Archibald Davidson came to Melbourne from Girven, Ayrshire, Scotland, arriving on the Boomerang in October 1852. He obtained work at the Bank of Australasia in Geelong. He is said to have told a friend that 'his wages in the bank were so meagre that when he had paid for everything there was comparatively nothing left,' and Gardner suggests that the sight of diggers handing over their gold tempted him to try his luck in the gold fields.

He returned to Melbourne some seven years later, having failed to make his fortune but with some money to show for his efforts. He first took work as a bookkeeper for David Masterton & Co., wholesale grocers. In 1860 he opened a Grocery and Spirit and Wine Merchant's store in Collins Street in partnership with a Mr. Robert Dods, on the corner of Collins and Russell Streets. Mr Dods retired in 1861 and Davidson ran the store on his own until 1874, when he also retired.

He invested in the Great Extended Hustler's Reef mine at Bendigo in 1870, and made so much from it that he retired, only to lose a substantial amount of his wealth in land speculation. Even so, Davidson retired a wealthy man. He left his widow and two sons over £50,000 when he died in about 1910.

Davidson issued one penny token, struck by Thomas Stokes in 1862, bearing the details of his business on the obverse, combined with Stokes' stock Vine on the reverse.

Gardner, F. (1911). 'Trade tokens and the firms who issued them', The Australian Storekeepers and Traders Journal, 31 August, pp.19-20.
Public Records Office of Victoria, Index to Unassisted Immigration to Victoria 1852-1923, VPRS 7666, internet resource.
Sharples, J. (1993). 'Catalogue of Victorian Trade Tokens', Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Vol.7., December, p.32.
State Library of Victoria collection of Melbourne Directories, 1851-1870.
Hope, John, 'A. Davidson', Unpublished MSS. 2005, 2 pps.

More Information