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  • Southern Africa Tokens

    I would like to start a thread dedicated to Southern Africa tokens where members can post questions and information related to our tokens.
    Each and every token has a unique history and purpose, and we need to capture and record as much of this information as possible to fully appreciate their place in history.
    Last edited by Pinkx; 08-11-09, 15:23.

  • #2
    The Alexandersfontein Hotel, Kimberley, South Africa

    The Alexandersfontein Hotel, Kimberley, South Africa

    According to Dr Theron (Reference: Tokens of Southern Africa and their History):
    ”The farm, Alexandersfontein, 9 kilometres from Kimberley, at one time belonged to the “London and South Africa Exploration Company”.
    This Company’s assets including a hotel which was already mentioned in 1885, was taken over by the “De Beers Consolidated Mines”. A plan for a new hotel existed in 1893, and in 1897 De Beers contemplated enlarging the existing hotel, but this had to be postponed because of the outbreak of hostilities and fighting around Kimberley during the Anglo-Boer War.
    When peace came the Alexandersfontein Hotel and Kimberley were linked by an electric tram route run by the “Kimberley and Alexandersfontein Electric Railway Company”. This was completed in 1904. The usual return fare from Kimberley to the hotel was 1/-, but on Saturdays it was a 6d only. Enlargements to the hotel were also carried out and completed in 1908.
    Difficult times hit the hotel and in 1916 and also later, it had to be closed for varying periods, until in 1939 the end came for the hotel as such, when World War II broke out. Some furniture was sent to a Kimberley auctioneer on 11 December 1939, and the hotel was offered to the South African Defence Force which accepted it.
    Eventually in 1950 the building became Government Property. It is now the “Danie Theron Krygskool” which was started on 10 October 1968. On 9 June 1969 De Beers Company handed over to the school the old tram used between the hotel and Kimberley”

    Known Tokens Issued
    Denominations: 2/- , 1/-, 6d, and 3d
    Material: Brass
    Size: Approx. 28 mm diameter, 1.3 mm thick (all pieces)
    Edge: Reeded

    The reverse side of these tokens is the same as that of the “R. Hovenden and Sons” barber checks.

    Old Postcard Images
    1) Back of Hotel, Alexandersfontein, nr. Kimberley (showing Carriage Entrance). Postcard sent from Kimberley to Port Elizabeth, date stamp 15 January 1906.
    2) Tram Terminus, Alexandersfontein, near Kimberley (hotel in background). Postcard sent from Kimberley to Port Elizabeth, date stamp 15 January 1906.

    1) Kimberley and Alexandersfontein tram.

    Present Day
    Today the building serves as the Jack Hindon Officers’ Club for the South African Army.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      Hi Steve

      Yes, I think it would be a great idea. To me, tokens is a very interesting collecting area as there is so much one could learn about the history of the country as well.

      Here is a picture of the Alexander Hotel from my collection.

      Attached Files
      Anthony G
      The measure of a numismatist is not how much he profits from the hobby,
      but how much the hobby profits from him.


      • #4
        Southern Africa tokens

        Anthony, thanks for the additional image - do you perhaps have a date associated with it ?

        This is a good start to this topic and I am sure we can all significantly add to our token knowledge.

        I would suggest that a new token topic be posted on a weekly or fortnightly basis for discussion. I already have 5 or 6 ready to be posted, and another 5 or 6 in the pipeline, plus numerous other bits and pieces which need a bit of sorting.

        Perhaps Admin can make this a sticky topic?


        • #5
          Hi Steven, could you please indicate which tokens are curently the most popular? I would expect that the ones that are not Hern's book are mostly sought, but this does not mean it is scarce? When I find the odd token, I will share here.


          • #6
            Popular tokens

            Hi Mike. Thanks for your input.

            Difficult question to answer:

            Firstly, some token collectors only collect by location (eg Natal, Griqualand, German South West etc) or type (eg Mining, Transport etc). Others try for as complete a collection as possible, going by the catalogues.

