Thursday, October 4, 2018

Frederic Smith, of the Band of Hope Union


R.S.Smythe's brother, Frederic, named after his uncle, came up for auction in the first half of September 2018, and I missed it as it was listed under UK only and was bought fairly quickly, and for the sum of £1.50, and I would have shelled out £50!

Sadly, the purchaser is not contactable so it is lost to both myself and the family with whom I am in intermittent contact; they have a daguerreotype of Frederic, his sister, brother in law, as well as numerous ones of Frederic and wife, and daughters—such a treasure trove, but they have not this one.

So, winner, if you are out there, please contact me and we can swap according to your interests. Here is the rare item itself, a fine photo by Elliot and Fry. Is the purchaser a E&F collector? A temperance historian or a seller himself?

If you are out there, drop a line, if it is amenable.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Augustus Moon, Pedigree of…

Augustus Graham Moon's Pedigree: an angry man in matters regarding Octavia, but not without a little justification, I think.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Thomas Mooney, Part Two

Mr. Thomas Mooney had commisioned to be built, the National Hotel, just around the corner from Astley’s Amphitheatre, and also had a tunnel built to direct thirsty theatre patrons migrating from performance's end straight to his hotel rather than have them leave by the front and naturally gravitate toward the White Hart. It all seemed rather dramatic, but it was effective.

One has to wonder, whence came the money for such a venture? The usual explanation is that a person had made their fortune on the goldfields, but such was not Mooney’s case, for he had quite the adventure—both physical and literary—before his arrival here in Melbourne.

Mooney was Dublin born between 1809-1815 (dates vary) and went to America in 1841 on a speaking tour, taking in all the towns that he could, and Canada, to boot; and all of it for the purpose of addressing Irishmen about independence. Just how effective he was at lecturing it is not reported, but he had made a good deal of gingerbread (the door takings) and wrote a popular book, ‘Nine Years in America’ being a compendium of letters sent to his brother Patrick back in Ireland, published in newspaper columns and then set to press as a volume in 1850.

He also wrote a significant two-volume work entitled the ‘History of Ireland from its First Settlement to the Present Time’ even before he came to Australia. I found a version printed in Boston of 1853 though it was likely first printed long before that (and took great liberties with the truth, and made a few wild conjectures). It sold very well and it is upon its renumeration that I think he emigrated to Australia and built the National Hotel.

The ‘Ovens and Murray Advertiser’ the paper of record for Beechworth and surrounds, made much sport of keeping up with Thomas Mooney’s shennanigans; his ever increasingly calls for Fenian belligerency; his self-serving and Yankee style oratory; odd financial schemes; and the general escalation of silly anecdotes—and some of those gems I will post next. For now though, let us hear from the Age, of 10 Oct 1859:—

“Mr Thomas Mooney, better known as ‘Mooney,’ the whilom agitator of Melbourne
and the Ovens [Beechworth area] has started a paper in America under the title of ‘Mooney's Falsern and Placerville Express.’ The Golden Era noticed the event in a paragraph which was republished in the Express as follows: — ‘Mr Thomas Mooney, who possesses the varied talents peculiar to the cultivated Irishman, with all his dashing and go-a-head ways, announces that he has shut down the curtain for ever on the story of his matrimonial troubles, (as befits a genuine disciple of Caudle), and in the same breath offers himself as a candidate for the office of General Controller. Mooney compels our admiration and disarms our wit.

In the brief space of three or four months he has established a newspaper, published a volume of history, enacted a romance by carrying off from the custody of her watchful relatives a blooming bride, and entered the field of politics as an applicant for one of the first offices in the gift of the people. What brilliant coup will this young reprobate of fifty (born therefore, 1809) next be up to? (Forty only, 'pon honor. — En. Express.) By the way, anent the history of Ireland, now republishing in the columns of the Express, we perceive that Mr Mooney has gone backward to the days of the Egyptians, and is new floundering among the gods and goddesses of the heathen mythology. Does he intend eventually to prove that Venus was an Irishman?’”

