The firm was founded in 1853 by Thomas Moubray and Joseph Lush, who purchased premises at 45 Collins St. West from William Williamson (Gardner). This address is listed in Butterfield's Melbourne Directory for 1854. Unlike virtually all other token issuing firms, Moubray, Lush and Co. remained at their first address from their inception to 1870, the end of the period examined.
According to Gardner, in 1866 three new partners were admitted to the firm: Christopher Rowan, J.W. Shanklin and Robert Hicks. These names are not associated with the firm's listing in Melbourne directories until the 1869 edition of Sands and McDougall.
During the period researched, Moubray, Lush and Co. included the phrase 'Government Contractors' in their business description three times, in 1857, 1861-1863 and 1867-1870. Given the important role that Government patronage has played in Australia's economic development, it is not surprising that the company would trumpet their connection.
According to Frank Gardner, Lush died in 1870; in 1876 Shanklin retired; in 1878 G.W. Atkinson joined the firm, and its name became Moubray, Rowan and Hicks. Atkinson soon moved to England to manage the London branch of the business, but his health declined and he retired. About that time the business moved to 350 Collins Street, where it still stood in 1910. Rebuilding the premises at that address is said to have cost £18,000. Moubray died on 25 September 1891. (Gardner)
At his death Moubray's share was purchased by Hicks and Atkinson, along with that of Rowan, and they then brought in their sons and relations as partners. Gardner also states that while researching this company he uncovered an 1879 agreement between the leading Melbourne drapers (Alston and Brown; Moubray, Rowan and Hicks; Robertson and Moffat; Buckley and Nunn; L. Robinson & Co.) to mark their fabrics at their lowest price and not give discounts, an agreement he said had not been broken. From this document it is clear that over the course of twenty five years in business, the firm that began as Moubray, Lush & Co. had become one of the strongest in their line of business. When Gardner's biography was published (1910) the firm was trading under the name Hicks, Atkinson and Sons.
Thomas Moubray was born at Ballintra, County Donegal, Ireland, on 12 September 1825. After migrating to New Zealand with his family in 1842 he went first to Van Diemen's land before arriving in Melbourne in 1848. Active in the life of the city outside his business, he was a city councillor from 21 February 1865 and an alderman from 28 April 1877, a position he retained until his death. Moubray was Mayor at the time of the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh, his term running for one year from 9 October 1868. During the year he 'continued the works begun in 1867…such as the new Town Hall and the Western Market, laid down many miles of new streets, improved the cleansing and lighting, attempted to modernise building on the main streets and struggled with the government to secure more parklands and assistance in combating the city's drainage and sewerage problems which were then extremely serious' (ADB vol.5, p.304). At various times he was also the Chairman of the Bank of Australia; a director of Goldsborough, Mort and Co.; a member of the Harbour Trust; and a director of the Union Trustee Company, as well as serving as director of a number of other corporations (ADB).
The tokens were struck by the Heaton and Sons mint. Sharples estimates that they were probably struck in 1855.
Gardner, F. (1910). 'Trade tokens and the firms who issued them', The Australian Storekeepers and Traders Journal, 31 May, p.9
Sharples, J. (1993). 'Catalogue of Victorian Trade Tokens,' Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Vol.7, December, pp.51-52
Australian Dictonary of Biography, Volume 5, pp.304-305.
Butterfield's Melbourne Commercial, Squatter's and Official Directory, 1854.
Hope, John (2005). 'Moubray, Lush & Co.', unpublished MSS, 2 pps.