            Unknown tokens (not in the catalogue) that have a tracable history, and presumed to be the only one known or at least extremely scarce, will fetch high prices (eg Blood River and Oldfields High Flats - bought for a bargain, but R 6000 in the latest catalogue).

            Other tokens have not been included in the catalogue because of space constraints, and they are quite common and typically modern (eg milk tokens, various machine tokens, casino tokens etc). These do not fetch high prices.

            From what I have seen on the auction sites, I would say the following tokens are the most popular:

            1) Strachan and Co, and Larkins always sell well. This I would say is largely due the extensive research (and marketing) that Scott Balson has done regarding these tokens.
            2) Metal tokens prior to say 1920 (pre Union), that have a traceable/known history. Again, early tokens where issuers are unknown, often do not sell well.
            3) Mining, military and railway tokens sell well. Mining, military and trains is a popular subject all over the world.
            4) Dated tokens (eg EL ferry 1880, Daniel and Hyman 1867, Whyte and Co 1861, Durban Club 1860, etc.) that can not only be placed but circa known.
            5) German South West Africa tokens - attracts colletors from South Africa, Namibia and Germany.
            6) Similarly, Mozambique tokens - attracts collectors from South Africa and Portugal.
            7) Other well researched tokens - BSA & Co, GSWA Native passes (and POW pieces - seldon seen though).

            Lastly, the listing of a token and how easily it can be searched for on the auction site, can largely influence the number of buyers its attracts, and hence influence its selling price and perceived value/interest.


            • #7
              Lace Diamond Mine, Kroonstad, South Africa

              Lace (or Crown) Diamond Mine, Kroonstad, South Africa

              The History of Lace Diamond Mine
              Lace Mine (or Crown Mine) is located 20 km North of Kroonstad. The Lace Mining Company was originally started by Colonel John Dale Lace in 1899. John Dale Lace (27 November 1859 – 5 June 1937) was born in Port St Mary on the Isle of Man. He was twice married to Josephine Cornelia Brink (10 April 1869 - 14 May 1937) from Richmond in the Karoo.
              John was a broker in mining, finance and property and a wealthy man. He was involved in the Jameson Raid in 1895 in Johannesburg (an effort by the wealthy mine owners to overthrow the Kruger government). He got off lightly with a 2,000 pound fine.
              For seven years (upto 1911) the Laces were owners of one of Johannesburg’s most prominent historic landmarks, the Parktown mansion ‘Northwards’, designed by British architect Herbert Baker in 1904. Josephine became a flamboyant Johannesburg socialite who was often seen in a carriage drawn by a team of four zebras.
              John and Josephine never had children of their own. However, Josephine is known to have been the mistress of Ernest Beckett, 2nd Baron Grimthorpe, with whom she had a son. Although Josephine truly loved Ernest he refused to marry her.
              The depressed conditions after the Anglo Boer War, combined with Josephine’s extravagant lifestyle, forced John to dispose of the mine in November 1908. Further misfortune followed in 1911, when a fire at ‘Northwards’ forced the Laces to sell and relocate to their farm, Boschkop – living a more economical and modest lifestyle. The history of John and Josephine Dale Lace is well documented in the biographical sketch “Bird of Paradise” by Daphne Saul, published 1986.
              The London-listed Crown Diamond Mining and Exploration Company took over the Lace Mine and were able to produce 800,000 carats from opencast and underground mining operations between 1908 and 1930. During this time (about 1912), the mine officially changed its name from Lace Mine to Crown Mine.
              In 1930, diamond prices had collapsed worldwide with the economic depression and by 1931 the mine was put on care and maintenance. Part of the care and maintenance involved ongoing dewatering of the underground operation. In 1931, the maximum depth of the open pit and the underground operations was approximately 100 m and 240 m respectively.
              By 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, Crown could no longer afford to continue with its ongoing care and maintenance programme, and sold the mine to De Beers. Following the sale, it is presumed that De Beers changed the name of the mine from Crown back to Lace. De Beers owned Lace Mine for 75 years without ever bringing the mine back into production. With the introduction of the new minerals legislation, De Beers sold the mine to the Christiaan Potgieter Trust (1996), who subsequently sold the mine to DiamondCorp in 2005.

