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Isaac Friedman, Shop Keeper, Hobart

By Museums Victoria    |   Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Isaac Friedman was of Jewish origin and extraction and was certainly living in Hobart as early as 1840. In January 1842 he was living in a rented house in Bathurst Street, belonging to a certain William Wilkinson. In 1843 he commenced business as a shopkeeper and general Pawnbroker. The birth of his two children are recorded, also it is recorded that he was living in the same premises in 1848.

Friedman was still in business in 1857, as that was the year he issued his penny and halfpenny tokens. His business address then was Argyle Street, Hobart. His tokens were made in Birmingham by Heaton and Sons.

Isaac Friedman - Pawnbroker

In addition to these numismatic facts, a range of additional details emerged about this issuer. There is an Isaac Friedman listed on the Tasmanian Pioneer's Database. The database suggests that he married Maria Nathan in Hobart in 1842. The couple is listed as having eight children, all born in the Hobart area, between 1840 and 1858. There is no record for the suggested marriage between Isaac and Maria in Hobart in 1842. There is however a record for a Maria Nathan marrying and Isaac Friedman in Sydney, NSW in 1835.

Further information about Friedman, along with his fellow token issuers, Abraham Lewis and Reuben Josephs, is found in A Few from Afar - Jewish Lives in Tasmania from 1804. Friedman was a significant person in the Hobart Jewish community from the 1840s. In 1842, he kept a public house where the meeting was held that led to the construction of the Hobart Synagogue. His name is recorded on a tablet inside the Synagogue as one of the members of the Hobart Hebrew Congregation's committee in 1843. The tablet commemorates the laying of the building's foundation stone. He is also listed as a contributor to the building fund for the Synagogue, as are Abrahams and Josephs.

In the late 1840s, where Isaac Friedman charged that Philip Levy had said before the magistrate that Friedman's house was a brothel. Levy was exonerated, and both were asked to continue sitting on the committee of the Hobart Hebrew Congregation as if naught had happened. The incident was resolved through a process of arbitration within the Congregation, where two arbiters were appointed on each side.

Friedman is also listed, along with Abrahams and Josephs, as a seatholder (financial member) of the Hobart Congregation at some stage during the period between 1852 and 1877.

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