Illuminated Address

When Concord postmaster H. G. Kulmar was transferred to Emmaville his fellow citizens presented him with an illumination lauding his faithful service to the community over almost two decades.

Henry George Kulmar was appointed postmaster in 1890 when Concord’s first dedicated post office was opened in a cottage on the corner of Burwood Road and Burton Street. He continued to serve in Concord’s second post office, a more substantial house nearly opposite No.1 on Burwood Road. The third post office in which Kulmar served was also situated in Burwood Road. The illumination depicts each of these buildings, skilfully alluding to both the continuity of the postmaster’s service as well as the community’s progress.

H. G. Kulmar began his Post Office career in 1882 when at the age of 18 he was employed as a messenger at Ashfield Post Office. The following year he graduated to the position of junior telegraph operator at Burwood. By 1885 he had risen to the rank of telegraph operator and postal assistant. His brothers, Albert and William were also employed at Ashfield Post Office, the former as a messenger and the latter as a messenger and telegraph operator.

Kulmar was the eldest of ten siblings, six boys and four girls. His parents emigrated from Hesse, Germany, where his father, Heinrich, had been a farmer. In Australia he worked as a gardener and imbued in his children the values of hard work and humility referred to in the illumination address. Also referenced in the address is the importance of the position of postmaster in a community.

The post office, by default, was an agency with carriage of almost all official bureaucracy. It was pivotal between the community and government, connecting business and individuals at different levels. The importance of the post office and by implication the role of the postmaster is reinforced in the address by what may appear extravagant praise for Mr Kulmar. It is confirmed by the endorsement of local government figures, including the mayor, Henry Goddard, whose signature and portrait feature prominently.

During his tenure at Concord, Henry Kulmar, would have overseen a profound change in the way postal services were delivered. Not only did the introduction of telegraphic communication speed up business, it brought immediacy to personal correspondence. News spread more rapidly bringing social as well as economic change that permeated everyday lives. One example of this was the delivery of mail to individual households, rather than to a collection point such as the local general store. This required the numbering of houses and some standardisation of street names.

Henry Kulmar’s illumination was executed by Mr A.E. Grout. Its presentation was noted in the Sydney Morning Herald (18/12/1908 p14). It was significant, not because it was an official award, but rather because it was a personal acknowledgement. Being created for an individual makes each one special. It is a form of artistry that has all but disappeared. 

(Note: This is just one of several Illuminated Addresses in our collection.)

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