My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

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My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by ewen s »

Here is my answer below from the ‘Do you collect coins as well as stamps - and if so - why?’ thread
ewen s wrote:I have formed a small collection of NZ tradesman tokens. They are not coins as such but were used in place of small change from the 1850's through to the late 1880's.

In those days there was a shortage of small coins throughout the huge British empire. You can imagine the cost of shipping ha'pennies and farthings to such far-flung corners as NZ was fairly prohibitive.

This was compounded by the settlers preferring to not carry small coins especially as weight and space were a premium on the sailing ships.

Grocers etc minted their own small change to solve the issue until they were eventually declared illegal once the stocks of official coinage had risen

I first saw one at a stamp auction about 6 years ago. So far I have about 30 different, so somewhere about halfway there (simplified).
I’d like to share some of these. I don’t intend to rush this thread as I’d like to get some of the research sorted so I can show a little bit of detail for each issue I have.

This thread is not just for my own amusement though – if you have NZ tokens you’d like to show, or have any queries about them, please feel free to share them here :)

Note: the advertisements come from a great website called “Paperspast” where you can search through old NZ newspapers online. The pics are of my tokens and are not taken from elsewhere.


Cheers,

Ewen

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

JM Merrington
Obverse: J. M. MERRINGTON & Co. NELSON
WHOLESALE & RETAIL DRAPERS & OUTFITTERS
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Reverse: Justice
ADVANCE NEW ZEALAND
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James Mayfield Merrington, an Englishman, arrived in New Zealand in 1865 and headed out to Nelson with his first wife Elizabeth. In those days Nelson was one of NZ’s more substantial towns due in no small part to gold being discovered near the Taramakau River in 1864 and at Okarito in 1865. To give some perspective, in 1865 Hokitika was NZ’s largest town boasting a population of 25,000 and more than 100 pubs. Today Hokitika has a little over 3000 residents and not much else (although it has a great wild food festival).

James set up J.M. Merrington & Co in Bridge Street, Nelson, where he made a living equipping both the locals and the diggers.
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The Merringtons seem to have had an event-filled three years in New Zealand.

Merrington was one of those who helped organize a search party to catch the bush-rangers after the terrible Maungatapu murders. Paperspast sheds more light on some of the activities that the Merringtons endured such as James having a portion of his thigh bitten off by a disgruntled employee. Merrington also played a part in gaining a fire-service for Nelson after 18 homes were destroyed by fire in August, 1866.

In June 1968, due to his wife’s illness, James Merrington returned to Sydney.
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Postcript;

James’ first wife died in 1868 and he remarried in 1874. He had three sons, the youngest, an Arthur Mayfield Merrington, being born 5 months after James died. This Arthur went on to found A.M Merrington & Sons in 1899. Merringtons’ Optometrists went on to extend to 50 stores in Australia and it was claimed in 2006 that it was

“the largest Australian owned optometry chain taking care of over nine million pairs of eyes”.

NB: the company went on to be liquidated in 2009


Sources;

https://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Shores/8816/merring.htm
https://www.mivision.com.au/merringtons-cease-trading/
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XXIV, Issue 156, 28 December 1865, Page 2
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XXV, Issue 100, 14 August 1866, Page 8
https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=NEM18680625.2.11.2
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XXIV, Issue 37, 28 March 1865, Page 2

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by Brummie »

Could people use these coins only in their shops or anywhere and how did they get them?

Look forward to seeing more.

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by goof »

Great bit of History, I notice the token is neither dated nor any monetary value stamped on it.

Were all tokens worth a similar amount and were they interchangable?

Looking forward to more

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

My understanding is that they were accepted widely among the trades just not (usually) by the banks. You could take a grocer's token down to the road to the ironmonger and he'd generally accept it.

People received the tokens as change. There was a shortage of small coins in those days and, as immigrants had larger value coins with them due to weight and space restrictions, the merchants were unable to provide small change easily.

The smarter merchants then realised that they could order a stack of "one penny" tokens at a fraction of the cost of a penny (by making them from cheaper materials), make money from their small change, and also gain some advertising space at the same time. So if you paid for a one penny loaf with a shilling coin, you'd receive 11 of these as change.

I have others which I'll show that have dates (the first NZ ones were issued in 1857) and others denominated as both a penny or a half penny.

