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Abraham S Gordon (1866-1936) Art Union Fund Raiser, Canvasser and Author

Abraham Samuel Gordon

Abraham Samuel Gordon

Abraham Samuel Gordon was, in the late nineteenth century, a leading organiser of charity Art Unions in Australia. As early as the 1840s, the Art Union appeared in the colony of NSW when Maurice Felton,[1] an artist, advised ‘his subscribers that the division of his Oil Paintings among the Shareholders will take place THIS DAY, the 14th January 1842.’ [2] This procedure adopted by Felton was modelled on the English practice where an artist sold tickets for the disposal of a body of his works of art. These were raffles where the artist was the beneficiary of the proceeds.

Gordon refined this early process and ran across most colonies of Australia what were, in essence, lotteries for the purpose of raising funds for charity, though some suggested that the main charitable beneficiary of these ‘Art Unions’ was Gordon himself. In the 1890s, a depression hit Australia and unemployment increased as businesses were bankrupted and ceased operation and giving for charitable purposes was significantly reduced as individuals sought to prune their expenditure. This took place against the background of an increasing need for the services of the various benevolent institutions as the unemployed applied for assistance. So when a fundraising opportunity presented itself to various charitable bodies via Gordon’s Art Unions it was, to many charities, a great opportunity to gain access to much-needed funds.

Gordon’s background is obscure. He said that he was born in Szagarren, Russia,[3] which is now in Lithuania, on the Baltic and near Riga where his father was a feldsher[4] (Surgeon) and his mother a mid-wife. He travelled to London when he was 15 or 16 to join his eldest brother and to find work to support himself and said that, consistent with his birthplace, he knew well the Russian, German and French languages and had a fair knowledge of Hebrew and the Talmudic lore.[5] Gordon remained in London for two years, went to Cardiff in Wales then, around 1885, moved to Codoxton ‘where they were building a new dock’[6] and where he went into business with his younger brother Isaac[7] selling furniture, jewellery and fancy goods. He said he was in England and Wales for five years before coming to Australia which would mean he left to come to Australia sometime around 1887. It seems likely, therefore, that he is the ‘Albert Gordon’ who arrived on the Potosi in July, 1887.[8]

Initially, Gordon went door-to-door selling hairpins, bootlaces and jewellery[9] then, in December 1888, he opened a shop in High Street, Bendigo, as a General Dealer selling clothes, jewellery and framed pictures.[10] In 1890, Gordon concentrated on being a picture framer as well as selling pictures and he opened ‘Gordon’s Sandhurst Picture Gallery”.[11] By 1894, he had opened a tobacconist and hairdressers shop[12] and it would seem that, despite all his activism, none of his business ventures were very successful. Being a Bendigo resident, Gordon had also tried some fossicking for gold[13] but his fortune, or at least a living, was to be found elsewhere. Personally he was small in stature,[14] energetic, a good talker and dressed well,[15] and was later described as a ‘cultured man with capital address and has plenty of resources and assurance.’[16] It was these qualities that would serve him well as he sought to make his way in the world.

Gordon had many interests such as debating, being the secretary of and instrumental in forming the Bendigo Democratic Debating Club;[17] politics, where he was secretary of the unsuccessful election committee for WA Hamilton[18] and civic affairs, being a frequent letter writer to the newspapers.[19] He also dabbled in inventing, creating a candle snuffer designed to automatically extinguish candles and avoid fires for those who read in bed by candlelight.[20] Gordon was aware of, and was a recipient of, anti-Semitic attitudes most especially in newspaper articles which were hostile to his activities. In 1893, he became the committee secretary of WA Hamilton’s attempt to be elected to Parliament for Sandhurst. Hamilton’s main opponent was DB Lazarus who was a Jew and Gordon commented that he was prepared to act in opposition to Lazarus, a fellow Jew,

for the very reason that he was a member of our race, and a seat-holder in the Synagogue. I had very little doubt of his election; everybody knew that I was a Jew; I accepted the work feeling sure that though my pen might alienate from him a few votes, the position I held would deter my party from hurling the words ‘dam’d… Jew’ against him when the conflict reached fever stage.[21]

