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  • Fascinating new CONTEMPORARY documents found regarding the Griqua Coinage

    On 13 April 2016, almost a year ago, I commented as follows on this forum regarding the Griqua Coinage debate.

    “Maybe one day in the future, some researcher will stumble onto new evidence (say contemporary records of the period) regarding this subject, but until then, I will not be participating in this thread anymore”

    The time has arrived; new contemporary records of the period have recently been recovered, on which I wish to respond.

    Recently a well-researched paper by Ann Stuart (funded by Morgan Carroll – a 100 pats on his back from me & many others) was compiled and entitled - The Failed Community Coinage of Griqualand - A research into the Missionary-issued Community Coinage of Griqualand, South Africa in the early 1800’s

    Up till the new contemporary records were discovered by her (Ann Stuart), we only know of 4 previous records of the period referring to the Griqua pieces. (Rev. Campbell’s report of 7 August 1813, The London Missionary Society annual meeting report of 10 May 1816, John Campbell’s diary of 8 & 12 August 1820 and Missionary Helm’s letter of 21 June 1821 to Dr. John Philip)

    The handful of newly discovered contemporary documents reported by Ann Stuart, date from the period 15 January 1816 to 21 July 1817.

    None of these newly discovered contemporary documents refers to the dispersing or circulation of the coinage, so regarding this important issue (did they circulate or not?), nothing new has been found or came to light. (I will come back to this issue again).

    But other very important & interesting contemporary information regarding the Griqua coinage was indeed found

    In my follow ups to this post, I will comment on these very important documents discovered & reported by Ann Stuart.

    Again – a BIG thank you to Morgan Carroll



  • #2
    On 30th October 1816, a person by the name of John Miller was sentenced to death for highway robbery at the Old Bailey in London.

    According to the court proceedings, William Bateman, a silversmith, sent a 15 year old boy Thomas Spicer, with silver worth “forty eight pounds and upwards” to a Joseph Clementson, who was a silver castor. The boy was robbed of the silver and the robber sent to death.

    Who was William Bateman, the owner of the silver that was robbed?

    William Bateman lived in Bunhill Row, London, and was married to Ann Wilson, the daughter of a wealthy London silk manufacturer

    A contemporary document described him as “… a name long, and well, and honorably known in connection with metropolitan philanthropy, missions, and religion – a name indissolubly associated with the churches and congregations…”

    This was written by none other than John Campbell (the reverend who initiated the Griqua coinage) about one of his fellow directors at the London Missionary Society

    William Bateman was also a Silversmith, and as we shall see, the person who procured the Griqua coins using his own funds and thus donated the tokens to the LMS.

    Let’s now look at one of the contemporary documents regarding the Griqua coinage recently discovered by Ann Stuart …

    The London Missionary Society Home Board Minutes record that at the meeting on 23rd December 1816 it was “Resolved that Mr Bateman be reimbursed by this Society for the loss sustained by him in consequence of his boy being robbed of a quantity of Silver, for Tokens, gratuitously procured by Mr Bateman for the use of the Settlement at GriquaTown” In the following volume, it is recorded that at a meeting of the Directors on 27th January 1817 “The sum of £49 [was] voted to Mr Bateman on the 23rd of Decmbr last in compensation for his loss, by the robbery of his boy of the Silver, for Tokens, ordered

    Incredible isn’t it?

    To be continued …


    • #3
      Due to the sterling research by Ann Stewart, we can now for the first time make a calculated guess regarding the number of Griqua tokens that were struck – and for the first time see exactly WHY they were struck.

      (Her research actually confirms that both silver & copper issues were struck, but we will later come back to this fascinating discovery)

      As will be shown below, her study shows that £200 worth of Griqua coinage was sent to the Cape.

      How many coins is that?

      As a rough comparable guideline, let’s look at the 1823 coin-order of Lord Charles Somerset (that never materialized) when he ordered £4000 worth of coins to be struck for the Cape Colony -- £2000 in copper (½ & 1 pennies) and £2000 in silver (5 & 10 pence pieces).

      So half of the order was for silver pieces and that was split 50/50 between the 5 & 10 pence pieces.

      (As a matter of interest - the Griqua silver pieces -- exactly as the Somerset order -- were also in denominations of 5 and 10 (and not 6d and 12d) to align then with the local “rekengeld” of Rixdaalders)

      From this we can estimate (it is obviously just a guesstemate) that approximately £100 worth of Griqua silver pieces were struck - £50 worth of 5 pence’s (2400 pieces) and £50 worth of 10 pence’s (1200 pieces).

      In numismatic coinage terms these are extremely tiny figures even if doubled or even tripled. In a modern day shop, the whole batch would probably be circulated (spent) in a single day or two!

