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Reality check - videos with 2 key people confirm Griquatown tokens NEVER circulated.

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Mike Klee

Hi Scott,

 

You are right, we are off topic. I feel frustrated because I am convinced that there has to be documentary evidence somewhere to tell us:

 

1. when these GQT coins were minted and who paid for this minting

 

2. how many of each denomination were minted,

 

3. when they actually arrived in South Africa, and

 

4. the means by which some of them were "dispersed"

 

I kind of feel at the bottom of my gut that the key to this mystery is Anderson and there must be surviving letters somewhere from him or the LMS itself that will answer the above questions.

 

Mike

Edited by Mike Klee

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Frustrations...

 

Hi Mike

 

The only things we can say for certain are

 

1) that the Griquatown tokens ARRIVED at Griquatown after 1816 - probably in 1819-1820.

2) that a few of these were initially "dispersed" to the Griqua leader Waterboer.

3) the "great majority" were repatriated to England - probably in 1821.

 

I think you will agree anything else is complete assumption and has no factual basis whatsoever.

 

Now read Hern's book on South African coins and consider what the basis of his claims are!

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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Mike Klee

Hi Scott,

 

But this lack of documentary information is precisely why getting to the bottom of this puzzle is so frustrating. Even in your reply above, there are - and you must please correct me if I am wrong, because without doubt you are the single person who has delved deepest into this mystery - assumptions, such as;

 

1. "that the Griquatown tokens ARRIVED at Griquatown after 1816 - probably in 1819-1820." Is there documentary proof that they arrived in GQT in 1817 or thereafter? The name of a ship(s) that took them to South Africa or of or an individual who was involved somewhere in this transportation process? Where is the letter or document from Anderson or Helm that mentions these coins had arrived in Griquatown?

 

2) "that a few of these were initially "dispersed" to the Griqua leader Waterboer." Is there documentary proof that they were given to Waterboer? Very possible indeed, but is there any documentary evidence to back this up? A document, say, that states Waterboer has GQT coins in his possession?

3) " the "great majority" were repatriated to England - probably in 1821." Again, where is the documentary evidence for this? Are there missionary letters or is there LMS documentation stating that the GQT coins had been sent back to England? Anyway, why would one do this to get rid of the coins - especially the silver ones? Silver at the very least was in huge demand for commerce: there was both a huge shortage of and demand for silver worldwide, including, I would imagine, especially in far-off places such as the Cape Colony and its frontiers. Why go to the expense and bother of carting this failed coinage all the way back to England when it could be disposed of for goods and services in South Africa?

 

To me, the story of the GQT coinage is a fascinating mystery, a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. I am sure that the missing pieces of this puzzle are out there; they just have to be found, turned over and put into place.

Mike

Edited by Mike Klee

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Mike - good questions

 

1. "that the Griquatown tokens ARRIVED at Griquatown after 1816 - probably in 1819-1820." Is there documentary proof that they arrived in GQT in 1817 or thereafter? The name of a ship(s) that took them to South Africa or of or an individual who was involved somewhere in this transportation process? Where is the letter or document from Anderson or Helm that mentions these coins had arrived in Griquatown?

 

There isn't one

 

2) "that a few of these were initially "dispersed" to the Griqua leader Waterboer." Is there documentary proof that they were given to Waterboer? Very possible indeed, but is there any documentary evidence to back this up? A document, say, that states Waterboer has GQT coins in his possession?

No there is not - they are never mentioned in the mission's records as assets at this time - even though ivory and other barter items are!

3) " the "great majority" were repatriated to England - probably in 1821." Again, where is the documentary evidence for this? Are there missionary letters or is there LMS documentation stating that the GQT coins had been sent back to England? Anyway, why would one do this to get rid of the coins - especially the silver ones? Silver at the very least was in huge demand for commerce: there was both a huge shortage of and demand for silver worldwide, including, I would imagine, especially in far-off places such as the Cape Colony and its frontiers. Why go to the expense and bother of carting this failed coinage all the way back to England when it could be disposed of for goods and services in South Africa?

 

No there is no evidence apart from Helm's letter asking the society what to do with them.

We know that the Waterboers held a few of these tokens (even as late as the late 1970s in the Waterboer family) - see the video.

 

That's about it.

 

If we accept that the tokens did NOT circulate at Griquatown ENOUGH to cause the wear that several show then WHERE did they circulate? Thus my theory about their return to England following Helm's letter - where most tokens have been found - ie wear as a direct result of their use in an illegal gambling den back in the 1800s.

