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Southern Africa Tokens

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Pinkx

Diamond House

 

Thanks Scott. I would agree that the diamond house token was probably used prior to 1890 given that most of the English coinage by 1890 no longer had the Victoria young/bunhead on the obverse.

 

It would be interesting to see how many (if any) of the other British/Commonwealth tokens minted at 1890 or later had the Victoria young/bunhead (I unfortunately do not have access to my reference catalogues for the next week or so, so cannot check to see).

 

The only other Victoria younghead token that I can think of is the Parkes 3d token (Hern 418a, pg 199 on the 2009 catalogue) and that apparently was used circa 1870 to 1880.

 

It is also interesting to note the incorrect spelling of Kimberley ("Kimberly") on the Diamond House token.

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rjbSALES

please assist,me is this a token?

 

Hi all, i am not a token collector, and only started now and find this amazing, and find this thread very interesting and informative, and would like to thank all of you for these great posts. please see below attachments, i donot know if this is a token? I researched the KBC which is on the item, and can only see it have to do with the native land commissioner in buchum,this item was found in polokwane/louis trichardt area.any feedback would be much appreciated. thks a mill.

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geejay50

Unlisted 6d token Phoenix Hotel Kimberley

 

Hi Steve,

 

Thanks for your solid research and exemplary contribution to this field.

I am not a big Token collector but I keep some that are well known or interesting to me.(I have read that more than three of anything means you have a collection!!)

 

I chanced upon a batch of Tokens recently and found some that were not listed including this 6d without any obvious marks of origin.

 

I asked Allyn Jacobs, one of the big names in this field and he sent me a probable origin and an interesting link to former Prime Minister Jan Smuts whom many still regard as one of the brightest politicians this country has produced.

 

The 6d was according to Peter Bowles and Martin Badenhorst made and used in the Phoenix Hotel in Kimberley where in 1929, Jan Smuts gave his famous "Black Manifesto". In the canvassing speech he recommended that Africa become a federation of African states and this was distorted by Hertzog for the Opposition with the usual 'swart gevaar' warning .

 

The 6d I have is identical to the pic Allyn sent me but has not been listed in Brian's book unfortunately.

 

Many thanks.

 

Geejay

58f5a71a837a3_TokenUnlistedPhoenixHotelErmelo.jpg.d4c228fcc13295d00074006445baafba.jpg

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coinoisseur

Hi Georg

 

Is this a uniface token? Whats on the other side

 

 

 

Cheers

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geejay50

Not uniface, it has the same inscription on the other side.Thanks

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Pinkx

Phoenix Hotel Token

 

Hi Georg

 

Thank you for a most exciting post of a 6d token.

 

Attached see the image for the 3d token, attributed by Badenhorst (in his token notes) to the Phoenix Hotel. Allyn Jacobs also has this 3d token.

 

This 3d token was originally included in the draft revision of the 2009 token catalogue but was omitted from the final printed version of the catalogue (due to space constraints - i.e. it could not be suitably squeezed into the bottom of page 206).

 

The 3d piece is made of brass, 32.3 mm diameter, 1.4 mm thick and has a reeded edge. It has the same inscription on both sides.

 

Perhaps the 3d and 6d piece form part of a larger series with other denominations ?

 

Best regards

Steve

100_8446.jpg.29fb218dc9b58f974b58f77b3106e206.jpg

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Pinkx

Mc Namee's / Geen & Richards Token ?

 

I recently purchased the following piece on BoB. The listing suggested that the token had been made into a key. I now have the key in my possession and can confirm that it is one single piece - and was not a token made into a key. As a bonus, the key fits and works perfectly in an old sideboard lock (with the old scratch marks on the key matching those that would be made by such a lock). This would make sense since Mc Namee's / Geen & Richards were furniture retailers and probably therefore supplied keys for the locks on their furniture.

 

This is therefore not a token made into a key but rather a key that can be made into a "token". The "token" shown in Herns appears to be the broken head of such a key and I suggest that it should be removed from future editions of the token catalogue.

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Guest Guest

Hi Stephen

 

I agree. The listing in Hern should be withdrawn as it is clearly not a token coin.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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coinoisseur

A Lottery During The Boer War

 

This has nothing to do with tokens, but I though I would share it with you. Who would have thought that a lottery was run during the Siege of Mafeking during the Boer War. I was happy to add this to my collection

 

 

 

Cheers

Mafeking1.jpg.d5761a600e34cf9b1bfe9706b6d02bfe.jpg

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Pinkx

Mafeking Lottery

 

An interesting piece of history ...

Do you know when the first train did arrive in Mafeking after the siege ?

I wonder who or how many won this Lottery in the end ?

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Hi Anthony

 

It may not be a token coin but it does give a fascinating insight into the upbeat mood of the residents of Mafeking after the siege. It would appear that Platnauer's name is incorrectly spelt on the note. Googling Platnaeur I found the following: My wife's mother was born in Mafeking in 1898 as Maude Mary Lyons. Her mother later married a merchant of Mafeking, a Mr. Platnaeur. He appears in the Mafeking Siege Mail as Plateneau. Maude was adopted by Platnauer and bore that surname until her marriage to James Riley in 1920. At a later time she used the names Maude Agnes Winfred Riley.

 

An E J L Platneaur edited the book "Sport and pastime in the Transvaal including biographical sketches of Transvaal Sportsmen" published in 1908 (ABC Books in Durban have a copy of his book for sale for about ZAR400) and is referred to in the book "Bats and Bayonets: Cricket and the Anglo-Boer war 1899-1902" by Dean Allen.

 

There is apparently another copy of this lottery ticket - story at this link: http://m.theherald.co.za/%28S%28jfyqfj45c5ga0l45pq4nmi55%29%29/default.aspx?id=1762&articleid=410681 - "A BURST pipe at Port Elizabeth‘s Main Library resulted in the intriguing discovery of documents from the sieges of Mafeking and Kimberley and the blockade of Pretoria in 1881 during the first Anglo-Boer War."

