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Devins & Bolton, Victoria, advertising token, 1867

By Library and Archives Canada | Monday, March 29, 2004

The token illustrated is an advertising piece issued by Devins & Bolton, a firm of Montreal druggists. Richard John Devins was born in Montreal in 1837. Although he studied medicine at McGill University, he did not enter practice but rather devoted himself to the study of chemistry and medicine. After serving his apprenticeship with a druggist in Montreal, Devins worked with the firm of Lanman and Kemp in New York. He established his own business in Montreal in 1861 and went into partnership with a Mr. Bolton two years later. Recognizing the value of advertising, Devins and Bolton culled from circulation vast quantities of copper and brass tokens as well as semi-official halfpennies and foreign copper tokens and coins, and then had them stamped "Devins & Bolton Montreal."

The piece is the only one that was manufactured specifically for the firm. Struck in Birmingham, England, the entire issue of approximately 8,000 pieces was seized by Canadian customs officials and stored in the Customs House in Montreal because of a New Currency Act which prohibited the manufacture or importation of coins or tokens without government permission. The close resemblance of the Devins & Bolton tokens to the Province of Canada cents of 1858-59 may also have influenced the authorities to seize them. After a small number of the pieces found their way into circulation, the balance was ordered destroyed.

The obverse of the illustrated token shows the laureate head of Queen Victoria facing left, with the legend "Dominion of Canada" above and "Province of Quebec" below. The reverse advertises one of Devins & Bolton's patent medicines, Worm Pastilles. Dated July 1, 1867, it is the only contemporary coin or token commemorating Confederation. This token, the size of a Canadian large cent, is part of the National Currency Collection, Bank of Canada.

This article represents a portion of the the article titled Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada

Source : Library and Archives Canada

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