On display

This item is on display at Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Museum

Medal - Cole's Book Arcade, Always Do That Which You Believe to Be Right, 1879-1903 Archaeology Reg. No: LL 67118

Alternative Name: Token

Copper alloy medal minted in Melbourne in the late 19th century, inscribed 'COLES BOOK ARCADE MELBOURNE' and ALWAYS DO THAT WHICH YOU BELIEVE TO BE RIGHT'. This was 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).
Acquisition Information:
Transfer from Heritage Victoria, 2005
Discipline: Archaeology - Historical
Dimensions: 31.0 mm (Width), 30 mm (Diameter)

More information

Tagged with: advertising, booksellers, retailing, making history - little lonsdale street
Themes this item is part of: Edward William Cole, Bookseller (1832-1918), Little Lon, Cole's Book Arcade Collection, Little Lon Collection, Numismatics & Philately Collection
On Display at: Melbourne Museum
Primary Classification: HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY
Activity: economy
Specific Activity: coin
Lot Area Unit: 7/37
Inscriptions: Insufficient
Manufacturer: Cole's Book Arcade
References: Chitty 10 = Dean 14 (C10)

Add your comment

  • Museum Victoria does not provide valuations, for more information please visit the valuation infosheet
  • Please note that Museum Victoria staff will not normally respond to comments posted on our website.

Similar items

Yes No