 

I wonder if J P Bartho is referred to in the Mafeking Siege slips as I can find no reference to him on Google. I will have a look over the weekend for him and Platnaeur.

 

What we can ascertain is that the draw was held on 30th July 1900 (a Monday) - Mafeking was relieved in May 1900.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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The F C Larkan tokens (part one)

 

The F C Larkan tokens of East Griqualand:

 

I would like to recognise Prof Clive Graham a man I admire immensely when posting this. I hope that it will bring back fond memories for Clive of those early days!

 

For numismatists in South Africa the F C Larkan token coins represent a fascinating insight into those early "colonial" days when the pioneering (white) settlers spread into the remotest areas of "darkest" Africa.

 

While researching the Strachan coins back in 1977 I came across a small white canvas bag, with the dimensions of a beer coaster but about two inches high. It's contents were held in place by a string tie at the top. The canvas bag held about 50 of the F C Larkan tokens. Frances Charlotte Larkan, the woman who had them minted, is recognised as the only female in those pioneering days to have token coins minted.

 

The tokens came into the possession of Strachan and Co in the late 1920s after her trading empire collapsed and went into liquidation. (Strachan bought the Larkan stores and accepted the outstanding tokens as part of the settlement).

 

At this time I was corresponding with the late Dr Theron who penned South Africa's first comprehensive book on token coins back in the 1970s. In a letter from Dr Theron written at that time he says: "This letter is just to say that the set of Larkan tokens arrived safely. What a thrill for me receive a set of four tokens just about unknown so far, in quite nice condition. This is the thing about collecting tokens. When dealing with coins there are several catalogues to tell you all about them, mint figures, the lot, but with tokens you never know.

 

I was asked about these Larkan tokens about 2-3 years ago by Stan Kaplan, but at that stage I could just say nothing."

 

In an earlier letter dd 21st June 1977, Dr Theron confirms that he had only heard of the existence of Larkan tokens through Stan Kaplan - but had never come across them.

 

See this link for the relevant page of his letter: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100225070738_theron.jpg

 

I was, back then, a young man in my early 20s working for Barclays Bank in Ixopo.

 

Prompted by this remark by Dr Theron, a token coin collector of such renowned standing, I decided that the Larkan tokens required a lot more research than I had already undertaken.

 

I wrote a handful of letters to all the Larkans in Natal. Two letters bore fruit. Mr and Mrs Terence Larkan of Harding and Mr Robert Percival (known as Percy) Larkan of Durban. Mr Percy Larkan of Durban, an elderly man, very kindly invited me to visit him when I was next in Durban. This I did in September 1977. The story he told me was as fascinating as it was complex.

 

In 1872 two brothers John Robert William Larkan and George Larkan sailed from Kilkenny, Eire, with their families to East London. (Ironically my father grew up in Kilkenny!) In 1875 they trekked north into the heart of Nomansland (between the colonies of the Cape to the south and Natal to the north). In about 1880 they formed a partnership and bought the farms of Antioch and Raven Hill in the Nqabeni district near Harding.

 

Soon after they bought the farm Bont Rand (named after a speckled cliff above the farm), outbidding a syndicate of Donald Strachan and Stafford at an auction held in a hotel room in Kokstad. John Larkan paying about six hundred and forty pounds sterling. The farm was 3,200 acres in extent - costing four shillings an acre. The farm was in the Umzimkhulu district not far from the main Strachan trading stores.

 

In 1890 John Robert William Larkan's son, John Robert Larkan, born in 1870, set out on his own. In Durban he was contracted to build the railway line between Durban and Stanger. During the building of this line he formed a strong friendship with an associate, Mr Baytoppe. It was through this friendship that he met Mr Baytoppe's daughter, Frances Charlotte Baytoppe, who later became his wife.

 

After building the railway line between Durban and Stanger, he assisted in the building of the railway line between Glencoe and Dundee. With the money he had earned through his work he was able to buy Bont Rand from his father and his uncle. Such was the price of land he was able to buy two other farms, Readsdale and Gaybrooke. In 1894 he married Francis Charlotte Baytoppe and they settled on the farm Bont Rand.

 

A rather strange custom in force during those early days was the practise known as "halving". This was the letting of land to the locals, whose rent was half the crops that they reaped. John Robert Larkan would gather his share of the crops and sell them in areas of famine for skins, hides, and other goods which he would then sell in Durban for a profit.

 

After a while he found this exercise rather tiring so he decided to open a store on the farm at Bont Rand where natives from areas of famine could conduct their barter trade. He did this in 1901, the year he bought a small tract of land 100 acres in extent, called Cupar, from a Scotsman Jack Bonnar. (Cupar is named after a small town in Scotland). John Larkan opened a store at Cupar too, which was run by a man called Ernest Buhre. (The natives called the Cupar store "Kwabuwe" after him, a name which stuck until the 1980s when Strachan and Co sold their stores following the establishment of the Transkei.

 

See image of Bont Rand store at this link: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100225063242_bont1.JPG

 

Barter trade, John Larkan found, was a totally unsatisfactory way to conduct business. He had seen how the Strachan and Co trade tokens had been used as general currency in the region to the benefit of the Strachan stores and, like many others early traders in the region, decided to create his own. He went cheap, trying cardboard with a monetary value written on the cardboard in ink. The denominations were 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 shilling and nine, six and three pence.

 

This form of coinage was readily accepted by the locals who could redeem them for goods at the Larkan stores as they required them. Mr Percival Larkan recalled them very clearly and made me a set of replica cardboard Larkan tokens out of an old Kelloggs packet.

 

On the 26th September 1906 Mr John Robert Larkan died at the age of 36. Mrs Frances Charlotte Larkan was in a desperate position, being burdened with her young children in the middle of nowhere. She called in the assistance of her brothers William and Arthur Baytoppe. One of the first things that the brothers did was renovate the old store at Bont Rand as thieves had merely dug their way through the mud walls to steal goods at night.