              The Tokens Issued at Lace Diamond Mine
              Two tokens are known to be issued by Lace Diamond Mine, namely:
              · Hern 324(a): Circular brass 2/6 piece (38.0 mm diameter, 1.7 mm thick, smooth edge).
              · Hern 324(b): Circular brass 1/- piece (25.1 mm diameter, 1.1 mm thick, smooth edge).

              The tokens are thought to have been used between 1899 and 1912 (and perhaps even upto 1930). These tokens are extremely rare.

              The Future of Lace Diamond Mine
              Mining operations at Lace Mine started again in 2008. DiamondCorp estimate that the mine has a reserve of more than 13-million carats, over a life of mine of 20 years or more. An exciting prospect for the mine is the possibility of mining large carat coloured diamonds especially the “Lace” lilacs which are intense purplish-pink diamonds (Reference: Mining Weekly, 4 April 2008).

              Attached Images
              1) Location map for Lace and Voorspoed Diamond Mine (Reference: DiamondCorp).
              2) Painting of Jose by British artist Hal Hurst exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1903, and picture of John and one of his more infamous quotes (Reference “Bird of Paradise” by Daphne Saul, 1986). Photos of the Northwards mansion (Reference: Paul Venter and Lucille Davie).
              3) Typical “Lace” lilac diamonds, The Lace open pit in 2008, Lace and Crown share certificates, Open pit and underground mining operation (Reference: DiamondCorp, February 2009).
              4) Token images – 1/- and 2/6 (variety with “2” counterstamp).
              Attached Files
              Last edited by Pinkx; 23-10-09, 09:31.


              • #8
                Voorspoed Diamond Mine, Kroonstad, South Africa

                Voorspoed Diamond Mine, Kroonstad, South Africa
                Voorspoed Diamond Mine is located in the vicinity of Lace Diamond Mine (see map for Lace).

                History of Voorspoed Diamond Mine
                (Reference: “A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) Study for an EMP for the Voorspoed Diamond Mine near Kroonstad in the Free State Province of South Africa”, JCC Pistorius, September 2004)
                Voorspoed Mine is located 30 km North of Kroonstad. The kimberlite pipe on the farm Voorspoed was discovered and proclaimed by H.S.Hager (a geologist and prospector) on 28th November 1906 (Proclamation No.34 of 1906 by the Acting Lt. Govender of the Orange Free State). The mine was worked on an extensive scale by the Voorspoed Diamond Mining Company Ltd for about five and a half years before it was closed on the grounds that it was not deemed profitable enough.
                Near the surface, where the ‘yellow soil’ had been enriched by natural concentration, mining proved highly profitable, but below the 40 feet (13.5 m) level, there was a marked drop in yield because of the extremely hard kimberlite – from 1910 onwards operations were conducted at a loss. Opencast mining operations at Voorspoed yielded a total of 897,814 carats. No records of large, good quality diamonds from the mine could be found. The mine was eventually closed down on 3 August 1912 and sold to De Beers.
                De Beers acquired the property on the following terms: a payment of 20,000 pounds in cash, taking over the debt owed (as from 1 July 1912) by the Voorspoed Company, and purchasing the existing 405,704 company shares at 12s 6d. The company shares were purchased over a period time, accumulating interest at a rate of 4.5% per annum from January 1913 until the date of payment.
                De Beers had no intention of working the mine, declaring it to be unprofitable, although the officials of the Union Mines Department were of the opinion that the mine was worth exploiting. In 1914, a commission of enquiry was appointed by the Union Mines Department to investigate whether or not a closure was justified. The findings of the enquiry, published in April 1914, were that to continue mining operations would result in a substantial loss to De Beers. Under De Beers ownership, the mine remained closed for the next 95 years (upto 2007, when re-commissioning of the mine commenced).