It was in Bendigo that Gordon first came to notice as a fund raiser and in 1894, he became the honorary secretary of a committee which ran an Art Union in aid of Bendigo’s Hospital and Asylum.[22] This committee was a private one begun at the instigation of Gordon,[23] but it was not authorised by the committee of the Hospital and Asylum which was purported to be the beneficiary of the Art Union.[24] Gordon was showered with praise by his committee and with criticism by some sections of the community for they were suspicious that he had gained considerable financial benefit from the whole activity. It was rumoured that Gordon was paid 10 shillings per day and expenses for his work. Not unreasonably, it was commented that ‘it appears peculiar that a man with a small tobacconist and hairdressers shop should be able to give so much of his time and leave his business to look after itself’ and that the addition of £12 to his shop receipts, the newspaper’s guess at his remuneration, would mean that he found ticket selling more profitable than ‘bacca’ selling.[25] In actual fact he received £40 (20% of the expenses) for his work with the expenses expending just under 50% of the income with a total of £200 donated to the Hospital and Asylum.[26]

Gordon complained bitterly at the treatment he received from some sections of the public and from the Hospital and Asylum Committee who initially refused the request of Gordon[27] to be made a life governor. He said that

he knew that unless he devoted all his time to the art union it would result in a failure, and that the gentlemen forming the committee would be landed in debt. He, therefore, neglected his own business in order to ensure the success of the art union. Yet a rumour was circulated that “Gordon made a good thing out of it” … if he had been a wealthy man he might have been praised for his efforts, but because he was a poor man and done his best, he was abused … he had spent all the money he received. He was allowed 10% on the sale of tickets … he was worse off to-day than before he went into the art union.[28]

This unseemly dispute about awarding a governorship pointed to a degree of incredulity about Gordon’s motives. It was felt that if he ‘did the work from pure motives of philanthropy’, he should feel himself amply repaid by the results for any services that he had rendered.[29] Unwittingly perhaps, Gordon confirmed the suspicions of the critics when he revealingly said that ‘the honor of a life governorship has been the main incentive to me to leave nothing undone, to consider no amount of work too great to make the art union a success’.[30]

What Gordon had said concerning his financial loss may well be true of his first charity/art union fund raising effort, but the Life Governorship and the result of the Art Union was of great value to him for it began to establish Gordon’s reputation as a successful fund raiser and he would put that growing reputation to good use.

From Bendigo, Gordon moved to Tasmania and began to involve himself in further charitable fund raising. In the following years, many more art unions organised by Gordon were held in almost every Australian colony.[31] Accompanying these was a fair amount of criticism and it becomes increasingly obvious that Gordon, if not making a substantial income from these events, was certainly making a living from them. In 1896, Gordon claimed that ‘I do not depend on art unions for my livelihood, being connected with one of the wealthiest life assurance societies in the world, at whose expense I am here as special representative.’[32] No evidence has been uncovered to justify this claim of his primary source of income and while it may have been true at the time it was made it seems not to have been the case for most of his life. His livelihood was largely provided through remuneration obtained by being a fund raiser.

First Prize Launceston Charities Gift Distribution

First Prize Launceston Charities Gift Distribution

Below is a listing of those Charity events/Art Unions in which Gordon was to be engaged from 1894 until 1915 and there is a similar pattern in these events. He would contact an organisation or an influential group of people with an outline of a plan for a series of events, concerts and possibly a carnival but, most importantly, an Art Union in aid of charity. A group of prominent people with social standing would be gathered together to be a committee which would agree to run the events. Gordon would be appointed secretary or manager and would do the work of organising the events, getting the tickets printed and prizes donated,[33] or purchase the prizes at reduced prices because they were for charity. The Art Union would be extensively promoted through newspapers in which some advertising space was paid for and other space given at a reduced rate by the proprietors, again because it was for charity.[34]

