The Straits Settlements|
By Rod Sell, WINS#59
Centenary of Singapore pewter medal issued 1919
On the 6th February 1819 Stamford Raffles established the settlement of Singapore on the island at the southern tip of the Malay peninsular.
Raffles was an agent of the British East India Company, who were expanding their trade activities with China, Japan and the other countries in east asia and the south pacific. The only means of transport at this time was by sailing ship and safe harbours against storms and pirates, as well as for fresh water and provisions was essential.
In 1826 the settlements at Penang, Malacca which had been secured from the Dutch and Singapore were amalgamated as the Straits Settlements and administered from Penang. The currency used was the Indian Rupee, however the currency of the local trade was the Spanish Dollar. This difference in currencies caused great confusion in the E.I.C. accounts. Attempts to use Indian coinage did not succeed and eventually it was decided to produce fractional coins of the Spanish dollar. In 1847 copper coins of a quarter cent, half cent and one cent all dated 1845 were supplied and used till the East India Company powers were abolished and transferred to the British India Government. The quarter cent is copper of 18mm and weighs 2.33 gms. A William Wyon portrait of Queen Victoria is on the obverse. The reverse shows a myrtle wreath with 1/4 cent within and East India Company against the plain edged rim. In all 34,327,247 coins were struck.
The half cent is copper of 22.5mm and weighs 4.66 gms. Queen Victoria is on the obverse. The reverse shows a myrtle wreath with half cent within and East India Company against the plain edged rim. In all 18,737,498 coins were struck. The cent is copper of 29mm and weighs 9.33 gms. Queen Victoria is on the obverse. The reverse shows a myrtle wreath with one cent within and East India Company against the plain edged rim. In all 18,525,893 coins were struck. Proofs of all three coins were produced with the ititials WW for William Wyon in the truncation of the Queen's neck. All three coins are fairly common.
In 1862 changes were made to the coins to reflect the change of status of the Government of India which had taken place in 1858. The 1845 coins were used till 1862 even though the East India Company's power had been abolished. The 1862 coins were of the same size and weight of the previous issue and the same portrait of Queen Victoria was on the obverse. The reverse now has the myrtle wreath against the rim and within the wreath the words ONE CENT INDIA STRAITS 1862 on seperate lines. The words CENT and INDIA are underlined in their central portion. The one is replaced by HALF and 1/4 for the lower denominations. The mintage figures are One Cent 9,320,610; Half Cent 4,590,499; 1/4 Cent 3,367,865. The quarter cent is the most difficult of all to find, especially in top grades. The half cent is also difficult.
On the 1st April 1867 the government of the Straits Settlements passed from the Indian Government the the Imperial Government and the Straits Settlements became a Crown Colony. Copper coins of the same denomination and size were issued in 1872. A new portrait by L.C. Wyon of Queen Victoria wearing a Diadem rather than a Coronet. The reverse has a dotted circle about a quarter from the rim. Within the circle is the number 1. Between the circle and the rim are the words STRAITS SETTLEMENTS. ONE CENT 1872. The lower demoninations have the number 1 replaced by 1/2 & 1/4 and word ONE replaced by HALF and QUARTER.
The 1872 coins for circulation were all produced by Ralph Heaton and Sons Ltd. Brimingham and show a small H mint mark in relief below the Queen's neck. Mintages were 1 Cent 5,770,000; 1/2 Cent 5,610,000; 1/4 Cent 9,240,000. Proof coins for this date were produced by the Royal Mint and thus do not show the H mint mark. These coins circulated for many decades and are difficult in top grades.
Silver coins for 5 cent, 10 cent and 20 cent denominations were also produced from 1871, however for this article we are looking at the copper coins which show the change of administrations over the years.
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