NZ wasn't alone in producing these - Australia has hundreds and I believe they'd been used in Birmingham since the 18th century (and older - see Condor Tokens in Wiki).

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

The coin forum has been quiet lately so here are a couple from Hurley, a confectioner in Wanganui. Hurley was one of those who produced a ha'penny as well as a penny.
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Here is a bit of history from the excellent Museum of Victoria site;

A.A. Kidd published a brief biography of Hurley in The New Zealand Numismatic Journal, June 1979, (pp. 32-35). A summary is given below:

John Hurley migrated to New Zealand with his parents and siblings in 1842, at the age of 12. They settled in Wellington where his father, Alexander, ran a bakery on Lambton Quay.
In 1853 John moved to Wanganui and opened his own bakery in Victoria Avenue, the first in the town. His range of goods included bread, biscuits, confectionery and groceries; he also supplied ships. He married a local woman, Lorenna Cunnabel, on January 24, 1855 at Brunswick Station, a few miles from the town. They had four children.

Kidd included the following quote about Hurley's business, written by Cornelius Burnett when he visited the town in 1857:

"Next came Mr. John Hurley's bakery, a busy place, where a variety of industries were carried on, afterwards taken up by some new arrivals, who are said to have done very well with them indeed. A description of this place will give a very vivid idea of the locality. The shop, a mere shanty, long and low, had evidently at first been built upon the level of the street, but as the wind and rain hollowed out Victoria Avenue into a gully which must have been at one time nearly 25 feet below the original level, step after step had to be added so as to allow of access from the road to the level of the shop. At the time I first knew it there were five or six shops, and many an old whaler 'half seas over' have I seen disappear at night from the door of the shop, head first into the pitch dark street, from the bottom of which rather strong language would be heard, sounding in the distance like the smothered mutterings from a bottomless pit. Being accustomed to tumbling down hatchways, however, these worthy descendants of the old Norse gods probably soon got over their falls." (Kidd, 1979)

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

Here is one from Kirkaldie and Stains, a big department store in Wellington. My Dad worked a brief stint here back in the 1960s and the store is still open today!
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Last edited by ewen s on 18 Dec 2013 17:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

I like this design from Morrin and Co, Queen St, Auckland;
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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

Here is one from George McCaul, a plumber and gasfitter based in Grahamstown (now Thames). Again, one of the more common tokens, but a favourite of mine. These are usually seen in better condition than other NZ tokens.

Firstly, here is a pic of Grahamstown circa 1870s. Very goldfield oriented and you can see the large George Bull Battery in the foreground;
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And an advert from the Bay of Plenty Times back in 1874;
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And on to the penny token. I love the lettering on the front and the working gold mine pictured on the back;
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Finally, a little bit of history on McCaul from Museum Victoria;

George McCaul was born in Perthshire, Scotland, in 1835. When the gold rushes began in Australia he travelled to Adelaide and then to the gold fields. He tried his luck again in the early 1860s when gold was discovered in New Zealand, sailing to Gabriel's Gully, near Lawrence in Otago province.

He moved on to the Hokitika fields when gold was discovered there. To get there, he had to cross New Zealand's South Island from east to west. Many men died during the journey. McCaul did not have any luck at the Hokitika fields either.

After abandoning gold prospecting McCaul moved to Grahamstown in Thames, in the north of the North Island, where he returned to his trade as a plumber, gasfitter, tinsmith and coppersmith.

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by robster »

Thanks for sharing this with us- will follow with interest.!!

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ChrisGray »

These are really nice, thanks for sharing the photos and history behind them. :) The typography and design is very much of the era, and I wonder if the reverses were just stock choices they could pick from or custom made?

Funny to think stores and merchants could (effectively) print money and hand it out as legal tender back then.

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by PeterS »

There were many Tradesman's tokens produced in Australia in the 1850s and 1860s as well.

There was a severe shortage of small change and the tokens were minted to the same standards as British coinage (which was what circulated in the Colonies, excepting gold Sovereigns and Half-Sovereigns. which were locally minted).

The tokens were accepted by just about any business as the equivalent issued coin (½d, 1d and 3d - in silver- were the usual denominations available). Once a sufficient supply of British coinage was sourced, the tokens were demonetised and ordered withdrawn.

