antoine de Bougainville in 1768. Britain opened a consular office in Apia in 1847; United States doing the same in Apia in 1853; and, Prussia/Germany followed suit in 1861. New Zealand recommended that Britain annexe the Samoan Islands in 1871; U.S. was granted a coaling station in Pago Pago in 1872, and in 1878 it negotiated a Friendship Treaty with Tutuila and Aunu’u Islands.

Germany was granted the naval base of Sluafuta in 1879. The King and Vice-King of Samoa petitioned Queen Victoria to make Samoa a British colony in 1884. A tripartite German-UK- US protectorate was formed in 1889, and in 1899 a provisional government consisting of the 3 countries was formed. This led up to the time when Wilhelm Heinrich Solf was appointed as the first Governor of Samoa from 1 March 1900 until 19 December 1911. New Zealand occupied the islands during WWI in 1914 until the League of Nations took over the mandate in 1920.

Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Solf was born into a wealthy family in Berlin on October 5, 1862 and took on the study of Oriental languages, earning his doctorate in philology in 1885. He was hired by the German Consular service and had his first posting to Calcutta in January 1889. He obtained another doctorate in Law and thus became eligible for a higher position in the diplomatic service. Upon the division of the Samoan Islands as the result of the Samoan Tripartite Commission he became the first Governor of German Samoa on March 1, 1900 where he was an able liberal administrator, and he held this position until December 19, 1911. He defended the natives against colonial exploitation, keeping the old tribal organization and retaining the rights and duties of the district chiefs. However when there was unrest he did not neglect calling upon two German warships in a show of strength.

On return to Germany he became the Secretary to the German Colonial Office and he lobbied for a negotiated peace settlement in 1917-18 during WW1 and undertook negotiations for the armistice that took effect on November 11, 1918, when he was the German Foreign Minister. From 1920 until 1928 he served as the German Ambassador to Japan. He died in Berlin on 6 February 1936, survived by his wife Johanna Dotti and his daughter ‘Lagi’ who was born in Samoa. A picture of Wilhelm Solf is shown in Figure 4.

A remarkable man identified in an unusual advertising cover.

This paper was published in NSW Philatelist August 2007 Vol. 29 N0. 111, pages 16-17.