 

One thing we can say with certainty is if they had circulated in Griquatown there would have been SOME mention of them being used in trade when one considers the amount of journals, letters and books dating back to this time. There is none, not a sniff. The complete lack of reference to the tokens in Campbell's book on his second trip speaks volumes.... especially when you consider Moffat's letter to Philip held by the Oppenheimer library - "Apprentice at Kuruman"... where Moffat privately blows the lid on what state Griquatown was actually in.

 

Quote:

Griquatown he (Campbell) dare not rehearse and Lattakoo appears to be in a deplorable state. And, as Anderson expresses himself, "Read has destroyed that mission". The information that he (Campbell) is qualified to give about both missions will greatly interest you, and I think will increase your sorrow. Source: pg 6 "Apprenticeship at Kuruman".

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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dennrein

Doubts about Arndt

 

Prof Arndt's statement,"These were sent at a time when these coloured people had not the slightest notion of the advantages of a metallic currency" to me calls into question his authority on the Griqua. Remember, he is a key witness in saying "never a single farthing was in circulation". Burchell, incidentally, makes vivid reference to the financial prowess of the Griqua.

 

Burchell writes in his journal of 1811 (Burchell 1822: p. 364): "By barter for beads and tobacco, they annually obtain from the Bachapins ... a number of oxen; most of which they sell in the colony at the average rate of twenty rix dollars each." Amongst the Griqua themselves, oxen went for 12 rixdollars, sheep for two.

 

Does this sound like a people who don't know what money is? Why should they accept pieces of paper with values printed on them as money and not pieces of metal with values struck on them? Doesn't make sense to me.

 

The Griqua at this point in time (1811) had 200 muskets, 3.000 head of cattle and 80-90 horses. They were not only a formidable trading nation but a force to be reckoned with at the outskirts of the colony. Griquatown and its surrounding outposts were booming, its population almost doubling between 1809 and 1813. I can't see how one might call into question that the Griquas were ready for "the advantages of a metallic currency" - which is precisely why Campbell went ahead with organising the token coins.

 

Regards

dennrein

Edited by dennrein

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lilythepink

Chickenman (aka The Beak) thinks that those who doubt ndoa18 should consult with John Edwards, the psychic, who may be able to confirm what Scott says?

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admin

Okay folks, the bickering posts have been moved. Please follow the forum rules.

 

Thank you.

 

"Should this continue, I will be locking the whole Coins forum till Cuan gets here tomorrow, he thinks to himself...."

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lilythepink

Thank you, admin. Now I can go to bed with a clear head (and conscience?)

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Arndt

 

Prof Arndt's statement,"These were sent at a time when these coloured people had not the slightest notion of the advantages of a metallic currency" to me calls into question his authority on the Griqua. Remember, he is a key witness in saying "never a single farthing was in circulation". Burchell, incidentally, makes vivid reference to the financial prowess of the Griqua.

 

Burchell writes in his journal of 1811 (Burchell 1822: p. 364): "By barter for beads and tobacco, they annually obtain from the Bachapins ... a number of oxen; most of which they sell in the colony at the average rate of twenty rix dollars each." Amongst the Griqua themselves, oxen went for 12 rixdollars, sheep for two.

 

Does this sound like a people who don't know what money is? Why should they accept pieces of paper with values printed on them as money and not pieces of metal with values struck on them? Doesn't make sense to me.

 

The Griqua at this point in time (1811) had 200 muskets, 3.000 head of cattle and 80-90 horses. They were not only a formidable trading nation but a force to be reckoned with at the outskirts of the colony. Griquatown and its surrounding outposts were booming, its population almost doubling between 1809 and 1813. I can't see how one might call into question that the Griquas were ready for "the advantages of a metallic currency" - which is precisely why Campbell went ahead with organising the token coins.

 

Regards

dennrein

 

There is a very simple explanation to Burchell.. the rix dollar was accepted as money all over the Cape. It was a paper currency because of the shortage of coin in that (then) remote part of the world. Engelbrecht (Money in South Africa) discusses how, in the early 1800s, it lost most of its value because like all other FIAT funny money it was abused by the issuers.. sounds familiar. (It was also illegally copied).

 

The loss of value of the paper rix dollar (which the Griqua had accepted) is probably another good reason the Griqua had no trust in a token coin. Between 1806 and 1813 the value of the paper rix dollar lost nearly half its value when it fell from 4/- to 2/3d...

 

You will note I use the word paper money - that's what the Griqua accepted in payment.. can you imagine how they would feel about any sort of money (let alone a labour token coin) when they saw the value of the rix dollar drop so dramatically at this exact time?

 

So Arndt is correct when he talks about a metallic currency.

 

As I have said before UNLESS someone can show me one reference to a trade being made with Griquatown token coins it did not happen in Griquatown.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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Mike Klee

Hi Scott,

 

1. Hypothetically......if Anderson had bags of gold coins or tokens, would it have made sense for the Griquas not to have accepted them for trading purposes/payment? Of course they would.