 

Renovated Bont Rand store at this link: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100225063401_bont2.JPG

 

William Baytoppe had all the cardboard tokens burnt as the locals had started to alter the figures represented on them - their favourite alteration being the three shilling to a five shilling. Two shillings in those times represented the equivalent of 40 pounds of shelled mealies (maize). William Baytoppe had seen many of the brass Strachan and Co tokens and they had even accepted them at their stores. He suggested to Frances that she have coins made on a similar line. She ordered aluminium tokens from a firm in Durban to replace the cardboard tokens. These tokens were issued through a genuine shortage of currency as their stores were several days distance by horse from the towns and cities in Natal.

 

Rather like the unique Strachan "MH" tokens, the Larkan tokens were engraved on the back to identify the various trading stores that they had established. All these engraved pieces are extremely rare, and the symbols represent the following stores:

- a "Circle" engraved on the back originated from the Cupar store;

- a "Cross" engraved on the back representing stores leased from Stafford from time to time;

- a "C" engraved on the back originated from the Cancele store; and

- a "Triangle" engraved on the back of the Pikinin Store (native name Sihleza).

 

The Bont Rand store tokens, most common, were not engraved.

The rough engravings described above, can be seen at this link: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100225080509_varieties.jpg

 

The Pikinini and Cancele Stores were opened by Mr John Reed for Mrs Larkan in 1925 when the business was in financial trouble.

 

Mr Reed took over the running of Mrs Larkan's business from the Baytoppe brothers in 1910. Unfortunately he was no businessman and quickly lost the Larkan family fortune. His move in opening the Cancele and Pikinini stores when Mrs Larkan's business was already in financial distress was the last straw - he was sent packing.

 

The stores never recovered so in 1929 Mrs Larkan was forced to sell her doomed enterprise for a song to Donald Strachan's son, Douglas. She sold all four stores, Bont Rand, Cupar, Cancele, and Pikinini. The unblemished F C Larkan tokens found by me in the small canvas pouch among the Strachan and Co tokens when cataloguing the Strachan and Co stock were those only used for trading purposes being handed in to the Larkan stores by natives after the sale of the business.

 

See the "unblemished" F C Larkan tokens here: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100225063704_larone.jpg

 

PART TWO FOLLOWS BELOW

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F C Larkan tokens (part two)

 

Percy Larkan, Frances Larkan's son, promised to send me the directions to the old farm and farmhouse that he had lived in from 1939 to 1955 (ironically the year I was born!). He was true to his word and here is a transcript of his letter:

 

Dear Mr Balson

 

Further to your most interesting visit on the 8th September 1977 relative to the F C Larkan tokens.

 

As promised I will endeavour to relate further "Token Tales" of these once very useful pieces of "Trading Coins".

 

In 1929 my mother, Mrs F. C. Larkan sold the trading stores of Bont Rand, Cupar, Cancele, and Sihleza (Pikinini) to Messrs Strachan and Co of Umzimkulu.

 

As Messrs Strachan and Co were obviously not interested in these tokens, I took possession of them in case they would be useful later. Mrs Larkan sold the farm Bont Rand to the native trust in 1936, when I vacated the farm and took possession of the farm "Protea" in the Glengarry area of the Umzimkulu district. About 1938 to 1939 the Native Trust and Land Act bought up all the farms in the Glengarry area and we* had to find pastures anew.

 

Fortunately was able, with the help of the Department of Lands, to obtain possession of a portion of the farm "Thorninghurst" which is situated about six miles from Donnybrook in Natal. (*Percival Larkan married N F Larkan while at Protea)

 

In November 1939 we packed our bags, tokens included, left "Protea" and sallied forth to "Thorninghurst".

 

After having settled down on the farm. And being adjacent to number four Native Location, I found that ample casual labour (Togt) mostly ntombazans were available and would be ideal labour for light duties such as hay making, reaping mealies, silage making, lifting potatoes, turnips etc.

 

The problem now arose, as in my father's case, when he started trading what to do about petty cash. The nearest bank (at Ixopo) was 20 miles away. Then the token idea came back to mind. Armed with a few of the tokens in a tobacco bag I called on Mr Laurie Pennefather, Miller and Trader at Eastwolds, only two miles away and asked him if he would kindly co-operate with me and accept the tokens as petty cash and I would repay at the end of the month when I paid my account. To my joy Pennefather accepted.

 

Next day when I took the milk to Nestle's Factory at Donnybrook, I called on Messrs Frangs Bros and later Mr Dawood Asmall (both traders) in Donnybrook. Both firms were very willing to help me in this problem. My delight knew no bounds. (Thorninghurst was about 2 kilometres from both Donnybrook and Eastwolds)

 

For 16 years the F. C. Larkan Trading Tokens took on a new trend of usefulness during their lifespan ending with farming and trading.

 

In 1955 I sold "Thorninghurst" to my neighbour Mr Eric Cairns and before leaving I took the bag of tokens and deposited them in the wood and iron closet which was situated alongside a St Johns creeper below some chestnut trees on the south side of the house.

 

Had I realized that there was a "hereafter" or some sort of attachment of importance later to these F. C. Larkan tokens, I would not have allowed them to befall the fate they did, particularly that they co-ordinated a unique unity of purpose and endeavour between farming and trading. Enclosing a rough sketch of the old homestead, hope you will find it interesting.

 

Yours faithfully, R P Larkan

 

On the 14th September 1977 I obtained the permission of Mr Mervyn Cairns, son of Eric Cairns, to dig and explore as I pleased on his farm "Thorninghurst" in the Donnybrook area. I explained that I was looking for token coins which had been buried in an old long drop for over 22 years. I think that he thought that I was quite mad and who could blame him - but I promised to give him a set of the tokens if I found them!

 

On Saturday 17th September 1977 I drove out early in the morning to the farm armed with a borrowed spade, Percival Larkan's rough sketch map and a camera. The track off the main road to Donnybrook going down to the old farmstead was steep and rough. I pulled up alongside the old stone shed that was built by Mr Larkan in 1940. It was with dismay that I saw that the remains of the old farmhouse was now overgrown with thick bush and grass.

