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The Wesleyville Xhosa Tokens of 1825. South Africa's first tokens?

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The heading must actually read The Wesleyville Xhosa Tokens of 1825. One of South Africa's first tokens?


Reading through old posts on the forum, I came upon this


Missionary William Shaw introduced tokens at his mission in Wesleyville amongst the Xhosa in 1825, each token being worth five strings of beads (Beck 1989: 223).


A little internet research this morning found this


"Workmen and servants" were usually paid in beads, though at Wesleyville in 1825, William Shaw was paying wages with "a kind of tin token - about the size of a sixpence and stamped with a W,, each token passes current, on the place and neighbourhood, for five strings of beads, the daily wages of a man".


Does anyone know anything about these tokens? They are not mentioned in Herns book on Southern African Tokens.

Edited by Pierre_Henri

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Mike Klee

The mission station Wesleyville is about half way between Port Elizabeth and East London and is now called Wesley. Amongst a grove of blue gum trees is nestled a very old church - which, sadly, I have always sped past - and I would imagine this must have been the site of the actual mission itself.I haven't heard anything about these tokens, so here is another great nugget springing up on this forum.


What is strange to me is that the missionaries seemed to routinely try and create their own "currency". This is odd, as the 1820 settlers had flooded the area up to the Fish River, and I think that by 1825 there should have been adequate British gold, silver and copper coins available for circulation.


With Wesleyville beyond the Fish River and outside of the Cape Colony in 1825, perhaps this was a way of economising on the part of the missionaries. Not very successful as these tokens seem to have vanished altogether.

Edited by Mike Klee

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