                Future of Voorspoed Diamond Mine
                After being dormant for 95 years, De Beers re-commissioned the Voorspoed Diamond Mine and production started in 2008. Over the next 12 to16 years of Voorspoed’s planned life, it is expected that over 10 million carats of diamonds will be recovered (Reference: De Beers, August 2008).

                Heritage Study at Voorspoed Diamond Mine
                (Reference: “A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) Study for an EMP for the Voorspoed Diamond Mine near Kroonstad in the Free State Province of South Africa”, JCC Pistorius, September 2004).
                As part of the re-commissioning process, De Beers were required to complete an Environmental Impact Assessment (including a heritage study of the area). According to the heritage study there is an old graveyard and an old dilapidated building on the Voorspoed property that dates back to the time of the mine.
                The old graveyard located 2 km to the west of the open pit has the following graves:
                · Cornelis Christoffel Bothma, 26 March 1835 – 26 October 1894.
                · Johanna Catharina Maria Bothma (nee Nel), 26 February 1888 – 19 December 1911.
                · Martha THP van den Heever, 1905 - (unknown).
                · Susanna Jacoba Meintjies, 29 October 1902 – 30 October 1910.
                · Hendrina Christina Morkel, 6 August 1910 – 27 October 1910.

                The old dilapidated building, oblong in shape, contains two rows of six rooms under a pitched corrugated iron roof and is located 200 m to the west of the open pit. The lower foundation wall of the building was constructed using dressed dolerite, while the walls were built using red clay bricks and cement. The floor is cement (concrete) and the window frames and panes were made of wood. The ceiling was made of wooden planks. The purpose of the building is unknown.

                Tokens Issued at Voorspoed Diamond Mine
                Four tokens are known to be issued by Voorspoed Diamond Mine, namely:
                · Hern 638(a): Circular brass 2/6 piece (29.8 mm diameter, 1.3 mm thick, smooth edge).
                · Hern 638(b): Circular brass 1/- piece (24.0 mm diameter, 1.5 mm thick, smooth edge).
                · Hern 638(c): Circular brass 6d piece (19.9 mm diameter, 1.3 mm thick, smooth edge).
                · Hern 638(d): Circular brass 3d piece (16.4 mm diameter, 1.4 mm thick, smooth edge).
                The Voorspoed tokens are roughly struck and often off-centre. These tokens are not too scarce.

                Images Attached
                1) A set of Voorspoed tokens.
                2) The open pit and one of the waste rock dumps at Voorspoed (Reference: JCC Pistorius).
                3) The old building at Voorspoed (Reference: JCC Pistorius).
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Voorspoed Mine - Google Earth Image

                  Attached find the google earth image for Voorspoed Mine showing the old pit, waste rock dumps, building and graveyard
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    Koffiefontein Diamond Mine, Koffiefontein, South Africa

                    Koffiefontein (or Koffyfontein) Diamond Mine, Koffiefontein, South Africa

                    History of Koffiefontein Diamond Mine
                    In June 1870, a diamond was discovered near a popular stop-off point for transport riders, Koffiefontein – named after the nearby fountain and the customary practise of making coffee at the stop-off point (Reference: Mark Smith, on-the-rand mining postcards, August 2008).
                    The resultant diamond rush, led to the startup of the Koffiefontein (or Koffyfontein) Mine, approximately 80 km South of Kimberley. The Koffiefontein miner’s camp was first proclaimed a town – Koffiefontein - in 1892. The mine was extensively worked until the end of the 19th century. Thereafter, like with so many other diamond mines, mining proved unprofitable at greater depths. The diamond deposit of Koffiefontein was known to produce poor yields, but the clarity of the diamonds mined was very good.
                    The mine was taken over by De Beers in 1911 and later closed in 1932 as a result of the Great Depression. Koffiefontein mine remained shut-down until 1971. It was reopened for a period of ten years between 1972 and 1982. Underground mine development started in the 1980’s and mining from the Koffiefontein pit was halted.
                    During World War II, Koffiefontein served as a POW (Prisoner of War) camp for about 2,000 italian soldiers. About 800 pro-Nazi South Africans were also detained in the town. [Fibre tokens were struck by the South African Mint in 1941 for use in the POW camp (“Union Interment Camp”)].

