1825 - 1869 - Ceylon

Sterling Period

On 1825 March 23rd, an Order in Council directed that the public accounts should be kept in sterling currency. The Ceylon rix-dollar for the purpose of exchange, was rated at 1 shilling 6d sterling. The Ceylon fanam was rated at 1 1/2 d. Following this order, sterling coins, both silver and copper were imported from England for normal use. No coins struck in England or elsewhere bear the name of the island or have reference to Ceylon in their design. These coins for circulation in certain colonial territories were similer to the british regal issues.

After the death of George III (1820 January 29th), his eldest son George IV was King of the United Kingdom until his death on 1830 June 26th. The only sterling issue was the copper Half Farthing coin

After the death of George IV (1830 June 26th), King George III'd third son (born 1765 August 21) William IV was crowned King of the United Kingdom until his death on 1837 June 20th. The sterling issues were the Half Farthing coin and a silver one and one half pence coin equivalent to a fanam.

After the death of William IV (1837 June 20th), third son of George III, Victoria the only child (born 1819 May 24) of the fourth son Edward was crowned queen of the United Kingdom on 1838, June 28th. The sterling issues were a copper Quarter Farthing coin, the Half Farthing coin and the silver one and one half pence coin. On 1842 June 13th the Half Farthing was declared legal tender in England and a slight change was made in the design.

In the copper consignments two denominations, a half and quarter farthing are peculiar to Ceylon and were specially coined for local use. Rhys Davids in "Ancients Coins and Measures of Ceylon" states they were in use as fanams. Acording to Pridmore "Several earlier writers claim that the silver consignments included the 1 1/2d piece which passed into circulation as a fanam. Existing records do not support this claim".

It is interesting to record that in 1845 a proposal was before the Madras Mint Committee for the coinage of silver anna pieces for the Ceylon Government.

Although accounts continued to be kept in sterling until 1869, the use of sterling coins lasted for only a short period. For many years Government expenditure exceeded revenue and metallic currency, imported for the payment of Government salaries, army pay and other essential expenditure, was re~exported in the balance of trade.

In an effort to correct this situation large imports of Indian rupees were made. The Governor issued a minute, dated the 1836 September 26th, which rated the new British Indian Company's rupee at 2 Shillings currency. The result was that from 1836 the rupee of British India was adopted as the standard coin of the island and the local standard of value. The currency system thus reverted to the Indian currency area to which it naturally belonged.

Please see Tony Clayton page on Fractional Farthing Coins.

Text from
* The Coins of the British Commonwealth of Nations
F. Pridmore, London, Spink & Son Ltd., 1960.