 

When you state: " The loss of value of the paper rix dollar (which the Griqua had accepted) is probably another good reason the Griqua had no trust in a token coin. Between 1806 and 1813 the value of the paper rix dollar lost nearly half its value when it fell from 4/- to 2/3d... " , it would seem to me that Anderson had even more reason to attempt to introduce coinage to GQT.

 

1806 to 1813 was precisely when Anderson (and the LMS) was increasing in respect amongst the Griquas, so what a wonderful way to attempt to address this concern re the devaluation of the rix dollar (and win more converts) over this period by proposing and implementing a coinage for GQT?

 

Anderson might not have had gold, but he did have silver and copper pieces. And the Griquas - being canny traders, as Denrein has illustrated- would certainly have appreciated the silver pieces. Heck, we even have the missionaries eventually realising that they have parted with silver pieces at a disadvantageous rate!

 

Whatever the Griquas thought of paper rix dollars, they knew that silver coinage did not lose value over time....

 

2. Re your statement: "As I have said before UNLESS someone can show me one reference to a trade beingmade with Griquatown token coins it did not happen in Griquatown." , I would refer to the expression "where there is smoke, there is fire". We have not been able to find a trade being made with a GQT coin - cannot the same be said for Australian holey dollars, from the same period? - but... the fact that documentary evidence exists that Anderson had "dispersed" a quantity of less than half of his silver coinage/pieces is overwhelming proof to my mind that trade had to have taken place.

 

Being the property of the LMS and considering the effort and expense expended, it is simply inconceiveable that these coins - and the silver pieces in particular, with their inherent precious metal value - would have been given away like "free" childrens' toys at a fast food outlet.

 

Nevertheless - and I do not believe any contributor to this discussion doubts this - these GQT coins were an absolute flop of an experiment.

 

Mike

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The big flop

 

Hi Mike

 

We will never be able to get into the minds of the Griqua back then.. so again we can only speculate.

 

Let me tell you from a personal perspective if I had traded cattle for rixdollars (white man's money) and within a few years discovered it was only worth half as much I would have nothing to do with any of the other schemes he came up with. The Griqua had no understanding of "value" in silver (as Prof Arndt states) - in fact copper was the metal they liked most. It was malleable, could be moulded for jewellery (which they loved) while silver and bronze were hard ..

 

I would like to know how you came to this assumption that they knew silver would retain its value? Especially as they knew that Campbell had failed to get the traders to the south to accept them.... wouldn't that make them even more wary of any claims associated with them?

Whatever the Griquas thought of paper rix dollars, they knew that silver coinage did not lose value over time....

 

Worse than a flop unless a specific reference to a trade in these tokens can be found from those times then there is no proof they circulated at all so to suggest they did and nominate the years they did as Parsons and Hern both do is completely without foundation. This has always been and remains my argument.

 

In fact I would love Hern to get involved in this debate because in an email to me many years back he claimed to have proof to support every assertion he makes on the Griquatown tokens in his book on South African coins. I have challenged him on many occasions to provide it but he doggedly refuses and also refused to publicly debate me on this subject many years ago. The ABSA Museum (through Dr Paul Bayliss) offered to moderate the debate after I met with Paul in 2006 ... but my challenge to Hern went unaccepted.

 

What we do know as a fact is that the first widely circulating indigenous coinage used in South Africa were the Strachan and Co (set one) - 1874 - ironically used mainly by the Griqua and were also tokens accepted widely across the region once known as East Griqualand.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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A big PS

 

Hi Mike

 

Just wanted to respond to thes comments

1806 to 1813 was precisely when Anderson (and the LMS) was increasing in respect amongst the Griquas, so what a wonderful way to attempt to address this concern re the devaluation of the rix dollar (and win more converts) over this period by proposing and implementing a coinage for GQT?

 

and...

 

Anderson might not have had gold, but he did have silver and copper pieces. And the Griquas - being canny traders, as Denrein has illustrated- would certainly have appreciated the silver pieces. Heck, we even have the missionaries eventually realising that they have parted with silver pieces at a disadvantageous rate!

 

Let us remember two key points:

 

1) The Griqua lost their trust in Anderson in 1814 and he never regained their trust.

 

2) Anderson does not make one comment in all his journals or letters about the tokens.

 

In other words there is no smoke .. there was no fire that you talk of .. just a damp squid!

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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Cold Sea

Scott says:

 

Anderson does not make one comment about the tokens

 

But Helm does!

 

Scott, you keep quoting the same sources, much like the pot calling the kettle black. Have you now stopped your "research", as you debate as if it is your gut feel, and we know what that means.

