Royal Reels: Gambling


This insured parcel label was addressed to The Manager, The Banque Cantonale de Berne, Bienne, Switzerland and was sent from Levi Newsome & Sons, Sapphire, Via Anakie, Central Queensland, No 10 S.  There were nine stamps made up of five ‘Roos on Map of Australia’ and four KGV Heads, a total postage of 7 shillings and half pence.  The stamps were cancelled with PARCEL POST/ 27 AUG 30/ ROCKHAMPTON, and there was a purple double oval BANK OF NEW SOUTH WALES/ ROCKAMPTON handstamp, as well as three labels: a green printed Commonwealth of Australia/ INSURED PARCEL which has a manuscript ‘£ 50′, a printed red and black on yellow paper ‘via Geneva 3/ 684′ and a black on purple paper ‘value declared’ in 3 languages, German, French and Italian.  An additional vertically placed manuscript had two different weights ‘150.0 oz’ and ‘11 lbs’.  The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The map showed a small inset of Australia with Queensland in green, a larger inset showing a map of Central Queensland, with Emerald highlighted by a yellow vertical arrow and a large close-up map of Sapphire, near Anakie (Figure 2).

There are 24 Cantonal banks in Switzerland, one in each canton, except for two  (closed on account of being sold or closed on account of a financial scandal).  One of these is the Banque Cantonal of Berne which had a branch in the nearby Biennes.  An educated guess would be that the contents of the parcel were the mined sapphires.  The central Queensland sapphire deposit was discovered in 1875 by Archibald John Richardson, the assistant Government Surveyor.  He found red zircons that he took to be rubies and he showed little interest in the accompanying sapphires at that time.  In 1881 a Mr. Blair commenced mining the sapphire deposit on behalf of Richardson.

Eli Newsome is generally referred to as Levi Newsome senior and he was a sleeper cutter, cutting and broad axing sleepers (rail ties) for the new railway line in the 1890s.  One day Eli saw men scratching away in a gully and he waited until they went to lunch and he found pretty coloured stones, which he recognised that they must be valuable.  He pegged out a claim a half a mile long, and he took a parcel of these stones to Germany, and as a result of his find he lived the rest of his life on the sapphire fields.  He married Lizzie Hunt in 1895, and they had at least one daughter and one son.  The first name for Sapphire was Newsome’s Camp as it was the largest mine in the area.  The name was later  changed to Sapphiretown and eventually to Sapphire.  Levi senior died in 1943 aged 83 years and was buried in the North Rocky cemetery.  Thus he was still alive at the time of this parcel mailed to Switzerland.  Levi Newsome & Co., were listed as Gem Merchants and their mail was picked up at the Anakie Post Office.  A picture of Newsome’s claim is seen in Figure 3.

Newsome’s son Levi Millington Newsome lived alone in a hut on the site at Sapphire for many years but his epilepsy finally forced him to live with his sister in Rubyvale, just north of Sapphire.  He was admitted to the hospital in Emerald about 1961 and he was said to live there permanently until he died in September 1968 at the age of 69.

Categories: Mining