 

(The old farmhouse was destroyed in 1965 after the Cairns moved to live on their new farm near Ixopo). The walls of the old rondavel still stood and this together with the ruins was all I had to work with when trying to work out my bearings from the rough sketch map.

 

You can imagine my great joy when trying to work out for the fiftieth time in my mind where it should be when I saw the unmistakable "hollow" of an old closet in the ground. It was now filled with soft earth and under a thick cover of old leaves guarded above by the unruly St Johns creeper that Percival Larkan had spoken about in his letter. I made short work of the creepers cutting a path to the hollow.

 

I cleared the immediate area and set about digging. By ten o'clock I had dug to a depth of about four feet and come across the first unmistakable signs of an old toilet. I placed a handkerchief across my nose and mouth and started moving items like plastic bags dated 1947 and old bottles from the hole. By noon I was six feet down and feeling rather exhausted as I had been digging non-stop since 9am. I sat down for a rest on the floor of the toilet feeling rather despondent as I had found just about everything but the F C Larkan tokens. Sitting there I absent-mindedly sifted a patch of dried human excrement through my hands and saw an amakence - a token. I don't think that I have ever moved so fast or found such reserves of energy so quickly.

 

The corroded "dual purpose" Larkan dunny tokens:

 

By 1 o'clock I had recovered about 200 tokens. They were all corroded - most badly even to the point of being holed and fragmented but a few had survived the onslaught of human excreta with just the slightest surface corrosion - but all were corroded to the point of identification from the small cache found while studying the Strachan and Co tokens held in safekeeping at the Strachan store at Umzimkulu. Most were not worth keeping.

 

Among the tokens were a number of previously unknown aluminium "bobbin" shaped tokens bearing the initials of Percival Larkan and his wife (RPL and NFL).

 

Half an hour later it started to rain. I was happy that I had found all the tokens in the pit so filled it as the soft rain fell around me. The problem now facing me was getting off the farm as my Mini Minor could not make it back up the bad track which had now turned to a river of mud. Luckily an African with a tractor was at hand - a bribe of a beer did the trick.

 

By late that afternoon I was in Pietermaritzburg with Prof Clive Graham, a well respected numismatist and expert in physics, cleaning the tokens in an acid bath to prevent further corrosion. Without Clive's expert help these F C Larkan tokens would have all corroded to nothing today. The "frozen" corrosion on the aluminium "closet" tokens serves an important purpose - it distinguishes the token that were only used between 1907 to 1929 from those that were again put to use in 1940 and used by Percival Larkan up to 1955. The corrosion has been "frozen" through the acid treatment and the F C Larkan tokens dug up in 1977 in the Balson Holdings Family Trust remain today as the day they were cleaned in the acid bath.

 

The "dual purpose" corroded F C Larkan tokens: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100225064620_lartoilet.jpg

 

I posted Mr Mervyn Cairns a set of the F C Larkan tokens that I had I dug up the following week - I still wonder what he did with them.

 

As I have seen the only Larkan tokens still in existence I believe that I can supply accurate figures on the numbers of F C Larkan tokens which remain. (These are listed on my web page)

 

The Bobbin (labour) Day tokens:

 

On top of this extremely valuable numismatic find, as mentioned earlier, I found a new previously unknown token in two forms. One bore the initials RPL (Robert Percival Larkan) and the other (NFL) - Percival's wife's initials. These tokens are also struck in aluminium but differ from normal tokens in that they closely resemble a bobbin. Each bobbin has its own unique number. The RPL tokens are numbered 1 to 64 while the NFL tokens are numbered 1 to 36 (ie allowance of up to 70 togt labour for Percival and 40 togt for his wife). As with the F C Larkan tokens many of the bobbins were corroded beyond recognition. I was able to save 27 of the NFL tokens and 55 of the RPL tokens. The balance were too badly corroded.

 

The bobbin tokens: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100225064517_bobbin.jpg

 

Mr Percival Larkan told me later that these bobbins were identification discs for the togt labour used by he and his wife as day labour tokens - by presenting the bobbin to the Larkan's the togt labour confirmed their identity. On presenting the day labour token the togt labour were rewarded with F C Larkan tokens that they could take to Dawood Asmall, Frangs or Laurie Pennefather to purchase goods at those stores located nearby. This practice continued until 1955. (Dawood Asmall had earlier had his own tokens minted - these are extremely rare and the only examples I know of are held by Allyn Jacobs).

 

*Togt labour: farmers often employed young boys from eight years of age on a casual basis to help in tasks such as milking cows, herding cattle, etc. This practice was refered to in those days as "togt labour".

 

So there you have the history of the FC Larkan token coins and RP and NF Larkan day tokens.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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coinoisseur

I would like to recognise Prof Clive Graham a man I admire immensely when posting this. I hope that it will bring back fond memories for Clive of those early days!

 

Scott, I think that is a good gesture as you and Clive really put a lot of effort into finding and documenting the Larkhan tokens which now forms an integral part of South Africa Numismatics. I am sure if he could reply, he would shed some interesting stories that you and he shared during this adventure....

 

Clive is a wonderful man and in his silent way has given a lot to numismatics in South Africa.

 

 

 

Cheers

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Pinkx

Modderbee Prison Tokens

 

Modderbee Prison, Benoni, Gauteng

 

Modderbee Prison is located on the property of the old Modderbee (gold) mining complex, and now houses the biggest number of inmates under one roof in the southern hemisphere. Up to 4000 prisoners can be accommodated in the Modderbee Prison at any one time. The prison was opened in 1959 following the closure of the mine in 1952.

 

At the prison, a small scale farming project provides fresh vegetables for the daily needs of all the inmates, and much emphasis is placed on the upliftment and rehabilitation of prisoners. Literacy programmes, facilities for further study through correspondence and training in basic skills such as carpentry, plumbing, bricklaying etc are provided (Ref: Benonibiz - Benoni Publicity Association).

 

Modderbee Prison Tokens

 

Prison tokens are issued to prisoners to be used in the prison shops. The aim of the tokens is to render any real money that a prisoner may acquire useless within the prison system, and similarly the tokens are useless outside of the prison system (ie. there is no purpose in trying to escape with a handful of R10 tokens for taxi fare on the other side – :D). A prison system with its own currency can theoretically control the spending of its prisoners.

