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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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keesuit1
On 12/9/2015 at 7:49 AM, Pierre_Henri said:

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.

 

On 12/9/2015 at 7:49 AM, Pierre_Henri said:

 

 

What happened to the 1/16 Guldens? They are not mentioned in your posts.
Many Dutch writers think that only 1/8 and 1/16 gulden of the second 1802 edition would have been shipped to the Cape. That is coins like # 226 and 228 in the picture. If so it would be those two types that would be the ones you would expect to find mostly in South African collections and auctions.
Could you tell me if that is the case?

Lately I spent some time on investigating the die combinations used to strike the ship guldens. see https://www.zeno.ru/showgallery.php?cat=17032 and I am preparing a small article on them. It would be mighty interesting to know which die combinations were used for the coins send to the Cape.
Could you look in your collections what combinations (bought in South Africa) are present there? Or suggest me where to search for pictures from SA collections or auctions or records of these coins found in SA soil?

Do you have any information on the date the coins arrived in the Cape or with which ship? It is interestion to now because there is a request for the minting of 15,000 gulden of 1/4, 1/8 and 1/16 gulden coins from 19 August 1802. That is after De Mist had already sailed 5 August with the first batch that ended up in Netherlands East Indies.

I look forward to your information, Kees Uitenbroek

In you posts

 

 

Moquette plate 9 scheepjesguldens.jpg

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Pierre_Henri
On 4/12/2021 at 2:23 PM, keesuit1 said:

What happened to the 1/16 Guldens? They are not mentioned in your posts.
Many Dutch writers think that only 1/8 and 1/16 gulden of the second 1802 edition would have been shipped to the Cape. That is coins like # 226 and 228 in the picture. If so it would be those two types that would be the ones you would expect to find mostly in South African collections and auctions.
Could you tell me if that is the case?

Lately I spent some time on investigating the die combinations used to strike the ship guldens. see https://www.zeno.ru/showgallery.php?cat=17032 and I am preparing a small article on them. It would be mighty interesting to know which die combinations were used for the coins send to the Cape.
Could you look in your collections what combinations (bought in South Africa) are present there? Or suggest me where to search for pictures from SA collections or auctions or records of these coins found in SA soil?

Do you have any information on the date the coins arrived in the Cape or with which ship? It is interestion to now because there is a request for the minting of 15,000 gulden of 1/4, 1/8 and 1/16 gulden coins from 19 August 1802. That is after De Mist had already sailed 5 August with the first batch that ended up in Netherlands East Indies.

I look forward to your information, Kees Uitenbroek

In you posts

 

 

Moquette plate 9 scheepjesguldens.jpg

i don't actually post on this forum anymore, but if you scroll up you will see this old of mine

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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keesuit1
Posted (edited)

Dear Pierre_Henri. I did read your earlier post before I posted myself.

In www.jaarboekvoormuntenpenningkunde.nl/jaarboek/1973/1973-1974e.pdf I found in Sprong's article that the ministry of finance wanted 19 August 1802 to commission 15,000 gulden worth of 1/4, 1.8 and 1/16 gulden pieces to be struck. These would be the coins that arrived at Cape in the second shipment. The first shipment that ended up in Netherlands East Indies had sailed 5th of August.
Sprong thinks the second shipment consisted only of the second type of 1/8 and 1/16. The proclamation of Baird makes it clear that also 1/4 pieces must have been sent, or there must have been a mistake in naming the denominations.

Shaw says: (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"
This as strange, as there is no mention of 1/16 guldens. Have they not been seen?
Has been seen could also indicate a stray 1/2 gulden returned from NEI and was noticed by someone.
Or was there a clever businessman who bought all coins, in order to get a nice 25% profit in exporting them NEI, where the rate was 30 stuiver to the guilder?

Therefore my questions. If these coins circulated in the Cape at all, this must be traceble in the coins available to collectors in South Africa today.
As, as in your calculations, about 1 in each 3 1/8 guilder pieces would have been released in the Cape, there must be some presence of these coins in SA auctions and collections, certaily compared to the denominations that where not issued there.

So let me rereat my question: could you help me to find out which types of coins were contained in the second shipment by looking at coins in your collections and in suggesting me how I could best research auction and collections in SA via internet.

With best regards,

Kees

 

Edited by keesuit1
Added date of first shipment

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Pierre_Henri
Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, keesuit1 said:

So let me rereat my question: could you help me to find out which types of coins were contained in the second shipment by looking at coins in your collections and in suggesting me how I could best research auction and collections in SA via internet.

With best regards,

Kees

Hi Kees. 

It is a difficult question as the Scheepjes Guldens (and Dutch colonial coins) are not that widely collected in South Africa as other series like the ZAR, Union and even the earlier coinage of Great Britain.

However, in January 1964, V. Des Vages exhibited his Scheepjes Gulden Collection at the Second South African Numismatic Exhibition at the Old Supreme Court in Cape Town. It consisted of the 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 and 1/16th Guldens. In his exhibit he mentioned the five different varieties regarding the position of the main mast to the "T".

