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  • Griquatown 1/4p - First Coins Used In SA

    Excuse the pun but this smacks of a Mandela WtF slabbed listing to me.... "First coin used in South Africa".

    Graded Coins - Look@ (1815 - 16) Griquatown 1/4p NCS Fair Details - First Coins Used In SA - ULTRA RARE @ R1 Start for sale in Johannesburg (ID:26200536)

    Now the Griquatown token coins (which never circulated) were according to this listing the "first coins used in SA"...

    What happened to those Dutch and VOC coins in the 1600s and 1700s? The schelling or scheepjesschelling? The doits, guilders and stivers? The Batavian guilder and daalder? The Rix dollar? The British sovereign and silver pieces? among many others....

    At least these pieces noted above actually circulated as currency somewhere and might even have been part of an occasional isolated trade amongst the white community in Cape Town pre-1820!

    With regards to the comments on this listing (by way of clarification):

    Claim: These Coins were first used by the Griqua people in the Klaarwater district near Kimberley and did not circulate for more than 2 Years before being withdrawn and smelted.

    Fact: There is not and never was a region known as the Klaarwater district between Kimberley and Griquatown and Kimberley is over 150km from Griquatown where they were supposed to be used - but they NEVER circulated - see comments below. (By way of clarification the settlement of Klaarwater (clear water) was renamed Griquatown in 1813 when Campbell first visited South Africa.)

    Claim: The Mission Site Was Later Abandoned and most of the Griqua People moved to Mount Currie near Kokstad.

    Fact: Griquatown still has a thriving Griqua community today. A family of Griquas under Adam Kok III moved to Nomansland in the early 1860s AFTER spending forty years at Philippolis in the Orange Free State. The Waterboer faction remained in Griquatown after the 1820s and the current Kaptyn (Nicholas Waterboer) still lives there with several thousand Griqua descendants.

    Claim: This Series of coins was the first minted for, and used by a South African People.

    Fact: They were issued as token coins (source London Missionary Society records) - BUT they never circulated - not one "farthing".

    Claim: Another first is the fact that this was the first decimal series used in South Africa.

    Fact: The values indicate time or labour not a decimal value (eg 10 = ten hours or one day; 1/4 = 15 minutes) nothing to do with a "decimal currency".

    Claim: Records show that they were sent to South Africa in 1815 and 1816.

    Fact: The London Missionary Society's mission in Griquatown requested some form of TOKEN currency in 1817 - as there was no coinage in those remote parts (ie after 1816). The failed Griquatown token coins resulted from their request. SOURCE: Karel Schoeman's book "The Mission Station at Griquatown 1801 - 1821" (It is most likely Campbell brought a bag of these tokens with him on his second trip to South Africa. In published letters by Campbell written at Griquatown in 1820 he talks about "talking to traders south of the Orange River to accept the tokens so that the Griqua would accept them". He failed. The weight of the Griquatown silver token coins did not match that of any Imperial coinage and the great majority of the coins were later sent back and melted down for their silver.)

    PS The indicative price claimed also appears to be rich when one sees the coin's grading. Might be a good speculative deal at ZAR1 though!

    Kind regards

    Scott Balson
    Last edited by ndoa18; 08-10-10, 07:43.

  • #2
    Hi Scott

    You are making quite a lot of claims stating them as "FACTS", I therefore assume that you have evidence to back this up. I see in your last statement you do give a source, but for the others could you please indicate where you got the evidence or quote something from it. I am fascinated to hear about it and can't wait your response.



    • #3
      O Boy, this is going to be a long day ...

      FACT is, Scott is going to give you more than you expected. LOL


      • #4
        Hi Pierre

        We were just quoting from Hern's book. As you know this is a long time back so we will never know he truth.

        Scott has interests in the Strachan & Co Tokens so he will say they circulated first and Hern's says differently - we will never know the truth as it was some time ago.

        Just depends which book the collector wants to follow -

        Balson's or Hern's??????


        • #5
          Hi , All

          Seems like the guy has quoted "fact" based on Herns Book.
          Anyways , no big deal.
          willing buyer , willing seller , based on " fact" from herns book which is widely recognised
          Last edited by Vertigo; 16-09-10, 18:51.


          • #6
            Mmm, and here we go again - ;)


            • #7
              Hi all

              I take Hern's Book with a pinch of salt. A great reference book, with quite a few errors in it. Just on the ZAR:

              1. 1892 penny double the price in UNC than 1894 - I think he got them the wrong way round.
              2. Only 1 know rimmless blank penny - Suppose to be part of the late Dr. FK Mitchells' collection, definately not there ....

              But is it wrong stating the Hern's UNC price for the 92 penny? NO
              But then it must be wrong saying the 94 in UNC is more scarce than the 92?NO

              I'm 100% sure that Scott has got facts to back almost everything regarding the qriqua token, he is an expert in his field.

              I'm 100% sure there is nothing wrong in Ewaan's auction stating "so called facts" from Herns, hey, I would of done the same, not knowing better.

