Aternative Name: Token
Medal, Cole's Book Arcade, Govern the World, circa 1875. This gilt medal is one of a series of medals offering maxims and proverbs issued by E.W. Cole at his Book Arcade. He called the medals 'little missionaries for the spread of educative knowledge' (Dean, 1988, p.36).
According to Sydney Endacott, an employee of Cole, customers were charged three pence for these medals (which he prefers to call tokens) which, when the Arcade was particularly busy, gave them admission to the second-hand books gallery where the orchestra played. Each medal could be exchanged for thee pence worth of goods, but most were kept. The pierced ones were sometimes worn as pendants or on pocket watch chains. The medals served as perpetual advertisements of the Arcade (Victorian Historical Magazine, February 1962). George Dean suggests that the medals were also given in change at Christmas time, and could be used to operate amusement machines (presumably including the symphonion and hens, although these only required one penny to operate).
Cole had his first medal stuck in 1879 and his last one about 1903. The medals were variously gilded, silvered or bronzed, replicating the coinage then circulating, or plated with nickel or white metal. The medal blanks were usually made of copper or brass, but some might have been bronze; aluminium was also sometimes used. In all, perhaps 300,000 medals were struck, in 97 types. Only 50 types are known to have circulated (George Dean, 1988, A Handbook on E.W. Cole: His Book Arcade, Tokens and Medals).
A gilt bronze medal (31 mm diameter) a tree fern and rainbow.
Ferns from which spring a rainbow; below rainbow, 6 EASY / WRITING PENS / & 2 GOOD PENCILS / FOR THIS MEDAL / AT COLES BOOK ARCADE / MELBOURNE / EST. 1873
A Tree Fern, on left, FIRST / BOOK ARCADE / OPENED / IN THE / WORLD on right, YOU CAN / GET ALMOST / ANY BOOK / YOU WANT / THERE
Transfer from National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), George McArthur, 15 Mar 1976
Obverse: FIRST BOOK ARCADE IN THE WORLD YOU CAN GET ALMOST ANY BOOK YOU WANT THERE Reverse: 6 EASY WRITING PENS & 2 GOOD PENCILS FOR THIS MEDAL AT COLES BOOK ARCADE MELBOURNE EST. 1873
Type of item
15.17 g (Weight)
2 mm (Length), 31 mm (Width), 2 mm (Depth), 31 mm (Height)
Measurement From Conservation.
Chitty 2; Dean 4
[Book] Dean, George D. 1988. A Handbook on E.W. Cole, His Book Arcade, Tokens & Medals.
[Book] Turnley, Cole. 1974. Cole of the Book Arcade: a Biography of E.W. Cole.
[Article] 1973. A Tribute to E.W. Cole. Australian Numismatist. 27 (10): 5-10.
[Catalogue] Morrison, Ian. 2003. The Baker of Maldon.
[Thesis] Lugton, Mary E. 1989. George McArthur of Maldon: his Life and his Book Collection.