Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey
If Joseph Oller seems to have been a larger-
The first local mention of a totalizator came with a report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 3 October, 1878:
"Mr. Siegfried Franck, the German Consul, has brought under our notice an exceedingly ingenious instrument he terms a "Totalisator." It consists of a number of compartments, each having a distinguishing number sunk in a steel plate. In the cavity are a number of registers, very similar to those used in marking a game of billiards, which are moved by the action of a lever similar to the key of a telegraphic instrument, the difference between the billiard Table register and this being that, in this case, the numbers follow the action of the lever only, from 1 to 999, which are consecutively marked upon three discs or rollers. At the top of the plate is one general register which sums the totals taken upon the sub-
For example, if a score at cricket had to be recorded; twelve divisions would be used, each number corresponding with the name and number of the player on the scoring-
(One commentator described it as "quite simple, being nothing more or less than a revival of Professor Babbridge’s calculating machine" ... we think he meant "Babbage").
Siegfried Franck appears to have arrived in Sydney around 1860 where he established an import and trading agency in conjunction with an unknown brother (possibly Eduard, later noted as an immigration agent acting for the New South Wales colony in Germany).
By 1868 (and possibly earlier according some later anecdotal experience), Franck was the Consul for the North German Confederation, the title changing to Consul for the German Empire in 1872, although he continued his trading activities during these years.
He resigned the Consulate early in 1877 and accepted a full-
Others suggested that Franck was on Mission Impossible from day one given the stringent conditions laid down for non-
After the Sydney Morning Herald report, Franck started advertising his totalizator "patented and in infallible for recording cricket scores, ballot votes and checking hotel bars".
There still had been no mention of his totalizator being used for betting purposes, but Franck later revealed that while acting as Immigration Agent in Germany, he had visited several racecourses both there and in France and Italy where totalizators had been legalized.
The address shown in the advertisements was 125 King-
Franck did not resume his previous Consulate position and obviously had intentions to make a killing with his device, but like in other Australian colonies, its legality was open to question.
Despite one correspondent to the Sydney Morning Herald suggesting in advance "this will be a flagrant violation of the Betting Act", Franck gained permission from the Sydney Jockey Club to operate a totalizator at Randwick in January, 1879 at a two-
His activities were noted about 12 months later during the first debate on whether N.S.W. should legalize the totalizator when it was revealed that police had stationed constables around the tote, not so much because of concerns as to the legality of the machine, but rather more to check whether Franck or any of his clerks manipulated the pools after a race.
The police were happy with the conduct of the machine, but questions were raised in the Legislative Assembly as they had been earlier in France as to whether the totalizator was being used as an aid to a "game of chance" and in April, Franck was charged with a breach of the Police Offences Act after operating his totalizator from an office in the grandstand on Randwick racecourse.
The preliminary hearing at the Water Police Court aroused great interest with several magistrates and leading citizens among the spectators.
The primary evidence came from two detectives who admitted they attended the meeting with the sole objective of watching the totalizator, and that after observing a number of races where the public placed wagers with Franck and an assistant, the detectives "backed horses for the Champagne Stakes, and witnessed the whole modus operandi of the contrivance''.
After a postponement of a week, the four magistrates could not agree, but under the laws in place at the time, one magistrate was all it took to commit Franck to stand trial.
Both the circumstances of the case and Franck's previous position in society lent the case considerable publicity, but before it went to trial, Franck submitted that he had received professional advice that his activities were, in fact, illegal and he agreed to cease operations, whereupon the Attorney-
Given that he was charged, it seems safe to bet (pun intended) that he had not resumed his role as the German consul and was concentrating on the marketing of his machine.
After being somewhat frustrated in his attempts to have his machine accepted in Sydney and Adelaide, it appears Franck turned to New Zealand where he was granted a patent on 4 April, 1880 -
"The totalisator, which is rapidly increasing in favour throughout New Zealand, was on the ground under the auspices of the indefatigable Mr. Franck, who was endeavouring to introduce his instrument at the meetings of the various New Zealand Clubs. We are, however, threatened during the forthcoming season with a Lottery and Gaming Bill which, should it pass, will put a stop to totalisators, consultations, et hoc genus omne.
With New Zealand also dismissing his totalizator, Franck turned to the one colony where no firm decision had been made on the use of the machine -
There had been a couple of unsuccessful attempts to legalize the totalizator.
The turning point seemed to come in January, 1882 when it was deemed to be legal for a bona fide private club to operate the machine, but it eventually proved to be a false dawn
An unofficial ruling by the Attorney-
Franck, who took advantage of the legal decision by forming "The Sportsman’s Club" with premises on the upper level of Eastern Arcade in Bourke Street, adjoining the Eastern Market, later the site of the Southern Cross, one of Melbourne’s better known accommodations for visitors in the second half of the twentieth century.