                    Tokens Issued at Koffiefontein Diamond Mine
                    Tokens issued by the Koffiefontein Diamond Mine ranged from 10/- to 3d. These tokens are found with and without various counterstamps (KML, GS, or K).
                    · Hern 320(a): Circular nickel 10/- piece (28.4 mm diameter, 1.5 mm thick, smooth edge).
                    · Hern 320(b): Circular brass 2/6 piece (32.1 mm diameter, 1.3 mm thick, smooth edge).
                    · Hern 320(c): Circular brass 2/- piece (31.8 mm diameter, 1.4 mm thick, reeded edge).
                    · Hern 320(d/e/f): Circular brass 1/- piece (23.8 mm diameter, 1.7 mm thick, reeded edge).
                    · Hern 320(g/h): Circular brass 6d piece (20.0 mm diameter, 1.4 mm thick, reeded edge).
                    · Hern 320(j/k): Circular brass 3d piece (17.0 mm diameter, 1.4 mm thick, reeded edge).
                    Three labour passes are also thought to have been issued by the Koffiefontein Diamond Mine, namely:
                    · Hern 320(m): Circular brass (32.5 mm diameter, 1.8 mm thick, smooth edge) – ex 2/6 token.
                    · Hern 320(l): Circular brass (31.0 mm diameter, 1.7 mm thick, smooth edge) – ex 2/- token.
                    · Hern 320(n): Circular brass (31.3 mm diameter, 1.7 mm thick, smooth edge).
                    These tokens are so different from the usual De Beers tokens that they were probably used before De Beers took over in 1911, presumably in the 19th century (Reference: “Tokens of Southern Africa and their History”, Dr. GP Theron, August 1978). These tokens and labour passes are rare.

                    Future of Koffiefontein Diamond Mine
                    Koffiefontein Mine has been closed several times in its history and has never been a large production site. The total production of the mine was 7,300,000 carats (1,460 kg) and the largest diamond mined was 232 carats (46.4 g). The mine was recently reopened in 1987 by De Beers, but closed again in January 2006. During this time, De Beers started open pit mining in the Ebenhaezer pipe that abuts against the main Koffiefontein pit.
                    In December 2006, Petra Diamonds Ltd bought Koffiefontein Mine from De Beers and production started again in July 2007. By December 2007, Petra had recovered 38,456 carats including a 74.7 carat diamond (that sold for over US$1 million). Since then further gems have been recovered such as a 53 carat (US$ 550,000), 56 carat (US$ 400,000) and 4 carat pink diamond (US$ 226,666). The life of mine is estimated at 15 years – approximately 6,450,000 carats (Reference: Infomine, August 2008 and Petra Diamonds, October 2009).

                    Images Attached
                    1) Location of Koffiefontein Diamond Mine (Source: Petra Diamonds)
                    2) Early undated postcard of Koffiefontein mine (Source: Mark Smith, on-the-rand mining postcards)
                    3) 2/- (no counterstamp), 1/- (with KML counterstamp) and 3d (with K counterstamps) tokens
                    4) Google image of Koffiefontein (as at August 2005)
                    5) Photos of Koffiefontein Diamond Mine (Source: Petra Diamonds, October 2009)
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      South African tokens

                      What about this one?
                      Attached Files
                      VIEW MY ITEMS!


                      • #12
                        This would not fall under the Token Catagory. It is a Commemorative Medallion and would fall under Medallions.

                        Anthony G
                        The measure of a numismatist is not how much he profits from the hobby,
                        but how much the hobby profits from him.