 

The series of tokens listed in the 2009 Hern’s token catalogue are:

1) H1164a – R5 token,

2) H1164b – R2 token, and

3) H1164c – 50c token.

 

A further R1 token and R10 token can now also be added to the list.

 

The tokens are all identical except for the denomination. They are manufactured with a grey metal (zinc alloy ? – not aluminium), are 28 mm in diameter, 2.8 mm thick and with a smooth edge.

 

Life at Modderbee Prison

 

The following is an extract from an article written by Sandra Swanepoel for the Germiston City News, 21 August 2009, following a visit to the prison by the pupils from the Colin Mann School.

 

“… prisoners are woken up at 5am. They then have to shower (under a blast of cold water), tidy their rooms, eat a breakfast of two slices of bread, pap and a cup of tea or milk. At noon they get lunch, consisting of pap, meat or two boiled eggs and boiled vegetables.For dinner they get five slices of bread and fruit is only provided on Sundays. After lunch they sit outside and exercise or do nothing. They are locked in their cells after lunch and are allowed to watch selected television programmes until 10pm. Juveniles (aged between 12 and 22 years) are locked in their cells from 3pm until the next morning.

 

Prisoners who show an interest in making themselves useful are paid up to R90 a month to cook, clean and perform other menial tasks. They are not allowed to have cash -- their earnings or money provided by their families, is exchanged into special Modderbee currency that can be spent at the prison tuck shop. Prisoners are given a mattress, a blanket and soap. They share toothpaste.

 

The prison is overpopulated by up to 50 per cent…”

 

Attached Images:

 

1) The Modderbee Prison Tokens – with the additional R1 and R10 not shown in the token catalogue.

 

2) The old Modderbee Mine Headgear in 1955 - that is depicted on the obverse of the token (Source: "Lesneyman" at Flickr)

 

3) A google earth image showing the prison and old Modderbee Mine Complex.

 

Cheers

Stephen van Niekerk

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Google_MODDERBEE_PRISON.jpg.a0cf3ce4d03123fd8cadc5facc87327d.jpg

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Kit W

Stephen - a very interesting post - Well done :)

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Hi Stephen

 

Yes, fascinating!

 

Do you know if the state of the art Kokstad Prison (known as the Ebongweni Correctional Centre) opened in 2002 has tokens?

 

It is a Super-Maximum prison and housing complex. The prison caters for about 1,500 maximum security inmates. Apparently it is the largest of its kind in the world.

 

Here is a Google Map of the Kokstad Prison...

http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100302055233_prison.jpg

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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Pinkx

I don't know if the Ebongweni CC has tokens. Somehow, I doubt whether a maximum security prison has facilities like tuck shops and/or a complex privilege system. I tried a search on Google etc and didn't find anything to remotely suggest token use there. The only reference to any kind of privilege system consisted of family visits, tv watching, outdoor exercise etc.

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Boksburg Municipal Tramways Token - Part 1

 

Boksburg Municipal Tramways

 

 

Token Use

The tokens issued by the Boksburg Municipal Tramways were, according to the Africana Museum Catalogue compiled by Mrs EJ Maynard (November 1966), only used by children.

 

 

“The minimum adult fare was 3d and the children’s fare 1½d - the value of one token. A tickey (3d) was tendered to the Driver/Conductor who issued a 1½d ticket and handed over a token, which could be exchanged again for a 1½d ticket on the return journey.”

 

Tokens Issued

Hern’s 2009 token catalogue gives reference to TWO distinct red and a blue tokens, as well as, colour variations from translucent pink/brown, translucent brown and almost black.

 

 

As shown in the attached images, there are at least FOUR distinct variations of these known tokens (excluding colour variations):

 

 

1) Blue Celluloid

Reverse: Type 1 - 1½d, small “D”, dot in middle, sloping fraction bar

Obverse: Type 1 – “Tramways Department”

Reverse and obverse axis differ by 90º

 

 

2) Red Celluloid

Reverse: Type 1 (as before)

Obverse: Type 2 – “Municipal Tramways Boksburg”

Reverse and obverse axis differ by 180º (coin struck)

 

 

3) Red Celluloid

Reverse: Type 2 - 1½d, large “D”, dot at bottom, horizontal fraction bar

Obverse: Type 2 (as before)

Reverse and obverse axis same (medal struck)

 

 

4) Translucent Brown Celluloid

Reverse: Type 3 - 1½d, small “D”, dot at bottom, horizontal fraction bar

Obverse: Type 2 (as before)

Reverse and obverse axis differ by 225º

 

 

5) Red Celluloid (same as Translucent Brown specimen)

Reverse: Type 3 - 1½d, small “D”, dot at bottom, horizontal fraction bar

Obverse: Type 2 (as before)

Reverse and obverse axis differ by 225º

 

Attached Images

1) Boksburg Municipal Tramway Tokens – Reverse

2) Boksburg Municipal Tramway Tokens – Obverse

3) A Boksburg Trolley Bus (Tram)

 

History of Boksburg Tramways

The following extract has been prepared by James Smith who is the co-author of “South African Trolley Buses” – a book that is currently in the final stages of production. It is therefore a privilege to have access to this research prior to it going to print.

 

 

“The small mining community of Boksburg on the East Rand, some sixteen miles to the east of Johannesburg, was named in honour of Eduard Bok, the attorney general of the South African Republic in 1887.

 

 

By 1911, the population had grown to 10,000 inhabitants, and the paucity of local public transport was becoming a serious obstacle to further growth and development.

 

 

Aware that the construction and operation of a traditional street tramway was beyond their limited financial resources, the Municipality of Boksburg commissioned Mr L M Wilms, an acknowledged expert on electric traction, in March 1911 to produce a report. In his ensuing report, he advocated the introduction of a “rail-less electric tramway” system for Boksburg, based on contemporary British practice.