Gordon's Art Union and Fund Raising Activities

Gordon’s Art Union and Fund Raising Activities

Gordon’s remuneration for these services was rarely revealed, but could be £2 per week or a percentage of the value of Art Union tickets sold plus expenses.[35] The expenses for travelling and accommodation were often quite substantial as Gordon adopted the practice of travelling extensively through the State in which the Art Union was being held.[36] As he travelled selling tickets for the Art Union he would approach prominent people in local towns and communities to be on a local committee for the fund raising with the incentive that an undisclosed proportion of funds raised in the local centre would be made available for local charity work. [37] Agents for the sale of Art Union tickets were also employed throughout the colonies, presumably on a percentage of the value of the tickets sold.

Gordon was a good organiser and very energetic in pursuing matters and as long as the committee set up was content to give Gordon a free hand, and not require too much financial accountability, things usually went reasonably well. The one exception was when Gordon crossed the Tasman and, utilising the services of a local Rabbi, convinced the leading citizens of Auckland to make him manager of the Auckland Annual Charity Fair. Gordon rushed ahead and expended £150 printing Art Union tickets without the agreement of his committee. The committee took fright at the unauthorised financial outlay and Gordon failed to persuade them that all would be well; the Art Union was closed down and Gordon resigned.[38]

2nd Prize Launceston Charities Gift Distribution

2nd Prize Launceston Charities Gift Distribution

Disapproval of Art Unions

There was criticism of the concept and process of the Art Unions right from Gordon’s very first effort in Bendigo. They were regarded as gambling, they involved high expenditure and low return for the effort involved, the financial accounting was insufficiently transparent, there were irregularities that were unfair to some participants and lastly, Gordon was thought to be making a very comfortable living from them. In response to such criticisms Gordon rather justifiably said “if you think you can do better or at less expense, or with better results, go and do it; but until you do it, I will take no notice of you.”[39] In response to the disapproval expressed by a clergyman about his remuneration

Gordon pointed out, with some justification, that the clergyman was paid from his congregation’s giving so why not Gordon from his work. He argued ‘is the patient in the hospital less thankful or less benefited, because the doctor who attends him draws a salary for his services?’[40] On the low financial return he hit back pointing out that

it might be fair claimed that no matter how small the percentage sometimes is that goes to charity from these art unions … none of it would reach the charities otherwise.  In other words, when £1 is subscribed direct to one or other of our institutions, £20 is subscribed solely because of the chance the subscriber has of winning a prize. It will also be found on careful examination that ordinary subscribers to our various charities are not touched by these appeals. The bulk of the money obtained comes from those who are in the habit of spending their shillings carelessly in cigars, drink, in horse racing, and other forms of gambling. If, then, some small portion of the money thus thrown away is diverted into a channel that will benefit the charities, why not do so, even though it is spent inducing a shilling to come our way.[41]

In short, every pound charity gets from an Art Union would not otherwise be given by the section of society that bought Art Union tickets. Not that Gordon was without his supporters. Various satisfied organisations and individuals gave Gordon testimonials which he used extensively to convince others of his good intentions and ability.[42]

The problems that Gordon encountered in his fund raising arose from two sources. Firstly, colonial society had yet to adjust to the idea that charities could no longer exist on the giving of subscriptions of philanthropic individuals and that fund raising was needed. The level of funds required could not be met by small groups of volunteers who ran a bazaar or two and so the ‘professional’ fund raisers dedicated to the task met a need. Such fund raisers, however, could only do the work if they received an adequate income from their efforts. The second problem for Gordon was that the Art Unions, the answer the fund raisers had arrived at to help meet the funding needs of charities, were contrary to colonial law even if the laws were not rigidly enforced.

