Thomas Stokes was born in Birmingham, England, in 1831. He was apprenticed to a diesinker, and migrated to Australia in search of gold. He arrived in Australia on board the 'Birmingham' in January 1854. Also on this ship were Thomas Warburton and his wife. Warburton was one of Stokes' many customers in later years. Stokes did not find gold, so he returned to his trade as a diesinker and button maker. In 1856 he established a successful business at 15 Mincing Lane, Melbourne, and soon moved to larger permises at 115 Flinders Lane.
In 1857 Stokes acquired a press from the W.J. Taylor-funded 'Kangaroo Office', and began to mint large numbers of tradesman's tokens as well as commence the Australian Medallic Issues. Within a short time the business moved again, to 100 Collins Street. Between 1860 and 1868 Stokes advertised eight times in Melbourne Directories. In 1860 he described himself as a 'Die Sinker, Seal Engraver, Letter Cutter, Stamper, Embossing Press, Button, Check, and Token Maker.' By 1865 he had added 'Medallist &c.,' to his list of accomplishments, but there is little evidence that his business changed greatly over the first ten or so years of operation.
In 1873 Stokes took a partner, Martin, and the business was re-named Stokes & Martin. The business relocated to 29 Little Collins Street, where in 1893 a disastrous fire damaged a large portion of the business. Unfortunately Martin had forgotten to renew the fire insurance policy, and the partnership was dissolved as a result. Stokes rebuilt the business as Stokes & Son.
The business became a proprietary company under the name Stokes & Son Pty Ltd in 1911, the year after Thomas Stokes died. In 1935 the business moved to Albert Street, Brunswick, and in 1962 Stokes became a public company, renamed Stokes (Australasia) Pty Ltd. Today the business is located in Ringwood.
Carlisle, L.J. (1983). Australian Commemorative Medals and Medalets from 1788, B & C Press Pty Ltd, Sydney.
Stokes, Tom (1974). 'A Short History of Stokes Limited', Australian Coin Review. August, pp.15-16.
Gardner, F. (1910). 'Trade tokens and the Firms who Issued Them', The Australian Storekeepers and Traders Journal, 30 July, pp.16-17.
Internet index to Unassisted Immigrants to Victoria, 1852-1923, VPRS series 7666.
Sharples, J. (1993). 'Catalogue of Victorian Trade Tokens', Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia. Vol. 7, December, Australia, pp.58-64.
Advertisement, Sands and Kenny's Melbourne directory, 1860, Advertisements section, p.40.
Advertisement, Sands and McDougall Melbourne directory, 1862, Advertisements section, p.30.
Advertisement, Sands and McDougall Melbourne directory, 1864, Advertisements section, p.33.
Advertisement, Sands and McDougall Melbourne directory, 1865, Advertisements section, p.43.
Hope, John (2005). 'T. Stokes', unpublished MSS, 4pps.
'Australian and New Zealand Traders Tokens': http://www.australianstamp.com/Coin-web/feature/numismtc/trtokens.htm, viewed 26/10/2009.