      Here are the records as uncovered by Ann Stewart that shows that an earlier decision to send £100 worth of coins was later changed to £200 …

      At a meeting of the Directors held at their meeting rooms in the Old Jewry on 22nd April 1816, it was “Resolved that £100 be voted for a Silver Coinage as a circulating medium at Griqua Town & its Vicinity in So Africa-that this business be referred to Messrs Bateman and Muston”

      On 15 July 1816 it was “Resolved that £200 in Coins [struck through] Tokens for [use] …as inflation…Griqua Town be forwarded to the Cape of Good Hope instead of £100 only-as before ordered”.

      Why was the tokens struck?

      The words “ …Silver Coinage as a circulating medium at Griqua Town … ” transcribed at the London Missionary Society’s meeting of 22nd April 1816 clearly shows that the tokens were, without any doubt, intended for local circulation (“… at Griqua Town & its Vicinity in So Africa …”) and surely not as mere gifts or presents or freebees to the Griquas.

      This is one of the most amazing discoveries presented to us by Ann Stuart.

      To be continued …


      • #4
        Ann Stuart tell us that at a LMS meeting held on 21 October 1816 it was recorded that “The following bills were ordered to be paid…William Westall…Silver Tokens etc 191.12

        The amount of £191.12 closely corresponds with the amount of £200.00 “for Tokens, gratuitously procured by Mr Bateman for the use of the Settlement at GriquaTown

        Firstly, one can ask what happened to the other approx. nine pounds.

        Was it perhaps paid to the die-maker whilst the rest £191.12 were paid to the minter/manufacturer being someone with the name of William Westall?

        Who was William Westall?

        Ann Stuart speculates that he was a painter.

        But I cannot follow her logic why she thinks he (as a painter) may have been involved with the tokens?

        The clue might lie with the LMS director William Bateman who donated the funds for the procurement of the Griqua coinage. He and many members of his family were silversmiths, so must have known all the big businesses in the silver and coin/token manufacturing trade in London.

        Secondly, the batch of silver that was stolen was initially sent to a person by the name of Joseph Clementson of 11 Angel Street St Martins, Le Grand in London. In the court proceedings he gave his profession as a silver castor. In an insurance policy he took out on 3 May 1815 from the Royal & Sun Insurance Group, he gave his profession as a “Silver Melter”

        William Bateman said in court “I sent some silver to the last witness's to be melted” From this we can safely assume that Joseph Clementson was not involved with the minting of the Griqua Coinage – he was only to melt the silver that was to be used for their manufacturing.

        In the court proceedings, Joseph Clementson testified “I sent him (the boy) with two hundred ounces weight of silver to Mr. Bateman; it was worth forty eight pounds and upwards.

        William Bateman testified ”I live in Bunhill Row. I sent some silver to the last witness's to be melted. The boy Spicer, brought it to me. It was about seven o'clock when he brought it to me. I afterwards sent him back with the same silver.”

        Thomas Spicer testified “I am fifteen years of age. When this happened I was in the employ of Mr. Joseph Clementson, who is a silver caster. He works for different persons, and for Mr. Bateman. At about a quarter before seven o'clock in the evening, of the 25th of September, I set out from my master's house, in Basket-alley, Angel-street, St. Mantin's Le Grand, with two hundred ounces weight of silver, to take to Mr. Bateman's. I took it to Mr. Bateman's, at No. 108, Bunhill Row. Mr. Bateman wished it to be taken back to my master's house, as there were two gentlemen with an order for it…”

        These ”two gentlemen” were most probably, the persons who needed the silver for the manufacturing of the tokens.

        And now finally we have a good idea how many tokens were to be struck in silver, because we know that Joseph Clementson testified “I sent him (the boy) with two hundred ounces weight of silver to Mr. Bateman; it was worth forty eight pounds and upwards. (In the LMS meeting of 27th January 1817, the sum was stated as £49)

        To be continued …


        • #5
          As a postscript to the above, I think I figured out who William Westall could have been.

          (Unless Ann Stewart read his name wrong on the old document as, at that time, there were, for example, both a William West and a William Weston involved with the silver manufacturing trade in London)

          I think William Westall was the person (indeed the painter) from whom the original silver objects were bought from by William Bateman, and then melted into ingots by Joseph Clementson.

          But I will come back to that later.

          We now know that £200 was earmarked for the minting of the Griqua Tokens of which approx. £49 were to be used for SILVER Tokens and the rest (£151) for copper tokens

          So how many silver tokens can be minted from this amount?

          (For some reason, I think the actual amount decided by the directors was £50 for silver (and not £49) and £150 (and not £151) for copper (thus 25% for silver and 75% for copper)

          If we split the two denominations up 50/50 (see my earlier post above) we get 1200 5-pence pieces and 600 10-pence pieces. That is half of my earlier estimation (before I studied the court proceedings closer)

          How many copper tokens could be minted from £150? If we split it up 50/50 between the ¼ and ½ pence pieces, we get 36 000 halfpennies and 72 000 quarter pennies.