              Scott, submit your facts to Brian for a change in his new catologue, if there is a new one coming???


              Thomas van der Spuy
              "Look in the past for all that is good and beautiful, take that for your ideal and build on it your future".
              Items I am selling.


              • #8
                Hi Thomas ,

                I always wondered why the herns value on the 94 Penny is so low , also the 95 pond in UNC, however the values are just an indication in a market that today seems to create it's own values as we have seen in the latest george V spike in top end coins , nevertheless this "inconsistency" is not based on numismatic values which is plain consumerism , this is based on historical "facts" being , who used what first.

                I had a problem on this forum when I listed a finest known 1956 pound stating "lower mintage than the veldpond" , i was obviously stating fact from herns book , however fellow numismatists felt it a marketing ploy , so i subsequently changed the listing to " lowest mintage of the series".
                Thinking back , that was done in the interest of numismatics as a whole.

                Herns book is widely used in South Africa , and the mere fact the seller quoted from the book is not a crime.

                Don't kill the messenger

                I personally feel that the seller quoted with the best of intentions.
                I agree with Thomas that Mr Hern should be contacted to find out where he recieved his source on the topic.

                warm regards


                • #9
                  The Facts - Read Them And Be Informed!

                  I have lost count of the number of times I have said this on BoB forums before, but here goes again.

                  THE FACTS:

                  There are fifty bulleted research-based facts on my website supporting my opening post (ie I make NO assumptions).

                  They can be seen at this link: "The Griquas of South Africa and their money"

                  It is a fact that I have been studying the Griqua - with a special emphasis on their coinage for over thirty years. I myself, in the 1980s, had accepted what Parsons claimed in his booklet written for Spink but while researching for my book on the Griqua, "Children of the Mist", I came across irrefutable evidence that he was completely wrong. He only uses three references (books by Campbell, Livingstone and Moffat) in his "research" - completely ignoring key books by Burchell (who visited Klaarwater/Griquatown in 1812) and others. (Livingstone and Moffat came to Griquatown post 1820 and NEITHER refer to the Griquatown coins at ay time in any of their books.) The only reference relevant to the tokens is in Campbell's book on his first trip to South Africa (1813) - where he talks about having coins minted after a meeting with the Griqua. If your read Parsons research you will see that EVERYTHING is assumed - there is NO SUPPORTING EVIDENCE and the only relevant reference to the coins is the one mentioned above from Campbell's book. (See my separate post below being a complete scan of Parsons research on the Griquatown coins).

                  Hern and many other writers of coin books base their comments in their books on Parsons' flawed claims. I wrote to Hern over five years ago providing him with a summary of the facts proving that Parsons was wrong - he chose to ignore them and suggested in an email that I was ignorant - see the link below where I transcribe Hern's email to me.

                  I have a web page which specifically addresses and challenges Hern's claims. The page has been online since March 2008 and has never been questioned: Challenging the claims by Brian Hern in his 2008 S African coin catalogue.

                  This web page was posted because Hern refused to even consider the supported FACTS I had presented him with and continued to publish what Parsons claimed. If you are serious about the integrity of our hobby how can you simply look the other way and ignore facts sourced from documents and books written by the people living with the Griqua at that time?

                  The support I have that matters:

                  Jeremy Cheek from Spink has endorsed my research saying that Parsons was wrong - Parsons wrote his work for Spink in the 1920s.

                  The Griqua National Council (GNC), who represent the scattered Griqua communities across South Africa, have not only endorsed the accuracy of my book "Children of the Mist" on their history but quote from it on their official website (see link below). The book factually exposes the Griquatown coin fallacy. Since 2007 my book has been used at the Griqua's main settlement at Kranshoek (Plettenburg Bay) to educate the children on their important past. It is also used at all other major Griqua centres for the same purpose - including Kokstad, Griquatown, Campbell, Bergmanshoogte (Philippolis), Bloemfontein and Daniels Kuil. In just the last few days I have emailed a PDF version of my book to the GNC (at their request). This will soon be sold online from the same website linked below.

                  See the GNC website history summarised here:

                  The unanswered challenge:

                  I have on several occasions (since 2006), as many of you would know, challenged anyone of note in the South African numismatic community to debate me in a public forum on this subject. No one has stepped up to the plate.

                  The challenge to YOU as a coin collector:

                  The challenge is now for YOU to read the evidence that has been on my web page for years and then make your own informed decisions. Feel free to discuss any point you feel requires clarification. I will support any claim I have made with evidence.

                  Karel Schoeman's important work (see my separate post below linking a scan of Parsons original flawed research used by Hern):

                  Importantly the key FACTS relating to date and type of coin (ie tokens) are dealt with specifically from London Missionary Society (LMS) documents sourced by Karel Schoeman in his book "The Mission Station at Griquatown 1801 - 1821". (Schoeman was given complete access to the original LMS documents in London - resulting in this book. I have never met Schoeman and had no communication with him - he is a well respected South African historian with many books under his belt. I believe he now lives in Bloemfontein.)