Gordon first struck trouble in running Art Unions in Sydney in 1897 when he was charged, in connection with Druid’s Gala, with ‘unlawfully promising for a certain consideration to dispose of certain goods by lottery’. He pleaded guilty and was fined £3 with 5 shillings and sixpence court costs.[43] The law in NSW did not permit the holding of an art union or lottery except for the encouragement of fine art or the disposal of articles at a bazaar for a charitable purpose and the Art Unions organised by Gordon did not qualify. As the Attorney-General said:

In the past, no doubt, a very strict supervision has not been kept, inasmuch as the end was thought to justify the means, the proceeds of such lotteries being devoted to charitable or deserving objects. This indulgence has been abused. Lottery running has become a trade, and so called charities get about half the proceeds in some cases, and nothing in many others.[44]

As Gordon could not run Art Unions in NSW, and as they were essential to his success,[45] he moved to South Australia (SA) and recommenced operations there for the Adelaide Charity Carnival. After selling a large number of Art Union tickets he once again struck opposition, this time from the churches. The Council of Churches in Adelaide called attention to the proposed breach of the gaming and lottery laws in connection with Gordon’s charity carnival and asked that ‘steps be taken to prevent the lottery, which is being promoted under the name of an art union, which … is an improper description of [the] undertaking’.[46] The churches were not the only ones critical of Gordon’s art union activities as one SA newspaper commented ‘bazaar raffles and art unions … is a further corruption of the moral fibre of the community. What might be tolerated on the secular racecourse become intolerable in the name of religion and charity’.[47] There was some sympathy for Gordon, however, as one newspaper said:

If the principle is contrary to law, the law should be enforced. But Mr A S Gordon has good cause for complaint that the Government has permitted him to … sell thousands of tickets before interfering … [and] the Eight Hours’ Union and other organisations have been allowed to indulge unchecked in the practice.[48]

Not finding Adelaide congenial to his Art Unions Gordon moved on to Perth. Art Unions were illegal[49]  in Western Australia (WA) as in the other colonies, but in WA the law was not enforced. Here he also received criticism including a withering critique of his Bendigo Art Union and other funding raising by Thomas Walker who claimed and demonstrated a detailed knowledge of Gordon’s questionable activities and sharp practice.[50] Yet, despite the objections, the fund raising continued.

As a result of the Perth Art Union some £100 was raised for charity, but three cheques for a total of £25 which had been sent to the Anglican orphanages and to the Wesleyan Methodists were returned to the organisers. The churches did not approve of ‘the raising of money for church purposes by means of lotteries and raffles’.[51] Gordon was less than impressed and said that ‘of the £3,500 I have been the means of raising for charities in the other colonies no cheque has ever been returned to me’.[52] This statement, while perhaps formally true, ignores or is ignorant of the fact that the Sydney City Mission, who objected to gambling, returned a cheque for £50 to the Charity Fete and Art Union Committee held in Sydney 1896 which was proposed and managed by Gordon.[53]

In March 1899 in Adelaide, Grace Priscilla Etheridge reputedly wrote to Gordon in Perth asking him to undertake the management of a ‘Consultation or lottery’[54] for the purpose of disposing of her property in Adelaide worth between ten and eleven thousand pounds. There were some 31 properties in the portfolio and the first prize was a Villa worth £1,300 and 124 cash prizes were added by Gordon as an inducement to purchase tickets which were on sale for 2 shillings and sixpence each. Should the Consultation not be fully subscribed, the precise meaning of which was not explained, prizes, with the exception of the first prize, would be withdrawn pro rata.[55] As it turned out there were 20 prizes and 117 subscribers which would have netted £5,029 before expenses and which it would appear was not a full subscription as the first, third and twentieth prizes were the only properties drawn and the cash prizes were all paid pro rata.[56] The whole Consultation was conducted from WA and not Adelaide. This was probably because the exercise was indeed a lottery, despite the avoidance of the term,  and the clergy in SA had been opposed to such events and had previously, in 1898, successfully lobbied the government to enforce the law to shut down a Gordon SA based ‘Art Union’.[57] Unusually for Gordon, the Consultation in SA was purely commercial and had no charitable aspect to it.

