The earliest mention of a John Howell found in this survey was 1851, when a Clerk by that name was listed as residing in North Adelaide. The earliest mention of a bookseller by this name was in 1855 when he had a premises in Hindley Street and in Strangways Terrace, North Adelaide. This survey has not established whether or not these two listings refer to the same man.
Howell compiled his own 'Directory for the City and Port of Adelaide.' In his advertisement at the start of the directory for 1858, he gave his address as 11 Hindley Street, Adelaide. His advertisement inside the directory carried as its main line 'Account book manufacturer'. The Mortlock Library (Adelaide) holds several editions for years between 1858 and 1877. Only the 1858 edition was available for consultation during this survey.
Howell seems to have built a substantial business quite rapidly. During 1858 he took out extensive advertisements in the Books and Stationery advertisements section of the Adelaide Advertiser. His advertised goods included: 'Man Know Thyself, or phrenology made practical, by F. Bridges, of Liverpool, cloth, with many cuts. Price, 5s.'; 'Wesley's Hymns from 1s. 6d. Each'; and 'Ransome's and Sim's superior copying presses on Sale Wholesale and Retail, by John Howell, 11 Hindley Street.'
As well as producing his own almanac, Howell advertised in the Lewis' Almanac for 1859, with a picture of his 'Liverpool Cheap book and stationery depot' at 'No. 11 Hindley Street.'
In 1864 he advertised in the Adelaide Almanac, taking out a full page with a detailed engraving of his shop. By this time he had moved to 4 Rundle Street. In addition to his books, music and stationery, his advertisement prominently announced that his business was a 'Depository of the Society for the promotion of Christian Knowledge.' He kept this address until the end of the survey period, 1871.
From 1865 he was one of the three agents for the Adelaide Almanac, and in 1871 he was the sole agent for that publication.
The Mortlock Library lists his publications under the heading 'John Howell and Son' so, presumably, at some stage in his career Howell brought his son into the business. In addition to his Almanacs, the Mortlock also holds 'Howell's veterinarian's pharmacopoeia' published in 1863.
John Howell issued two main varieties of tokens, one giving his address as Hindley Street, the other saying Rundle street. The Museum Victoria Catalogue gives their respective years of issue as c.1857 and c.1858. This second date must be too early, as he advertised his Hindley street address in an 1859 almanac.
Dephane's Directory for 1851.
Adelaide Almanac and General Directory for 1855.
Adelaide Almanac, Town and Country Directory and Guide to South Australia for 1864.
Adelaide Almanac, Town and Country Directory and Guide to South Australia for 1871.
Advertisement, Lewis's Bradshaw, Adelaide, 1859, p.27.
Advertisements, The Advertiser, Adelaide, 12 July 1858, p.4.
Howell's Directory for the City and Port of Adelaide for 1858.