The Colonial authorities were never particularly happy with private tokens. However, since they could not provide enough small change, they had to grin and bear it.
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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

I've read that Australian and New Zealand tokens were used in either country. 'Accepted' is probably closer than 'used'.

I'm not sure about the Australian tokens but there are many NZ ones not up to Great Britain's standards and there are lots of articles in the newspapers of the day complaining about their inferior quality and smaller size. I'll post some of those in the New Year.

Merry Christmas all,

Ewen :)

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by doug2222usa »

For additional simplified reference, there are 6 pages of New Zealand tokens illustrated and priced in the Cuhaj-Michael "Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900," otherwise known as the "phone book," due to its size.

I also have an excerpt from Foster's Catalog, 1950s vintage, that lists 60 different NZ tokens, with maker, diameter in mm, and classification. I notice that 1d. tokens ranged from 30 to 34 mm. Only 6 "typical" are shown.

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

Cheers Doug :)

I have a 2007 NZ Coin and Banknote Catalogue by Howard Mitchell. It's simplified but good value and uses Lampard's numbers.

Listed are 301 through to 347 but no varieties. Different dates or denominations fall into the same number as 'a' and 'b' etc. The blurb states 'some 46 issuers in all...'

Happy NYE :)

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by doug2222usa »

Here is the Table from the 1950s Foster Catalog, showing 60 varieties, so perhaps you will find some new ones. Left-hand page, then right-hand.
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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

Thanks Doug, any additional info is always appreciated :)

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

ewen s wrote:I've read that Australian and New Zealand tokens were used in either country. 'Accepted' is probably closer than 'used'.

I'm not sure about the Australian tokens but there are many NZ ones not up to Great Britain's standards and there are lots of articles in the newspapers of the day complaining about their inferior quality and smaller size. I'll post some of those in the New Year.

Merry Christmas all,

Ewen :)
Here are a couple;
THE COPPER TOKEN NUISANCE.
New Zealand Herald, Volume IV, Issue 1226, 19 October 1867, Page 4

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A CAUTION.
Auckland Star, Volume V, Issue 1455, 7 October 1874, Page 2

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

It's been awhile since I added to these so here is E. De Carle, a one penny token issued by the merchant and auctioneer of the same name.

I don't know if he was in the Order of the Garter but the token features their motto and emblem. There have only been about 1000 recipients since the 14th century so probably not!
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Museum Victoria has this to say...

Copper One Penny Token, minted by W.J. Taylor, London. Issued by E. De Carle & Co, Merchants, Dunedin, circa 1862.

De Carle arrived in Australia in 1849. Over the following fourteen years he was involved in a wide range of business ventures in Melbourne, taking advantage of the explosive growth caused by the gold rush. He later moved to New Zealand, where established this business. Lampard (p.40) reports that De Carle wrote to the 'Daily Telegraph' on 18 Feb 1862 to advise the public that his tokens would circulate as halfpennies not as pennies. De Carle's three different tokens, which featured his business as 'Grocers and Spirit Merchants,' 'Auctioneers and Land Agents' and 'Auctioneers, etc.,' indicated the range of his business activities and speculation.

He was also involved in the urbanisation of Footscray and a section of Brunswick. De Carle operated his businesses with a number of partners, in a network of business dealings.

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Re: New Zealand Tradesman Tokens

Post by ewen s »

Here is one from Timaru in the South Island of NZ, issued by the merchants Clarkson and Turnbull.

First up a section of the Timaru Herald showing a few advertisements courtesy of PapersPast;
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And on to the token itself. The reverse features a view of the local breakwater and lighthouse with a two-funnelled three masted steam sailing ship docking and a crowd of people waiting on the breakwater. The port was set up in 1861 so the breakwater would still have been a big deal.
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From the excellent Museum Victoria site;

The firm of Clarkson and Turnbull was founded in 1863 at Timaru. The Principals were David Clarkson and Richard Turnbull.

Timaru was only declared a Port of Entry in 1861, so it was still quite a young settlement when Clarkson and Turnbull opened their store. Their premises were of particular note in the township, 'a two-storey building at the corner of George Street and the South Road, whose cost would be about 2,500 [pounds]; plate glass for the windows was being imported from England at a cost of about 150 [pounds].' The business was the first to export flour from Timaru 'which since then has been continuous.'

