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Mike Klee

The De Mist Scheepjes Guldens as South Africa's first indigenous coinage.

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Mike Klee

I see that my topic of the Griquatown coins has been focussing on the De Mist Scheepjes Guldens, so it would be better to have a separate discussion on these altogether. I see that other contributors believe that the De Mist Scheepjes Guldens were the first indigenous coins.

 

However, we already have worrying anomalies which to me appear to challenge this belief.

 

Firstly, they were minted for circulation for the Cape of Good Hope and the rest of the Dutch East Indies/ former VOC eastern territories, but one source says that the very first shipload of these for the Cape ended up in Batavia/the East as the British authorities occupying the Cape refused to allow them to land.

 

Secondly, Pierre-Henri suggested that maybe 100,000 eventually ended up in the Cape? This is puzzling to me as it would seem that far fewer of these 100,000 ended up surviving in modern day South Africa than the GQT coinage, of which I would believe far fewer were minted. Or am I mistaken and they are much more commonly found in South Africa than I think?

 

Lastly, even the eventual circulation of these De Mist Scheepjes Guldens appears odd: really, they were landed in Cape Town at some unknown time and stored in the Castle until Major- General Baird decided to release them into the Cape? Sounds odd....

 

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Guest

Hi Mike,

 

The answer is complicated and in part to do with the greed of the VOC, economics, paper money, exchange rates and the role of the Cape during a particular period of war and peace to name few. You should try and get hold of Prof Arndt's Banking and Currency Development in South Africa. This book is a must have and seldom comes up for sale at a reasonable price. I also post a link to an excellent paper written by Brian Kantor. http://www.zaeconomist.com/research/1971.pdf

 

It is interesting but heavy reading for the layman, as they focus on the economist side of things. You have to be familiar with the history of the periods to understand and complete the picture. I find it top drawer hobby material.

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Pierre_Henri

In 1959, J Vinkenborg wrote an article in a Dutch Numismatic publication that mentions the Scheepjesgulden sent to the Cape in 1803 (the first of the two shipments to the value of 100 000 Gulden)

 

Het geld dat door de Mist doorgezonden werd, is van Kaap de Goede Hoop in Indië aangekomen. Het bestaat uit: 57670 hele Scheepjes-guldens, 39600 halve, 36000 kwart, 67200 achtste 38400 zestiende. Samen verpakt in 7 kisten, verder 7 vaatjes, inhoudende: 358400 hele duiten 156800 halve duiten. Totale waarde is ƒ 100.000.-.

 

(J Vinkenborg DE GEUZENPENNING MUNT- EN PENNINGKUNDIG NIEUWS JUL I 1959)

 

Regarding the value they represent, I did the following calculation

 

57 670 One Guldens

39 600 Half Guldens (worth 19 800 Gulden)

36 000 Quarter Guldens (worth 9000 Gulden)

67 200 Eight Guldens (worth 8400 Gulden)

38 400 Sixteenth Guldens (worth 2400 Gulden)

 

Total = 97 270 Gulden = 238 870 coins

 

This was the first shipment to arrive at the Cape, and if one wish to compare it to the second shipment (that was put into circulation at the Cape), one has to leave the One Gulden coins and the coppers out as there were none included in the second shipment).

 

First batch (181 200 coins to the value of 39 600 Gulden)

 

21.9% of the total coins were Half Gulden compromising 50% of the total value

19.9% of the total coins were Quarter Gulden compromising 22.72% of the total value

37.1% of the total coins were Eight Gulden compromising 21.21% of the total value

21.2% of the total coins were Sixteenth Gulden compromising 6.06% of the total value

 

If one look at the second shipment (worth 14 976 Gulden) it constitutes 37.81% of the value of the first shipment.

 

If, just for the sake of the argument, the percentage of each value was the same in the two batches, the second shipment (that was put into circulation at the Cape) should have had the following numbers

 

Half Gulden: 14 976 coins

Quarter Gulden: 13 610 coins

Eight Gulden: 25 411 coins

Sixteenth Gulden: 14 520 coins

 

Total: 68 517 coins

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Mike Klee

If one was to break down the actual shipment of Scheepjes Guldens from the Netherlands eastwards to the Cape and to the Netherland East Indies, there must be a record of the number of such shipments, the names of the ships involved, the dates that they sailed from the Netherlands, how far these ships went and where and when these coins were discharged.

 

Pierre- Henri mentions the first shipment was in 1803 and that there was a second shipment. Were there any other shipments?

 

My passion is for shipwrecks and I have heard of the existence of a book describing every single voyage from the Netherlands where specie was involved.

 

Can anybody else shed light on those voyages which carried Scheepjes Guldens ?

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Pierre_Henri

Even though between 50 000 and 75 000 silver Ship Guldens were send to the Cape and dispersed for circulation in 1806, I cannot find one single record that shows that they actually circulated.

