Dawson A. Vindin. Australia's first philatelic entrepreneur?
The earliest professional philatelic traders in Colonial Australia appear to have been Sydney's Buckley, Blunsum & Co. Edward Buckley is recorded as being in business in the 1860s.
Figure 1. The dapper Dawson A. Vindon, aged 24Buckley claims in the New South Wales Stamp Collectors' Magazine, which he first published in November 1879, the firm of Buckley, Blunsum & Co. was established in 1870. The firm originally traded from 7 Little George Street, Sydney, but by 1881 or earlier was at 6 Bligh Street, trading as Sydney Foreign Stamp Depot (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Buckley, Blunsum & Co., Australia's first philatelic traders. At age 14, Vindin owned the firm.
In 1880, at the tender age of 12, Dawson Vindin was apprenticed to Buckley, Blunsum & Co. Vindin was obviously gifted in his role, for in March 1882, aged 14, he became proprietor of the firm. In an interview published in the Philatelic Journal of Great Britain, April 1892, titled rather flatteringly, "Mr. Dawson A. Vindin, The Conquering Hero from the Antipodes. His Triumphal Progress.", Vindin provided an account of how he became a stamp dealer at such an early age. No "cash down" was required, and the terms were "in every way advantageous" to a 14 year old.
Vindin, by then aged 24, clearly impressed his interviewer, who claimed him to be "quite the "cock of the walk" among Colonial Stamp Dealers" (later, the interviewer glowingly describes Vindin as "tall and well-built . . . every inch a worthy representative of our sturdy Colonial Cousins"!).
Figure 3. 1883 cover from Russia, addressed simply "Dawson A. Vindin/Sidney" (sic). 15 years old, and already known to Sydney's Post Office.
Figure 4. 1884 registered cover to Italy, addressed in Vindin's distinctive hand, showing "Vindin" handstamps front and reverse.
Vindin moved his newly acquired business to 88 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. At age 14, Vindin was Sydney's principal stamp dealer. Further, he promptly became a philatelic publisher. Buckley's New South Wales Stamp Collectors' Magazine had ceased publication with the April 1881, number. Vindin resuscitated the magazine with a new series, launched in August 1882.
Only one edition appeared, followed by a second effort titled New South Wales Philatelist. It could be said that this was twice as successful; two numbers appeared, November 1882 and January 1883. The reach of these magazines must have been international, evidenced by the correspondence from Russia in 1883, and to Italy in 1884, shown as Figures 3 and 4.
August 1887 ushered in a third publishing attempt, Vindin's Philatelic Monthly. This was to become Australia's first regularly published philatelic journal.
The September 1887 issue made the comment "88 Elizabeth-street is now the recognised "Exchange" and meeting place for Sydney collectors, and each afternoon, after four, may be seen the familiar faces of Messrs. Pugh, Van Dyck, Hagen, Dr. Houison and other leading collectors, meeting "in congress" to discuss the latest finds and discoveries".
In early 1888, Vindin closed his city premises and operated from his private home, Philatelia, 15 Cascade Street, Paddington. I have an undated postcard from Vindin, to the Castlereagh Street Solicitor, F. Walker, offering "an Iron Safe - fire proof - for sale 36 x 24 "Acme" make - almost new with stand - price £10".
Displaying a business acumen, which doubtless served him well with his stamp sales, Vindin concluded "Could not possibly accept less as I paid £15 for it about twelve months ago". This postcard may date from late 1893, when Vindin was planning to leave Sydney for London permanently.
One of those "familiar faces", regularly attending Vindin's Elizabeth Street premises, Alfred Van Dyke, was responsible for the infamous reprints of the New South Wales "Laureate" 2d, 6d and 8d, made from the original printing plates.
Vindin in 1887 offered sets of sheets of the three denominations to various English philatelists for £200. Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal of September 1891 exposed these sheets as reprints. In December 1891 Vindin sailed to London to plead his innocence in the matter, and later claimed to have been exonerated from any wrong doing by the philatelic fraternities in Sydney, Melbourne and London. Figure 6. 1894 inscribed Postal card, detailing payment of subscription to Vindin's Philatelic Monthly, in hand of Fred Hagen, who by this time owned the Vindin businesses. Vindin reopened a city shop in late 1889, at 11 Victoria Arcade, 74 Elizabeth Street, Sydney (see Figure 5).
Figure 5. 1890 registered cover to U.S.A., again in Vindin's hand, when at 11 Victoria Arcade. By 1891, printed stationery shows him to be at 9 and 11 Victoria Arcade. Fred Hagen had joined Vindin as a partner by this time. Before departing for London in October 1893, Vindin sold his share of the business to Hagen, who then traded as D.A. Vindin & Co. Vindin's Philatelic Monthly ceased when Hagen, in August 1894, launched The Australian Philatelist. Figure 6 shows late use of the Vindin brands just prior to Hagen commencing to trade in his own name, and the launch of the retitled magazine.
Once established in London, Vindin commenced a new publication, Vindin's Stamp Trade Journal, which lasted for only four issues, in 1894. In the final issue, Vindin ruefully commented "we have come to the conclusion that the publishing of a philatelic paper is about the poorest business undertaking a man could possibly enter upon".
Figure 6. 1894 inscribed Postal card, detailing payment of subscription to Vindin's Philatelic Monthly, in hand of Fred Hagen, who by this time owned the Vindin businesses.Vindin is not referred to again in the philatelic press, and presumably exited the world of philately, aged just 26. It is fair to say that he had achieved a great deal, in a relatively short career, commenced at such a tender age. Nothing is known of Vindin after this time, not even where or when he died.
Brazil, published in London in 1911, features a supplementary chapter by a Dawson A. Vindin. Could "our" Vindin have gravitated from London to the jungles of South America?
Rod Perry has been a philatelic trader since 1962. He founded Rodney A Perry Auction Galleries (now Millennium Philatelic Auctions) in 1971. As a collector he has exhibited nationally and internationally. Rod prefers his used stamps on cover and likens taking a stamp off its original cover to converting a tree to woodchips.