Grundy was, according to Gardner, an Englishman from near London. Victorian immigration records include one John R. Grundy, who arrived in Melbourne on the Ben Nevis in January 1855. He opened a tobacconist's shop in 1856, in Ballarat, 'and was the principal tobacconist in the town.' In Ballarat Directories dated 1856, 1862 and 1865-1866, his address is given as Main Road, Ballarat. Gardner gives his address as Bridge Road.

In 1862 Grundy took out a half page advertisement in Birtchnell's Ballarat Directory, which simply read 'J.R. Grundy, wholesale tobacco and cigar merchant, Ballarat.' In 1864 he published a number of small advertisements in Ballarat's The Evening Post newspaper, which read: 'To connoisseurs! J.R. GRUNDY, tobacconist. Has Seven Years Old HAVANNAH CIGARS At 22s per Box, Cash,' (The Evening Post, 28 January 1864). These advertisements were not repeated every day, as many advertisements did in the papers of the time. It seems likely that Grundy was advertising the receipt of a batch of relatively rare and sought after items.

Gardner states that Grundy lost his shop in 1872 after speculating heavily. Afterwards he made his living by selling 'colonial cigars' in Melbourne and died in straightened circumstances in the early 1900s.

His two varieties of penny tokens were both issued in 1861. The most significant difference between them is the fact that one issue had the town's name spelt 'Ballaarat' (the older style) and the other 'Ballarat' (the style still in use today). The two varieties of tokens were both struck by Heaton and Sons.

Gardner, F. (1910). 'Trade Tokens and the Firms who Issued Them', The Australian Storekeepers and Traders Journal, 30 July, p.17. (photocopy)
Public Records Office of Victoria, VPRS 7666, internet Index of Unassisted Immigrants to Victoria, 1852-1923.
Sharples, J. (1993). 'Catalogue of Victorian Trade Tokens' in Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Vol. 7, December, pp.14-15.
Ballarat Directories in the collection of the State Library of Victoria, 1856, 1862, 1865-1866.
Advertisement, The Evening Post, 28 January 1864.
Advertisement, Birtchnell's Ballarat Directory for 1864.

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