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Griquatown 1/4p - First Coins Used In SA

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Cold Sea

Hi Scott,

 

You digress. I am discussing decimal, not circulation. The one can be without the other.

 

Your hunter gatherer observation further points to their need for a basic approach to education. I agree that the teaching of fractions would not have been introduced straight away. However, your theory of ¼ (of 1 hour) = 15mins work etc (a fraction and which means that they could tell time) seems even more complicated.

 

The 10 finger counting theory and the natural consequence of a decimal system cannot be discounted and must be included in the mix of things.

 

Regards

Edited by Cold Sea

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Its academic

 

Hi Derick

 

I guess its all academic as the tokens never circulated but again I would make the point that while there is reference to SILVER tokens being brought to Griquatown c1820 there is NO reference to the BRONZE tokens at all. It wouldn't be the first time that coins of different values were struck at a later stage in an elaborate fraud. While I cannot prove they were a fraud, the BRONZE tokens really do not fit at all because of their LOW VALUES (1/4 and 1/2), INCONSISTENT WEIGHT and the very LOW NUMBERS minted. (NOTE: There are Griquatown "100" pieces struck in BRONZE as well as GOLD 1/4 Griquatown pieces in existence - clearly these pieces are unrelated to this debate but demonstrate that later minting of Griquatown pieces certainly occurred).

 

INCONSISTENT WEIGHT:

 

When you consider the size of a ha'penny, the amount of bronze in a Griquatown bronze 1/2 token is completely out of synch. It is just a fraction of the size of a ha'penny. I would be interested if someone with a ha'penny and a Griquatown 1/2 weighed the coins and posted their weights here - and did the same with a 1/4 token and a farthing. We could then compare these weights.

 

The fact remains that only the SILVER pieces are ever mentioned by the Missionaries. SILVER has a tradeable value while the inconsistently sized Griquatown bronze pieces do not make any sense - considering that they do not have any precious metal content.

 

LOW VALUES and NUMBERS:

 

Furthermore, even if we discount this anomaly, the relative value of 1/2 (working on the theory that this was a "decimal currency") would mean some TEN 1/2 tokens would be required to exchange just ONE silver IIIII token. This is a nonsense - no currency has a gap this big especially when the bronze Griquatown tokens are as rare as the silver pieces. This anomaly is compounded by Parsons who says only the SILVER pieces were sent back to England and melted down (The pieces Helm asks what he should do with in a letter written in 1821). I think you will agree there is a very large number of 1/4 and 1/2 bronze tokens missing if this "decimal currency theory" was going to work at all.

 

DAY and HALF DAY TOKENS:

 

If we consider the suggestion that the bronze pieces were minted later then the suggestion that the two silver values were meant to represent day and half day labour tokens makes perfect sense. You will see that I question whether the bronze tokens were issued c1820 at all in my post on the Griquatown day tokens, but if they were I then suggested they were in payment for small tasks (not necessarily time based).

 

WHY AREN'T THEY FOUND IN SOUTH AFRICA?

 

Dr Frank Mitchell, in his 1978 article linked here, says that only one Griquatown token, a bronze piece, was ever found in South Africa (at Matjiesfontein in the Western Cape). See: http://www.tokencoins.com/griqua/mitchc.gif (how the bronze piece was discovered is unfortunately not discussed and there appears to be no other reference to this isolated discovery). (Full Mitchell article linked above). Mitchell actively sought out the Griquatown tokens over his lifetime (from the 1920s to 1970s) and could only ever get pieces from America and Britain. Isn't that a trifle strange if they circulated in Griquatown?

 

As I said at the start, it is clear that the Griquatown tokens never circulated so the discussion over their format is completely academic. This fact is further highlighted by Helm who wrote, at the very time the missionaries at Griquatown were trying to get the tokens accepted by the Griqua, that their chief, Waterboer, was being paid in Rijkdaalder for some work he undertook for the Mission Station. There is never any reference to a single token circulating.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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A shift in thinking

 

Hi Derick

 

What has been demonstrated from the source material available to anyone who reads this thread is that Parson was WRONG on the following key facts:

 

1) His suggestion that the Griquatown coins circulated in 1815-16 (They were only requested by the missionaries in Griquatown in a London Missionary Society report published in 1817 and only arrived c1820 probably with John Campbell on his second trip)

2) He claims they were returned to the UK and melted down long before 1820. (Helm talks about holding the silver pieces at Griquatown in June 1821 and asks what should be done with them as the experiment had failed)

3) His claim that they circulated widely for a couple of years is clearly WRONG regardless of time frame. Even some of the most skeptical followers of this thread have realised that they never circulated widely - if at all. In my view they never circulated at all (Dr Frank Mitchell shares this view).

