Research and Resources
We have researched the facts
As a result of our findings the Griquatown tokens are omitted from this book; the Strachan and Co tokens (first two sets) included and the numbers of Veld Pond in circulation corrected.
- most current and past coin catalogues on South African coins simply parrot what has been claimed in the past - we don't
- we have had a team research the history of South African coins and have found some glaring inaccuracies
- for example:
- the claim that the Griquatown tokens circulated for two years as money around Griquatown is baseless and completely false. The claim is based on the 1927 booklet by Parsons written for Spinks who now admit that his claims were completely wrong. Even Krause catalogues now acknowledge that the Griquatown tokens never circulated and have removed them from their main catalogues. It is now documented that the Griquatown tokens
- were issued as TOKENS
- only arrived at the Griquatown station c 1820 (coin catalogues commonly claim they circulated for two years from 1815-16)
- failed because the missionary in charge of the station wanted to know what to do with them as they served no purpose - after this they were returned to England (where most coins in collections today originate from)
- failed because there was no shop in Griquatown where they could be traded
- have not one contemporary record of a piece being circulated - even the missionaries at Griquatown refer to the chief Waterboer being paid in Rijksdaalder before and after 1820
- Rev John Campbell says in a letter written while he was in Griquatown during his second trip they might be accepted if they could get trading stores south of the Orange river to accept them. They didn't.
- the first widely circulating indigenous coinage in South Africa were the first two currency token sets of Strachan and Co - known as the S&Co and S&Co MH. They were accepted and used as a means of exchange by the indigenous people for nearly sixty years. Unlike the Burgerspond first issued in the same year (1874) they were widely circulated and accepted.
- the first set of Strachan and Co (S&Co) were issued by the company in 1874 when East Griqualand was a remote outpost where small change was unknown. It was a sovereign nation run by the Griqua under Adam Kok and they embraced the coins as their currency.
- one of the partners of Strachan and Co was George Brisley the secretary to the Griqua Raad before the territory was annexed in 1878 by the British in the Cape. Before the region was annexed the S&Co were the region's currency - even accepted to pay taxes.
- despite East Griqualand being annexed by the British Governor of the Cape the Standard Bank produced a 125 year historical document of their Kokstad branch in 2003 from their records that states the Strachan and Co were widely used as currency in this remote region from 1878 when they first established a branch in Kokstad.
- Judge Tom Mullins confirmed in an email to Scott Balson in 2006 that he had bought about 40 Strachan and Co tokens from the Magistrates court in Umzimkhulu in the late 1930s and that these coins had earlier been accepted as payment of fines levied by the court. The coins Mullins acquired included the latest set of Strachan and Co In Goods (minted post 1900s) suggesting that the coins circulated as currency long after British occupation. A copy of this email is held by us.
- the Veld Pond is much rarer - the accepted figure of 986 minted coins is almost double the actual number minted. Only 530 coins were finally minted and distributed.
Our thanks go to Scott Balson a respected numismatist who spent most of his life researching the history of the Griqua people and published the book "Children of the Mist" in 2007 which tells their history from 1652. His interest in the Griqua stemmed from his time at Ixopo in southern Natal back in the 1970s where, while working for Barclays Bank, he first came across the S&Co tokens. His book is now accepted by the Griqua as their official history. For ten years Scott Balson has challenged anyone in the numismatic industry to dispute the facts that the Griquatown tokens never circulated in an open public forum - no one accepted. The facts behind the Strachan and Co being South Africa's first widely circulating indigenous currency are self evident.
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