There's a new book about Dr Arthur Andrews, author of the classic book, Australasian Tokens and Coins. Co-author Charles Stitz discussed Andrews in an earlier presentation to the Albury & District Historical Society.
I can't recall what sparked my recent interest in Dr Andrews, but I first heard of him some 60 years ago,
during my coin collecting days in Sydney, when I was much impressed by his 1921 landmark work on Australasian
Tokens and Coins. He had also been President of the Numismatic Society of Victoria in 1914, and I had filled the
same role in the Sydney-based Australian Numismatic Society in the 1960s.
When we began to look for information on the doctor, we discovered a complex and fascinating character,
and wondered (as I still do) why no-one has previously sought to record in detail the life of such an interesting,
many-facetted and public-spirited man who, though he largely sought to avoid the limelight, played a very
significant part in the development of the town for over forty five years.
Arthur Andrews was born into an old-established family of builders and timber
merchants in the village of Brickendon in East Hertfordshire in 1848. His mother, a
remarkable woman, who though academically untrained, would now be described as a
polymath, in addition to raising eleven children, was an accomplished musician who
could also draw and paint. She was also an archaeologist, a geologist and a
numismatist, and it's tempting to conclude, without any supporting evidence, that she
was the source of Arthur's enquiring mind, and his wide-ranging intelligence and
energy. Certainly, the connection between the two of them and the science of
numismatics is clear. Sadly, she died at the age of 38, when Arthur was only five.
From the time he arrived in Albury as a young surgeon in 1874, Arthur Andrews involved himself in a very
wide range of community activities which advanced the development of the town, and the welfare of its
citizens. In the course of the next 45 years, he was variously a leading local surgeon, the Government Medical
Officer and Deputy Sheriff, five-times President of the Albury Show Society, promoter and Chairman of Directors
of the Albury Butter Factory, promoter of the local Gas Company, Chairman for 12 years of the Albury Pastures
Protection Board, first President of the Mechanics Institute, promoter and supporter of the local museum,
Chairman of the Albury School Board, first president of the Albury P&C Association, Churchwarden of St
Matthews Church, one of the leading figures in the prolonged push to make Albury the National Capital at
Federation, a noted local historian, farmer and stockbreeder, hotel owner and property investor, to name but
some of his many interests. With several others, he also formed the Riverina Pastoral Company, which owned
extensive grazing property in western NSW, but as so often happened, continual years of drought crippled that
venture. On his retirement in 1919 he was publicly farewelled, with many expressions of regret by leading
citizens, and described as
a member of practically every public institution in the town, except the municipal
council, to which, in fact, he had never aspired.
In addition to several of his professional papers which appeared in leading medical journals, Dr Andrews was
well-known as a meticulous local historian, and published a number of significant works, including histories of
the Albury and Border Pastoral, Agricultural and Horticultural Society (1907), the Wine Industry in Albury (1907),
the Albury Hospital and Benevolent Society (1910), the History of Albury (1912), Notes on the First Settlement of
the Northeast of Victoria (1915), Early Settlement in Victoria (1916), The Border Duties (1919), The First
Settlement of the Upper Murray, 1835 to 1845 (1920), Australasian Tokens and Coins: A Handbook (1921), Murray
Pioneers (1922), Struggles of Wheat Farmers in the Riverina (1923), and a history of St Matthews Church, Albury.
It's hard to imagine how he found time for all these activities, as well as carrying on a busy medical practice,
and still having some personal life, but he was also a keen numismatist, with a significant collection of
Australasian coins and tokens. He sold it to Sir William Dixson, whose total collection, thus enlarged, was
eventually housed in the Dixson Wing of the Mitchell Library. Dr Andrews was also an accomplished furniture
maker, who created much of the furniture in his own home.
To read the complete article, see:
An August 2, 2023 article in The Border Mail discusses the new book.
Biographers Charles Stitz and Gary Kent with their book alongside Arthur Andrews' works on Albury's history and Australia's coins. They are standing in front of the building which once housed Dr Andrews' coins when it was the town's museum.
To read the complete article (subscription required), see:
Book by Charles Stitz and Gary Kent on Albury doctor Arthur Andrews
For more information, or to order, see:
The Country Surgeon: The life and times of Arthur Andrews of Albury (1848–1925)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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