W.T. Pater
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About the publisher

W.T. Pater & Co. was a Melbourne company that published postcards prolifically over the five years from 1902 to 1907.

 

William Thompson Pater was born in Melbourne on 23 Feb, 1861 and died there on 12 November, 1929. He married Margaret Cousin on 27 January 1888 and produced 5 children. He apparently lived and worked all his life in Melbourne.

 

Pater was initially in business with a partner, as Pater and Knapton, but that partnership was terminated at the end of 1895. He immediately went into business on his own as Wm. T. Pater and Co, at 271 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, as a general printer and stationer 1. He went into postcard printing and importing early and on a large scale.  In 1903, he advertised a temporary shop for Christmas, offering Christmas cards, booklets, calendars, leather goods and the “largest assortment in Melbourne of picture postcards and albums – British, Foreign, Continental, Australian comic, etc”.   Occasional notes in the press mentioned receipt of sample books or postcards.

 

However, in 1908, disaster  appears to have befallen the business. Notices began appearing for auction sales of the company’s assets and stock. The company had become insolvent and vast quantities of goods were for sale:

 

POST-CARDS Post-cards – One and a half millions to select from. Prices will tempt you. One of the largest and best assorted stocks ever offered to the public 2.

 

Pater & Co had always been stationers and retailers, and seem to have gone into phonograph records on a large scale at the wrong time. The amount of stock offered in the auctions was so large that it was appropriate to advertise in Adelaide as well as Melbourne 3:

 

PHONOGRAPHS       PHONOGRAPHS

BENEFITS OF INSOLVENCY

IN THE ASSIGNED ESTATE OF W.T. PATER AND CO

40,000 NEW STERLING RECORDS FOR RETAIL BUYERS AT LESS THAN WHOLESALE COST FOR CASH ONLY.

WOOTTEN, FULLER & KING

ACCOUNTANTS

MELBOURNE

 

A similar advertisement called for tenders for  eight batches of records of 2000-7000 per batch, showing the scale of the disaster.

 

 

After the insolvency sales of 1908, W.T. Pater and Co. disappered from the postcard business, but the company name continued to be associated with the publishing of a few books, particularly of a religious nature.

 

Pater’s postcard subjects ranged Australia-wide, not only Tasmania. In fact, the two series of Tasmania cards that I know must have been a minute proportion of his output. David Cook, in his book Picture Postcards in Australia 4, listed some categories of Pater’s subjects:

.  Vignetted black and white views of  Victoria and NSW

.  Colour collotypes

.  Tasmanian painting of L.H. Davey

.  Sydney paintings of K.L. Farran

.  Victorian bush scenes of Charles Young

.  Victorian coastal paintings of Deane Taylor

.  Aboriginal scenes

.  Children’s cards

.  Comic cards

.  Glamour cards – ladies with wattle blossum

 

Pater's cards are identified by the letters 'WPT' in a diamond, either plain or decorated, usually at the middle top on the address side.

 

Notes

1. The Argus 18 January 1896, p. 12

2. The Argus, 1 August 1908

3. The Advertiser (South Australia ) 14 may 1908, p. 11

4. Cook, David. 1986. Picture postcards in Australia 1898-1920. Pioneer Design Studio, Lilydale, Victoria.