 

His original proposal was for a 31/3 mile route between Boksburg North and the East Rand Railway Station. The cost for this scheme was initially estimated at £26,000. Although generally favourable to the proposal, the Boksburg Town Council immediately requested a reduction in cost. Accordingly the number of rail-less trams was reduced from eight to six vehicles and the route was pruned by just under a mile, to two and a half miles in length, which succeeded in reducing the cost of the system down to a more acceptable £16,700. Although this initiated a saving of just over £9,000, such savings hardly warranted the loss of two vehicles and a mile of overhead wiring. In fact, the resultant lack of capacity effectively ham-strung the potential for future development and expansion, when it was most required!

 

The route selected consisted of a main double over-head wire route from Boksburg North to ERPM via Vogelfontein (Boksburg) Station. The ERPM to Boksburg North section was electrified for single running and started at the ERPM Club and finished at the junction of Carson Road with Sixth Avenue, which completed the circular route.

The order for the six ‘rail-less’ trams was awarded to the Railless Electric Traction Construction Company Limited of England in late 1912, by Herbert Ainsworth and Co. who were tasked by the Boksburg Town Council with supplying and equipping not only the rail-less trams, but also the overhead wiring and construction of the entire system.

 

The six rail-less trams, with a wheel base of thirteen feet, and an overall body length of eighteen feet nine inches, were the fifteenth to the twentieth chassis produced by the RET Company. They were single-deck front entrance rail-less trams and could accommodate 28 seated passengers. At least one of the six vehicles actually underwent trial workings at Leeds in 1913, prior to shipment to South Africa.

William Jeffs, the RET representative who was responsible for the construction and installation of the equipment, arrived in Cape Town aboard the steamship Ingoma on 30 January 1914 and reached Boksburg during the first Monday of February. He immediately started unpacking the crates which had been stored, awaiting his arrival, at the car sheds. Such was the excitement and interest shown that the gates entering into the yard had to be closed to prevent the influx of sightseers.

 

Within a week, two ‘tram cars’ were up and running, and the only outstanding work required for the route was at the Vogelfontein crossing, across the South African Railways line, which linked the East Rand Proprietary Mines (ERPM) section to the Vogelfontein section. However, following approaches by the Boksburg Town Council, the South African Railways management agreed to have the necessary work undertaken immediately.

Boksburg_Tramways_Tokens_Reverse.jpg.99b3931bdada6fd60f676975c5a71ef1.jpg

Boksburg_Tramways_Tokens_Obverse.jpg.64123a28c3650f6d5deabd1e926f28da.jpg

58f5a71af169c_BoksburgTrolleyBus.JPG.657e8845431f7f3535b37be8718a06bb.JPG

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Boksburg Municipal Tramways Tokens - Part 2

 

Construction of the overhead wiring proved easier than anticipated as use was made extensively of the old street lighting poles. Bracket arms were simply attached to the existing street light poles, from which the overhead wiring was suspended, and to counterbalance the wiring, the poles were back-stayed.

 

The first trial trip was undertaken on the afternoon of 20 February 1914, and the first rail-less tram in South Africa emerged from the Boksburg tram shed and made its way at a good rate up to the Boksburg North terminus.

 

 

Another associated development was the tarring of the Boksburg North Road. The municipality decided that unless this was done immediately, the broad solid rubber tyres of the trolley buses would quickly destroy the road surface.

 

 

A second trial working was undertaken on 13 March, but this time using the western section of the route, from Commissioner Street and Union Road over the newly constructed level crossing at Vogelfontein to the terminus on the Main Reef Road.

 

 

The proposed time table was passed by the Boksburg Town Council, without discussion, in early March.

 

 

THE EAST RAND EXPRESS March 21, 1914

 

 

Municipality of Bokburg.

 

 

 

NOTICE No. 24 of 1914

 

 

 

Railless Electric Tramways.

 

 

OFFICIAL OPENING

 

 

Notice is hereby given that the Railless Electric Tramways will be officially declared open for traffic by Sir Geo. Farrar, D.S.O., on Wednesday afternoon next, the 25th instant, at 3.15 o’clock, opposite the National Bank of South Africa, Ltd., Commissioner Street, Boksburg.

 

The following details are published for general information:-

 

STAGES.

1st Stage – From 6th Street, Boksburg North to corner Commissioner and Hoofd Streets.

 

2nd Stage – From corner Commissioner and Hoofd Streets to North end of East Rand Married Quarters.

 

3rd Stage – From Rissik Street Vogelfontein, to Main Reef Road, E.R.P.M.

 

And Vice Versa.

 

FARES.

 

3d. per stage per passenger. Book of 12 tickets, 2/6

 

Children under 12 – Half Fares.

 

Children attending school – book of 12 tickets, 1/-

 

On Market Mornings return tickets to the Market at 3d. for the double journey, will be issued between 6 and 8 a.m., available to return until 11 a.m.

 

TIME TABLE.

Commencing from Terminus, Boksburg North.

 

WEEKDAYS – 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. half–hourly service.

8 a.m. to 8 p.m. quarter-hourly service.

8 p.m. to 10 p.m. half-hourly service.

SUNDAYS - 8 a.m to 10 p.m. half-hourly service.

 

Meanwhile a short extension was proposed, in the form of a loop off Main Road to serve the Vogelfontein Railway Station and the Palace Theatre. This loop came into operation on 16 May 1914 and enabled the service to be re-organised into two sections.

 

 

The first section ran from the terminus of the Sixth Street to Vogelfontein, opposite the Vogelfontein Station, where the ‘trams’ met every train, while the other section comprised of the circular route from the Boksburg North Hotel. From this hotel, the cars ran down Sixth Avenue and Hoofd Street to Commissioner Street, then along Commissioner Street, up Union Road to the ERPM offices, and then back by way of the Main Reef Road to the Boksburg North Hotel.

 

 

By June 1914 the passenger figures were clearly showing a steady decline, and there were even calls from within the Town Council to abandon the tram service altogether.

 

 

Although books of children’s school tickets had been issued from the commencement of the service, these tickets had been clouded in controversy, confusion and complexity. This had led to considerable unpopularity and inconvenience to the travelling public.

