British Territories Past and Present

Started by Deeman, November 24, 2021, 07:43:08 PM

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This topic aims to give an overview of territories associated with British administration / occupation.

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Great Britain, within the context of overseas territories, comprises England, Scotland and the principality of Wales.

Territories under British influence composed of dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by Britain. Decolonisation following WWII saw most the British colonies in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean chose independence. Some colonies became Commonwealth realms, retaining the British monarch as their own head of state. Most former colonies and protectorates became member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, a non-political, voluntary association of equal members.

Inhabited territories associated with Britain are identified and broken down into geographical areas. Each territory has been provided with a short historical introduction followed by a summary of coinage used during British rule. Not all of the territories have used authorised currency when under British rule. Information on supporting currencies (e.g., Plantations Tin Money) is included as separate entries within the applicable areas. The areas addressed are:

Crown Dependencies
British West Indies
Caribbean Occupations
Atlantic Ocean
Southern Ocean / Antarctica
North Pacific
Central America
West Africa
East Africa
South Africa
North Africa
Central Africa
Middle East
Indian Ocean
Indian Subcontinent
Malay Archipelago
Australasia (Oceania)

Territory Definitions

Charter colonies were colonial governments established in the 17th-century in North America. Granted by the monarch with established rules under which the colony was to be governed.

Crown colonies were colonial administration of the English, later British, whose legislature and administration were controlled by the Crown and ruled by a governor appointed by the monarch.

Colonies were territories intended to be places of permanent settlement. The Crown claimed absolute sovereignty over them, although they were not formally part of the Britain.

Dominions were autonomous communities united by a common allegiance to the Crown and associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. With the dissolution of the British Empire after WWII and the formation of the Commonwealth of Nations the term dominion ceased to be used.

Mandates were forms of territory created after the end of the WWI and WWII. They were governed on behalf of the League of Nations / United Nations for the benefit of their inhabitants.

Protected states were never officially part of the British Empire and retained near-total control over internal affairs; with the British controlling their foreign policy.

Protectorates were territories not formally annexed but were under protection of Britain's armed forces and represented by British diplomats in international arenas.

Coinage Overview

There were few official attempts to provide colonial coinages in the 18th century; thus, currency in the British West Indies was based on Spanish, Portuguese, and Brazilian gold and especially on Spanish silver dollars, normally cut and counterstamped. Spanish dollars were similarly used in the early 19th century at Sierra Leone. In the 19th century, however, colonial issues proper multiplied. That of the Ionian Islands, from 1819, was among the earliest. In Malta one-third farthings were issued by William IV and Victoria. Gibraltar had copper from 1842. Farther afield, token bronze had been coined for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick from 1823; a general coinage for Canada appeared in 1858. Ceylon's coinage began with bronze half- and quarter-farthings and silver three-halfpence from 1838. The private raj of Sarawak had coinage from 1841. Australian coinage of sovereigns started as early as 1855; its unit was changed to that of the dollar in 1966. In Cape Colony little coinage was produced until the Boer republic of South Africa had been incorporated in the Union. Silver and bronze for Hong Kong began in 1863, and closely succeeded by colonial issues for Jamaica, Cyprus, Mauritius, Zanzibar, North Borneo, Honduras, and elsewhere.


Crown Dependencies

The Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey are the two British Crown dependencies of the Channel Islands. The former also includes the islands of Alderney, Sark and Herm. They were owned by the Duchy of Normandy, and passed to the English Crown when William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066. While England lost mainland Normandy in 1204, the islands remained possessions of the Crown and were divided into the two bailiwicks later that century.
French francs were used in Guernsey until 1921 when a currency union with the UK was formed. In 1834 Jersey adopted the pound sterling, replacing the French livre, and until 1877 there were 13 Jersey pennies to the shilling. Both issue coins for their local circulation, but also a large number of collector coins.

Alderney, the northernmost of the Channel Islands, is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
Legislation in 1989 permitted the issue of its own coinage. Alderney only issues collector coins. It does not issue its own circulation coinage and officially uses UK and Guernsey coinage, although Jersey coins are accepted.

Isle of Man became a Scottish fiefdom in 1266, an English fiefdom in 1334, and became a British possession in 1765. Became a British Crown Dependency in 1828.
St. Patrick halfpennies and farthings were struck in Dublin circa 1663 to 1672 for use in Ireland. A large number of them were sent to the Isle of Man where they were used as de facto currency during the minority of the Earl of Derby, hereditary lord of the island. When the earl became of age, the coins were demonetised by an act of Tynwald in 1679. The Isle of Man first had its own coinage, in bronze, from 1709 to 1733 under the Earls of Derby. This was continued, in 1758 only, for the Earls of Atholl. Regal coinage in bronze appeared intermittently from 1786 to 1839. The Isle of Man assimilated the Manx currency to the British in 1839. The Isle of Man issues coins for local circulation, but mainly an incredibly large number of collector coins.