          This may sound like a lot of copper coins but as Ann Stuart reports, there was a sort of population explosion at Griquatown during this period ”…Population…In the year 1806 it is expressly stated to have amounted to 784…[but increased] that in the year 1821, Griquatown and its district contained about 5000 inhabitants

          Let’s move on …

          The last piece of contemporary documentation found by Ann Stuart relating to the Griqua coinage is a …

          … Letter sent by P.F. Hammes and R. Beck [the latter was the Society’s local agent in Africa] to D. Langton, the Assistant Secretary of the Missionary Society in London on 21 July 1817 (that) states

          “Sir, We acknowledge the receipt of Yours dated 20 March last and have the honor to return for Answer, that we have received the two Cases, containing small Silver Specie and Copper pieces in good order, and we will act with the same according to the intention and wish of the Society”.

          We now finally know exactly (to the month)
          • When the coins arrived in South Africa (July 1817).
          • That BOTH silver and copper coinage were sent,
          • How many Pounds worth of tokens arrived. (£200)
          • And we pretty much know how many of each denomination were sent (see my previous post).
          We had none of this information before.

          Lastly, we also know why the coins were sent to South Africa, because the newly discovered LMS records by Ann Stuart, clearly states (without any doubt anymore) that they were struck as coinage to be used as a “circulating medium” at Griqua Town.

          To be continued


          • #6
            As I have sent some questions regarding Ann Stewart’s report to Morgan Carroll (to be conveyed to her), I will take a breather on going forward, and rather at this stage, go back to something else

            Ann Stewart reports …

            “I have found no reference in the LMS Archives to confirm the employment of Thomas Halliday in the production of the coins. Parsons may well be right about this but the problem is that he relied for this statement on “old correspondence emanating from Mr Halliday in a private collection formed before 1820…These were given by the maker to the original owner and were not part of the consignments sent to Griqualand …”

            If we look at the NGC and PCGS population reports, we see that “proof” coins exist in both the silver and copper series of Griqua coins. These are quite separate coins than the normal issues that are graded in both circulated and non-circulated condition.

            I think these proof issues are those referred to by Parsons as those “not part of the consignments sent to Griqualand

            What were they then?

            They were most probably part of the preliminary issues struck; usually called “salesman’s samples” – pre-production issues made to “impress” those that have to make the final decision regarding their procurement and mass production.

            From Ann Stewart’s research, we know that as early as January 1816, the Griqua coin committee was already resolved (consisting of “Campbell, Muston, Steven & Bateman”)

            If the LMS Griqua coinage committee was resolved by 15 January 1816, the preliminary discussions surrounding this issue were undoubtedly started at least a few weeks, but probably months, earlier – thus in the second half of 1815.

            So when were these first proof issues (salesman’s samples) struck? 1815? 1816?

            We do not know, but I have a suspicion that William Bateman, as both a member of the committee and a silversmith himself, were closely associated with these earlier strikes. I think that he will in future prove to be a major key in solving this wonderful riddle.

            To be continued
            Last edited by Pierre_Henri; 21-03-17, 20:44.


            • #7
              As I am marking time at this moment, waiting for some replies to questions I have sent to Morgan regarding the Stewart report, I will in the mean post some interesting pictures

              The first picture shows the difference between an original Griqua token and a salesman’s sample (pattern) struck more than half century later by Otto Nolte & Co of Germany.

              (The original Griqua token is on the right hand side)

              Let’s take a closer look

              There is a crest (kuif in Afrikaans) on the dove/pigeon’s head on the original token that is barely noticeable on the pattern that was struck many years later

              Here we can see the dove’s crest on different strikes & issues of the original series

              The only crested dove that I know of is this one, originating from Australia

              We know that William Westall (a painter, but not the painter of the dove-painting shown above) did indeed visit Australia in the early 1800s, so maybe there might be truth in him being involved with the design of the coinage?

              Obviously just speculation from my side, but we will continue soon with more serious stuff
              Last edited by Pierre_Henri; 22-03-17, 20:13.


              • #8
                I will post my follow up during the coming weekend, but, as a quick breather and marking time, I was e-mailed a question regarding my picture post yesterday.

                “Does the silver Griqua coin with the crested pigeon shows any signs of wear? Did it actually circulate as it looks beautiful?”

                Well, the coin is a Griquatown 10-pence piece that was graded AU55 by NGC.

                The grade (AU55) is described by NGC as “Slight wear on less than 50% of the design”.

                So the coin is pretty much near to being uncirculated and thus shows only very limited evidence of “passing hands”.


                Here is what a truly circulated Griquatown coin looks like – the grade (VF35) is described by NGC as “…wear on all of the high points

                A coin in this relatively low grade must obviously been in circulation for at least a couple of years

                (Ps. NGC refers to the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation of America – arguably the world’s most authoritative coin grading company)

                To be continued …