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  • A Last Word on the Strachan & Co Token Scam


    It seems like Prof Clive Graham, who was co-author of Kence – The Trade Tokens of Strachan and Co in 1976, had second thoughts about many things written in his published work on the S & Co tokens, as in the next year (1977) he wrote to Natalia Issue 7 (Natal Society Foundation) saying…

    "" These are brass coins, in 3d., 6d., 1/- and 2/- denominations, bearing the inscription 'S & Co'. Details concerning the varieties and relative abundance of these coins have been acquired in an extensive examination of the coins provided, but historical details concerning the dates of issue, precise reasons of issue, etc., are conspicuously absent.""

    Also …

    "..The firm of Strachan and Company was established in the Drift (now Umzimkulu, East Griqualand), by Thomas and Donald Strachan, in 1858, but the first documentary evidence of the tokens is a reference to them in a letter dated 1907..."

    Prof Graham then (three decades ago) asked readers of the Natalia newsletter to please provide info on the tokens they might have, but alas, it seems that nobody cared (or could not provide) any new info – so we are still stuck now, 30 years later, with the date 1907

    A million rand have been offered for many months as reward for evidence that they have been struck in the 1870s - as Wikipedia claims, and a R100 000 reward that they were struck in the 1880s, etc. but guess what …

    No takers

    The unmasked Strachan and Co Token debacle has probably been the most prominent and exposed money-making scam in South Africa’s numismatic history.

  • #2
    Word has reached me that a trunk of thousands of S& Co Tokens have been discovered in an old-time dealers's home in Johannesburg.

    Looks like the old classification of 4 separate groupings of S & Co are now history - new strikes have been reported that could separate some of the 4 original categories into subgroups if I am not mistaken?

    So, - those S & Co token-collectors that thought that they have the "full set" maybe in for a BIG surprise ...

    If more information is forthcoming, I will report it here on the forum

    Never a dull day!

    Comment


    • #3
      and there drops the bomb........

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jcriller View Post
        and there drops the bomb........
        What do you say about that Tickey with the "Z" on the upper right of the picture - one of three found in the hoard of 4248 S&Co tokens in the massive hoard - all uncirculated except one or two -

        More bombshells will be dropping soon I think!



        Comment


        • #5
          WITH SO MANY NEW TOKENS IN UNCIRCULATED CONDITION FOUND I PERSONALLY THINK THE MARKET VALUE OF THESE TOKENS WILL FALL TO R100.00-R200.00 MAX EACH. i CAN NOT SEE A GOOD RETURN ON THEM IF THEY SELL FOR MUCH MORE.I am sure a lot more will pop up pretty soon. The ones with the Z might have been samples or test issues,all i can say is a am glad i did not pay R800+ for each of these tokens a while ago, if i had some i would sell them RIGHT NOW. They guys with "full sets" will have to acquire some more now to complete the sets, I personally will rather put my money into the real rare tokens.

          Comment


          • #6
            This is unfortunate for those numismatists who might have wished to invest in a collection of S&Co tokens as this discovery will have negatively impacted this investment. The same thing would have applied if a huge hoard of 1815-1816 GQT coins had been discovered.
            However, for those of us who collect such tokens and coins and relish what we have due to our perception of their place in numismatic history - the story behind such items - this will make no difference.
            I have no interest whatsoever in S&Co tokens, but this discovery has added new types to this genre of tokens. This should make things more interesting for those numismatists who have been collecting S&Co tokens mainly for their historical value.
            Last edited by Mike Klee; 28-02-17, 08:14.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mike Klee View Post
              This is unfortunate for those numismatists who might have wished to invest in a collection of S&Co tokens as this discovery will have negatively impacted this investment. The same thing would have applied if a huge hoard of 1815-1816 GQT coins had been discovered.
              However, for those of us who collect such tokens and coins and relish what we have due to our perception of their place in numismatic history - the story behind such items - this will make no difference.
              I have no interest whatsoever in S&Co tokens, but this discovery has added new types to this genre of tokens. This should make things more interesting for those numismatists who have been collecting S&Co tokens mainly for their historical value.
              Hi Mike, you are so right

              I will do a post on the new discovery soon -

              The old categories of "4 sets" of S & Co tokens are now history.

              Kind regards

              Pierre

              Comment


              • #8
                It looks like all the tokens were received by S & Co as a once off delivery – or multiple deliveries over a relatively short period of time -- by the same manufacturer. (They were practically all in mint state condition as struck) – so the chances that they originate from a collector – buying over 4000 tokens up through many years – one by one in mint state condition, is most certainly zero)

                The Johannesburg dealer received the hoard approx. 30 years ago – in my opinion the old gentleman sold them to the dealer as a consignment as originally received from the manufacturer.

                Interestingly enough, of the so-called ”first issues” found in the hoard, many appeared to have been struck on polished flans (like proof coins) being 117 Tickeys, 19 sixpences and 55 shillings.

                And now for the bomb-shell –

                On the polished flan specimens (first issues) the stroke under the “D” was noticeably longer AND their weight and size differed remarkably from the currently known first-issue specimens.

                For example -

                A “normal” S & Co Sixpence (6d) weighs 3.79 grams but the new discovered specimens weighs only 2.56 grams and their thickness differ – 1.08mm vs. 0.79mm

                The difference on weight and thickness is on average 30%

                (The 3d and 1/- have approx. the same differences)

                In numismatic terms these are HUGE differences and obviously completely different striking and issues (differing in weight, thickness and lettering design).

