The town of Montagu, about two hours drive from Cape Town, was cut off from the main trek routes of the 1800s due to the seemingly impenetrable nature of Cogmans Kloof. It wasn't until Thomas Bain built the pass and the tunnel in 1877 that trade began to develop the area. In 1841 Montagu was laid out on the farm Uitvlugt and in 1852 John Montagu the Colonial Secretary of the Cape visited the infant town.
Montagu is remarkably rich in early trade tokens and even its own bank note dating back to the 1860s. For its size and population it only comes second to East Griqualand.
In 1855 the first school was opened in Montagu and two years later a contract was signed for the building of a church designed by George Burkett.
In 1873 the Montagu Hot Springs began charging a "tickey" for using the baths. Their use obviously goes back to time immemorial with traces of early man having been found in the nearby caves. The importance of the Baths to the general public is reflected in the conditions written into the title deeds.
"That the outspan place and Thoroughfare as laid down on the Diagram shall remain free that the grant now made the Public shall not be excluded from the benefits derived from a Hot Spring situate within the Limits of this land-but on the contrary have the right of using the said Spring as a Hot Bath and that it shall be optional with them , should the proprietor hereafter construct suitable accommodation on the spot, to avail themselves thereof or not as they may think proper, That all Roads leading to the Bath shall remain free, that the said public frequenting said Bath shall be allowed to Outspan on this land, but that cattle shall not unless with the consent of the grantee or his successors remain longer than twenty-four hours on this land."
Montagu district is a centre for vineyards and fine wines.
Montagu Bank £5 Bank Note
Montagu banknotes were printed and issued from 1861 to the demise of the bank in 1868. The bank was in the building now occupied by attorneys on Bath Street. Value in UNC about US$500
The Montagu Divisional Council also issued quarter, half and one day token coins to their labour in the early 1900s. The three tokens in the Balson Holdings Family Trust Collection are displayed below with common (blank) reverse. Value about US$150 each.
Between 1902 and 1985 the Brink Brother's enterprises were of major significance to the town. Their activities included general dealers, bottling works, canning factory, dried fruit production and a department store.
Brink Brothers had two sets of trade tokens, the earlier set made of fibre and the latter of brass. Examples of both varieties from the Balson Holdings Family Trust Collection are displayed below. These tokens are fairly common and not of great value.
In 1944 the Food and Canning Workers Union had a meeting with the dried fruit companies in Worcester, chaired by the Mayor of Worcester. The spokesman for the dried fruit companies was George Brink, of Brink Brothers. George Brink said that he refused to sit at a meeting with kaffirs, hotnots and jode. George Brink left the meeting which continued without him. In May 1945 the dried fruit workers went out on strike. Employers refused to settle the strike. There was a stalemate and the bosses wanted to break the union so that it would never strike again. George Brink lost this battle and an agreement was eventually struck with the Union.