The street hawkers near the Galle lighthouse, I discussed online in a 1999 Photo-Essay have survived the extended period of low Tourism in Lanka due to the civil unrest. The coin-touts seem to be prospering again, as more tourist now arrive in the island, after a post 9/11 Peace treaty was signed with the rebels in February 2002.
A Tourist E-mailed me in February 2003
I happened upon your website after just having returned from Sri Lanka and having bought a couple of silver 'Stuivers' without actually knowing what I was buying,
You'll be pleased to know that the coin touts at the lighthouse are still alive and well and I of course was stung ! Two touts were in attendance. One was positioned at the lighthouse and the other at the gun emplacement at the opposing end of the sea wall. A small fellow who I transacted with seemed very knowledgeable and certainly had a lot of coins, including many of the non Stuiver coppers and of course more recent coins. The second had less of an array and also suggested he might have an old gold one also!
I am no metallurgist but they are unbendable which leads me to think that they are not lead. They have a thickness of about 3mm. I have also penetrated the surface on the edge to several microns and they appear to be solid not plated, they are also very heavy and the metal does not have the same texture as nickel and certainly not as hard. I believe they are silver. I can't comment on whether they are casts or die impressions, but was nevertheless probably sold some lumps of silver made to look like Stuivers and Bonks.
The asking price was Rs.16,000, however in the end I paid about half of what they tried for Rs.10,500(US$110). I landed up with what he claimed were a 4 3/4, a 1s and a 2s, then 4 coins purporting to be British Stuivers with 24, 12, 48 and 96 values. I chose not to go for the copper although he was offering similar copper for Rs 6,000 for 12, 24, 48 and 96 British 'replicas'.
I put that down to experience, I actually know very little about coins, but they took my fancy and I have consequently paid the 'price' I'll be keeping them though, for interest, I only was interested in them for that anyway.
The originals are copper for the Bar, the two Durch VOC dump coins, and the 3 British era dump coins. The coppers are 1/48 1/24 and 1/12 of a Rix dollar (48 Stiver) and therefore 1, 2, and 4 Stiver. There are rare originals silver dump coins of 24, 48, and 96 ST which must have inspired, the probably low purity Silver casts.
I am glad that they are still so crude and satisfy the touts claim to make them just souvenirs for Tourists. It is illegal to export out of the island any genuine items including coins more than 100 years old. In reality I doubt the forgers have even seen the real coins. They don't seem to even understand that in this era the intrinsic value of the metal and therefore the weight of the coin is proportional to the denomination.
I am sorry that this tourist was taken by them and thank him for sharing this experience and images. I hope the information on these webpages will reduce such incidence of fraud. They have almost been able to stop the sale of these fakes on eBay.
Modern Fakes of Lankan coins warnings.
LakdivaCoins collection website.