Dutch - 1644 - Batavia

VOC - Half Stuiver

From: Kavan Ratnatunga
To:   Jan Lingen
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2001 6:50 PM
Dear Jan,
Your Batavia 1/4 Stiver is near the 3.86 grams listed in Shcholten.
Your Batavia 1/2 stuiver 1644 at two different coins weight
a) 6.29 g. b) 6.52 g, are underweight.
I too have two underweight 1/2 stivers at 6.04 6.59 grams which I
discuss in http://coins.lakdiva.org/dutch/1644_batavia_hst.html and I
suspect are 1675 reproductions from Nagapatnam with a mean issue
weight of 6.866 grams.  Any comment on the weight issue of these 1644's
    Best regards     Kavan
From "Jan Lingen  Mon Jul  9 17:31:38 2001
To: "Kavan Ratnatunga"
Subject: Re: Ceylon coins
Dear Kavan,
I am sorry to say, but I disagree with your opinion that the lighter
weight 1/2 stuivers of 1644 were produced at Negapatnam. The coin
actually struck at Negapatnam in 1675 is a variety of the wreath type
stivers. They differ from the Colombo issue, as well as from the
Jaffna issue.  I have two specimen of the Negapatnam issue and will
send you a scan in due course. I have once worked it out and the
weights coincide with the records as well. Moreover the coins of
Negapatnam were all struck, the 1644 issue is cast.
I have done quite some (research)work on the Dutch period in India and
Ceylon, but failed -due to time- to put it on paper as yet.  All 1644
1/2 and 1/4 stuivers must have been produced at Batavia. Due to the
casting process quite some weight differences occur.
Best Wishes,
From  Jan Lingen Thu Jul 12 16:12:38 2001
To: "Kavan Ratnatunga"
Dear Kavan,
The date of the Colombo wreath type issue I base on the placard of
14/23 February 1674. (Sri Lanka National Archives 1/2438 nr.87)
Partial Dutch text:
"SOO IS 'T dat wij, daerin willende voorsien ende zulcx in tijts weeren, ten
dienste van d'edele Compagnie ende 't welvaren harer onderdanen hooghnoodigh
geacht hebben bij desen expresselijck te ordoneren, dat van nu voortaen over
het gansche eylant sestigh Cormandelse cassen off duyten in een halve larijn
off thien in een Colombosen geslagen stuyver coers nemen en oock soodanigh
door een yder ontvangen ende uytgegeven zullen werden. Verclarende bij desen
van nu off alle buytenlantse heele en halve stuyvers biljoen ende niet
ontfanckelijck, die aan d'eene zijde met Moorse caracters en aen d'ander
sijde aldus gemerct staat: VOC/X;  VOC/V;  VOC/VIII;  VOC/PAL IIII."
In short this placard gives the instruction that from 1674 onwards 60
Coromandel kas or doits were to be equal to a half larin, or that 10
kas would be equal to one Colombo Stuiver. All foreign coins of one
stuiver and of a half stuiver with the Moorish symbols and marked with
VOC/X; VOC/V; VOC/VIII; VOC/PAL IIII were declared billion and not
current any more on the island.
Holland, at that time, was in war with France and England, (Third
English War 1672-1674) therefore hardly any (silver)coins could be
supplied from the Netherlands to the East. A similar situation as in
the 1780's when de Dutch were again at war with Britain.
It must be clear from the placard that prior to 1674 already Colombo
stuivers were struck. These coins must be of the wreath type. The VI
and II stuiver were only struck at Colombo. The Colombo stuivers (type
as Scholten #1290c) can be differentiated from those of struck at
Jaffna (type as Scholten #1290k) by the type of wreath. All small
denominations (1/2, & 1/8 stuiver) were only struck at Jaffna. I have
arguments that Scholten #1290e was the type of stuiver struck at
The VI stuiver was equal to a 1/2 larin. The value of the larin
fluctuated slightly but around 1674 it was equal to12 stuiver and
decreased to approximately 10 stuivers by the end of the 17th
century. About 1785 the value of the larin was 9 stuivers, which is
the reason for the odd value of the half larin of 4 3/4 stuiver.
The Third English War ended in Febr. 1674 with the Westminster Peace
Treaty.  The war with France lasted up to 1678.
As the VI stuiver must be regarded as an emergency coinage, to foresee
in the shortage of silver money, it must be a short-lived issue struck
in the 70's of the 17th century and it perfectly coincides with the
value of the larin at that time.  At that time (1674) it was equal to
a half larin and a similar kind of coin issued over a century
later. That issue was also struck as an emergency coin during the
4th. Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784). Therefore a date of 1712 can't be
correct. Approximately 1674 is closer to it.