4) His suggestion that they were a Missionary currency (regardless of type) is, in effect, disputed by the Missionaries who requested the coins - they asked for TOKEN coins.

5) His blatant misrepresentation of information from the source provided (page 5 of Parsons' article quoting Campbell's book on his first trip) that there were 2,600 Church members back then when Campbell says that there were only about 20 members.

 

He does note that Boyne in his 1866 article about the Griquatown coins ONLY REFERS TO THE SILVER PIECES. Atkins in 1889 refers to a bronze 1/2 but not the 1/4. To me this simply implies these bronze pieces were minted long after 1820 but Parsons suggests that they were only "discovered later".

 

I refer to your transcript above copied here:

“It is also true that in many cases legitimate questions of interpretation may arise when various scholars see the significance of the same piece of evidence differently. Therefore what I am objecting to is not the occasional mistake, questionable usage, or issues of genuine interpretation. Rather, it is the systematic use or misuse of source texts to support a grand theory without regard to the context and clear intent of the original sources. Such practices ignore historical methods for the purpose of promoting an ideology.
The quote highlighted above sums up the flaws in Parsons' research very well - it is sad that these flaws have been accepted for so long and repeated so many times in South African coin books since the publication of his paper in 1927. All I am trying to do is put the record straight using FACTS backed by irrefutable sources; it has been a long road but I get the feeling more and more serious collectors are starting to agree with the general thrust of my argument.

 

If one reads Parsons' original paper which I have scanned at this link: Parson's "The coinage of Griqualand" you will see that earlier numismatists had made no reference to bronze Griquatown token coins but refer to the silver Griquatown pieces as TOKEN COINS. On page seven (highlighted "2" in red in scanned link above) of Parsons' paper he states quite clearly "I HAVE THROUGHOUT ADOPTED A WIDER TERM OF COINS, INSTEAD OF THE MORE RESTRICTED NAME OF TOKENS HITHERTO USED...." So the suggestion that they were "currency" was first muted by the man who got so many facts wrong!

 

There are some gaping holes in Parsons paper .. the most pertinent is the fact that the ONLY sources he refers to are the works of THREE missionaries. He uses unrelated statements by them to support his fanciful suggestions. Yet his comments or claims have never been challenged before.

 

His quoted sources were:

1) Dr Livingstone who only arrived in South Africa over twenty years AFTER they had been minted - the source Livingstone's 1857 book which makes no reference to the Griquatown coins!

2) Robert Moffat who lived with the Griqua from 1820 but who never makes one reference to the Griquatown coins in all his many letters or books - the reference by Parsons is unrelated to the Griquatown coins.

3) the final one is John Campbell and his infamous comment about having coins issued for the Griqua. When Campbell came to South Africa the second time in 1820 (most probably with the silver Griquatown tokens) he lamented in a letter - transcribed by Schoeman (see earlier posts in this thread) - that traders south of the Orange would not accept the new tokens. If you read Campbell's comment in the first book he states "supposing a shop to be established among them"... it never was until many years later. In his book covering his second trip Campbell makes NO reference to the Griquatown coins - which we know were at this remote outpost at the time of his visit because of letters written by Helm. Interesting the later abridged version of Campbell's first trip (Journals... ) has CAREFULLY REMOVED ANY REFERENCE to the suggestion of issuing coins while the laws he established at the same meeting with the Griqua are covered in detail in this book. Campbell wrote this abridged version of his first trip years later in the 1830s - and there were several reprints. Why would he remove that specific reference to the coins?

 

These three missionaries are alone the sources providing the backbone behind all Parsons colourful claims. Just three sources in his whole paper - two totally unrelated but used to paint a picture to support his fanciful claims (see your quote above).

 

Interestingly Parsons third reference noted above (Campbell) wrote despairingly in a letter in 1820 that the traders would not accept the coins - this was critical to their acceptance by the Griqua as they had nowhere else to trade them. This letter is ignored by Parsons - who also overlooks the letters by Helm and the very detailed and relevant comments by William Burchell who visited Griquatown in 1812 and what about Dr Philip who ran the LMS missions in South Africa at this time - not a word in his book about the token coins.

 

Everything in Parsons paper is based on supposition, fanciful claims without any supporting references that can be authenticated.

 

That is the depth of Parsons research in a nutshell and from it have come some fanciful claims about circulation, decimal coinage and who knows what else? Maybe there were ATMs in the bush back then dispensing Griquatown coins! If you are happy to hang your hat on that pedestal so be it!

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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