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On the death in 1906 of her father, the Honourable Ebenezer Vickery, M.L.C., Amy Alfreda Vickery and her sister Mary Jane Waterhouse, were made trustees and executors of his estate, along with their brothers, Ebenezer and George. All the siblings received substantial bequests from the estate.
Her bequest allowed Amy to live independently of her brothers and she put her independence to good use. She financed the construction of the beautiful house, “Lauriston”, which still stands in Strathfield today. Lauriston, built around 1907, was her home until her death on 14th August, 1942 at the age of 74.
At her funeral service, the Reverend F. H. Rayward said of her:
‘Miss Vickery was well endowed intellectually. Her mind was alert and analytical. ... She did not need anyone to do her thinking for her. From any set of facts she was capable of making her deductions.’
She brought that analytical brain to bear on her hobby of philately, amassing what was considered at the time, to be one of the finest stamp collections in Australia. It included a block of one penny black British stamps – the first adhesive postage stamp ever issued, a Western Australian four penny inverted frame error (Black Swan stamp), and an enviable collection of ‘Sydney views’ stamps.
In a will signed six months before her death, she bequeathed her entire stamp collection to the Australian Museum. The Museum received the bequest in the middle of the Second World War, which meant it was impossible to do more than house the stamps safely and wait until hostilities ceased. After the war ended, work began on the construction of cabinets to suitably house and exhibit the collection. In 1950 the stamps went on display at the Museum. They have been on loan to the Powerhouse Museum since the 1980s.
But while Philately was her hobby, Amy was first and foremost a dedicated philanthropist. Much of her philanthropy centred on her religious faith:
‘The Central Methodist Mission found in her a generous friend. She was a foundation member of the Dalmar Children's Home Committee, and never relinquished her association therewith. The fine hospital was her personal gift. …. The Y.W.C.A. was one of her finest spheres of service, and here she shone in the various offices she filled.’
She even managed to combine her hobby and her philanthropy in her work for the Overseas Missions Department of the Methodist Church. For many years she raised money by profitably disposing of the used postage stamps they collected. ‘… Probably a quarter of a million stamps passed through her hands …’
Amy Alfreda Vickery was generous and intelligent and, according to Reverend F. H. Rayward:
‘In her person she was dainty and dignified. She reminded one of lavender and old lace and Dresden-ware. She was manifestly a gentlewoman of the old school.’
The quotations came from the following eulogy:
The Late Miss Amy A. Vickery. (1942, August 22). The Methodist (Sydney, NSW : 1892 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved June 4, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article155473140
For further information see:
THE LATE MR. E. VICKERY. (1906, October 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved June 6, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14811928
Stamps Worth £250,000. (1947, November 18). Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved June 4, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69031681
SYDNEY WOMAN WHO SUPPLIED STAMPS FOR A KING. (1939, August 28). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved June 4, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17608052
DALMAR CHILDREN'S HOME. (1926, December 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved June 4, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16338012
Women's Overseas Auxiliary. (1942, October 3). The Methodist (Sydney, NSW : 1892 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 4, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article155472643