 

So if we follow Scott Balson's line of thinking, the 50 000 + coins were handed out as trinket freebees at the Cape - and never actually circulated because we have no record showing the opposite.

 

 

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Mike Klee

Here's the thing: with 50,000 to 75,000 Ship Guldens were sent to the Cape in 1806 and put into circulation, why is that survivors of these coins don't seem to be found in modern day South Africa? GQT coins in South Africa do, holey dollars from the same time period in Australia surface now and again in that country, but I had even never seen one of these ship guldens until I bought one from a fellow collector.

 

For a coinage that was in circulation, what happened to them all? Why aren't they found by metal-detectorists - when even a much rarer Burgerspond has been found in such a manner? Even a chance find of a stash of old coins - which included a GQT 10 pence, a 1797 Great Britain C/S on a Mexico 8R 1797, together with other varied coins pre-1820 - did not yield a ship gulden. Why?

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Mike Klee

Here is the Proclamation by Sir David Baird on the 12th of June, 1806:

 

"Whereas it has been represented to me, that the Inhabitants of this Settlement suffer considerable inconvenience for want of some circulating medium of a small value, and whereas with a view to remedy this evil, the late Batavian Government had coined and imported a Silver Coinage, but which had not been issued at the period of the Surrender of this Settlement; now, having taken the same into my consideration, and being anxious to contribute in every reasonable measure to the welfare of the Inhabitants, I do hereby direct that the same shall be forthwith issued by His Majesty's Receiver General, and become current in this Settlement, at the rate at which the Batavian Government intended to have issued the same; namely,

 

The Quarter Guilder is to pass for Six Stivers Currency, or be equal in value to the present paper skilling.

 

The small coin of the value of the eighth part of the Dutch Guilder is to pass for three Stivers Currency, or be equal to half the present Paper Skilling.

 

And whereas a considerable number of English Copper Penny Pieces were imported into this Settlement during the last War; and whereas it has also been represented to me, that if they were again thrown into circulation, it would be advantageous to the Settlement in general, I, by the Power and Authority vested in me by His Majesty, do hereby revoke all former Proclamations or Orders on the subject, and direct that those Penny Pieces are henceforth to pass current in this Settlement for two Stivers Currency, or the third part of a Paper Skilling"

 

Of interest, the silver coinage available to Sir David Baird had to have been from the second shipment of ships gulden - the first had been refused permission to land in the Cape by the British - and consisted of quarter guilders and one eight guilders. These two coins had to have been all that was available at the Cape for Sir David Baird to use, as that was all he referred to.

 

As there were apparently only two shipments of ship guldens that went eastwards - and the first shipment was refused entry to the then British-controlled cape - the figures Pierre-Henri was wonderfully able to supply in his post of the 3rd December does give the actual total value of the ship guldens that finally arrived here in the second shipment: 14,976 gulden worth.

 

However, the second capitulation in 1806 of the Cape contained a clause in the treaty that specified that "their Treasure....must be delivered up." [to the British].

 

The Dutch weren't stupid, and the British would not have wanted to provoke a fight re what happened to the "Treasure" retained by the Batavian authorities at the Cape. It seems reasonable to believe that the higher value coins - the ships gulden and the half gulden - would have been spirited to a Dutch ship in the middle of the night, leaving only a token of "treasure" in the form of quarter guldens and one-eighth guldens. The more valuable one guldens and half guldens were obviously not at the Cape when Sir David Baird issued his Proclamation in 1806, so the issuing and legalisation of these two minor coins speaks volumes about which of the ships guldens actually did end up really circulating in the Cape.

 

But....we also don't know how they were received or accepted by the local population? Just why does it seem to me that they never truly circulated at all?

 

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Pierre_Henri

Both Shaw (1956) and Engelbrecht (1987) confirm that initially, only the Quarter and Eight Guldens were put into circulation, both both writers confirm that the Half Gulden was later released.

 

Shaw (Die Geskiedenis van Betaalmiddels in Suid Afrika published by the South African Museum in 1956) writes "Blykbaar is slegs die kwart en agste-gulde-stukke uitgereik, want slegs hiervan word melding gemaak (by Baird on 12 June 1806) maar later is die half-gulde in omloop gesien"

 

Grobbelaar writes "Weens die algemene tekort aan kleingeld het Baird 'n vreemde munt, die Scheepjes-geldstukke (kwart en agsteguldenstukke) van De Mist in omloop gebring. Die halfguldenstuk het ook later sy verskyning gemaak",

 

The leading expert on Dutch colonial coinage was C. Scholten who published The Coins of the Dutch overseas territories in 1953. I do not have a copy of the book but are almost sure that Dr George Jacobs in Natal has a copy. Maybe he can check if Scholten had anything to say about the Scheepjesgulden?

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