In August 1900, NSW amended its Art Union law which allowed the sort of Art Union hitherto illegal in NSW and which had hampered Gordon’s fund raising activities.[58] With the change in the law Gordon returned to NSW and from 1901 to 1904 he conducted several Art Unions for charitable bodies. By this time, however, Gordon could either see that his business in Art Unions for Charity had largely run its course or perhaps he saw a better business opportunity. Around 1903, he threw himself into a new business venture with a quasi-community focus, the Historical Picture Association of Australia (HPA).

In June 1903, Gordon began to promote the purchase of copies of Charles Nuttall’s Federation painting, ‘The First Federal Parliament of Australia, May 1901’, for which he had gained an exclusive distribution right. He did this by writing directly to councils, organisations and schools, by running advertisements in the newspapers or by paying personal visits.[59] A special brochure was printed which had facsimiles of the signatures of members of the First Federal Ministry ‘all of whom have granted their official patronage to Mr Nuttall’s Historical Picture copies of which are now offered to the public’. He also sought to find agents in every town and city and canvassers to be involved in the sale of these works.[60] Initially, he sold Artist’s Proofs at £15 15 shillings each, Proofs ‘before letters’ at £10 10 shillings and India prints at £3 3 shillings.[61] In 1906, a postcard print was produced to mark the Federal Election.[62]

Promotional Material for Gordon's Historic Painting Scheme

Promotional Material for Gordon’s Historic Painting Scheme

Gordon sold to individuals, but his main line of business was to sell presentation copies of the framed picture. According to one of Gordon’s critics[63] the process Gordon developed with regard to sale of presentation copies and which gave him a good income worked this way: Gordon travelled through SA, Victoria, NSW and WA seeking subscriptions from people for a gift of an engraving of Nuttall’s Federation picture to be placed in a school, corporation or public institution. Each presentation picture would be framed and also be inscribed with the names of the subscribers.[64]

Promotional Material for Gordon's Historic Painting Scheme

Promotional Material for Gordon’s Historic Painting Scheme

With each picture for presentation, Gordon’s aim was to gain eight guineas (168 shillings) for each replica seeking a half sovereign (10 shillings) from each subscriber, but when the eight guineas was reached he did not necessarily stop collecting money. There had been occasions, it was alleged, when he collected £25 or £30 for a picture. The frame cost him six or seven pounds and the replica, a Paris printed photogravure, cost less than 10 or 11 shillings a copy so he made a good profit on each purchase. As well as this, Gordon used canvassers and agents who also took orders. In a court case in 1908, brought by a creditor for non-payment in connection with framing the pictures, it was revealed that Gordon had collected £200 in SA and £500 in Victoria but had not supplied any pictures. He could not account for the money except to say he ‘had a wife and family to keep’ and that he used some of the money to defray travelling and accommodation costs, consequently half the money had gone.[65] Neither he nor his wife, he had claimed, had a bank account but he had about 100 pictures at his furnished rooms in Peyneham.[66] Gordon blamed the ‘dishonesty or remissness of canvassers and sub-agents’ or the delay or part completion of subscriptions for his problems.[67] The court case meant the end of his ability to work his business in SA so he moved to WA and, reverting to the name Albert S Gordon,[68] he once again began to run Art Unions.

