T.E. Barker, Furrier
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T.E. Barker, Furrier

 Thomas Edward Barker was a furrier in Hobart for over 60 years.  Born in 1854, he took over his father’s furrier business which had been established in 1842.  In 1878 he was trading under his own name as T.E. Barker, and advertised, among a variety of goods, English and Colonial boots “cheaper than any other bootmaker in town”.

 The trade of a furrier is unfamiliar to us today, but in 1900 furs were valued for warmth and durability. In 1902 he advertised wallaby rugs from £2, brown opossum rugs from £4 and ‘Tasmanian black’ for £18. (I don’t know what ‘Tasmanian black’ was, but at least he wasn’t selling platypus and Tasmanian tiger).  He also offered shell necklaces to the trade; these would have been made from the iridescent kelp shells found commonly in Tasmania. He seemed to have been involved in a number of aspects of the wildlife products trade, as in 1903 he advertised wanting ‘all types of parrots”.

 Barker joined the postcard bandwagon in about 1904, with a small series of b&w cards. By 1906 the postcard craze had reached Hobart, with large and small retailers offering a wide range of attractive coloured cards, mainly printed in the UK and Germany. He advertised ‘Large variety of Beautiful Postcards’, which would have included cards imported by J. Walch & Sons featuring the popular topics of the time – actresses, angelic children, sentimental lovers, royalty, British scenery and such like.  Added to this would have been his own small series, probably no more than a dozen, of fairly drab views of Tasmania scenery.


The Mercury, 2 March, 1923


Barker died in Hobart in 1930, at the age of 76 years.  His obituary (The Mercury, 6 October, 1930) remembered him as upright in business matters, and in his younger years a cricketer and crack rifle shot. He was a good Christian, a keen advocate of the temperance cause, and fought strenuously for prohibition. 

 Barkers postcards have the same layout, front and back, as cards published by The Tasmanian Mail, except for a crescent and star logo on the back. The Tasmanian Mail was a weekly illustrated newspaper published by Davies Brothers Ltd of Hobart, who also published The Mercury. The cards are printed by monochrome halftone, and were  no doubt printed on a Davies Brothers press. They were probably published between 1900 and 1910.