 

So btw, even Burchell refers to the Griquas wearing clean European clothes.

Edited by Cold Sea

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Derick..

 

Why do people in this coin category get so confrontational when they cannot dispute my referenced research or the simple common sense logic that reflects the reality.. not one Griquatown token circulated as money at Griquatown - attacking the messenger does nothing for your case countering this research.

 

You say:

Scott says:

 

But Helm does!

 

Scott, you keep quoting the same sources, much like the pot calling the kettle black. Have you now stopped your "research", as you debate as if it is your gut feel, and we know what that means.

 

So btw, even Burchell refers to the Griquas wearing clean European clothes.

 

Helm's reference to the Griquatown tokens is very telling.. what should he do with them?

 

If they had circulated as Pierre suggests one wonders why he would be asking this question.

 

As far as Burchell is concerned - and I am delighted that you quote him. It is all about relevance - I would once again suggest you look at the drawing he made of Griquatown in 1812 and read his comments.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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dennrein

Some more research

 

It's a pity the other thread was closed, so I'll pick up some of the issues raised by Pierre Henri here.

 

I have to agree with Scott Balson on metallic currency amongst the Griqua. There wouldn’t have been much, if any, British or Dutch small change in the vicinity, which is precisely why Campbell introduced the Griqua coins. There is a lot of evidence that rixdollar notes were traded at the Kookfontein (1819) and Beaufort West (1820) fairs, but none as far as I know for coins circulating there (except maybe for the Griqua coin, according to Geejay50, found near Beaufort West).

 

Burchell (1822: p78-79) writes, referring to the Cape Colony in 1812:

“The only money in general circulation, is small printed and countersigned pieces of paper, bearing value from the trifling sum of one schelling, or sixpence currency, upwards to five hundred rix-dollars each. The only current coin are English penny-pieces, which here pass for the value of two pence, and are called dubbeltjes. Spanish dollars are used in Cape Town, rather as bullion than as coins; their value varying according to the rate of change. Accounts are kept in rix-dollars, schellings, and stivers; although the value of estates and possessions is often rated in guilders, three of which make a rix-dollar. Six stivers are equal to one schelling, and eight schellings to one rix-dollar or four shillings currency (…).”

 

What is paradoxical is that Burchell says only British pence were circulating in 1812, but he describes the currency at the Cape as being based on stuivers, schellings and rixdollars. Bank notes only started at schelling values. So what about stuiver coins? VOC coins must still have been circulating, as the Cape had only become British six years previously (1806). This can be seen as proof that even at the Cape there weren’t many coins in circulation at all, so Burchell did not get to see an awful lot. Dutch currency was only withdrawn from 1825 onwards. I have described elsewhere that commercial coins were in wide circulation in England around the turn of the 19th century, precisely because of the lack of official coins. If Waterboer received 13 rixdollars and four schellings it is thus probable that these were paid in rixdollar notes. The Griqua coins were coined precisely because coins were rare in the colony and even rarer at its outskirts.

 

I feel that maybe the confusion about what the Griqua coins were worth (compare Helm’s comment on uncertainty about the correct dispersal rate) could have resulted from confusion on whether they represented British, old Dutch or new Dutch coins. I have stated elsewhere that Dutch coinage was decimalised by law in 1816. The LMS and die sinker Halliday could have known this, being in Europe with newspapers and all. So they made the Griqua coins based on the decimal system. But I would imagine any coinage based on the Cape rixdollar system would have had to be integrated into the old Dutch system prior to decimalisation (6 stuivers = 1 shilling, 8 shillings = 1 rixdollar), which was still in use at the time. So the Griqua coinage may have been ahead of its time.

 

Still, I believe that parts of it circulated, since dispersing the coins for nothing would have been senseless. And some of them were definitely dispersed. There is an interesting parallel. I mentioned in a previous post a token system at a mission amongst the Xhosa around the same time period.

 

Beck (1989: p223) writes:

“At Wesleyville in 1825 William Shaw paid the wages of the workmen with ‘a kind of tin token – about the size of a sixpence & stamped with a W., each token passes current, on the place & neighbourhood, for five strings of beads, the daily wages of a man’. Having thus been credited by the people for several months, he was ‘employed in cashing the Bassa – or Tokens, i.e. in receiving the tokens back, & paying the holders, the quantity of beads’.”

 

The Griqua coins might have circulated in a similar fashion. As always, this is no proof of the Griqua coins circulating, but it’s an interesting analogy!

 

Regards

dennrein

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As always Dennrein it is a pleasure to get a post from someone who does the leg work! That is what numismatics is all about - not owning rare coins, because anyone with money can do that.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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qball

This thread will be closed now. The image is distasteful and does offend Muslim users. Please, if this nonsense carries on, all the threads will be removed and I will ban forum users. FINAL WARNING!