The club came into being in July, 1882 under the auspices of The Victorian Patent Totalizator Company which was officially incorporated on 15 June, 1882.
Franck was noted as pro tempore manager, strongly suggesting he was the sole driving force behind the enterprise, titling himself "patentee of the genuine Totalizator for Victoria" transferred "my Victorian patent right, title and interest" to a company "to be incorporated under the Companies Statute, 1864. A limited amount of £1 paid-
In February, 1882, Franck was in the news again, being arrested along with eight of his clerks (on charges of running a common gaming house) and eleven patrons (for being on the premises) in an enclosure at Geelong racecourse where he was operating his totalizator. The charges were ultimately dismissed after Franks argued that he had struck an agreement with the Geelong Racing Club to fence off an area accessible only to members of The Sportsmen’s Club (including several who appear to have paid the one shilling introductory fee on the day!
Franks later secured an assurance from the Commissioner of Police that they would not interfere further with his activities, but in November, 1882 and after allegations that there were problems with the affairs of The Sportsman’s Club, Franks, along with a rival in a similar establishment were charged with being the occupiers of a gaming house.
The cases resulted in both club proprietors being fined with warnings that similar offences would result in jail sentences; remarkably the defence for The Sportsman's Club was led by Sir Bryan O'Loghlen, the premier, attorney-
Ironically, O'Loghlen had lost his seat after calling for dissolution of Parliament in March, despite The Sportsman's Club placing several advertisements urging members and others to support candidates that were in favour of legalizing the totalizator.
By May, 1883, The Sportsman's Club was in financial strife under somewhat dubious circumstances -
Franck later appealed unsuccessfully that the totalizators and the precious patent were his personal property and not of the company, despite him being assigned shares worth supposedly £20,000 in the Patent Totalizator Company for his right, title, and interest in the machine.
Later reports suggest that the patent, seemingly now outdated, sold for just £12, one of the company's directors suggesting "it is no value to anyone". Although not much was reported, it seems the manager at the time of the collapse, J. Patient, was owed money with him taking action against the company in the County Court. The shares were virtually worthless – early in September, some four weeks before the disposal of the assets, advertisements appeared under Patient's name as "late manager of Victorian Patent Totalisator Company offering for sale 4000 to 5000 shares at just threepence each "in lots to suit purchasers".
Little more was ever heard of Siegfried Franck.
Perhaps a broken man, he died of chronic inflammation of the lungs in the General Hospital in East Melbourne on 9 March, 1884, aged 61 years and was interred in Melbourne General Cemetery.
At the time of his demise, he was living with his son, Julius, who was for around six years the licensee of the West Bourke Hotel on the corner of Queen and La Trobe Street West and later the Bush Inn in Prahran.
Strangely, other Franck attracted most of the publicity surrounding the totalizator and its legality, it was never totally clear whether he in fact he ever played any part in designing the machine, although perhaps his mention of a European agent in his letter of offer to potential investors in Adelaide suggests he was simply the local patentee and agent for an inventor on the continent, possibly even Joseph Oller!
The Totalizator, Sportsman’s Club, Bourke Street, Melbourne
The Australasian Sketcher, November 18, 1882.
Below : The Eastern Market (corner of Exhibition and Bourke) where The Sportsmen's Club was situated. The arcade was the three-
|1867 The First Tote|
|The Tote in England|
|1878 Siegfried Franck|
|1880 Friedrich Augustus Schinnerling|
|1880-1900 The Victorian Battle|
|1911 NSW Royal Commission|
|A Day In Court|
|Sir George Julius|
|1930 The English Scene|
|1931 A Tote at Last|
|A Tote At Last|
|1959 A Difficult Birth ...|
|... but at Pirron Yallock?|
|I Am Woman|
|Courses For Horses|
|1937 : Little Flemington|
|1950s : Doubles Totalizators|
|1958 A Royal Commission|
|... But a Foal Is Born|
|1961 Day One|
|1961 One For Ripley?|
|1961 How It Worked|
|Just The Ticket!|
|Infancy and Growth|
|The Father of the TAB|
|The Quaddie's Birthday|
|On Course : A New Generation|
|Off Course : On Course!|
|TAB : Taking A Punt|
|Cracking the Quinella|
|The Last $20 Note|
|A Kiwi Emu|
|George Julius on Doubles Totes|
|Roy Ernest Wells|
|"All-up" Betting versus Doubles|