Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover is illustrated on the front and reverse and was sent from Trewhella Bros. Pty. Ltd., Trentham Victoria; it bears the 1d green Queen Elizabeth stamp perf. 15×14 issued on 1.8.38 and it is postmarked TRENTHAM/ 20 AU41/ VIC. It was addressed to Messrs E. Payne & Sons, Archie’s Creek (Victoria) which is 7 km NW of Wonthaggi. The regular rate at that time for letters within Australia was 2d per 1 ounce, so it slipped through without any tax being levied (Figure 1).

There is no postmark on the reverse. The company was famous for the Trewhella Monkey Grabber shown in considerable detail on the reverse of the cover. A fortuitous find was a photo of a Trewhella stump-pulling winch in action ca. 1919 (Figures 2 & 3).

Trentham is a small rural township situated amidst the Wombat Forest 97 km north-west of Melbourne’s Central Business District. The first pastoral run was taken up in 1838 and it was first settled in 1855 after the discovery of gold in the area the previous year. The vast timber resources of the area were exploited from that time with a number of timber mills emerging in the Wombat Forest. The railway arrived in 1880 and in 1890 over 20,000 tons of produce (mostly timber) left the railway station.

In 1888, brothers Benjamin and William Trewhella became sawmillers, and their procurement of mill timber trees led to the design and manufacture of various jacks, winches and grubbers in their foundry. The machinery eventually became their main business, supplying a market both in Australia and overseas. The firm in Australia was first listed in 1898 and it closed down in 1967. In 1908, a son (Benjamin Hosking Trewhella) of Benjamin Trewhella, was sent to England and set up the English branch of the business which exists to this day.

The name Trewhella comes from Cornwall England, where the brothers had worked as engineers in the tin mines. There is a large ancestral file for the Trewhellas, and Benjamin was born or christened 31 October 1854, at Fuggo Farm, Lelant, Cornwall, England. He married Sarah Hosking in Victoria in 1885 and there were 9 children of this union, all born in Victoria, the majority with a listed birthplace of Blue Mountain, Trentham. The oldest son who opened the business in Birmingham, England, Benjamin Hosking Trewhella, was born 27 December 1885, at Barrys Reef, Victoria, Australia. The other founding brother in Trentham, William has not been documented to date.

The Australian firm used advertising approaches in addition to their envelopes for on the internet a matchbox (believed to be from before 1908) has been described as follows: It advertises a company called Trewhella Brothers…..It’s a metal flip-top match box that has a striking surface on the bottom. On one of the narrow sides it says, “ENGINEERS, Trentham Vic., Australia”.

Categories: Advertising Covers