James Nokes issued two halfpenny tokens in 1854. One of tokens is of particular significance because it captures the great excitement of the Victorian public at the arrival of the new Lieut. Governor, Sir Charles Hotham, KCB. Inscribed 'IN COMMEMORATION OF THE LANDING OF SIR CHARLES HOTHAM 22d JUNE 1854.' The token is a reminder that in the months before the Eureka Rebellion, Hotham enjoyed the support and affection of the Victorian public.
One of medallist W.J. Taylor's stock dies, the seated figure of Australia bearing an olive branch and a staff, was also used as a reverse for Nokes' tokens.
Nokes apparently came to Melbourne from Hobart, where he had run a grocery store, around 1852. This appears to be the case as his name does not appear in Commercial or other directories for the previous two years. In 1853, the year before issuing his tokens, 'James Nokes, Wholesale and Retail Grocer' was listed at 113 Swanston Street. Soon after issuing this token, Nokes sold his grocery business to T.W. Thomas & Co. Thomas took up the Bourke Street premises and the Lonsdale St. address was leased to J.G. Robinson, another grocer. Robinson left Victoria for England during the recession of 1855.
The final mention of Nokes' name is in the list of Insolvents appearing before the insolvents Commission on Monday 27 October 1856. He was appearing for a Special Certificate Meeting, one of the final stages of the insolvency process in force at the time. Gardner states that 'Prior to selling out [to Thomas] he appears to have got into monetary difficulties, and it is believed he returned to Tasmania' (1913, p.11). Judging by the report in the Argus, Nokes must have returned to Tasmania in late 1856 at the earliest.
Melbourne Commercial, Professional and Legal Directories, 1850-1856.
Sands and Kenny Commercial and General Melbourne Directory 1857.
Gardner, F. (1913). "Trade tokens and the firms who issued them." The Australian Storekeepers and Traders Journal. 31 March, p.11.
Sharples, J. (1993). "Catalogue of Victorian Trade Tokens." Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia. Vol. 7, December, p.53.
Hope, John (2005). 'James Nokes', unpublished MSS, 1pp.
The Argus, 27 October 1856.