James Wallace first appears in Wellington's records with an entry in the city's 1853 Almanac. A Mr G.P. Wallace, Grocer of Lambton Quay was listed in the 1851 edition, and this could have been his father. According to A.F. Robb, Wallace's shop was 'the fifth one on the west side of Lambton Quay, and situated on the corner of Bowen Street.' His house was on Bolton Street.

In 1855 Wallace was on the Wellington Athenaeum Mechanic's Institute's Committee. He retired in 1876 or 1877, and gathered funds for the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company. He then became Secretary and General Manager of the company.

The New Zealand Almanac for 1855 included two advertisements for businesses on Lambton Quay run under the name of Wallace. The first was for 'J.H. Wallace, Auctioneer and General Commission Merchant.' The other 'Messrs. G. & J. Wallace [who] respectfully inform their friends and the public, that there will always be at their stores, Lambton Quay, a well-selected stock of Groceries, of first-rate quality, and which will be disposed of at low rates…Orders from the country carefully fulfilled and executed without delay.' Taking the above advertisement in the light of Robb's comments, it seems possible that in 1855 James and his father were starting out in a new business partnership together. The Wellington Electoral Roll for 1855, however, does not include a G. Wallace. However the Roll does include a John Howard Wallace, Merchant, of Boulcott Street, so it seems likely that there were at least two J. Wallaces in Wellington in 1855.

Wallace's tokens were issued in 1859, and they are the only tokens from Wellington to have the date of issue on them. The tokens were made for him in England by W.J. Taylor.

References:
Rootsweb website http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~ourstuff/Elect1855Q-Z.htm
Wellington, NZ, Electoral roll, 1855, Q-Z (from website http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/barbgreg/index.html, 'New Zealand Genealogy Made Easy').
Robb, A.F. (1972). "Currency Tokens and Wellington Traders", The New Zealand Numismatic Journal, May, p.70.
Advertisement, The New Zealand Almanac for 1855, unnumbered page.

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