Today a little divergence from buttons into the area of tokens as Thomas Stokes, probably the most prolific Australian maker of uniform buttons, also made a large number of these.
Unofficial coinage has proliferated whenever there has been a mismatch between supply and demand. This occurred in Britain before Matthew Boulton’s Soho mint produced sufficient official copper coinage. His mint also produced tokens. See http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/its-un-australian/the-wide-world-of-manufacturers/#Matthew_Boulton
In Australia and New Zealand, tokens were used, usually of copper, from 1823 (in Sydney) until outlawed between 1863 to 1878 in the various Australian colonies, and to around 1881 in New Zealand.
They had an implied value, usually of pennies and half-pennies but also thruppence and shillings, as the official coins issued were sovereigns and half sovereigns; too high for everyday use. (There was one four penny token struck.)
These were initially produced in Britain, then from 1852 in Australia by die-sinkers who had emmigrated to the colonies. They were produced for businesses to serve the double purpose of currency and advertising, as they bore the business’s name in the design. By 1862 at least 33 firms or individuals were issuing tokens, some in several varieties. Thomas Stokes produced at least 54 dated pieces of differing design, and was described as the most prolific producer. Tokens were also issued in silver, but these proved to be unprofitable due to the cost of the silver. According to an article in the Horsham Times in 1930, “All told – that is including New Zealand, … there are 740 varieties of tokens issued by 179 different firms.”
The following examples were printed in The Queenslander, 27th July 1895.
Tokens are collectable (the hobby is called exonumia). Some are very rare and valuable, others relatively common.