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We are back....

 

Standing in one corner of the ring is Scott supported by his team.. while in the other in Dennrein ably supported by the rest of his team while Mike considers which boxer to throw his weight behind.

 

Let round six commence :))

 

Dennrein says

I feel that maybe the confusion about what the Griqua coins were worth (compare Helm’s comment on uncertainty about the correct dispersal rate) could have resulted from confusion on whether they represented British, old Dutch or new Dutch coins. I have stated elsewhere that Dutch coinage was decimalised by law in 1816. The LMS and die sinker Halliday could have known this, being in Europe with newspapers and all. So they made the Griqua coins based on the decimal system. But I would imagine any coinage based on the Cape rixdollar system would have had to be integrated into the old Dutch system prior to decimalisation (6 stuivers = 1 shilling, 8 shillings = 1 rixdollar), which was still in use at the time. So the Griqua coinage may have been ahead of its time.

 

Still, I believe that parts of it circulated, since dispersing the coins for nothing would have been senseless. And some of them were definitely dispersed. There is an interesting parallel. I mentioned in a previous post a token system at a mission amongst the Xhosa around the same time period.

 

1) With regards to the values on the coin (ie 5, 10 etc... ) they make no sense which ever way you look at it when it comes to a monetary value. Your suggestion that they did this is to fit in with the decimalisation of the Dutch coinage makes no sense either. Let me explain why - the British had taken over the Cape Colony at the turn of the century as a spoil of war. The (British) 1820 settlers came in in .. yes .. 1820 and during this period of transition between 1800 and 1820 everything Dutch was slowly being taken out of the system and the Voortrekkers were starting to migrate to the Cape Colony's borders. (Guess who was asked to write a document for use by these early British settlers in helping them to settle in the Cape? Not the Missionaries Campbell, Moffat or Anderson.. it was one William Burchell who drew that graphic 1812 drawing of Klaarwater/Griquatown... speaks volumes...)

 

Have a look at what British Governor of the Cape Sir John Cradock wrote on 15 October 1811 in response to having to sign a title deed still written in Dutch... "This is the last landgrant I will sign in Dutch"... source (from my document museum): Correspondence and Documents in the Balson Holdings Family Trust (check the document -scanned - by date).

 

The British hated the Dutch... and the last thing the London Missionary Society would have done is have a token coinage based on a new decimalised Dutch coinage!! It was based on no coinage from that time - it was a "labour" token.

 

2) As I have said before - dispersing does not mean circulating. I can disperse lollies to kids in a classroom. It does not mean they are going to be passed one to the other. I can disperse ice to Eskimos doesn't mean they will use it! The facts and common sense paint a very different picture of the reality of Griquatown c1820. Consider, for example, Moffat's comments to Phillip in that letter I transcribed in this thread.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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dennrein

More research

 

Let me start by saying I don't think we should reduce this to a sparring match between the two of us. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and research, and the discussion has led to some nice research done by others, e.g. Pierre Henri.

 

On point 1, of course we don't know whether it was meant to be Dutch decimal currency that the Griqua coins were based on. It just makes the most sense to me. I agree with Pierre Henri that the 1/4 and 1/2 denomination standing for 15 or 30 minutes of labour doesn't make sense. I haven't found one reference of clocks being used amongst the Griqua at the time. And labour would not have been measured in quarters of an hour. You posted examples of 1/2 denomination labour tokens, but they represented 1/2 day. So there still is no proof that 1/4 or 1/2 hour labour tokens have ever existed anywhere. Regarding the resentment of all things Dutch on the part of the Colonial government, this is not true for the missionaries. They were still using rixdollars to pay the Griqua (see Schoeman) and they used the Dutch language to speak with the Griqua. So why not base the coins on Dutch currency, if the only banknotes around were based on it?

 

On point 2: OK, you can go about dispersing silver coins like lollies in a classroom. Would you? I certainly wouldn't. And now take the LMS missionaries at the time. They received "meagre support" from the LMS and were "often forced by necessity to carry on (...) trade". In fact LMS missionaries in South Africa stated at a synod in 1817 that "not one Missionary in South Africa (who needs support from our Society) is sufficiently supported by the Directors and if some Brethren have trafficked the Directors are certainly the cause of it" (Beck 2007: 216). They certainly weren't in a position to go about dispersing valuable silver coins "for free".

 

I'd like to draw your attention to some more research I've been doing.

 

In 1816 the missionary register reports (Seeley 1816: 316):

"To remedy the inconvenience sustained by the people (who have now made considerable progress in civilization), by their want of a circulating medium, the Directors are now procuring for them a coinage of silver tokens. Mr. Read, considering Griqua Town as a central station of great importance, is of opinion that a printing-press should be established there; a measure which the Directors highly approve.”

