Royal Reels: Gambling


Advertising covers are very popular with collectors and come in many forms, some as simple as little more than the name and address of an important company or a significant hotel. The most exciting ones are profusely illustrated on the front and reverse and colorful ones can be quite extravagant in their design. Less common ones (at least in my own limited experience) advertise an event in an artistic field (see: Prodigy to Pariah: Guilo Bustabo) and the present one advertises a romantic book, which became the subject for a famous silent movie.

A pair of red 1½d KGV heads were cancelled in 1929 with a roller cancel advising one to use the Postal District Number in Melbourne Suburban Addresses. The addressee was the Peterson Cypher Code Corporation, 298 Park St, New York, U.S.A. and it is readdressed in pencil. To date the purpose of the company is not known, and one can’t think of an association between a romantic book and a Cypher Code Corporation.

The blue colored advert reads in part: E. Barrington’s Greatest Romance, The Divine Lady, a Romance of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, 117 Pages, Clear Type, Cloth Binding, 4/6d. The Divine Lady is the Glorious Romance of Nelson and Lady Hamilton. All through the story, the beauty, warmth and courage of the enchantress glows in the pages, and this statement is attributed to G. K. Chesterton’s Weekly (Figure 1).

The reverse shows a receiving cancellation NEW YORK, N.Y. STA. S/ FEB 6/ 330 PM/ 1929, as well as the name of the sender: Robertson & Mullens Limited, Booksellers, Stationers, Librarians, 107-113 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne (Figure 2).

E. Barrington was one of the pen names of Lily Adams Beck (a.k.a. Elizabeth Louisa Beck, Eliza Louisa Moresby Beck and Lily Moresby Adams), she was born in 1862 and has been described as the first prolific fantasy writer of Canada. She was a distinguished writer of esoteric works including “The Story of Oriental Philosophy” (1928) and reprinted 1943; “The Splendor of Asia” (1926); and “The House of Fulfillment: The Romance of a Soul” which showed her oriental interests. As a world famous author, Beck used pen names of Barrington and Louis Moresby, and she lived on Simcoe Street in Victoria, British Columbia. A series of some 30 books published from 1922 to 1932 (the year after her death) were mostly published under the name of E. Barrington.

The book advertised on this cover “The Divine Lady” was published in 1924. The book was made into a silent film with incidental music and a theme song, in Northern California in 1929. The script was credited to E. Barrington and 4 other writers. It starred Corinne Griffith, Victor Varconi, H.B. Warner, Ian Keith, and Marie Dressler . It won the Academy Award for Directing (Frank Lloyd) and was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Corinne Griffith) as well as for Best Cinematography. It is surprising where research of an advertising cover can take one!