                So now we have

                Series 1 (The old series 1)
                Series 2 (The totally new series discovered)
                Series 3 (The old series 2)
                Series 4 (The old series 3)
                Series 5 (The old series 4)

                And then …

                Series Z (The salesman’s examples discovered)

                To be continued …
                Last edited by Pierre_Henri; 06-03-17, 17:13.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Part 2

                  Word has reached me that someone, after hearing about this new discovery, has thrown all his toys out of his pram in a roaring rage!

                  The same thing happened last year, when the discovery was made that the S & Co Mountain Home store was only opened in circa 1904 and not in the 1870s as some dubious sources had us to believe (including Wikipedia who has now thankfully deleted their nonsense)

                  Here is the full inventory of the new hoard found in Johannesburg



                  I have been forwarded the following question regarding this new discovery:-

                  Why, when the S & Co tokens were counted & documented in 1977 in the safe depository of Strachan & Co, were there no examples of the newly discovered series (and the “Z” samples) found?

                  The answer is actually very simple: They were not there because they were elsewhere.

                  They most probably have been kept (stored) on the premises of another S & Co store.

                  Remember the tally of the S & Co tokens was made in 1977, but several stores were still doing business until the early 1980s (Cabane, Rietvlei, Bossenfontein, Brooklands, Clydesdale, Bont Rand etc.)

                  These stores were all opened in the 1910s and 1920s when the S & Co tokens were still in circulation and only closed down a couple of years AFTER the S& Co tokens kept at the safe at Umzimkulu were counted in 1977.

                  My guess is that one of these stores received a shipment of tokens (or more than one) in the early 1930s, but when the national law was passed prohibiting token circulation, the tokens were stored somewhere safe as they could not be used anymore. They certainly were not returned to the main store (S & Co HQ) in Umzimkulu, because if they were, they would have been counted in 1977 when the tally was made.

                  This would also explain the reason why practically the whole hoard (of over 4000 tokens) is in uncirculated condition.

                  The simple fact is that the existence of the hoard only very recently came to light. The most intriguing discovery is that two types of what numismatists use to categorize as series 1 now exist regarding the 3d, 6d and 1/-. The differences are in the lettering, weight and thickness, as well as the flans.

                  But for me, the most intriguing question is the following:

                  How could (for example) 1274 series 1 tokens and 2441 series 4 tokens be found stored together (and) all being in uncirculated condition if, like some claim, there is a difference of nearly 50 years between the two series being struck?

                  It would be comparable to an old trunk being discovered under an old store and when opened, a thousand brand new 1923 Union Pennies are discovered with 1000 brand new 1973 one cent pieces. .

                  My take on it is that the S & Co tokens were not struck over such a long period but were probably all struck in a period of say 10 to 20 years – say from around 1900 to 1920. That would explain the fact that such a large uncirculated hoard could have been found together covering all the known series (plus a new series).

                  There is no hope and hell that a 1000 uncirculated pieces of the first series could date from 1874 and then found in brand new condition with thousands of others struck 50 years later also in mint state condition.

                  Impossible!
                  Last edited by Pierre_Henri; 06-03-17, 18:18.

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                  • #10
                    Is there any information as to the count of each token in this new series?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ngwena View Post
                      Is there any information as to the count of each token in this new series?
                      117 Tickeys, 19 sixpences and 55 shillings.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Pierre,

                        Do you have any information on where these tokens were minted. If you look at the various types of tokens in use in Natal and surrounds at the time, I think it might have been done locally in Natal. This might also help in dating these these more accurately.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hello Cold Sea – it looks like they were manufactures in England

                          In last week’s minutes of meeting of the Pietermaritzburg Numismatic Society a.k.a. the Maritzburg Coin Club (2 March 2017), Professor Michael Laidlaw provides a very informative write-up (with pictures) of the new discovery. He fully acknowledges the investigative hard work currently being done on the hoard by the doyen of South African Token collecting, Allyn Jacobs.

                          Prof Laidlaw writes …

                          “The tokens came in five metal containers sized 19.2 x 13.5 x 8.6 cm. It seems probable that the tokens were kept aside in these tins and never issued. The tins may even have been those in which the tokens were sent to South Africa from the manufacturer in England”

                          For the life of me I am truly stunned – not by the hoard being discovered - as a few earlier S & Co token hoards have been discovered in the past couple of years – but by the following question …

                          How is it possible that the hoard of S& Co tokens, that supposedly spans almost 60 years (1874 -1932), are all nicely boxed-up together in uncirculated condition as presumably received from the same manufacturer in England?

                          More than half a century boxed into one delivery?

                          There is obviously the possibility that they were not all shipped over as one batch – but when received by S & Co over the years, were stored with other shipments received (in one location and in the same storing boxes)

                          Why then – did S & Co never put them in circulation?

                          My take on it?

                          The minting of the S & Co tokens most certainly does not span more than 2 decades at most – the manufacturer (in England?) struck the 5 now known series in the same approximate period for different reasons – e.g. “The Mountain Home Series” vs. the “In Goods Series” - they were struck on different dies and lettering for where they were needed and used – and in the same approx. period and all by the same manufacturer.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            As a matter of fact, the FIRST EVER reference to the S & Co tokens in any publications ever was the year 1907.

                            Yes, the year 1907
                            Last edited by Pierre_Henri; 13-03-17, 19:19.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi Pierre, I hope that the Pietermaritzburg society will publish their paper once completed. The set that is not mentioned is the un-holed series. According to Scott's research these have been reported but none were ever found. It seems then that it is likely that there might have been more than one consignment.

                              Comment

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