 

My line of thought now is, if we can't find proof when the coins arrived in Griquatown, maybe there is proof of when the printing press arrived. It is possible that both were sent to Griquatown simultaneously, having been ordered at the same time. I found proof that the printing press was in Griquatown and working in the first half of 1817. In May of 1817, missionary Cupido writes to Campbell: "The printing press sent to Griqua Town is come to hand, and they have begun to print a Hymn Book. One of the missionaries has begun to compose a Dictionary and Catechism in the Bootsuana language" (Caldwell 1818: 69).

 

The latter comment is interesting, because it is known that Henry Helm, the LMS Griquatown missionary, published the first Tswana language book entitled "Spelling Book in the Bootchuana Language" (Lubbe 2007: 19), though there are differences in opinion as to when he actually published it (Lloyd 1914, Lubbe 2007), as no copies have survived. The American Missionary register (1821: 175) mentions that he had printed a few copies by 1820.

 

It is highly unlikely the printing press would have been produced in South Africa, so it must have been imported from England - at the same time as the coins? If that was the case it explains why Campbell doesn't mention the coins on his second visit, because they were already there. Incidentally, he doesn't mention the printing press either, which would have been far more important for the mission in spreading the gospel than the coins!

 

I know this doesn't prove the coins arrived in 1817, but it's an indication that the LMS might have been faster than either of us have believed so far.

 

Regards

dennrein

 

 

 

Edited by dennrein

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Hi Dennrein

 

My line of thought now is, if we can't find proof when the coins arrived in Griquatown, maybe there is proof of when the printing press arrived. It is possible that both were sent to Griquatown simultaneously, having been ordered at the same time. I found proof that the printing press was in Griquatown and working in the first half of 1817. In May of 1817, missionary Cupido writes to Campbell: "The printing press sent to Griqua Town is come to hand, and they have begun to print a Hymn Book. One of the missionaries has begun to compose a Dictionary and Catechism in the Bootsuana language" (Caldwell 1818: 69).

 

The latter comment is interesting, because it is known that Henry Helm, the LMS Griquatown missionary, published the first Tswana language book entitled "Spelling Book in the Bootchuana Language" (Lubbe 2007: 19), though there are differences in opinion as to when he actually published it (Lloyd 1914, Lubbe 2007), as no copies have survived. The American Missionary register (1821: 175) mentions that he had printed a few copies by 1820.

 

I think the printing press you refer to might be the one set up by Moffat at Kuruman. As far as I know there never was an operating printing press at Griquatown in the 1800s and there is not even one there today..

 

You can read more about Moffat and his printing press here: Robert Moffat - Scottish Missionary in Africa

I have put a pic of Moffat's printing press that he took to Kuruman in 1831 (the first printing press north of the Orange River). The picture is attached below.. I took the pic when I was in Kuruman earlier this year. (Click on the thumbnail). This was a hand press.. very basic but Moffat did print the first Bible in an African language (Setswana) on it.

 

kuruman.jpg.167ec114cff009995268c9490c145147.jpg

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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Two facts we can confirm

 

Dennrein says

 

In 1816 the missionary register reports (Seeley 1816: 316):

"To remedy the inconvenience sustained by the people (who have now made considerable progress in civilization), by their want of a circulating medium, the Directors are now procuring for them a coinage of silver tokens. Mr. Read, considering Griqua Town as a central station of great importance, is of opinion that a printing-press should be established there; a measure which the Directors highly approve.”

 

All this does is confirm two things:

 

1) the extract Schoeman has transcribed in his book

 

2) that the coins were sent as TOKENS not anything else

 

I can see you share my frustration about finding something concrete in so many areas. As someone who has studied the Griqua history for over 30 years I have absolutely no doubt that they never circulated. When you consider all the facts including Helms comments asking what to do with the great majority of them (late 1820), the nomadic lifestyle of the Griqua back then, the lack of a trading store and the total lack of reference to them in Campbell's book on his second trip - these confirm the reality.

 

As Arndt says.. not one token ever circulated.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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Hi Dennrein

 

On point 1, of course we don't know whether it was meant to be Dutch decimal currency that the Griqua coins were based on. It just makes the most sense to me. I agree with Pierre Henri that the 1/4 and 1/2 denomination standing for 15 or 30 minutes of labour doesn't make sense. I haven't found one reference of clocks being used amongst the Griqua at the time. And labour would not have been measured in quarters of an hour. You posted examples of 1/2 denomination labour tokens, but they represented 1/2 day. So there still is no proof that 1/4 or 1/2 hour labour tokens have ever existed anywhere. Regarding the resentment of all things Dutch on the part of the Colonial government, this is not true for the missionaries. They were still using rixdollars to pay the Griqua (see Schoeman) and they used the Dutch language to speak with the Griqua. So why not base the coins on Dutch currency, if the only banknotes around were based on it?

