Page 14 - Banking and Finance

In dealing with the commercial aspects of any community, banking takes the foremost place. Banks and bankers have ruled the colonies. These financial institutions, and those who administer them, are said to have been blessings to commerce. In Australia lately the blessing has been slightly disguised.

The Commercial Bank of Tasmania Limited was founded by one of the early settlers, John Dunn, on 26th December, 1832, Mr. Dunn being appointed managing director. He managed the bank until he retired in favor of his son, James Alfred Dunn, on 1st August, 1855. Mr. J. A. Dunn took leave of absence in 1872 for 12 months, and Mr. C. J. Barclay was left in charge of the bank. On 9th July, 1873, Mr. J. A. Dunn resigned, and Mr. C. J. Barclay was appointed managing director, which position he has held over since. Mr. C. J. Barclay has been in the service of the bank for more than 40 years, and the manager, Mr. D. Barclay, for 28 years. Next to the Bank of New South Wales, this is the oldest bank in the Australian colonies.

The Australian Mutual Provident Society has been represented in Tasmania from the early fifties. The first representation was by means of local agencies at Hobart and Launceston, and Messrs. W. Knight and Co. and the late Mr. Isaac Sherwin acted as agents of the society in Hobart and Launceston respectively for many years. In 1877 the Tasmanian business had reached sufficient importance to justify the opening of the branch, and it was accordingly established, with Mr. K. B. Cameron (the present secretary of the society at the head office) as resident secretary. In 1881 the requirements of the northern business had outgrown the local agency management. and a district office was opened, with Mr. J. G. Sherwin, the former agent, as district secretary. Last year another district office in the north-western district was opened at West Devonport, under the charge of Mr. C. W. Lindley. The " Mutual Provident " is deservingly popular in Tasmania. At the end of 1877, shortly after the inauguration of the branch, the number of policies on the books of the local office was 1239, assuring £539,745, while at the end of 1893 the totals were 6474 policies, assuring £1,924,245. These figures represent an assurance of £12 10s. per head of the population, and bear eloquent testimony to the popularity of the society and the thrift of the inhabitants of the island colony. If further evidence of the estimation in which the society is held be desired, it is to be found in the last returns made to tho Tasmanian Parliament by the life assurance companies, from which it appears that of the total assurances in force in Tasmania the Mutual Provident actually holds two-thirds. The branch office was first located in the Stone-buildings, Macquarie-street. In 1884 the society removed to its own offices, at the intersection of Elizabeth and Collins streets. The building is designed in the transitional Gothic style, and is built of Tasmanian freestone, the basement being of a dark brown freestone from the Knocklofty quarries. Above this the superstructure of three stories is of white stone. Polished grey granite columns have been introduced into the front elevation with good effect. Tho Mutual Provident Society had assets over £322,000 invested in Tasmania on the 31st December last. In accordance with the system adopted by the society, its Tasmanian affairs are under the control of a local board, consisting of the following members -.—Mr. P. O. Fysh, M.H A chairman; Mr. Wm. Crosby, M.L.C., deputy chairman ; Mr. E. O. Giblin, M.D., and Mr. Thomas Lewis. Mr. K. S. Bright, M.R.C.S.E., is the chief medical officer, and Mr. F. J. Jacobs, A.I.A., fills the position of resident secretary. This gentleman received his official training at the head office of the society in Sydney. He filled for some years the position of resident secretary at the West Australian branch, and has since July, 1890, occupied the position of resident secretary in Tasmania. He is an Associate of the Institute of Actuaries of Great Britain and Ireland, and a Justice of the Peace for Hobart.

The Equitable Assurance Society has also taken root here, and is making vast strides under the able and popular management of Mr. A. Graham Wald, a South Australian by birth, and for many years on the staff of the A.M.P. prior to his appointment in the Equitable.

The first payable gold in Tasmania was found at The Nook, four miles from Fingal, in 1852, but it was in small quantities, and did not affect the exodus of the Tasmanian population to the neighboring colonies, where gold was being found in abundance. In 1850 coal had been discovered between the Don and the Mersey. A company was started to work it, but the seam was found to be thin and broken. As in the other colonies of Australasia the mineral wealth of Tasmania now plays an important part in its commercial prosperity. Year by year the richness of its resources are being developed. Tasmania possesses payable gold, silver, tin, and coal. The first three of these minerals are exported in the form of bullion and metal. Tin is by far the most productive, about £300,000 worth having been exported last year. Gold comes next in value, and silver, owing to the very low price, is third.

The stock exchange is a handsome building, in Collins-street. It does not pretend to rival the Melbourne Stock Exchange in Melbourne Collins-street. But then it does not " run" a bar in the basement, and bedrooms in the top loft. The chairman is Mr. John Bradley, M.H. A, the vice-chairmen, Messrs. F, M. Edwards and W. C. Walch. The treasurer is Mr, C. J. Atkins, Mr. Gilbert Charles Liberty is the secretary. The other members of committee are Messrs J. B. Curran, Edward Mace, R. Mapley, R. Crosby and F. J. Pike.