 

 

At the end of May, the Works Committee disclosed that the receipts per car mile, in April, were 9.13 pence, with expenditure estimated at 8.95 pence per car mile, which gave a small profit of 0.17 pence per mile. Thus revenue was barely covering the operating costs.

 

As revenue continued to fall, the burden of operating the ‘trams’ threatened to increase the rates by an additional assessment rate of ½d. This in turn provoked an outcry by the ratepayers who placed the blame on the Boksburg Town Council, by their granting and renewal of bus licences along the ‘tram’ route for six months, until the end of June 1914.

 

Finally in early June, a special meeting of the Boksburg Town Council determined “that in terms of Section 61 of Ordinance No. 9 of 1912, the Council would close permanently for motor ‘bus traffic as from 1 July 1914, all streets whereupon tramway routes have been or are being established by the Council.” At the same time the vexatious issue of the Children’s coupon tickets was finally resolved, to the satisfaction of all, with the issuing of 1d children’s tickets, per stage.

 

 

By the end of June, the Boksburg Town Council was confronted by a new financial crisis, due to the closure of the local mines, in particular, Cinderella Deep. As unemployment rose, patronage of the ‘trams’ continued to fall and there were renewed calls within the Council to close the trams down, or at least store them inside the tram shed, until conditions improved. This suggestion was ignored, but it was agreed that payment of the vehicles would be deferred until they had given “greater satisfaction.” This deferment of payment then impacted negatively on the cash-flow woes of RET Construction Co. in England.

 

Despite these initial problems, after June 1914 the rail-less trams were largely successful in service, for they managed to remain in service until 1925. During their first ten years in operation, it was estimated that they carried half a million passengers a year or over forty thousand a month. However the daily figures give passenger figures of just over 1,500 at a time when, after 1914, Boksburg was undergoing rapid expansion and growth. Ironically, it was this very growth that was partially responsible for the demise of the system.

 

 

When the system had been originally constructed, it had followed the areas where the greatest densities of population were situated. As continued growth had become limited within these areas, Boksburg’s housing expansion had been compelled to focus on new areas further away from the existing rail-less electric tramway system.

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Boksburg Municipal Tramways Tokens - Part 3

 

By 1925, the entire rail-less electric tramway system was somewhat down at heel and in urgent need of refurbishment and investment. A further depression in the coal-mining industry had done little to assist the municipality’s financial position, and unable to re-invest in the concept of rail-less traction due to financial constraints, the municipality decided to purchase new and cheaper Berliet motor buses, from France, to provide the necessary services, and withdrawal commenced from the beginning of October that year.

 

On 31 October 1925, the last surviving rail-less electric trams were withdrawn and the overhead wiring was immediately dismantled. The overhead wiring had originally been advertised by RET as compatible with standard tramway fittings, and therefore was purchased in its entirety, by the Johannesburg Municipal Tramways. Sadly, no further use could be found for the worn-out rail-less trams’ chassis and bodies, and they were scrapped.

 

Extracted from: “South African Trolley Buses” by David Jones, James Smith and Richard Sabatini.

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Hi Stephen

 

Very interesting... and well done.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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St Faiths and Galloping Jack

 

The only St Faith's token known, issued in the 1890s by John Royston who would later gain military fame and the unique name "Galloping Jack".

 

The 6d coin:

http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100329090132_coin1.jpg

http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100329090249_coin2.jpg

 

Milner Snell the Curator of the Kokstad Museum notes that his grandfather managed the Brooklands store for Strachan and Company in the 1940s near St. Faiths. He often spoke about a Mr R.R. Hill who owned the St faith's store for many years. The store was originally established in the 1890s by John Robinson Royston on his farm St Faith. Royston made a name for himself as a skilled and brave soldier.

 

William Royston and his cousin Joseph Royston immigrated to South Africa together bringing their wives and first born with them from the UK. John Robinson Royston (Galloping Jack) was the 7th child of William Royston.

 

There are references to (Galloping Jack) Royston having a farm surveyed at St faith's in 1893. Royston, known as Zithulele (the silent one), ran away from school at the age of fifteen and fought in the Anglo-Zulu War. During the Anglo-Boer War he was involved in the siege of Ladysmith. He received the D.S.O. in 1902 and was appointed C.M.G. in 1903. After the Anglo-Boer War he went back to farming but this time in the Port Shepstone area. The store at St Faith's was looked after by managers. The fearless Royston obtained the nickname 'Galloping Jack' during the Palestine campaign by riding up and down the lines shouting 'No surrender' while six horses were shot from under him. During the First World War Royston was the Commanding Officer of the 12th Light Horse Regiment.

 

More on his military career here: Brigadier General John Robinson Royston, CMG, DSO: Australian War Memorial

 

Royston Hall, where John Royston lived, is situated just eight minutes from Port Shepstone on an elevated site of 5,9 hectares fronting onto the Umzimkulu River. The gracious manor house is today a national monument and the land classified as conservation reserve. His manor house comprises three spacious bedrooms with wooden floors, large lounge, dining room, wooden winding staircase, library, covered veranda and old style kitchen fitted with modern equipment and cupboards. Adjacent is a large cottage with bedroom, lounge, kitchen, offices and boardroom. The land has indigenous vegetation with small animal life such as mongoose, small buck and duiker as well as considerable birdlife.

 

Royston Hall: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100329090359_house.gif

 

His life story is told in a book entitled 'Galloping Jack' by Napier Devitt. The Balson Holdings Family Trust holds two copies of this extremely rare book, one signed by the author.

 

Galloping Jack signed by Napier Devitt: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100329090447_book.jpg

Royston's volunteer regiment, Royston's Horse, was established in Natal in 1906 to help quell growing rebellion among the Zulu tribes. The volunteer group of 500 horsemen faced severe fighting in Zululand but was disbanded in August 1906 after about five months when the rebellion was defeated. More at this link

 

In the early 1920s Royston leased the St Faith's store to Ronald Reuben Hill. Hill spent 24 years at St Faith's. In about 1937 he bought the store from Royston. The store was registered as belonging to RR Hill and Company. Hill was at St Faith's in 1946 but sold the shop to Collins and Boffa in 1947. Hill worked for the Native Affairs Department in Durban until his death in 1970. Hill was born in Qumbu in East Griqualand and worked as a shopkeeper in Matatiele.

