Island of Sultana 1 Keping 1219AH 1247AH 1250AH 1411AH
Fictitious Singapore Merchant Copper Tokens
By Saran Singh AMN, AMP, PNM
26th January , 2014. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
To overcome the shortage of currency in the newly founded settlement of Singapore, the merchants in Singapore issued 1 keping tokens in copper, imitating the Arms of the East India Company with year date 1804 and the words “ISLAND OF SUMATRA”. The reverse had the inscription in Jawi “Satu Keping 1219AH” or “1247AH” as well as a fictitious date 1411AH (1990/91). These tokens were issued between between 1828 – 1836. These tokens came to be widely accepted in the neighboring Malay States, parts of the Nertherland East Indies and Borneo.
The Dutch East India Company had settlements in Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes and Java. The Dutch authorities were alarmed at the vast flow of the Singapore tokens bearing the name “Island of Sumatra” in territories under their control , side by side with the Dutch Doits. Vide Proclaimation dated at Batavia 15th October 1835, the Dutch declared the Singapore merchant token “Island of Sumatra” illegal and commenced to confiscate all such tokens in areas under their jurisdiction.
To overcome this problem, the Singapore Merchants changed the name of their tokens to a fictitious name “Island of SULTANA” in 1835/36. Thus legally it could not be said that these tokens were for circulation in areas under Dutch control. Some of the fictitious name tokens have lions or horses as their Coat of Arms as well as misleading reverse inscriptions “Pulau Melayu or Jezirah Melayu” (Island of the Malays) with fictitious Arabic dates 1411AH (1990/91)
In 1844, the Court of Directors in London ordered the Governor of the Straits Settlements (Penang, Malacca and Singapore) to stop the production of all imitation Singapore Merchant Tokens. These tokens were replaced with the East India Company ¼ Cent, ½ Cent and 1 Cent coinage in 1845. These were followed by the Indian Straits coinage in 1862 and the regular Straits Settlements coinage from 1871 onwards.
On 1st January 1848, the Singapore Merchant Tokens were prohibited from circulation in the Strait Settlements and the Malay States of Malaya.
1. “The Encyclopedia of the Coin of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei 1400 – 1986” by Saran Singh AMN, FRNS. First Edition (1986). Chapter 19 Page 448 – 466
2. “The Coins of the British Commonwealth of Nations Part 2 – Asian Territory” by Major Fred Pridmore (Spink & Son Ltd, London)