                        • #13
                          Will be very interesting to know what he "finds". Keep us updated - I love reading your posts.
                          Yesterday I was clever and wanted to change the world.
                          Today I am wise and am changing myself.


                          • #14
                            East London Ferry Token - Part 1

                            Here is a bit of history regarding one of our more common tokens, reproduced with the kind permission of Dr Keith Tankard, Knowledge4Africa.

                            East London Ferry Token, East London, South Africa
                            (Source: Dr Keith Tankard, Knowledge4Africa)

                            The first pontoon was provided by the British Kaffrarian Government in 1858, as a means of allowing the newly arrived German settlers to cross from Panmure on the east bank to East London on the west bank. In 1865, when British Kaffraria was annexed into the Cape Colony, the pontoon was taken over by the East London Divisional Council. It was then bought by the East London Town Council in 1874, and would remain the only means for vehicles to cross the Buffalo River until the temporary railway bridge was constructed in 1907. A ferry was established at East London in April 1875, so as to provide a more frequent river crossing for pedestrians.

                            Initially a fee of 3d was set for anybody using the ferry between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., and a shilling for night crossings. In May 1877, however, the Municipal Board decided to introduce books of paper tickets to relieve the passengers of the necessity of carrying money and, at the same time, the fare was dropped from 3d to 1d per crossing if a coupon was used. The continual production of the paper tickets, however, proved costly and so in February 1880 the Council decided to mint bronze ferry tokens which it could then re-cycle. The ferry tokens were minted in East London by Wetzlar and Hammerschlag.

                            [There seems to be some debate as to whether the ferry tokens were initially minted due to the shortage of small change, and whether or not, they were then used as small change over the whole Border area, from Queenstown to East London].

                            The Ferryman Button Saga
                            (Source: Dr Keith Tankard, Knowledge4Africa)

                            In September 1875 William Button was appointed to the position of Ferryman operating the municipal ferry which crossed the Buffalo River, carrying passengers from the West Bank to the East Bank. He was to use his own boat for which he was paid the sum of 30s per month, to be increased to 50s in April 1876, in addition to a salary of £10 per month as ferryman.

                            Billy Button, as he was commonly known, proved a decidedly unreliable boatman and it is surprising that the municipality kept him in service for such a length of time. Complaints had already started to pour in within the first month of his appointment, ranging from accusations that he was negligent in his duty by "running about the town", to charges that he was refusing to ferry passengers across the river after dark. The Municipal Board took little action over these early charges, despite the fact that its Chairman had been personally affected. It did, however, recognise that the ferryman could not be expected to work a 24 hour day without help and so provided him with an African assistant. Button was then warned that the ferry would be required to operate between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., and that the Municipal Board wished to hear no further complaints about him.

                            Objections to his behaviour nevertheless continued to be placed before the Board. He was again accused of refusing to ferry people across the river after dark and of being drunk and absent from duty. Once again the Municipal Board issued him with a warning. He was eventually fired in January 1877 because he was found to be often absent from duty and, as a result, his Black assistant was frequently required to work all day. Furthermore, his treatment of his assistants was such that no-one was prepared to work for him for any length of time.

                            That was not the end of the Ferryman Button saga. Within two weeks he was again on the river, having established his own ferry for which he had obtained a licence from the Harbour Master. The Town Council was incensed and Councillor John Gately claimed that the Harbour Master had totally overstepped himself by issuing such a licence, arguing that the pontoon, and therefore the ferry, was part of the public road and the fee was an established municipal toll which no-one within a certain distance could evade by establishing his own ferry. The Council decided to place the matter in the hands of a solicitor and, should opinion favour the municipality, legal action would be taken.

                            Advice on the Button case was received in mid-February but unfortunately the Municipal Council decided that the contents of the letter could not be published for the time being, probably because the term of office of the Council was almost over. Indeed, that was its final meeting and therefore, if legal action was to be taken, the task would fall to the new body. Since all correspondence over that incident has been lost, however, there is no way of knowing what advice the Municipal Council was given.

