Special Collections

Sold on 7 October 2009

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Birmingham Ephemera associated with the late W.J. Davis, the property of a Lady


The following group of material, sent for sale by a direct descendant of W.J. Davis, includes a number of promissory note issues of the Birmingham Workhouse, which date to the first decade of the 79th century. William John Davis (1848 -1934), trade unionist, numismatist, author of The Token Coinage of Warwickshire (1895) and The Nineteenth Century Token Coinage (1904), entered the brass trade as an apprentice in 1861 and worked in the Birmingham metal trade until 1882, including a spell with Ralph Heaton & Sons. He was elected the first secretary general of the National Society of Amalgamated Brassworkers in 1872 and held the post until 1882. Appointed a city councillor of Birmingham in 1880 and H.M. Inspector of Factories at Sheffield in 1883, he rejoined the N.S.A.B. in 1889, became a JP in 1906 and was appointed chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress in 1912. Davis's principal collection of tokens, catalogued by himself and Arthur Waters, was sold at Sotheby's in 1901; other groups of coins, medals and tokens were sold piecemeal by auction in several sales between 1906 and 1925. In the latter year he moved permanently from Birmingham and settled in Paris. His death occurred in October 1934

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