The partnership was disrupted on 9 December 1868 by a fire that consumed their premises, among a total of 30 buildings destroyed. After their premises were destroyed Clarkson & Turnbull dissolved their partnership. David Clarkson returned to Christchurch and Robert Turnbull remained in Timaru, carrying on their business in his own name.

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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by ewen s »

Maybe this shouldnt bother me but it does. Someone just added 'coins' to the thread title. It's nothing to do with coins so, for the record, I do know that these are not coins.

If it ain't broke don't fix it, please. This thread already indexes 3rd in google if you search for 'New Zealand Tradesman Token'.

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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by ewen s »

Here is a one penny token issued by Day and Melville. They were one of the three first NZ issuers, nearly 160 years ago.

This example has a few stains but is in not too bad condition, maybe a VF.
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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by ewen s »

Here is a ha'penny and penny token issued by Henry Hall from Christchurch.

The penny is comparatively common, especially in this grade, but it is difficult to make a pair.
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Henry Joseph Hall, who was well known in early Christchurch as a grocer and land owner, emigrated to New Zealand from Guernsey, one of the islands in the English Channel. Hall arrived in Christchurch in 1857, where he took up 60,000 acres of land in North Canterbury, called Motunau, as well as land at Birdling Brook and Leeston.

In addition to these agricultural properties Hall also had significant property interests in Christchurch, and opened a grocery store in Cashel Street West in 1864. However he moved to High Street the following year when the site of Methodist Church was put up for sale as the congregation had become too large for the space. He paid 5800 pounds for the site.

Hall kept the business until 1873, selling it so that he could give more attention to his land interests, both in the city and the country. It is not known how much longer the business kept operating after he left it, but a photograph from 1892 indicates that half the building was then in the hands of another business, Mrs. Withers' Art Needlework Depot and Fancy Repository. He died in about 1896.

Hall issued nineteen different penny token varieties, and three halfpennies. They were very simply designed, with text and no graphic elements in their design. He had a very large number of tokens in circulation, requiring between 18 and 22 separate orders to have these many varieties minted. English medallist W.J. Taylor and Australian Thomas Stokes both struck tokens for him at their mints.


References:
*The Canterbury Branch of the Royal Numismatic Society of New Zealand (1950). They Made their Own Money: The Story of Early Canterbury Traders & their Tokens, pp.56-57
*Museum of Victoria

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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by ewen s »

The New Zealand Herald, August 1867
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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by ewen s »

Here lies Edward Waters who ran a Coffee Palace (Temperance Hotel) in Queen Street, Auckland. Waters also had a sideline as a confectioner.

You can see I've shown my better looking tokens already.
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The Museum of Victoria says..,

Edward Waters owned a Coffee Palace in Auckland, which was the rendezvous of Pacific Island traders and sailors. He was interested in pearl fishing and was well known to the roving South Sea mariners.

He was also a wholesale and retail confectioner in which capacity he issued his penny tokens.

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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by ewen s »

John Gilmour of New Plymouth and one of his advertisements from the Taranaki Herald, 13 April 1873.
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Absolutely awful condition but I still enjoy the reverse showing a kiwi and Mt Taranaki (nee Egmont) in the background.
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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by ewen s »

I'd not chase one in this condition. This turned up as a part of a group but will sit with my main collection until a better example turns up.

The Union Bakery Company, Christchurch;
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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by GlenStephens »

ewen s wrote:
The New Zealand Herald, August 1867
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Pretty cool .. I guess they just slipped them onto the next guy ... "pass the parcel". :)

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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by ewen s »

They seemed to annoy a large proportion of the general public!

Currently my tokens are stored in an Optima album along with my NZ coins.
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Would love to have a way of storing them where they can be more visible.

I did remember an old thread by Hutch that showed a great way. This might be best for these, anyone got any other ideas?
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Here is Hutch's thread if you want to read more;

https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=35379

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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by doug2222usa »

Check out "Dansco" albums and storage materials online.

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Re: My collection of New Zealand Tradesman Tokens/Coins

Post by Global Administrator »

Ewen .. hard to beat that OPTIMA system you are presently using. :)
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