                            The ferry case took a strange turn once the second Council took up office. Despite Button's repeated misdemeanours, he was allowed to continue to ply the river until June 1877, at which stage the ferry lease was again sold and Button was warned that "immediate action" would be taken against him if he continued to contravene the municipal ferry regulations. The sale, however, placed the Board in an awkward position. The members had not yet learned that such a lease should be put out to tender, which would have given them a degree of control over the proceedings. Instead, a system of auction was used which meant that the lease went to the highest bidder. That proved to be Billy Button himself and the municipality was forced to re-employ him as its official ferryman. This time, however, his term of office was to be short-lived and he was again fired in August 1877 on the recommendation of the East Bank Street Committee, although no reason for the action was recorded.

                            Nothing more was heard of Button until September 1880 when he again applied for a licence to operate the municipal ferry, alongside a certain John Macaen. Their applications were inexplicably granted but in January 1881 he was again in trouble when the municipal secretary brought a charge of incivility against him, for which he was commanded to make "ample apology" and face immediate withdrawal of his licence should he repeat the offence. Button chose to apologise.

                            In the meantime the municipality's legal status had changed with the passing of the Incorporation Act in July 1880. Article 38 of the new Act dealt with the Town Council's right to issue various bye-laws, of which the municipal ferry was part but the Council procrastinated and 20 months were to pass before it turned its attention to framing a new regulation to govern the ferry. In the meantime, it rested on the belief that, in accordance with Article 1 of the Act, all previous regulations would remain in force until they were either rescinded or replaced.

                            In December 1881 an extraordinary case of municipal bungling led to a number of legal battles against Button and his colleagues. In May 1877 the Board had decided to introduce ferry tokens. The ferryman was required, on the 28th day of each month, to take out a licence (costing £5) to operate his boats and, at the same time, he redeemed all the ferry-tokens which had been collected that month. On the morning of 28 November 1881 Button had duly delivered his tokens but his cheque was only paid to him in mid-afternoon because the Mayor's signature could not be obtained. By that time the bank was already closed and so Button could not cash his cheque till the following morning and, until he had done so, he had insufficient money to pay the levy.

                            The next day Button duly visited the bank and then attempted to renew his ferry licence. He was refused on the direct instructions of the Mayor on the grounds that he should have acquired it the previous day and had already been plying his ferry that morning without a licence. Button thereupon decided to defy the Board and continued to ferry privately, to which the Council responded by prosecuting him. The case came before the Resident Magistrate in December 1881 and he was fined 30s.
                            Last edited by Pinkx; 08-11-09, 15:16.


                            • #15
                              East London Ferry Token - Part 2

                              Button immediately appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the Incorporation Act of 1880 had superseded the Municipal Ordinance of 1836 under which the East London Municipality had been established. Since no new regulation had been drawn up under the new Act, it was illegal for the municipality to force him to take out a licence at all and the case, he argued, was in fact beyond the jurisdiction of the Magistrate's Court. Furthermore, there was no regulation to stipulate how much the municipality could charge for a licence and so the fee of £5 was illegal. The Chief Justice stated in his verdict that the case was "not free from doubt". No licence fee could be charged, he said, unless it had been authorised by regulation and the Governor had given his assent. Although Button had clearly violated the municipal regulations which forbade any person from plying as a ferryman without authority or licence, it was nevertheless true that the only reason he had not been given the necessary authority was that he had not paid the licence fee. Since that had been an illegal demand, the case had to be decided in Button's favour.

                              In March 1882 the Council published a notice in the East London Dispatch which forbade persons from plying as a "common ferryman or waterman" without the municipal authority, a restriction based on its regulation of February 1879, and the notice further claimed the power to issue monthly licences at a sum which it could resolve upon "from time to time". A ferryman was then hired. In the meantime Button and two other ex-municipal ferrymen, Jacob Williams and John Macaen, continued to ply the river without licences. The Council decided to seek a court interdict against them, pending the result of yet another case which was being brought before the Eastern Districts Court to establish the municipality's right to the ferry. The three men were immediately brought before the Circuit Court, which happened to be sitting in East London at that moment, despite Button's protest that the case could not be raised again as it had already been fought in the Supreme Court.

