Archibald Clark was a Scot, born in Ayrshire in 1805. He had trained to be a Presbyterian Minister but migrated to New Zealand in 1849 and opened a draper's business in Auckland. His premises were located in Shortland Street, and it was from this address that he issued his trade tokens in 1857. Clark prospered and brought his sons into the business. The business later moved to Wellesley Street West and ran until 1928.
In addition to his successful business career Clark was also a prominent local and New Zealand politician of his day. He was the first Mayor of Auckland in 1851 and a Member of the New Zealand House of Representatives between 1860 and 1874, representing first Auckland and then Franklin. In 1867 and 1868 he was a member of the Auckland Provincial Council. His son, J. McCosh Clark, was also Mayor of Auckland (1880-83) as well as briefly serving as a member of the Provincial council in 1870.
Clark is thought to have been New Zealand's first token issuer. Records from Heaton and Sons Mint, Birmingham, indicate that they manufactured Clark's tokens. Although this is thought to have been the earliest of the New Zealand tokens, the reverse bears the title 'New Zealand' above the stock figure of Justice seated on a bale, suggesting a desire to make the tokens different to the Australian tokens that were so common at the time.
Robinson, H.A. (1974). 'Auckland Tradesmen's Tokens.' The New Zealand Numismatic Journal. May, pp. 137-138.
Sweeny, J.O. (1981). A Numismatic History of the Birmingham Mint, p. 244.