                  These documents are accurately transcribed at this link: The Mission at Griquatown 1801-1821 - Karel Schoeman

                  The challenge is now for YOU to get Schoeman's book and read for yourself why Parsons was so wrong on all the key issues he claimed. It is Parsons flawed research which has resulted in the comments carried in Hern's book - even today despite earlier being presented with the facts by me. (Parsons research scanned in post below).

                  I believe my suggestion that the values on the tokens relate to (labour) time worked make far more sense. (ie silver 10 = day token or ten hours; silver 5 = half day token; bronze 1/2 = 30 minutes and bronze 1/4 = fifteen minutes time worked for the missionaries).

                  As a numismatist I have done my own research on my own specialised area of interest - the Griqua and their money. Much of this work has been groundbreaking, tedious but rewarding because it gets the facts right. I have spent years sourcing nearly 300 books many of which help paint a picture of just how things were in central South Africa in the early 1800s. How can that be bad for our hobby? It is when people in positions of influence deride and refuse to consider this research that I think I have a very good case or feeling just a little bit peeved.

                  The so-called Griqua "decimal coinage" reflects how extreme the assumptions have become!

                  PS The furphy about the Griquatown coins being the FIRST DECIMAL COINAGE was not suggested by Parsons (see my post below) but assumed many years later by another writer - since then this assumption somehow became fact. Prior to this books such as that written by Wm D Simpson "Muntstukkie, Waar Kom Jy Vandaan" (1951) suggested that the values of "Five" and "Ten" on the Griquatown tokens were tied up with counting the fingers on our hand. (A scan of Parsons original work is linked in the post below).

                  The Strachan coins

                  It is coincidental that the Strachan and Co are, by default, the first circulating indigenous coinage in South Africa. There is no hidden agenda as suggested by EWAAN. Let the facts speak for themselves.

                  As the role of the Griquatown token coins is an important issue in South African numismatics and I do not sell any coins on my website I trust that BoB will allow the links shown above to remain.

                  The challenge remains

                  As I have said many times before I would happily debate Hern or anyone else of note over this subject in a public forum.

                  Kind regards

                  Scott Balson
                  Last edited by ndoa18; 17-09-10, 10:43.


                  • #10
                    Scan of Parsons original research used by Hern

                    As I have talked at length about Parsons - who Hern bases his claims on, I have scanned Parson's 1927 published research and placed it online with my comments so you can see for yourself how flimsy and often baseless his research actually was.

                    See: Parsons "The coinage of Griqualand"

                    Kind regards

                    Scott Balson
                    Last edited by ndoa18; 17-09-10, 10:44.


                    • #11
                      Hi Scott

                      Thanks for all the information, it will be an interesting read.

                      As I think I have ticked quite a few people off by asking you to provide your evidence, I would just like to say that I am relatively NEW to this great hobby and there is lots for me still to learn. I appreciate your help Scott.



                      • #12
                        Alles Goed

                        Hi Veto

                        No probs..

                        Thanks to the Internet and the BoB forum I have been able to voice facts that the "establishment" refuse to accept. Read what I have written, check my references and make your own decisions.

                        PS I would love to become an overseas member of my old club the Pietermaritzburg Numismatic Society.. would someone send me a private message on this?

                        Kind regards

                        Scott Balson
                        Last edited by ndoa18; 17-09-10, 09:47.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ndoa18 View Post
                          Fact: There is not and never was a region known as the Klaarwater district ...
                          Scott Balson
                          O well, at least the sun is still shining there...

                          Weather in Klaarwater.. Free State. South Africa


                          • #14
                            hi Pierre ,
                            And if you need a place to stay

                            Bed and Breakfasts in Klaarwater - Map Studio


                            • #15
                              Hi Scott,

                              Greek and Roman coins are accepted by the world as circulated without all the references you demand for the Griqua Coins.

                              Parsons was merely describing what happened at the time and his work is accepted by people like J.T.Becklake in his book From Real to Rand as well as Eric Rosenthal Van Boesmangeld tot Barclays and Engelbrecht in Money in South Africa. These are all three big names in South African Numismatic History and deserve your serious respect. Their contribution will always be accepted as objective.

                              You however have a vested interest in pushing the S&Co Tokens ahead of these humble coins and that is why we cannot accept your arguments as unquestionable facts. for example you say Griquas did not attend church - How can you prove that? - have you weekly attendance figures and so what anyway it does not give us any answers about these coins!

                              The debate you need to have is with Parsons himself and he is long gone so you can leave Brian Hern out of it.

                              All we have to go on to-day is a fair number of worn and corroded Griqua Copper Coins with very few in gradeable form. Fingers caused much of that wear and buyers will pay big money for them because they are accepted by the majority of the serious South African coin community as having circulated whatever you may say from Australia. They dont get big mention in written documents precisely because they were not worth much at the time. Why should they anyway just to prove or disprove your point.