 

More on St Faiths and Royston at this link: ST FAITH'S

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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EdgeyDragon

Hi all

I found the original article by Scott Balson about the above mentioned tokens and was inspired into an attempt to find St. Faiths. I took a trip to Umtentwini in December 2009 and I went on a very long and eventful trip into the interior armed with two metal detectors!

I found what I believe to be the site of the original store but it was apparently broken down and a new store erected on the site a number of years back.

I should add here that part of the eventful trip happened on the way up the mountain toward the store, as I past a car with 3 black gents all in a panic. It turned out that an elderly gent who was a passenger was having a heart attack or seizure of some sort. I stopped and was greeted by the sight of one of the younger chaps trying to pour water into the seizure victim’s throat. Now its not that I am a doctor or anything, but I know that it is not advisable to try and drown a seizure victim especially when he is in the throws of an attack. :) Realising that none of us could help this poor gent, I told them to make their way to the St Faiths clinic as quickly as possible.

I continued on the hazardous dirt road up the mountain following them into the "town" of St. Faiths.

Oh I should also mention that prior to this I did find a church but it was not the church mentioned by Scott in his article. However I swept the grounds (with permission from the minister) and found a stunning old coin! A 2002 20c hahahaha! And a wonderful, large, old dirt encrusted padlock. Made in China! :D

Anyhow, back to St. Faiths. As stated I found what I believe to be the old store and with permission from the new owner of the store, I swept the entire area around the store. I also swept the entire back garden and the road side of the store! I did not find any tokens at all, however I did locate hundreds of beer bottle caps and soft drink can rings! And managed to be harassed by a highly intoxicated gent and his 2 pals who didn't like the sight of a white gent around their drinking venue!

Fortunately at 6 foot 5 inches I am not scared of very easily.

After many gopher holes were dug I eventually left empty handed.

Scott if you do perchance read this please leave some clue as to where I may find the church/mission you spoke off? I could not find any old broken bridge or gully matching your description! And yes I am not feint hearted and shall cross the bridge, if I can ever find the dam thing! lol :D

The next bit of excitement happened on the way back to Umtentweni. I drove down the Old St. Faiths road at the back of Umtentweni until it ends in a large mound of soil. Obviously someone blocked of the road at some stage as it continues on the other side. I proceeded on foot and to my amazement discovered many documents lying here, there and everywhere! Old Marriage certificates and Birth Certificates and check stubs amongst them. I then discovered the source! Two safes were laying broken amongst a pile of debris. It was very obvious that they were a result of a recent break in from one of the near by houses. I phoned the police who came to the scene, removed the safes, asked me numerous questions and then went of to find the owner of the documents and safes! All in all an eventful day, even if I did come home empty handed! :)

Score = 1 gents life saved, 1 crime hopefully solved, 224 beer bottle caps, 156 coke lids, a few tins, 1 padlock, 1 20c coin, 0 tokens and 1 sun tan!

Regards

edgeydragon

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Hi Edgey

 

Loved your story and with your permission would love to put it up on my web page.

 

I still remember the trip well - even though it was over 30 years ago!

 

I travelled down a remote badly maintained dirt track that ran through thick scrub for quite a while after asking a local store keeper near St Faiths for directions - (don't ask me to find it again!). After several kilometres of nearly turning back I was confronted by this rickety old timber bridge with two heavy logs acting as frames on the side with smaller tethered branches lying across the top. I persevered after weighing up what I had already faced. As I started going across it (it was just wider than a car) I could feel the branches moving underfoot. I freaked! Worse was to follow - after crossing the "bridge" I got out of my car to have a closer look at what I had just crossed and realised that the loose branches lying on the nearly 10m long bridge barely covered a gorge with sheer cliffs that framed a small stream about 20m below!

 

I drove about a kilometre down what once been a road before arriving at the old St Faiths Church which was partially obscured by large trees. It was a beautiful spot. The church was deserted and the gardens quite overgrown - I met an old nduna who was amazed to see a car this side of the bridge. Apparently no one had dared to cross the bridge for years even back then.

 

I nearly walked home but as my car had a sizeable loan attached I simply gritted my teeth and slowly crossed the "bridge" again.

 

So I would suggest the old dirt track has since grown over and the bridge has probably collapsed isolating the church. I did not find the coin there but after discovering it went to the spot to find out more about St Faiths. I was working at Barclays Bank in Ixopo at the time.

 

I can understand the brevity you must have showed because even then this was a very remote region covered in African villages.

 

This is what makes token coins and numismatics so fascinating - when could a 31 PROOF tickey provide such memorable adventures?

 

PS Perhaps you should take your metal detector to Riverside near Donnybrook - about 20 kilometres on the Drakensberg side on the road from Ixopo. Riverside is where James Cole once had his original store. Like the J H Cartwright tokens from the Cape, apparently the extremely rare James Cole pieces were swept away in the late 1970s when the old James Cole butchery at Riverside was flooded and swept away by the Umzimkhulu River. (I remember seeing this old building in 1976 when I worked at the Riverside bank agency). Old James Cole was rumoured to have hidden the tokens under the floor boards of the old butchery after they were withdrawn from circulation in the mid-1930s.

 

Here is a picture of the Riverside region I took in 2007 during my book launch: http://images.bidorbuy.co.za/user_images/949/1443949_100330081003_riverside.JPG

 

There are a few hurdles to deal with. First the old butchery is gone (Milner Snell checked this out years ago); second Riverside is now a large remote African location and not a good spot to be alone in; third the tokens are probably under several feel of silt in the river - although if you located the old store you could probably use your detector down stream and see if you pick them up.

 

If you do perhaps you will consider sending me a bucketful.. ;-)

 

Kind regards

 

 

Scott Balson

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