Author Topic: Bantam bronze cash  (Read 1285 times)

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Offline bgriff99

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Bantam bronze cash
« on: January 24, 2017, 06:53:46 AM »
This is the most common variety of these.   They are of leaded bronze, usually high tin content.    Bright metal is hard and golden color so they are usually thought to be brass.    Inscription is 'Pangeran Ratu ing Banten' meaning Lord King at Banten.    Writing is Arabic with Malay variant letters.   Language is Javanese.   Banten is at the western end of Java, and was the premier barter market of Indonesia as of 1600.

Mitchiner attributes this type to c.1596 to 1620's.    Others say a bit later.    They are the same size as contemporary Chinese cash and should have circulated at par with them.    This is the kind a whole string of was found in the Thames mud.    This one from the Musi mud.   

Mitchiner says they were special money of the king, for his personal transactions, which did not circulate in the public markets.    He is to some degree dodging that a protracted Dutch trading encounter with the market and the king in 1596-97, resulting in a famous book including engravings of actual market coins brought back to Amsterdam, makes no mention of them.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 08:34:03 AM by bgriff99 »

Offline giladzuc

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Re: Bantam bronze cash
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 04:56:21 PM »
I also read conflicting data about this coin but I came to a conclusion that the first year of issue of this coin is 1596. Pangeran in Malay / Indonesian means "prince" , Ratu is mostly translated as a queen , but in some references it is also a king. "ing" is not Malay / Indonesian but Javanese or Sundanese word that maybe means "yang" in malay / Indonesian , meaning "of" in English.  The coins is listed also here : as a Gobog with its value equivalents , and some catalogs references , the picture there was took from the internet.

Offline bgriff99

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Re: Bantam bronze cash
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 09:33:07 PM »
Mitchiner has fitted his time period to circumstantial ephemeral reasons.    There is strong documentation of what kind of money was used at Banten in 1596-97.   The local coins were voluminously described, and some brought back and accurately pictured in a book, written by a Dutch ship captain who used them to purchase goods.   No mention is made of this sort of coin.   

On the other hand, we know the sultan of Banten hated the importation and use of Chinese pitis, which as of 1596 were very bad quality.   He correctly understood the produce of his country was being taken in return for a kind of garbage currency.    In about 1618 he approached the VOC about jointly creating a small-sized silver coinage.   The Dutch hated the pitis as well, having brought large silver coins to the Orient in expectation they could spend them directly.   Instead the Dutch went to war with Banten, and took over Jakarta (which became Batavia).

It would make sense for the sultan to create a copper alloy currency equivalent to good quality cash, such as the contemporary Wan-li.   There was somewhere in the region a local mint which had copied the Chinese pitis when they were of decent size (22mm) and bronze.     That could have been Banten, Surabaya, or any of several other cities between.   The capability was there, and bronze could be imported.    Also for tribute such coins would have been perfect.    That really is about what Mitchiner means by coinage exclusively for the sultan's personal transactions.


Offline Figleaf

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Re: Bantam bronze cash
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2017, 10:30:22 AM »
Interesting puzzle, Bruce. The way I understand the local situation is that coins in circulation were mainly foreign (e.g. Spanish colonial silver and Iranian small change). Local rulers would supplement these with their own issues, dominated by tin and tin alloys, often enough outsourced to Chinese immigrants, but with designs gleaned from what is now Malaysia. These were market coins in the sense that they would be acceptable in the pasars with a rate expressed in reales.

A separate supply of pieces existed, produced by local Chinese workshops. These pieces may have been used for payments between Chinese and/or Japanese* immigrants (which presumes that they could be bought at face, which I tend to doubt), but their primary use was for jewellery, (good luck) decoration, funeral strings, weddings and other ceremonies. Interestingly, there still is a little industry in India printing imitation banknotes and making jewellery coins for similar purposes.

In view of the good design and sophisticated execution of the above piece, I would not categorise it as a circulating coin, but rather as part of the separate supply by local Chinese workshops. I could speculate further on its use (e.g. I bet it's too heavy for a funeral string), but I'd rather leave that to experts and those who actually have one of these interesting pieces. TFP


* Typically, these were rōnin who had gone a bit too far in using violence to get food and money in Japan. They would be for rent, in particular on ships that navigated pirate-infested waters. By contrast, the Chinese were mostly economic fugitives. An objective lesson in the value of immigration for the host country...
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.