9th April 2019

A. J. Parkes

Today the postie delivered me a copy of ” A Centenary History 1886-1996 A. J. Parkes & Company Pty. Ltd” by Bryan Jamison. I have long been frustrated by my inability to find out much about this company. Despite access to local sources and then current owners of the company, the origin of the company is obscure.

Summarising from the book: Part 1

Arthur James Parkes was born in West Bromich, England in 1886. He was apprenticed as a diesinker to the Royal Mint in London in the 1880s. It is not known when or why he came to Queensland, but the first record is of him living  at Rocbourne Terrace, Paddington, as a diesinker. By 1896 he was  listed as a diesinker and engraver at 191 Adelaide Street, Brisbane.

The oldest surviving medallion produced by the firm dates to 1897. They produced many fine medallions for sporting clubs, etc, but metal railway tokens  and union badges were important day to day work. Government contracts for button and badges during the Boer War, WW1 and WW2 provided important business. In fact, they had to move to larger premises in 1915 due to the volume of work.

The company stagnated in the inter-war period. In the late 1930s the firm consisted of only Arthur and his son James Henry Brisbane Parkes (Harry). In 1941 he put the firm up for sale, and enjoyed retirement for the last 9 years of his life.


Continued tomorrow …

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