I hope you may agree with my explanation.
Best Wishes,
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 23:36:28 +0200
From  Jan Lingen
To: "Kavan Ratnatunga"
Hello Kavan,
I do have a copy of Codrington (one can't without), but it is very
difficult reading with all the subsequent appendixes and
supplements. I may have read it a dozen times by now. The Dutch text I
sent you with my former mail is not in Codrington. Codrington regrets
that a Ceylonese Placard Book has not come forward as yet (p.110
sub9.) From the index Codrington wrote something about the placard of
1674 (p.111).
But in 1991 Mr. Lodewijk Hovy published the "Ceylonees Plakkaatboek"
in two volumes as a dissertation. (ISBN 90-6550-341-2) This is really
a wealth of information and of course many placards deal with currency
Re.: Tammekasjes. This name was current on Ceylon and also on the
Coromandel Coast of India and used for coin denominations of a 1/2
stuiver. The name has been derived from the Singhalese tamba-kasi and
Tamil tampakkasu. Both meaning, "copper coin". The name was first
applied to the cast 1/2 stuivers of Batavia 1644. But I have also come
across expressions like: tammekasjes of a dub or dabu ("daboesen" in
Dutch). So tammekas became general applied to any copper coin, which
was also the translation in the local language.  The strongest
argument for me, that the 1644 1/2 stuivers weren't issued from
Negapatnam, is that on the Coromandel Coast they didn't understand the
art of casting coins. I haven't come across any references that copper
coins were cast there. At the island of Ceylon we know that
bazarucco's were cast.
All the 1644 Batavia issues were cast and in my opinion were all
produced at Batavia. The Dutch in substantial quantities imported
those coins including also Chinese cash coins on the Island.
I hope this will be convincing enough.
Best Wishes,
From Jan Lingen Sun Jul 15 01:20:28 2001
To: kavan@lakdiva.org
Subject: Tammekas 1644
 Dear Kavan,
The questions you have raised about the 1644 ½ and ¼
stuivers is rather complex. It is only by Codrington (pag. 111 13)
that a suggestion is given that the tammekasjes of 1644 found on the
Island seem to be lighter than the legal weight. Does this indicate
that elsewhere stuivers are found of a heavier weight? Further on page
132 Codrington mentions "The unit of weight seems to be the lood,
equal to 237.3 grains Troy (15.38 g.), cf. The Batavian half and
quarter stuiver of 1644". The coins referred to are the wreath type
stuivers.  Codrington seems to be convinced that the ½ stuivers
of Batavia 1644 were "struck" at Negapatnam in 1675 (pag. 139 36) He
refers to Thurnberg, Voyages 1770-1779, but by that time (1775) the
so-called challies or VOC-doits were current. They were introduced at
Negapatnam by placard of 12 August 1749. Codrington must have been
mistaken by about a century or so. Those challies or doits do have
something in common with the 1644 issue as far the VOC monogram is
concerned. Perhaps this might have created the confusion.
You suggest that some of the light weight ½ stuivers which are
found on the island must be of this (Negapatnam) or some other local
mint. In 1662 the Dutch received minting rights at Negapatnam and
produced pagodas, fanams and kas coins. The caul was renewed in
1674. The type of kas struck at that time are those with the mark of
the VOC with N above and Tamil inscription on the reverse. Most issues
are single kas coins, but also 2, 4, 10 and 15 kas coins are known.
Despite your arguments I am not at all convinced that any of the
½ stuivers 1644 were cast at Negapatnam. The placard of 1674
speaks of Cormandel kas coins of which 10 were equal to the Colombo
stuiver (this is the wreath type stuiver). Copper coins in general
were called tammekasjes. As I wrote you earlier I have come across
references were is mentioned a tammekasje of a dabu (= stuiver). The
5 and 10 kas coins of Pulicat were by placard of 14/23 February 1674
demonetised on the Island and the Company officials on the Island
thought it better to get their money from their own "comptoir"
(administrative territory).
Hereunder I provide some information regarding the 1644 issue which is
based, as far as possible, on the most original sources.
First the instructions for the minting (casting) of the 1644 issue. (
Ref.: Netscher and J.A. van der Chijs, Coins of the Dutch-East Indies,
Batavia 1864) As much of the currency seemed to disappear from
circulation either by export or by melting it was decided by the
Authorities at Batavia to issue as quick as possible copper ½
and ¼ stuivers in sufficient quantity which would meet the
demand for coinage in Batavia, Banda, Malacca and Ceylon and which
should not disappear from circulation. By placard of 19 Augustus 1644
the Chinaman Conjock, by exclusion of others, was instructed to
produce a quantity of copper coinage with the weight of half and a
quarter "lood Hollandsch" with respectively the value of a half and a
quarter stuiver and with the impression of the Coat of Arms of Batavia
and the mark of the Company.  In the contract with the Chinese it was
stipulated that from the Companies warehouse good quality "Ongers"?
