Crombie, Clapperton and Findlay began business as Drapers at 13 Lonsdale Street West in 1853. The following year they had moved to 41-45 Lonsdale Street West. With confidence in the expanding market, they bought a large advertisement in J. Butterfield's Melbourne Directory, announcing themselves as 'General Warehousemen, wholesale and retail.' The principals were David Crombie, Mr A. Clapperton and Mr A. Findlay.
During 1856 they moved to 11 Collins Street, the site where Adamson, Watts, McKechnie & Co. (see narrative about this organisation for more details) had become insolvent the previous year. They also advertised addresses at 3 Bourke Street East and in St. Kilda. David Crombie left the partnership in 1856 and became a member of the Melbourne City Council, representing Hotham Ward. In 1857 and 1858 Clapperton and Findlay continued the business in the Collins Street Premises, advertising themselves in the 1858 Sands and Kenny directory as 'General Drapers, Silk Mercers, &c., &c., Milinery, Dressmaking, Ladies' underclothing, babies linen. Floor cloths, Carpets, Rugs, Curtains, Cornice Poles, Damasks, Table Linens, Printed covers, &c. Bedding and General furnishing upholstery.' In 1859 AG Clapperton, drapers and outfitters opened a business in Madeline Street, North Melbourne, then a new part of the city. The business did not last long, as on the first of July R.G. Waine advertised in The Herald that 'Having purchased the entire stock of Carpets, Damasks, and general furnishing upholstery in the estate of Clapperton, Findlay and Co..' From this text it appears that Meserrs. Clapperton and Findlay had gone broke.
Gardner asserts that Crombie was originally from Glasgow and that after he left the partnership he returned to England and acted as an agent for several Australian businesses. He was a representative of the Hotham Ward on the Melbourne City Council from 1855 to 1856.
Clapperton was also said to be from Glasgow and was apparently 'distinguished by being both tall and handsome, and a very dressy man.' He is said to have become a bank manager in Smythesdale before eventually moving to New Zealand. He died in that colony.
Mr. A. Findlay's place of birth and death are unknown. While he was a partner in Crombie, Clapperton & Findlay, Mr Findlay was also in a partnership with Walter Adamson of Adamson, Watts and McKechnie & Co. According to the 1855 Melbourne Directory, Adamson, Findlay & Co had a drapers and outfitters business that year. It was not listed in later directories.
Crombie, Clapperton and Findlay issued one halfpenny token while at 41 Lonsdale Street, between 1854 and 1856. According to Sharples, the tokens were struck by Reginald Scaife at the Kangaroo Office mint in either late 1854 or early 1855, roughly the same time as Crombie, Clapperton & Findlay & Co. were advertising in the back pages of the Melbourne Directory.
Gardner, F. (1911). 'Trade Tokens and the Firms Who Issued Them', The Australian Storekeepers and Traders Journal, 29 April, p.13. Advertisement, Butterfield's Melbourne Commercial, Squatter's and Official Directory, 1854.
New Quarterly Melbourne Directory, 1853.
Melbourne Commercial Directory, 1853.
Melbourne Commercial Directory for 1855, compiled by J. Butterfield.
Commercial, Professional and Legal Directory for 1856.
Sands and Kenny Melbourne Directory, 1857.
Tanners Melbourne Directory for 1859.
Sharples, J. (1993). 'Catalogue of Victorian Trade Tokens', Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Vol. 7, December, pp.31-32.
Advertisement, Sands and Kenny's Commercial and General Melbourne Directory for 1858, unnumbered page.