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Palembang copper and tin fulus AH 1198 (1784)

Started by bgriff99, January 14, 2024, 03:25:38 AM

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The only copper coin of the Palembang sultanate is this piece:  'Haza fulus fi beled Palembang sanat 1198'.  It is somewhat scarce, presumed to have been intended as a new type issued to replace a long series of tin pitis dating back to pre state-issued imitations of trade cash coins from China.  Diam. 21.0mm. 

Private tin imitations of this have long been known.  Also found is a rare tin version, clearly official, of identical weight (two grams) but larger size 22.6mm, because tin is less dense.  This type was aborted, followed instead in 1200 by a new dated tin pitis at the common and previous standard of about one gram.  In general, all Palembang pitis were extensively privately copied.  Scans are to scale with each other.


Great state of conservation. Congratulations.

De munten van Nederlandsch Indiƫ by Netscher and Van der Chijs, Batavia 1863 (NvdC) lists the copper variant as NvdC 193. I once had a local imitation. I never saw the tin variant or saw it listed. The 1200 piece is NvdC 189 (NvdC also reports specimen with dates 1061 and 1202).

I am inclined to take the heavy piece for a multiple. NvdC says the legend is haza felus fi balad Palembang sanat 1198 - falus of the kingdom of Palembang year 1198, where falus is clearly a denomination. The legend on the 1200 piece is al-sultan fi balad Palembang sanat 1200 - sultan of the kingdom of Palembang year 1200. This piece is generally taken for a pitis.

NvdC says the Palembang pieces were privately struck. I still think they should be considered coins, because they were sanctioned by the sultan to circulate as money. Tokens would also be private issues, but they were at best tolerated in circulation.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Palembang had a more or less standardized tin pitis for circulation before the state issues.  They then tried changing sizes and types a few times, twice making a new 2 gram standard which immediately reverted back to small ones.   The 1200 issue is the beginning of a type mostly dated 1203, which became fixed.   There are lots of forgeries, and even official ones with scrambled date numerals.

In 1193 a state un-holed issue was made, also widely imitated, which had to be circulated in small boxes.  Another holed dated issue came in 1219, which went downhill in the Napoleonic period to tiny pieces a fraction of a gram weight, and then the end of the sultanate.