Isaac Booth & Co., Drapers, Melbourne
By Museums Victoria | Wednesday, 29 April 2020
Gardner states that:
Isaac Booth lived and kept a draper's shop at 129 Elizabeth Street, in the year 1851, and that he remained there until the year 1855.
He notes that the following advertisement appears in an old Directory:
I. Booth, Manchester House; General Draper, Silk Mercer, and Outfitting Establishment, 129 Elizabeth Street; exactly opposite the Post Office, Melbourne.
There are a few who remember the shop, but they have no recollection of the proprietor.
Immigration records held by the Public Records Office of Victoria list only one Isaac Booth arriving between 1852 and 1853, a 44 year-old arriving on the New Orleans from a British port in October 1852. The earliest reference to Booth in a Melbourne directory is in Butterfield's Commercial Directory of Melbourne in 1853, where Booth gives his address as 129 Elizabeth Street. It is possible that he could have begun his business in time to be included in the directory, however other sources indicate that Gardner's assertion that he arrived earlier seems more likely.
He is listed at the Elizabeth Street address in directories for the following two years. In 1853 he also had a store listed at 147 Lonsdale Street East, and in 1854 he was listed at 173 Little Bourke Street. From 1856 to 1866 there were no listings for Isaac Booth in Melbourne. In 1866 a listing appeared with the address Flemington.
The Argus for Saturday July 2 1853 included two advertisements placed by Booth, dated 16 May 1853. He begged to acquaint the Inhabitants of Collingwood, Richmond and surrounding neighbourhood (Booth, 1853) that he was opening a new store in Collingwood at Derbyshire House on Heidelberg Road, just below the Collingwood Hotel, on the 21st of May 1853.
He described his goods and business method as follows:
In making this announcement the Proprietor has no wish to particularise any articles or quote the prices thereof; but to assure the public that every article in the general drapery, silk mercery, hosiery, lace and habadashery departments, will be kept in an almost unlimited variety. The spacious premises, as above described, and the monthly shipments from the London, Paris, Glasgow, and Manchester markest will enable him to sell at a moderate advance on home prices. Carpets, druggets, floor cloths, hearth-rugs, damasks, and every other article requisite to furnish a residence throughout. Only one price will be asked, all goods marked in plain figures, no abatement made and no credit given.
Immediately below this advertisement was another which described what was happening in his Elizabeth Street premises, also dated 16 May:
Re-building the shop in Elizabeth Street. Isaac Booth, Draper, respectfully intimates to the public of Melbourne and its vicinity, that in consequence of the dilapidated state of the above premises, he has determined to re-build them, and for this purpose the shop will be closed on Thursday next, the 19th inst., and remain closed about three weeks. All orders from the Bush and the Diggings will be attended to as usual from the Collingwood store.
Numismatist Alfred Chitty observed that Booth's tokens do not have a street address or date, and suggusts they were issued in 1853 or 1854. Sharples has attributed the manufacture of Booth's penny token to Pope and Co. of London, observing that the reverse is the same as that on the 1857 De Carle and Co. tokens, also struck by that company. He estimates that the tokens were issued between 1850 and 1852, which tallies with Hope's assessment that the tokens were most likely issued in 1851.
Booth was running a number of premises during 1853 and 1854, and his reference to orders from the Bush and the Diggings, suggets that the business had been in operation for longer than the 9 months between October 1852 and July 1853. Therefore it seems reasonable to suppose that he was in Melbourne before Immigration records began to be collected in 1852, and that he ran his business until some time in 1855.