Copper One Penny Token, minted by J. C. Thornthwaite, Surry Hills, New South Wales. Issued by Bell & Gardner, Ironmongers, Rockhampton, circa 1865. The earliest surviving Rockhampton newspapers date from 1865, and Bell and Gardner advertised in some of the earliest surviving editions. A small advertisement on page 3 of the Rockhampton Bulletin for 13 January 1865 locates their trade as 'Wholesale and Retail Ironmongers'. Bell and Gardner also took out a half page advertisement in Pugh's Queensland Almanac for 1866, in which they described their wares: 'Importers of Iron, Steel, Lead, Oils, Paints, Tools of every description, General and Furnishing Ironmongery, Lamps, Rope, & Also- China, Glass, & Earthernware.' The Rockhampton Bulletin for 7 December 1875 reported that their partnership was dissolved and the business continued as Arthur Bell & Co, but soon went bankrupt.

Robert Gardner was born in Greenock, Scotland circa 1842 and appears as an ironmonger in Glasgow, Scotland in the 1861 census. He continued with an ironmonger store in Maryborough, Queensland, but by 1877 was operating a store in Wellington, New Zealand.

Thornthwaite was the first person to manufacture tokens and medals in Australia. Migrating to Sydney in 1949, his tokens are noteworthy for the lack of clarity of detail in design because the dies were not cut deep enough and he lacked the tools to produce high quality tokens. Thornthwaite also worked as a medallist, particularly after tokens were made illegal in NSW in 1868. Thornthwaite's most accomplished tokens were produced in silver. In 1854 he made a small number of three-penny silver tokens for James Campbell of Morpeth, New South Wales, which were 'larger and thicker than normal currency issued' and consequently 'represented about 33% more in metal content and thus value.'

Previous Collections: National Gallery of Victoria

Physical Description

A round bronze token (34 mm diameter). The token features the name address and business of the issuer: Bell & Gardner, Rockhampton, Ironmongers. The reverse features a wreath of wildflowers tied together at the base, the top divided by a Rising Sun. Within the wreath the denomination, PENNY TOKEN, is written. This token is cleaned and varnished.

Obverse Description


Reverse Description

Within a wreath of wildflowers tied together at the base, the top divided by a Rising Sun, PENNY TOKEN

Edge Description


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