By 1911, the  law caught up with the Gordons or at least with his wife Lizzie,[69] for Albert had conveniently left Perth to go to Melbourne.[70] When speaking of the Gordons’ latest ‘art union’ and sentencing Lizzie to six months jail with hard labour, the magistrate made the following comments:

The whole thing is a barefaced fraud on the public and the defendant [Lizzie Gordoon] knew it was a fraud. Here is this woman [who] goes about selling tickets and representing  … that the union was for the Blind Institution, but evidence showed that no such authority had been given to raise money for the Institution. On the evidence before me the defendant knew it was a fraud. This little book I have here explains a lot. This is one item: – Sold 20 tickets, gave Albert 10s, for housekeeping 5s.[71]

The magistrate said ‘it was a pity Mr Gordon was not in the dock, and he was sorry for the defendant’[72] for Gordon had left WA the month before Lizzie was apprehended. The press was  clear on what it thought of Gordon

that champion tale-teller A.S. Gordon, the little Russian Jew who for 10 years past has made a comfortable living by trading on the charitable feelings of others; the man who years ago had the brazen effrontery to advertise that he had but the motto – “For the cause that needs assistance” (conveniently forgetting to say that the himself was the “cause”).[73]

It would appear that Lizzie had also had enough and, once out of jail, she sued Gordon for maintenance telling the court that ‘during the last four weeks he had left her without any means of sustenance.’[74] Lizzie soon opened the Vig-ar (regd.) Beauty Parlor with her daughter Leila.[75] She was, however, prosecuted, convicted and fined for selling “Vig-ar” an arsenic preparation for hair restoration which contained sufficient arsenic in the preparation to kill five or more men.[76]

These events effectively ended A S Gordon’s business and quasi-charitable work, but he was not to be kept down as Gordon reappeared as an author and racconteur. He travelled extensively in Victoria, SA and NSW selling subscriptions to his yet to be published or subsequent editions of his ‘humorous’ and  somewhat autobiographical work “Mordecai MacCobber” first published in 1914.[77] One critic, somewhat representative of its literary reception, said of it that it ‘is apparently an elaborate attempt to be funny. It fails. Our copy comes from the misguided author. From motives of kindness we conceal his name.’[78] As usual, Gordon was unperturbed by criticism and continued travelling and seeking to sell his work.

Illustration by Charles Nuttall for Mordeci MacCobber

Illustration by Charles Nuttall for Mordeci MacCobber

Gordon himself said that he did not desire to be mistaken as a philanthropist and that ‘he had his own ambition and if furthering that he helped the poor and needy he did not think he had any cause to be ashamed’.[79] Others would view his work as less honourable than this assessment, but it is true that Gordon, while pursuing his own ambitions, gave charitable organisations assistance to increase their finances. That he made a living from his efforts in the process was something society came to accept as necessary if charity organisations were to survive. His Art Unions tapped a source of finance that was arguably more self-concerned and less charitably minded than the philanthropic subscribers of the nineteenth century, but the poor and the needy would not have been bothered by this as they enjoyed the benefits bestowed.

Dr Paul F Cooper, Research Fellow, Christ College, Sydney.

The appropriate way to cite this article is as follows:

Paul F Cooper. Abraham S Gordon (1866-1936) Art Union Fund Raiser, Canvasser and Author Philanthropy and Philanthropists in Australian Colonial History, November 4, 2016. Available at 

[1] Sydney Herald (Sydney, NSW), September 23, 1841, 2.

[2] Sydney Herald (Sydney, NSW), January 14, 1844, 1.

[3] Marriage Certificate, Albert Samuel Gordon and Lizzie Benjamin, 4346, Victorian Births Deaths and Marriages, June 24, 1891. Also this information is given in the strange, whimsical and partly autobiographical work published by AS Gordon called Mordecai MacCobber, 4th Edition (St Kilda Victoria c 1929), 75-76. This book, if read carefully and discerningly, tells a good deal about Gordon’s life but ‘facts’ discerned from it have a degree of uncertainty about them.

[4] In Russia the feldshers provide primary, obstetric and surgical care services in many rural settings.

[5] Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW), December 14, 1927, 7.

[6] MacCobber, 104. This must refer to Barry Dock commenced in November 1884. [accessed 16 August 2016].

