A. Mather & Co.
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About the publisher

To place the Mather postcards in context, it is useful to look at the Mather family from  first arrival in Tasmania. The family is important in Tasmanian history because of their association with the Society of Friends (Quakers) and because of the long involvement of several family members with retailing in Hobart.




 Robert Mather


 Robert Mather  (1782-1855) was born in England and emigrated with his family to Tasmania  arriving in Hobart on 10 September 1822. The family consisted of his wife Ann, one daughter and four sons.   He was an active Methodist, and emigrated to Tasmania because of the representations of Rev. William Horton, a Wesleyan minister in Hobart Town. Robert Mather had traded as a retailer in England, and sent goods and implements before him to set up business in Hobart.  He initially built London House on the corner of Liverpool and Elizabeth St as shop and house, but he closed his Hobart business in 1831 and moved to a land grant at Lauderdale to take up farming.  His land was poor and in 1836 he was declared insolvent; he returned to Hobart and set up in business again with his two elder sons, Joseph Benson Mather and Robert Andrew Mather. (1)

 Robert Mather became a Quaker in 1837, and in 1840 his daughter Sarah married the Quaker missionary George Washington Walker.


 Joseph Benson Mather


 Two of Robert Mather’s sons established retail businesses in Hobart. The eldest son, Joseph Benson Mather (1814-1890), established himself as a draper. In 1890 he was at 97 Liverpool St., next door to his brother at 95 Liverpool St, and listed in Wise’s Directory under J.B. Mather & Son as “men’s mercer & merchant tailors, established 1822’.  Later, his place in the business was taken over by his son Joseph Francis Mather (1844-1925), who became a partner in 1870 and proprietor on his fathers death in 1890. J.F. Mather sold out of the business in 1912, but the company listing did not disappear from the directory until the late 1920s. Like his father, Joseph Francis Mather was an active Quaker and was instrumental in setting up the Friends’ School in Hobart. (2)


 Robert Andrew Mather


 The second son of Robert Mather, namely Robert Andrew Mather (1815-1884), established a business as a draper in Brock’s Buildings, 95 Liverpool St., in 1849.  Trading under the name R. Andrew Mather or R.A. Mather he advertised in 1854 that “he is a large holder of Drapery Goods  of almost every description, well selected and well bought, and which he will sell at moderate rates”. (3)

 Due to a shortage of small coinage in the colony, the company issued copper tokens inscribed “R. Andrew Mather & Co, family Draper, Hobart Town. The first were issued in 1855, with further releases in following years.  The tokens, of course, have survived to the present day and may be collected at a price of $50 or so, depending on quality.

 Robert Andrew Mather retired in 1876 and died in 1884. (4)


Robert Mather and Thomas Bourne Mather


 On the retirement of Robert Andrew Mather his sons Robert Mather (1847-1913) and Thomas Bourne Mather (1851-1926) took control of the business. The business name was changed to Andrew Mather and Co.


Thomas Bourne Mather retired from the business  in 1894 at the age of 43, leaving Robert as the sole owner.  


From 1917, the business passed to successive members of the Mather family, becoming progressively relatively smaller as larger firms expanded retail in Hobart. Also in 1917, they purchased the property they had rented since 1849. Moving ahead 50 years to 1972, the Hobart firm of J.T. Soundy purchased the business and property.  The business was sold again in 2012, purchased by the Ferrall family of Launceston. The site was redeveloped in 2012 with the opening of Mathers Arcade. (4)




The Mather postcards were published between 1903 and 1911 by Andrew Mather and Co., the firm originally established in 1849 under the name R. Andrew Mather or R.A. Mather. The proprietor of the firm in 1903 was Robert Mather (jnr), who most likely was involvement with the postcard business.


In 1905, the company ran a large advertisement for their Book, Stationary and Fancy Department at 93-95 Liverpool St. (They had expanded into no. 93 by this time).  (See illustration at left). They advertised postcard albums; pictorial postcards, embracing every possible subject; and Tasmanian View Postcards – ‘We have just published a new series of coloured cards – They are real works of art and the price is only 7½d (pence) a set of 6 subjects – Post Office, Shot Tower, Macquarie Street, Hobart, Derwent (New Norfolk), Government House”. This series is treated as Series 4 on this web site. (5) 


Mather’s incursion into postcard publishing and selling was brief, coinciding with the boom years of collecting. The earliest of their cards that I have seen is postmarked 1903, and the latest is 1911.  Hobart Streets were re-numbered in 1908, so their street number changed from 93-95 to 111-113 Liverpool St, but all their cards that carry an address have the earlier numbers, suggesting they were out of the field by 1908. 


The Mather postcards are an eclectic group.  Before divided back cards were allowed in 1905 they issued two series which are seen postmarked in 1904 and 1905. These two are quite different in style, one printed by halftone and the other by collotype. After 1905 they issued ten different styles of divided back cards, as if they were acquiring a small number of designs from a variety of printers. The layout of the picture side varies, with margins in various places and captions in various fonts. The address side is also variable, with various colours and fonts and positioning.  These divided-back cards are printed in black & white collotype, or in three layer colour separated lithography with a black collotype later on top, in the method of German printers of the time.  A few look like productions of C.G. Röder, of Liepzig, Germany, with printer numbers in their style.




1. Robert Mather, ‘Mather, Robert (1782-1855)’. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University 1967

2. William N. Oats, “Mather, Joseph Francis (1844-1926). Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University Volume 10, 1986

3. The Hobarton Mercury, 20 Sept 1854, p. 4

4. Wall poster at Mather’s Arcade, 109-113 Liverpool St, Hobart. Seen October 2014.

5. The Mercury, Hobart, 2 December 1905