Aternative Name: Token, Commemorative Medal
Issued: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Medal, Cole's Book Arcade Portrait, 1918. Minted by Stokes & Sons, this bronze commemorative medal depicts the Arcade and provides a portrait of E.W. Cole as he looked when aged 55. Production of the medal was instigated by Henry Williams, a friend of Cole, a long-time employee and a department manager at the Arcade. Williams also produced other commemorative items for his friend, including two publications.

Cole's Book Arcade opened in the Bourke Street Mall in 1883, after earlier operating from other sites. It was a shop like no other, crammed with new and second-hand books and other wares, but with the atmosphere of a circus. Cole enticed customers of all ages with a menagerie and fernery, a band, a clockwork symphonion and other mechanical delights. Readers could sit in comfortable chairs, encouraged by a sign: 'Read for as Long as You Like - Nobody Asked to Buy'. The Arcade's proprietor, Edward William Cole, was optimist and idealist, believing passionately in the power of education and envisaged a world without borders, expounding his views in pamphlets and books. Cole died in 1918, still dreaming of a better future. Cole's Book Arcade, one of the wonders of 'marvellous Melbourne', closed in 1929.

Physical Description

An bronze medal (31 mm diameter) offering a portrait of Cole as he looked when aged 55 and a view of the Book Arcade.

Obverse Description

Portrait bust of E.W. Cole facing 3/4 left; across in three lines E.W.COLE AGED 55 / COLE'S BOOK ARCADE / MELBOURNE VICTORIA in small letters below bust the mint initials S & S

Reverse Description

View of Cole's Book Arcade, around above on broad rim, . PRESENT ARCADE OPENED CUP DAY 1883 . around below, 1ST MEDAL ISSUED 1875 - THIS 80TH SERIES 1918

Edge Description


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