[7] MacCobber, 104. His brother Isaac was later to come to Australia and was here by at least 1891.  MacCobber, 107 also Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), July 11, 1891, 6. Another brother Louis was to come to Australia around the same date and possibly at the same time and set up a business in Broken Hill by 1892. Certificate of Naturalization, Louis Gordon February 5, 1900. NSW State Records.

[8] Argus (Melbourne, Vic), July 9, 1887, 8. Public Record Office Victoria, Index to Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923. The Potosi is frequently mentioned in MacCobber as the ship on which Mordecai emigrated.

[9] MacCobber, 107.

[10] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), December 20, 1888, 3. MacCobber, 107 indicates that he had a prior shop on by-street before moving to a larger shop on a principal street. His shop locations were High Street (1888-9, Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), December 21, 1888, 2), View Street (1890), Hargreaves Street (1891, Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), January 24, 1891, 6.) and Howard Place as The Bendigo Time Pay Depot (1892), Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), January 22, 1892, 4.) He then commenced a picture framing business in partnership with A P Auvier. Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), January 28, 1893, 7. It is not known how long this business lasted but seems to have closed by January 1894, Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), January 2, 1894, 3.

[11] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), October 25, 1890, 8.

[12] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), January 2, 1894, 3; March 20, 1894, 3.

[13] McCobber, 111 gives the locations in the Bendigo area where he fossicked.

[14]  Bendigo Independent (Bendigo, Vic), January 28, 1899, 3.

[15] See photo in The WA Record (Perth, WA), December 15, 1900, 48.

[16] Bunyip (Gawler, SA), July 8, 1898, 2. He frequently quoted, in his letters, various authors as a sign of his erudition.

[17] Bendigo Independent (Bendigo, Vic), February 28, 1891, 2.

[18] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), September 28, 1893, 3.

[19] In 1891-2 he wrote to the Jewish Herald on the plight of Russian Jews. Jewish Herald (Vic), November 6, 1891, 3; January 29, 1892, 7.

[20] Bendigo Independent (Bendigo, Vic), October 14, 1892, 3.

[21] MacCobber, 109-110

[22] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), March 5, 1894, 3. He was far from an unknown in Bendigo as he had been in business for six years, secretary of WA Hamilton’s election committee, a

[23] West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA), January 29, 1899, 9.

[24] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), June 15, 1894, 3.

[25] Bendigo Independent (Bendigo, Vic), June 19, 1894, 2.

[26] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic.), June 30, 1894, 5. The committee published a full financial statement the most detailed on any Art Union in which Gordon was involved. Perhaps the scrutiny this produced was a lesson to Gordon who may have discouraged his future committees form publishing such detailed statements.

[27] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), June 15, 1894, 3. Their refusal was based on the fact that a Life Governor was one who had personally donated £100 whereas Gordon was not the donor but the organiser. A compromise was struck and he was appointed an honorary Life Governor.

[28] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), June 30, 1894, 5.

[29] Bendigo Independent (Bendigo, Vic), June 19, 1894, 2.

[30] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), June 16, 1894, 3.

[31] Queensland seems not to have experienced much attention from Gordon.

[32] Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate (Newcastle, NSW), January 23, 1896, 2. In Mac Cobber, 80, 98-99, assurance “both life and fire” and the selling of Insurance is mentioned. A similar claim of not needing the Art Unions to have a livelihood was made by him in Coolgardie in 1899. The evidence offered on this occasion only shows he had some capital at his disposal that allowed him to await expected income from the Art Unions. Coolgardie Miner (Coolgardie, WA), February 1899, 5.

[33] An article written by Gordon on one such donation was excellent public relations. Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), April 10, 1894, 3.

[34] The Adelaide Property Distribution was said to be advertised in 327 newspapers. Art Unions were somewhat more localised and the advertising though considerable did not match this effort. Critic (Adelaide, SA), November 8, 1899, 15.

[35] Adelaide Observer (Adelaide, SA), December 19, 1898, 28.

[36] He commenced this practice in Bendigo and often wrote reports that were published. Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), March 3, 1894, 4.