 

I think we both agree now that they were issued as tokens.

 

What I find interesting is that the missionaries only ever refer to the silver tokens - ie not the bronze ones. I had previously considered that they might have had no link at all to Griquatown UNTIL the Griqua Chief (Waterboer) in the video in the first post on this thread states he has "seen the bronze ones" (originating from Andries Waterboer).

 

The silver 5 and the 10, to me, clearly reflect a period of time worked (labour token).. I wonder if someone here could work out the value of half a day and a day's work back then for a low paid labourer by way of silver coinage. Is there any reference to this so we can compare? My view remains that the idea was to pay a Griqua 5 for a half day's work and a ten for a full day's work (five and ten hours). That would solve the problem of how to pay someone working for the missionaries and (if they had had somewhere to trade them) would probably have worked.

 

The bronze 1/4 and 1/2 are an enigma... if we accept the basis of the silver tokens then the bronze would be for a smaller period of time or a different purpose. Like you have with most of your suggestions.. I can only speculate on what that period of time would have been or the purpose. For example, the bronze tokens might have been intended as a form of payment for "togt" (child) labour.. with the children being paid smaller values for different tasks. Heck.. who knows?

 

The problem with the decimalisation theory is this. In a word - change.

If that was the intention (as you suggest) then why have such a big gap between a five and a 1/2.. ie it takes ten bronze 1/2 tokens to make up a single five in change... and if you change a ten you are in even bigger trouble. Consider this fact that very few tokens were actually distributed (source Helm).. once I have a ten how do I buy an item that is only worth a quarter of that value? No one has change.

 

The decimalisation theory comes unstuck on this point alone.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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dennrein

History

 

Here are some points in reply:

 

1. Thanks for the interesting link on Moffat and his Kuruman mission. He certainly was an important figure at the time. But the printing press mentioned in the LMS report of 1816, Cupido's letter of 1817 and the American Missionary Register of 1821 is not the same as the Kuruman printing press. Various sources confirm that Helm printed the first book on the Tswana language in Griquatown somewhere around 1820, while Moffat only got his printing press in 1831.

 

2. I agree that having no trading store and the nomadic inclination of the Griqua would have made it difficult to get the tokens circulating. That is precisely why "the greater part" - NOT "the great majority", as you quote Helm - of the coins was still in possession of the mission. The lack of reference by Campbell to the coins on his second journey isn't convincing evidence. He also doesn't refer to the printing activities that would have been much more important in terms of missionary work, which shows that he had other things on his mind, e.g. Anderson leaving Griquatown, Read refusing to leave Lattakoo etc.

 

3. The labour token question: Why would five represent a half day and ten a whole day? Is there any parallel of this on any labour tokens ever issued? This poses the same question as with the copper tokens: Why would the missionaries express something in hours, if the time of day was determined by where the sun stood. I can't find proof anywhere that the missionaries used watches or clocks with the Griqua because it would have been meaningless. I don't see the problem with the big gap between 1/2 and 5. It would have been the same with your labour theory if someone worked, say, for 4 1/2 hours. Why not mint a coin that says one hour, so you only pay five instead of nine coins? It simply wasn't done, for whatever reason. I don't see it as substantial evidence, proving they had to be labour tokens. Besides, as I have pointed out several times, Campbell himself said the coins were meant for the Griquas to be able to purchase "any small article, such as knives, scissars, clothing, etc." (Campbell 1815: 354), in which case token values as "hours of work" would make no sense.

 

Regards

dennrein

Edited by dennrein

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Printing Press

 

We are getting a bit off topic here.. so this is my last comment on this...

 

Dennrein says

1. Thanks for the interesting link on Moffat and his Kuruman mission. He certainly was an important figure at the time. But the printing press mentioned in the LMS report of 1816, Cupido's letter of 1817 and the American Missionary Register of 1821 is not the same as the Kuruman printing press. Various sources confirm that Helm printed the first book on the Tswana language in Griquatown somewhere around 1820, while Moffat only got his printing press in 1831.

 

....

 

The lack of reference by Campbell to the coins on his second journey isn't convincing evidence. He also doesn't refer to the printing activities that would have been much more important in terms of missionary work, which shows that he had other things on his mind, e.g. Anderson leaving Griquatown, Read refusing to leave Lattakoo etc.