(Hongarian?), Swedish or Japanese copper would be provided against 35
reals a pikol of 120 pound.  Furthermore from each pikol 4000 half and
7000 quarter stuivers needed to be produced. Conjock was allowed to
appropriate the balance of the material for labour, expenses and
The production lasted until 1645. As no sufficient coins were
produced, new problems occurred already in 1658 in the money
As seen above in the instructions to Conjock, two kind of weights are
given: Half and a quarter "lood" for the weight and that 4000 half +
7000 quarter stuivers were to be produced from each pikol.
I have tried to make some calculations.
A contemporary Dutch (Amsterdam)
      pound = 32 lood;
494.0942/32 = 15.44 g.= 1 lood
A half lood therefore is 7.72 g and a quarter 3.86 g. These are also the
legal weights as given by Scholten.
The other calculation says that 3750 stuivers were to be produced from
one pikol of 120 pound.
120 * 494.0942/3750 = 15.81 g./stuiver.
Half is 7.9055 g. and quarter 3.95275 g.
However from this weight Conjock had to reduce his cost for labour and
other expenses.
The difference between the two weight calculations is
0.37 g./stuiver or 2.4%.
From other sources we know that the minting cost, viz. at Negapatnam,
was 2.75%. So 2.4% is slightly low. In case of 2.75% the weight of one
stuiver would be 15.37 g. (1/2) 7,68 g. (1/4)3,84 g.
The instruction was given because other coins disappeared from
circulation and therefore one could say the "lighter" they were, the
better. Moreover the casting technique prevented an accurate weight
Conjock had to pay 35 reals a pikol and had to produce a fixed number
of coins from this. The balance minus cost was his earning. This is
also a reason to produce underweight coins.
Initially the instruction was to produce 4000 half and 7000 quarter
stuivers from each pikol. As the ¼ stuiver is much scarcer than
the ½ stuiver, they might have changed the out-put in the
course of the minting production. Initially the weight might have been
rather near to the standard, as high weight examples for the ½
stuiver do exist as well. The production of the ¼ stuivers
might have been given up soon, because it would yield, with the same
or more cost, half as much as the ½ stuivers. It is quite
imaginable that the production of the ¼ stuiver less
An other aspect is that copper on the island of Ceylon was much dearer
as on the coast and at Batavia. I have no prove for it, but it is also
possible that particular far the outlaying stations the weight was
slightly reduced to cover the cost of shipping as well. The rate for
certain coins differed from place to place so was the Japanese golden
Cobang valued at 9 ½ Rijksdaalders at Batavia and 10
Rijksdaalders at Colombo.
What are the weights so far mentioned in various references?:
Legal weight                 (1/2) 7.72 g.               (1/4) 3.86 g.
Codrington pag. 139          (1/2) 7.68 g.(118.6 grains) (1/4) 3.84 g.(59.3 grains)
Lakdiva collection           (1/2) 6.04 g. 6.59 g.
Lingen collection            (1/2) 6.29 g. 6.52 g.       (1/4) 3.96 g.
Bucknill:                #71 (1/2) 6.01 g. 8.22 g.; #72  (1/4) 4.34 g.
(example from the Grogan coll.)
Grogan:                 #619 (1/2) 7.23, #620 (1/2) 8.22,
                        #621 (1/2) 4.75(?);         #623 (1/4) 4.34 g.
Saran Singh:         Sch.#18 (1/2) 6.05 g.       Sch.#19 (1/4) 3.86 g.
Colombo Museum (1914):  #183 (1/2) 8.42 g.(130 Gr) #184  (1/4) 4.86 g. (75 Gr)
T.M. De Silva Abeywardene (1952):                  #107i (1/4) 4.86 g. (75 Gr)
(probably the example of the Colombo Museum).
I don't know whether all weights can be trusted upon, as you see for
instance in Codrington on page 139 36 already two errors. Twice the
date is given as 1664 instead of 1644. If you are able to get some
more details of the weight of these coins as well as their origin,
this might be welcome. So far I see no indication that those which
originate from Ceylon differ much in weight. And the sentence on page
139 36 by Codrington must be obvious wrong and has probably created
some confusion with you and perhaps others too. I rather keep my self
to the conclusions of Scholten on page 152 of his book.
Best Wishes,