John Williams came to Melbourne from his native Yorkshire in 1849. His brother George joined him only a year or so later. When the Gold Rush began, the brothers tried their luck in the Bendigo gold fields and ended up establishing a general store in Eaglehawk. Their token, issued without a date, gives a good idea of the range of their business. They described themselves as 'ironmongers, grocers, drapers, gold office, wine and spirit merchant, and colonial produce merchant.' The 1865 - 1866 Sandhurst (Bendigo), Castlemaine and Echuca Directory lists the business, without giving a specific address.
The brothers worked their store until 1876 when they terminated their partnership. John continued in their original business and George opened another store in the same town. Both brothers were married. John died in 1883, and George died in 1908 or 1909. John had an active interest in the affairs of the community, serving as a councillor for many years, twice as mayor of the Borough (Gardner).
The brothers issued one variety of tokens, which are undated, and are the subject of disagreement among experts, according to Sharples they were made in England, while Heyde believes they were a 'Gold Office piece' and according to Andrews they were struck by Stokes. Sharples estimates 1858 to be the year of issue.
Gardner, F. (1911). 'Trade tokens and the firms who issued them.' The Australian Storekeepers and Traders Journal, 30 June, p.12.
Andrews, A. (1921). Australasian Coins and Tokens, p.101.
Heyde, G.C. (1967). Rennicks Unofficial Coins and Tokens of Australia and New Zealand, p.86.
Sharples, J. (1993). 'Catalogue of Victorian Trade Tokens.' Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia. Vol. 7. December, p.23.
Sandhurst, Castlemaine and Echuca Directory for 1865-1866.
Hope, John (2005). 'Biography of J & G Williams', unpublished MSS, 1pps.