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Murray & Christie, Grocers, Castlemaine, Victoria

Murray and Christie Token Penny

Image: Murray and Christie Token Penny

Source: Museum Victoria

Castlemaine grocers David Murray and John Christie operated their store from between the shops of George Ryland & Co., and W. Froomes, both of whom also issued tokens, as did their near neighbour, T. Butterworth & Co., also of Market Square.

Gardner states that they took up this position in 'the early [eighteen] fifties' and that it was originally housed in an Iron building built by Mr. John Reid, who also kept a grocery store. The 1856 Castlemaine Directory includes a listing for 'Murray, (at Reid and Co.'s), Market Square.' The fact that the name of the previous business is given in the listing could be an indication that the business was quite new when the directory was published. In an 1862 Directory Murray and Christie are listed as Grocers at Market Square. This tends to suggest that Christie joined Murray in the business after 1856, as opposed to Gardner's assertion that they were partners at the beginning of the business. This suggestion is countered by an advertisement published in the back of the 1856 Directory, for 'Jno. Christie & Co. late Reid & Co. Wholesale and family Grocers, Ironmongers & General Produce merchants, Market Square, Castlemaine.' This appearance is supported by John Hope's research, which indicates that 'In 1857 (Murray) joined Christie's business as a salesman.'

In 1861 they built another more substantial building on the same site. Unfortunately for them, when business slowed in Castlemaine in 1865 they had invested in the town heavily, purchasing a flour mill. The Castlemaine Directory for 1865 - 1866 lists Murray and Christie as 'Millers, Forest Street.' Hope's research indicates that they speculated in a range of pastoral, mining and property investments, all to their loss. David Murray became insolvent in 1871. Both men left Castlemaine in 1875, having speculated without much gain.

David Murray was from Caithness in Northern Scotland. He died in Sydney in 1910.

John Christie was also a Scot, coming from Oldcroft, Stirlingshire. He came out to Victoria in the Aberfoyle in 1852, the same ship that brought out Duncan Gillies, later Premier of Victoria (1886 to1893). John Hope states that he married the daughter of fellow token issuer and Market Square businessman William Froomes. Like Murray, Christie also retired to Sydney. He was alive when Gardner wrote his biography in 1910/1911.

References:
Gardner, F. (1911). 'Trade tokens and the firms who issued them.' The Australian Storekeepers and Traders Journal. 31 January, pp.14-15.
PROV online index to Unassisted Immigration. Series VPRS 7666.
Sharples, J. (1993). 'Catalogue of Victorian Trade Tokens.' Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia. Vol.7., December, pp. 21-22.
Castlemaine Directory, Almanac and book of general information for 1856, being leap year, published by Chas. E. Glass
Advertisement. Castlemaine Directory for 1856, published by Chas. E. Glass.
Castlemaine Directory and book of general information, including Glass' model calendar for the two years 1862 and 1863. pub. Chas. E. Glass; Sandhurst, Castlemaine & Echuca directory for 1865-1866. Butler and Stevens
Hope, John (2005). 'History of Murray and Christie', unpublished MSS, 2pps.

 

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