Keir, Dundas & Co.
1866 - Kandy - tortoise

Brass Tokens struck in London and issued in 1866, by company founded in 1854 by Simon Keir, who was a planter in 1850 with partners G. H. Dnndas and Captain John Keith Jolly. A large enterprise of estate agents, general merchants and forwarding agents with office in Kings Street, Kandy, Ceylon.
Diameter26.7 mm
Thickness1.8 mm
Weight6.98 gms
kdco_tortoise_obverse kdco_tortoise_reverse
Lowsley #15 Pridmore #54 Mitchiner #2240a

Obverse : Monogram K. D. & Co. within a beaded circle inside raised rim.
Reverse : A tortoise facing left, within a beaded circle inside raised rim.

This token is always bored for suspension with a small circular hole above the tortoise.
It was used at Uplands Mills, Mutwall, Colombo, where the celebrated 200 year old tortoise lived. The grounds are known to the natives as ``Arma Tortuni,''or Tortoise Gardens.

The monogramed letters on the obverse stand for Keir, Dundas & Co.
See also the ship token and elephant token of the same firm. The three tokens beautifully designed by Captain C. E. H. Symons, late R.A. were struck in London.
With weight about 111 grains, they were tariffed at the usual nominal value, viz., 4½d. or 18¾ cents. and was issued under similar conditions.

KEIR, DUNDAS & CO. This firm was established in Kandy in 1854 as estate agents, general merchants and forwarding agents, the original partners were :-
Simon Keir, who was a planter in 1850
G. H. Dnndas and Captain John Keith Jolly.
The office was situated in Kings Street. The firm owned a large number of coffee estates as well as acting as Agents for other properties. So large was their enterprise that they were referred to locally as the Kings of Kandy.

From 1864-66 the firm's resources were heavily strained consequent upon the dislocation of trade at the close of the American Civil War. Many fine properties changed hands at this period, and the estates on which the firm had claims had no buyers. To protect these claims, Keir Dundas & Co. bought in many properties including the Upland Mills and the St. Sebastian Mills in Colombo. Their committments became so large, that in the face of the collapse of coffee, the firm had to transfer both assets and liabilities to London supporters and the local business was taken over in 1866 under the name of Duncan, Symons & Co., the partners being John Duncan and C.E.H. Symons, late Lieut. RA, Trincomalee. Symons was the designer of the tokens which were struck in the last year of the firm's name, of Keir Dundas & Co.

The new firm failed to weather the fierce financial storm of 1869-72, and in 1873 it went into liquidation, the establishment being taken over by a firm styled Duncan, Anderson & Co.

The tortoise design tokens were countermarked with letters stammed incuse on the reverse in connection with the change in the name of the firm in 1866. S for Symons and D for Duncan. Why the stamping should have been restricted to one mill and token type is not clear unless the other two properties changed hands upon reorganization.

See countermarked tokens linked @ below.
LinkPridmorec/mkd abovec/mkd onc/mkd below
@ P#55 S
P#56 S D
P#57 S DS
P#58 D
@ P#58a D
P#59 DS

* Coins and Tokens of Ceylon, Lieut. Col B. Lowsley, Num. Chron. Sr III Vol. XV, 1895.
* The Coins of British Commonwealth of Nations to the end of the reign of George VI 1952 Part 2 - Asian Territories by F. Pridmore Spink & Son Ltd., 1965. Tokens
* Oriental Coins AD 600 - 1979 by Michael Mitchiner 1979

The coin was scanned at 300dpi and the images are displayed at 225dpi.
This AU condition coin was purchased in 2003 May from a dealer in Colombo Lanka.

This specimen replaced one that I purchased in 2003 April from a dealer in NY-USA, where the hole has been plugged with 0.2 grams of brass by a previous owner. I was deciding if to unplug that, and have now passed it onto another collector

Obverse of S - D and S - DS counter marked tokens from B&W print scanned ex Dick Ford Collection (1995 Feb 23 Taisei-Baldwin-Gillio Auction#19 lot #277 part), and colorized with Photo-Shop.