WILLIAM SMITH & SONS
Handbook. Wm. Howard Smith & Sons. Freights, passage-money, &c.
Melbourne : Wm. Howard Smith, 1879. Octavo, gilt-leltered plum cloth (discoloured); colour vignette to title page, pp. 31, each page with a ruled border; edges and last couple of leaves lightly foxed, else very good.
Although several later versions of the William Howard Smith & Sons shipping company’s handbook are recorded in Australian collections, this 1879 edition appears to be the earliest known, preceding the next recorded edition by some four years. We can locate no other example of the 1879 edition, which is quite possibly the first published by this company – a key player in the maritime trade on Australia’s eastern seaboard in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
William Howard Smith had migrated to Port Phillip in 1854, and the first schooner he owned carried cargo between Melbourne and Geelong. He later entered the intercolonial trade. By 1879, the head office of William Howard Smith & Sons was in Market Square, Melbourne. The company also had four branch offices – in Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane – as well as agencies farther north in Maryborough and Rockhampton. While it offered regular passenger services (both saloon and second class) between ports along the entire east coast, the company specialised in carrying freight, principally coal (from Newcastle) and wool. It had in work at this time eleven iron steamers (including the Edina, Barrabool, You Yangs, Cheviot, Derwent and Leura) and three lighters.