Interesting token, probably intended for identification of a child. Made from a British Edward VII penny with the reverse shaved off and an inscription stamped, retains some silvering and there is evidence of a mounted loop. The reverse inscription reads:
Our research suggests that this token belonged to:
Selmar Wesley Melvin, b. 4 January 1908 Greenbushes, Western Australia, d. 1996 Broadview South Australia.
Wife: Isabel Alma Melvin (nee Macdonald), d. 1965.
Mother: Ethel Wilhelmina Melvin nee Conrad (b.1881 d. 1967)
Father: Frank Page Melvin (d. 1931) whose residence at the time of his death was 14 Burwood Avenue, Prospect (or Nailsworth) refer Trove Death Notice
Grandmother: Elizabeth Conrad, address 18 Burwood Avenue, Prospect/Nailsworth. One of her sons, Herbert Selmar Conrad (Service Number 1467) was killed at Quinn’s Outpost at Gallipoli in 1915 and his service record lists his mother’s address. Herbert was also part of the South Australian Contingent to South Africa in 1901/1902.
According to Trove Selmar went by the name of Sel, and we have found records showing his name spelled as Selmer while his WW2 service records list his name as Selman. This middle name, Wesley, has also been recorded as Westley and Westerley (in his WW2 service records SX13101). His mother and father appear to have resided in Western Australia until at least 1908 (when Selmar was born) and at some time between then and 1915 moved to Adelaide. In April 1915 a tragic event occurred when Selmar’s older brother, Darrell Aubrey Melvin drowned in a swimming accident in the River Torrens at Walkerville. At that time a swimming hole known as “Clay” that was around 100 yards long and quite deep was used by public and swimming clubs for recreational bathing. The reserve was found at the end of Warwick Street at Walkerville. You can read about the death of the Darrell Aubrey Melvin here.
Selmar appears to have been an extremely active individual who played a lot of sport. During the mid 1920’s he was an amateur boxer and we can find evidence of at least 3 bouts that he took part in that were advertised in the local South Australian papers. He continued with his boxing during World War 2, again we can find reference to him taking part in Army vs Navy boxing events. He also seems to have been a keen swimmer, cricketer, and footballer. Below you can see an image of him as part of the 1927 Prospect Australian Rules Football Club premiership side, Selmar is in the front row at the extreme left.
We found many other references to his sporting achievements on Trove including one instance where he appears to have nearly drowned taking part in an underwater swimming contest in the early 1930’s! His own brothers went on to become fairly well known sportsmen locally and his uncle, with the same name as his drowned brother, Darrell Aubrey Conrad played more than 150 games with the SANFL side North Adelaide. In fact, one end of Burwood Avenue is directly opposite the North Adelaide Football Oval where his Uncle played many of his games.
At least one other brother to Selmar was born in 1917. Lisle (or Lyall) was born at or about the 26th of May in 1917 (see birth notice here) and interestingly it refers to the home on Burwood Avenue in Prospect as “Chesney”. We are not quite sure if this is in reference to 18 Burwood Avenue (Selmar’s grandmother’s house) or his father’s house at 14 Burwood Avenue, Prospect which is mentioned in his father’s death notice.
Some time prior to World War 2 Selmar married Isabel Alma and lists her as his next of kin on his WW2 papers. Unfortunately his records are not digitised. We can find little reference to his life post the war, other than his wife Isabel passing sometime in 1965 and Selmar passing more than 30 years later in 1996. Somewhat unusually we’ve been able to find images of Selmar (see above) and also his mother,grandmother, and Uncle Herbert who died at Gallipoli. All images below are courtesy of the State Library of South Australia.