[37] Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (Dubbo, NSW), June 17, 1896, 3.

[38] New Zealand Herald (Auckland, NZ), May 27, 1905, 4; June 3, 1905; Observer (NZ), July 29, 1905, 16.

[39] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), May 30, 1894, 2.

[40] Bendigo Advertiser (Bendigo, Vic), July 9, 1894, 3.

[41] SMH, February 11, 1904, 7.

[42] West Australian (Perth, WA), January 14, 1899, 11; The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW), September 13, 1902, 1; October 14, 1902, 1.

[43] Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate (Newcastle, NSW), April 24, 1897, 5.

[44] SMH, May 4, 1897, 3.

[45] Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA), June 16, 1898, 3.

[46] West Australian (Perth, WA), September 23, 1898, 5.

[47] Bunyip (Gawler, SA), July 8, 1898, 2.

[48] Port Pirie Recorder and North Western Mail (Port Pirie, SA), October 1, 1898, 3.

[49] West Australian (Perth, WA), January 9, 1899, 2.

[50] West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA), January 29, 1899, 9.  F. B. Smith, ‘Walker, Thomas (1858–1932)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 22 August 2016.

[51] The West Australian (Perth, WA), June 24, 1899, 5.

[52] Western Mail (Perth, WA), June 30, 1899, 57.

[53] SMH, April 30, 1896, 4; September 16, 1896, 6; September 24, 1896, 4.

[54] A consultation is a synonym for a lottery.

[55] The West Australian (Perth, WA), December 2, 1899, 7.

[56] Chronicle (Adelaide, SA), February 17, 1900, 12.

[57] Southern Argus (Port Elliot, SA), July 27, 1899, 3.

[58] Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW), August 25, 1900, 11.

[59] Fitzroy City Press (Melbourne, Vic), June 19, 1903, 3.

[60] The Age (Melbourne, Vic), July 8, 1903, 4.

[61] SMH, August 15, 1903, 5.

[62] Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas), September 29, 1906, 7.

[63] Sunday Times (Perth, WA), September 11, 19010, 8.

[64] He also set up in March 1905 an office in Auckland, NZ of the ‘Historical Picture Association of Australasia’ to sell to individuals a picture ‘that is likely to interest everyone who takes an interest in public affairs, local, colonial or Imperial’. Gordon seems to have spent a good deal of 1905 in NZ and possibly with intermittent visits up to the time of the closure of the office which remained open until around May 1908. Bush Advocate (NZ), XVII, 64, March 17, 1905, 6; Ohinemuri Gazette (NZ), XVIII, 2345, May 6, 1908, 4.

[65] Bendigo Independent (Bendigo, Vic), August 8, 1908, 3.

[66] Evening Journal (Adelaide SA), August 5, 1908, 1.

[67] He seems to have stopped doing business selling pictures in 1910. Westralian Worker (Perth, WA), September 2, 1910, 4.

[68] The West Australian (Perth, WA), April 27, 1909, 1.

[69] Using the name Albert Samuel Gordon he had married Lizzie Benjamin in 1891 in St Kilda. Marriage Certificate Victorian Births Deaths and Marriage 4346 Albert Samuel Gordon and Lizzie Benjamin June 24, 1891.

[70] Huon Times (Franklin, Tas), November 1, 1911, 4.

[71] The Daily News (Perth, WA), October 25, 1911, 4.

[72] The Daily News (Perth, WA), October 25, 1911, 4.

[73] Sunday Times (Perth, WA), November 5, 1911, 13.

[74] The Prahran Telegraph (Prahran, Vic), November 30, 1912, 3.

[75] Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic), August 27, 1914, 29.

[76] The Age (Melbourne, Vic), October 5, 1918, 12.

[77] Bendigo Independent (Bendigo, Vic), February 4, 1914, 8.

[78] Sunday Times (Perth, WA), March 15, 1914, 1.

[79] West Australian (Perth, WA), January 7, 1899, 10.

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