 

The references you make to a printing press in Griquatown is fascinating. It is the first I have heard of it and I would refer you to this quote from "Letters to the American Missionaries"... (pg86)

 

Quote: Footnote 4: In 1831 when Moffat returned from Cape Town, he brought with him "an excellent printing-press, which Dr Philip had in his possession for OUR mission. He and Roger Edwards who joined him at Cape Town, also studied the art of printing there. But Griquatown did not have a press at that date; even up to 1835 they could not succeed in getting one. (See Moffat: Missionary Labours, pg 147 and pg 149 where it states that the press at Kuruman had also to supply the mission at Griquatown with printed lessons etc)

 

Source: Letters of the American missionaries ... - D. J. Kotzé - Google Books

 

The other point I would make that makes your references dubious is that it was Moffat who first put the Tswana (Setswana) language into writing. He only completed this in the 1830s - so there is something wrong here. He then used his printing press to print the first Setswana Bible.

 

Here is another photo I took while at the Kuruman Mission (Click for detail). The piece highlighted in white states "This is oldest known example of written Setswana" (1825):

 

sets.jpg.83f7a29eef27100883678600c9d567fc.jpg

 

Futhermore I have discussed this very point with Hetta Hager the Curator of the Griquatown Museum (1980 to 2011). Books like the "Griqua Conundrum" (Linda Waldman) suggest on page 112 that Griquatown had a printing press and "it stands in the museum at Griquatown". I have been to the Mary Moffat Museum three times in the last few years... it ain't there! BUT Moffat's printing press indeed stands in the Kuruman Mission Museum precinct (see the image in my post above). In my view some of the people who have written books have become a little bit confused about who did what, where and when....

 

Here is an 18 minute raw video focused on the Griquatown Museum and Hetta Hager .. it's not a big museum and there is no printing press!

 

Hetta Hager states that the first printing press north of the Orange River was at Kuruman BUT there is a lot of confusion in history books resulting from some ridiculous claims made by early missionaries.. sound familiar?

 

In fact the first printing press in South Africa was only set up in South Africa at Cape Town in 1801...

 

That is why Campbell makes no mention of a printing press at Griquatown.. there wasn't one.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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Great point!!

 

Dennrein says....

 

3. The labour token question: Why would five represent a half day and ten a whole day? Is there any parallel of this on any labour tokens ever issued? This poses the same question as with the copper tokens: Why would the missionaries express something in hours, if the time of day was determined by where the sun stood. I can't find proof anywhere that the missionaries used watches or clocks with the Griqua because it would have been meaningless. I don't see the problem with the big gap between 1/2 and 5. It would have been the same with your labour theory if someone worked, say, for 4 1/2 hours. Why not mint a coin that says one hour, so you only pay five instead of nine coins? It simply wasn't done, for whatever reason. I don't see it as substantial evidence, proving they had to be labour tokens. Besides, as I have pointed out several times, Campbell himself said the coins were meant for the Griquas to be able to purchase "any small article, such as knives, scissars, clothing, etc." (Campbell 1815: 354), in which case token values as "hours of work" would make no sense.

 

The great disconnect highlighted above...

 

Let's analyse Campbell's much quoted comment suggesting coins as published in his first book (1813):

 

The full quote:

"It was likewise resolved that as they (the Griquas) had no circulating medium amongst them by which they could purchase any small article, such as knives, scissars (sic) etc, etc. supposing a shop to be established amongst them - which they were anxious there should be - they should apply to the (London) Missionary Society to get silver pieces of different value coined for them in England, which the Missionaries would take for their allowance from the Society, having the name of Griqua town marked on them. It is probable that if this were adopted in a short time they would circulate amongst all the nations about, and be a great convenience".

 

In summary:

If a shop was established at Griquatown then coins could be used to purchase small items. The missionaries do (eventually) apply for tokens along the lines suggested by Campbell in 1816. If a store had FIRST been established at Griquatown then the coins might well have circulated in day to day trade.

Fact:

- no store was ever established at this time in Griquatown

 

So where would they get these small items such as scissors, clothes etc?

 

The tokens that arrived c1820 were very different to the coins envisaged by Campbell (apart from their metallic content and the words Griquatown). This is where the great disconnect comes in. The "values" back then make no sense and no one can dispute this.

 

As I have said previously the ONLY REASON the Strachan and Co and other East Griqualand trade tokens like James Cole minted in the 1800s were successful was because the Griqua could take them to their local stores and buy stuff - like Campbell first envisaged in his quote above.

 

If you had tried to give the Griqua token coins and suggested they had value while they had nowhere to exchange them the scheme would fail. I would suggest that if you tried to introduce a coin today which could not be used at your local stores (at least you have them) you would be laughed at as well. Try it!!

 

It ain't rocket science!!

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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