Aternative Name: Token
Issued: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Medal, Cole's Book Arcade, Federation of the World, Religion, circa 1885. This gilt medal is one of a series of medals offering maxims and proverbs issued by E.W. Cole at his Book Arcade. He called the medals 'little missionaries for the spread of educative knowledge' (Dean, 1988, p.36).
According to Sydney Endacott, an employee of Cole, customers were charged three pence for these medals (which he prefers to call tokens) which, when the Arcade was particularly busy, gave them admission to the second-hand books gallery where the orchestra played. Each medal could be exchanged for thee pence worth of goods, but most were kept. The pierced ones were sometimes worn as pendants or on pocket watch chains. The medals served as perpetual advertisements of the Arcade (Victorian Historical Magazine, February 1962). George Dean suggests that the medals were also given in change at Christmas time, and could be used to operate amusement machines (presumably including the symphonion and hens, although these only required one penny to operate).
Cole had his first medal stuck in 1879 and his last one about 1903. The medals were variously gilded, silvered or bronzed, replicating the coinage then circulating, or plated with nickel or white metal. The medal blanks were usually made of copper or brass, but some might have been bronze; aluminium was also sometimes used. In all, perhaps 300,000 medals were struck, in 97 types. Only 50 types are known to have circulated (George Dean, 1988, A Handbook on E.W. Cole: His Book Arcade, Tokens and Medals).
An gilt bronze medal (31 mm diameter) featuring a tree fern and a thought provoking maxim.
Tree fern in centre; RELIGION IMMORTALITY to left of fern, THE THREE GRANDEST TRUTHS OF UNIVERSAL RELIGIONS ARE to right, THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN AND PROGRESSIVE
Within rainbow and fern border, SIX EASY WRITING PENS & 2 GOOD PENCILS FOR THIS MEDAL AT COLE'S BOOK ARCADE MELBOURNE
Transfer from National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), George McArthur, 15 Mar 1976
circa 1885 AD
Obverse: RELIGION THE THREE GRANDEST TRUTHS OF UNIVERSAL RELIGIONS ARE THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN AND PROGRESSIVE IMMORTALITY Reverse: SIX EASY WRITING PENS & 2 GOOD PENCILS FOR THIS MEDAL AT COLE'S BOOK ARCADE MELBOURNE
Type of item
31 mm (Outside Diameter), 11.38 g (Weight)
Chitty 43; Dean 53
[Book] Dean, George D. 1988. A Handbook on E.W. Cole, His Book Arcade, Tokens & Medals.
[Book] Turnley, Cole. 1974. Cole of the Book Arcade: a Biography of E.W. Cole.
[Article] 1973. A Tribute to E.W. Cole. Australian Numismatist. 27 (10): 5-10.
[Catalogue] Morrison, Ian. 2003. The Baker of Maldon.
[Thesis] Lugton, Mary E. 1989. George McArthur of Maldon: his Life and his Book Collection.