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thomas Mooney (1809— ca.1887) Part One

Thomas Mooney ("bird of passage") is one of those footnote creatures, and in his case, he built the "National Hotel" and later had a brief fling with the Royal Hotel connected to the Theatre Royal. He was a man who made a decent bag of money on American speaking tours as a "Fenian" platform speaker, and I suspect, ran off with money that he should not have.

His story is long and interesting, so here is part one:—

Entry, Truth, 24 feb, 1912, EARLY MELBOURNE No. 126 by “Old Chum” (J. William Forde”)

“The Mr. Thomas Mooney who built the Amphitheatre for Mr. G.B.W.Lewis in the latter part of 1854 was merely a bird of passage, and disappeared whence he came when the roaring fifties begand to get quiet, about the year 1857. He was typical of many other agitators who have ventured on Australian soil in the last 60 years: an immense amount of ‘blow’ with little or no lasting merit. A successor to Mooney in the ‘gas line’ was one Osborne, but of him more anon. Mr. Mooney’s stock phrase was that every Australian should ‘have a rifle, a farm and a vote.’ There was no land open to the public at that time, so that Mooney had a ‘peg’ on which he could hang his hat. When he opened the National Hotel—or rather, when he became its tennant—Mr F. A. Harris having had the liscence before him, did a good business, as the gold fields attracted men from California where Mooney had graduated in stump oratory. When he built—largely, if not entirely, on credit— the Amphitheatre, he had wisdom enough to make an underground passage from the circus to his hotel, and thereby scooped in much of the coin that might have gone elsewhere. It will be seen that, if Mr. Mooney had not secured the underground passage to his drinkery, the circus patrons, on coming into Spring Street would have simply walked accross to the ‘Old White Hart’ and there, slaked their thirst. The ‘National’ and the ‘Old White Hart’ were the only public houses in the locality in 1854. When the circus, or Astley’s Amphitheatre was done away with, the underground passage was closed up, and all public entrances to the building being from Spring Street. Mr. Mooney returned to California early in 1857, I think, and I have heard rumours against his commercial credit, which went down after he gained the Pacific Slope."

And until next time, let us leave him. There is much more to come, and the Australian Press continued to have fun with him long after he left Australia.

Cafe de Paris

As coming posts will feature comments on the Café de Paris, Bourke Street, I present here for your preparation (from my own collection of Illustrated London News Prints) the Theatre Royal, Royal Hotel, "Vestibule" and the Café de Paris.

The whole building and its parts have a fully fanned-out history — from tainted to aspirational— some of which has been touched upon in earlier entries on Mr. Gregory and Mr. Henelle.

Click to enlarge, s'il vous plaît.

Miss Findlay, Canada

I interrupt the historical flow of late, to bring a tinted image of a Miss Findlay, by Notman of Canada. The 1870s included the First Bustle period, the evolution of which is fascinating for the cascade of necessities that followed incidents of utility.

Prior to the bustle springing into being dresses where thrown over a crinoline cage covered in an underskirt. The underskirt was a thing a simple utility: it provided support and  a barrier between the cage and the expensive outer fabric. Princess Alexandra, when crossing a brook — so the story goes — pinned the hem of the outer fabric (difficult to clean when soiled) several inches above her hem line, exposing some of the underskirt (no shame there as she had a quite expensive underskirt) and the pinning up brought into being an aesthetic of two complimentary skirts.

It slowly became imitated, then elaborated, and finally evolved beyond its parent event; material was hiked up, slowing over the fashion seasons, moving to the back where tie mutated into bows and other rear furniture was added. The aesthetic required a visual balance so ladies hair became braided and raise, and increased in visual mass, and in turn hats became smaller, higher and more concentrated with bird, bows and flowers enough to balance out the silhouette.

All because the Princess of Wales protected her hem from a little walk out in the grounds.

Colour too moved. The heaviness of colours of the 1860s with the heavy, dark shades (a simple lack of chemical innovations and limited dyes, and of course the dark mourning promoted by Victoria) made everyone so throughly sick of the sombre that the 1870s saw a hunger for light fabrics, with muted day tints: fadé as the Fashion Journals of Paris called them. The 1870s also saw the manufacture of machine made trimmings sold by the yard enabling women with home machines to decorate their dresses as insanely as they wished.

It was a very pretty period, as Miss Findlay, below, will attest.