Although they were struck in Australia, and then shipped to Christchurch, tokens were stamped with the names and insignia of local traders and businesses. One such example found on an archaeological site in the city bears the mark of Henry Joseph Hall, reading “HALF PENNY / HENRY J. HALL / CHRISTCHURCH COFFEE MILLS” on one side and “H.J.HALL / FAMILY GROCER / WINE & SPIRIT MERCHANT” on the other.
Henry Joseph Hall was an agriculturalist and pastoralist turned grocer who arrived in Christchurch in 1857. He opened a grocery business in Cashel Street west in 1864, subsequently converting the Wesleyan Chapel on High Street into a large store in 1865. During his time as a grocer, he issued a total of 19 varieties of penny tokens and three varieties of halfpenny tokens in Christchurch, struck by the Melbourne medallists W. J. Taylor and Thomas Stokes, as well as W. J. Taylor of London. These tokens were circulated throughout the city as money in relatively large numbers and could be used, not only with the issuing firm, but with all other traders in the city (Thomas & Dale 1950 56-61; Museum Victoria).
We’ve talked about the entrepreneurial spirit of 19th century Christchurch a few times here on the blog, in reference to so many of the individuals and businesses that contributed to the economic and social growth of Christchurch as a city. It strikes me now, that in people like Henry Hall and other manufacturers of trade tokens – people who made their own money – that entrepreneurial spirit is even more pronounced.
Money is a curious thing, so vital to our everyday existence in this world and yet so completely a construction that we, as a society, have created to be necessary in our lives. It can be very easy, I think, especially in this age of electronic transactions, to forget where our money came from in the first place. Artefacts like these – be they royally issued coins or locally struck tokens – are a somewhat disconcerting reminder that we made it ourselves.
Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz
Museum Victoria. [online] Available at www.museumvictoria.com.au
Royal Mint Museum. [online] Available at www.royalmintmuseum.org.uk
Selgin, G., 2003. Steam, hot air, and small change: Matthew Boulton and the reform of Britain's coinage. The Economic History Review, 56, 478-509.
Thomas, E. R. & Dale, L. J. (eds.), 1950. They made their own money: the story of early Canterbury traders & their tokens. Canterbury Branch of the Royal Numismatic Society of New Zealand.