                              Button claimed in his defence that he was the holder of a ferry licence which had been issued by the Port Captain at East London under Act 16 of 1857. He testified that he had approached the Town Clerk for a municipal ferry licence but it had been refused with no reasons given. He further argued that the banks of the Buffalo River, together with the waterway itself, did not belong to the municipality at all but to the Government as it was part of the harbour. His Government ferry licence was therefore sufficient and the municipality had no right to demand an additional municipal one. The Circuit Court came to no conclusion. The application for the interdict had not been introduced until late in the evening on the last day of the court's sitting and so there was insufficient time to reach a satisfactory verdict. The judge, moreover, believed that, as the matter had already been before the Supreme Court, it would be better to have it fully discussed in the Eastern Districts Court.

                              As a result, the interdict was refused but the ferrymen were ordered to keep an account of their earnings pending the outcome of the further legal battle. The costs of the case were also reserved for the consideration of the Eastern Districts Court. Notice to appear in that Court was served on the men early in April 1882, together with an interdict to restrain them from plying the river as ferrymen. In addition, they were ordered to surrender an account of all their takings since mid-March. The case was heard early in June and the verdict again went against the municipality. In his judgement, the Judge President explained that a municipal ferry had not been sufficiently "established" after the passing of the Incorporation Act. It was not sufficient, he stated, simply to employ a man as ferryman and place him there.

                              In short, the Council had blundered by leasing out the ferry when no bye-law existed to allow them to do so and the action had resulted in the ferry being effectively transferred out of the hands of the Council. Had the municipality applied Article 52 of the old regulations rigidly, there would have been no case. The fact that the Board had failed to do so and, subsequent to the promulgation of the Incorporation Act, had also failed to pass a new bye-law meant that a loophole had been left which had allowed the defendants to avoid prosecution even though they were probably acting illegally. The municipal action was therefore dismissed with costs.

                              Although William Lance, the Municipal Solicitor, did not agree with the judgement and strongly urged an appeal against it, the Council decided to adopt the court's recommendation that a watertight ferry regulation needed to be promulgated. The regulation which had been passed in March was not considered sufficient and, in any case, the Council had again blundered in that only eight members had attended that meeting, one short of the number for a quorum. The bye-law had therefore also been illegal. The additional regulation was therefore passed by the Council in June 1882 and was promulgated in October.

                              The ferry case, however, had still not yet been laid to rest. Both Billy Button and Jacob Williams had the temerity to tender for the position of municipal ferryman when it was advertised in October 1882, but they were overlooked by the Council despite the fact that their tenders were the cheapest. Button thereupon continued his defiance by ferrying without municipal authority but now the Council's case was watertight and he was prosecuted in the Circuit Court in March 1883. The councillors had nevertheless learnt a hard lesson from the Button saga, namely that greater care had to be taken in future when formulating regulations and it was not enough to frame bye-laws with abandon in the hope that nobody would challenge them. Furthermore, the municipality's claim to enact regulations which governed the river and its banks was still in doubt. Although the municipal right to the ferry had been secured, other issues (such as power to regulate bathing from the banks of the river) were still in contention and the municipality hesitated to attempt prosecutions in the future.

                              Images Attached
                              1) East London Ferry Token
                              2) Picture of the Buffalo River Pontoon (Source: Dr Keith Tankard, Knowledge4Africa)
                              3) Postcard of the Buffalo River Electric Ferry (dated December 1906)
                              4) Picture of the temporary bridge over the Buffalo River (Source: Dr Keith Tankard, Knowledge4Africa)
                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by Pinkx; 08-11-09, 15:16.