Over the years I have seen a few 1/16 Guldens in older Cape Collections, but for some reason, the majority were holed, maybe to be carried on a chain or something as a small pendant similar to a modern day St Christopher?

One was sold by me a couple of years ago - it was in a collection of a retired Navy Officer from Simon's Town and we had it graded with NGC (Uncirculated details - cleaned)

.161212134949_Wij049.jpg

Old Dutch coins  that circulated here (actually any pre-Victorian coins except the coppers of the early 1800s) are seldom encountered.

I have been the editor of the South African Metal Detecting Club for many years and during all those years, I was aware of maybe a handful of old Dutch coins being found in and around Cape Town (not in the sea - there are plenty of VOC wrecks around). The coins that were found were usually smaller issues like the Bezem Stuiver of the 1700s and obviously the copper Doits.

But not once did I hear of anyone finding any of the Scheepsjesgulden denominations.  

So I guess that when they were put into circulation, they soon found a way out with passing ships to be exchanged for a better rate overseas. So their actual circulation locally must have been very limited. 

Kind regards

Pierre

 

 

Edited by Pierre_Henri

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keesuit1

Thanks Pierre,

The coins being holed might indicate them being used in jewelry. Being holed they would not have been acceptable as coins any more, so would have lost their export value. But then a bejeweled lady may have come to SA.

Let me put here links to Dutch literature on the subject

Van der Kemp, P.H. – Episodes uit de geschiedenis der aanmuntingen ten behoeve van Oost-Indië in 1802-1817 – Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indië, deel 70, 2de afl. (1915), blz. 259-277 en 362-375
www.jstor.org/stable/20769785

Leyten, J. - De Scheepjesgulden van 1802 en haar Onderdelen, De Beeldenaar nr. 2 februari 1978, blz. 10-12
www.debeeldenaar.nl/onewebmedia/De_Beeldenaar_2_1978.pdf

Moquette, J.P. – De munten van Nederlandsch Indië (vervolg) – Tijdschrift voor Indische taal-, land- en volkerkunde, deel L, 1908, blz. 186-206
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/Tijdschrift_voor_Indische_Taal-%2C_Land-_en_Volkenkunde_-_Deel_1_%281908%29.pdf

Naber, Johanna – De reis van Augusta van Uitenhage de Mist door de binnenlanden van Zuid-Afrika. (1803-1804). – Onze Eeuw, jaargang 15 (1915) blz. 369-396
www.dbnl.org/auteurs/auteur.php?id=uite009

Spronk, J.E.W. – De Scheepjesgulden van 1802 en zijn fracties. – Jaarboek voor Munt- en Penningkunde 60/61 1973/1974, blz. 158-162.
www.jaarboekvoormuntenpenningkunde.nl/jaarboek/1973/1973-1974e.pdf

Vinkenborg, J. - Uit de Muntgeschiedenis van Nederlands-Indië,. deel 1 - De Geuzenpenning juli 1959, blz. 30-31
https://debeeldenaar.nl/onewebmedia/De_Geuzenpenning_9_1959.pdf

Just another question. The Cape was a catering station for VOC ships, how did they pay for there goods? There must have been more then just paper money circulating. What kind of coins were used for small transactions?

Kind regards,

Kees

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keesuit1

I just read that also Vinkenborg mentions the 1/2 gulden as part of second shipment. Does Shaw, Engelbrecht or Grobbelaar mention a source to confirm this, or is this an assumption based on the fact that such coins have been observed later?

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Mike Klee

I do not think that these coins being holed or not made any difference as to whether the Scheepsjesgulden were used as coins for trade or not. Silver - as a precious metal, like gold - was silver and had an intrinsic, clearly defined value, which value would fluctuate slightly over the short term.

The trade between Europe and the East involved a one-way flow of precious metals from Europe - mostly coinage, sometimes silver and gold bars.  We know this from the many "treasure" wrecks found strewn on the seabed from Europe to the East. The VOC vessel Meresteyn was wrecked off Saldahna Bay in 1702 whilst sailing to Batavia,  carrying the usual large consignment of silver for trade. Interestingly, many of these silver coins dated back to the early 1600's and it is apparent that they were being transported for their silver value only.

Likewise, the Chinese were very astute in their trading with the European nations, readily accepting 8-reale coins struck by certain mints in the Spanish colonies of South America and being hesitant re the coinage from other mints in these same colonies. Why? Because they had picked up that these 8- reale coins might look and weight the same, but a difference of one or two percent points in the actual silver purity could make a big difference - when spread over tens of thousand of coins - to the actual amount of pure silver that they were being paid.

Anyway, the Scheepsjesgulden were all silver, and silver has/had an inherent value for trade - holed or not.

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Pierre_Henri
9 hours ago, Mike Klee said:

Anyway, the Scheepsjesgulden were all silver, and silver has/had an inherent value for trade - holed or not.

It was just something I have seen in encountering them throughout the years - the holes were probably made many many years after ....  

It obviously does not point to their circulation (or not).

I have NEVER seen a very circulated Scheepjes piece.

 

 

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