Royal Reels: Gambling


The front of this cover was addressed to Messrs Branson Bros Julong, Binda via Goulburn and the 2d blue stamp of New South Wales is postmarked with a duplex SYDNEY/ H/ FE 9/ 85 N.S.W obliterator (Figure 1).

The reverse displays in blue four pieces of equipment that the James Martin & Company. of George Street, Sydney opposite the Royal Hotel, sold: the Hornsby Martin Single Plough, the Tiger Disc Harrow, the Martin Zig-Zag Harrow and the Acme Pulverising Harrow. The company was the sole agents for R. Hornsby & Sons agricultural implements and machinery (Figure 2).

The Branson Brothers have been dealt with fully in a paper on this website in the category of Family History: The Branson Family of Binda N.S.W.: From Lace to Wool – Arthur Frederick, Harry, Charles and William. They held extensive pastoral properties in N.S.W. from south of Bathurst to north of Goulburn. I have some 20 covers addressed to them singularly or collectively over a period of more than 20 years. The present cover is the only one that had such interesting advertising material sent to them over this period. It appears that the entire family were buried in a Binda cemetery. A fine picture of the four brothers, given to me by a family member, is seen in Figure 3.

James Martin (1 January 1850- 30 April 1898) was born in Sydney, the son of Francis Martin, contractor and his wife Hannah Allan. James married Elizabeth Bates in 1872 at Darlinghurst, a Sydney suburb, and they had one daughter and three sons. James was educated at William Street and Fort Street Public schools, Sydney as well as the Sydney Grammar College. He was the senior partner in the firm of James Martin & Company, hardware and machinery importers. There were at least three companies in Australia with the identical name, one in South Australia and another in Queensland, but the Sydney company was probably the one that imported windmills. James Martin was the vice president of the Royal Agricultural Society, a director of Sydney Hospital, president of the New South Wales Cyclists Union and a special commissioner to the Chicago Exposition in 1893.

He had in his short life of 49 years some 6½ years experience in the New South Wales Parliament lower house as a Member of the Legislative Assembly from 2 February 1889 until 5 July 1895, two terms as the member for South Sydney and one term as the member for Sydney-Bligh. He died in the Sydney suburb of Burwood in 1898. His parliamentary picture is seen in Figure 4.