Ireland was invaded by England in 1169 by Henry II who landed at Waterford and declared himself Lord of Ireland. In 1801, under the Acts of Union, the Kingdom of Ireland unites with Great Britain, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
By the time of the Union, the state of Ireland's currency was extremely poor, consisting of a mixture of English, European and Irish produced coins as well as various denominations of tokens and forgeries. The Bank of Ireland tried to alleviate the problems by importing Spanish and South American '8 real pieces' which were a standard global currency at the time but it was to no avail. In 1826 the Irish 'currency' was formally abolished and the Irish pound which had been valued a few pence below the sterling pound was brought into line and ceased to exist as a separate denomination. From 1826 until the founding of the Irish Free State, British coins (and banknotes, a late 18th century innovation) were circulated for use in Ireland.

Irish Free State (all 32 counties) came into being in 1919 having seceded from the UK under the Anglo-Irish Treaty. In 1949, only 26 counties became the Republic of Ireland (Éire) ending its membership of the British Commonwealth, the remaining 6 counties forming Northern Ireland and became part of the UK.
The currency union with Britain was dissolved in 1927 and the Free State pound was introduced.

Hibernia Coinage was produced by William Wood, the English iron and copper magnate, between 1722 and 1724 under indenture from George I for circulation in Ireland. These copper halfpennies and farthings imposed on Ireland without the involvement of Irish Parliament led to an immediate outcry against the coins. The coinage found little acceptance in Ireland, and by the summer of 1725 Wood had negotiated the return of the patent to the king.



Cyprus became part of the British Empire in 1878 after the Russo-Turkish wars. Put under British military administration 1914–22, became a Crown Colony in 1925 and gained independence in 1960. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Cypriot pound was introduced 1879 which was divisible into 20 shillings and 180 piastres to 1955 when Cyprus decimalised and it became divisible into 1000 mils. The pound changed to a subdivision of 100 cents in 1983 and was replaced by the euro in 2008.

Akrotiri and Dhekelia are Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus, post-independence, retained by the British under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment. Akrotiri is in the west, Dhekelia in the east. They are British Overseas Territories.
The bases use Cypriot currency.

Faroe Islands were under British military occupation during WWII from 1940 until 1945 when they were returned to Denmark.
In 1941, coins (1, 2, 5, 10 & 25 øre) were minted in London to alleviate a shortage of small change. This issue was identical to the pre-war Danish coinage already circulating, but is easily identified as they were made of bronze and cupro-nickel, while the comparable coins minted in Denmark were made of aluminium and zinc. In addition, the British coins did not have both the mark of the Royal Danish Mint (a small heart) and the initials of the engraver and mint master.

Gibraltar was captured by the British Fleet in 1704 during the war of the Spanish Succession. Under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 Gibraltar was ceded to Britain. It became a British crown colony in 1830. In 1967, Gibraltar voted in favour of remaining under British rule, and has had internal autonomy since 1969. It is a British Overseas Territory.
The Spanish dollar was initially used as currency. A shortage of silver forced the Governor of Gibraltar, in 1741, to order a heart shape be punched out of silver coins, in both dollars and smaller denominations. The intention was to retain sufficient silver in the garrison and prevent it being exported to Morocco, which would only accept unpierced coin. Gibraltar issued its first coins in 1842, though local tokens had been issued in 1802. These tokens were British in appearance, but Spanish in denomination (quartos). In 1842 coins of one and two quarts, bearing the young head of Victoria, were issued for general circulation. British coins were used exclusively thereafter. In 1988, Gibraltar issued its own coinage based on the pound sterling. British and Gibraltarian pounds are both legal tenders.

Heligoland (aka Helgoland), a tiny island in the North Sea near the German coast that was captured by the Royal Navy in 1807 from 'neutral' Denmark and formally annexed under the Treaty of Kiel in 1814 following the Napoleonic Wars. Control transferred to Germany (Schleswig-Holstein) in 1890 following East African negotiations. Technically the island came under British military authority as part of the North German occupation zone which ran from 1945 to 1952. On 18 Apr 1947 (on what would have been Hitler's birthday) the British exploded, what is still to date, the largest ever non-nuclear explosion to finally destroy the German military installations.
The currency was the Hamburg mark to 1875 until retired and replaced by the unified German mark. The pound sterling also circulated.

Ionian Islands (Corfu, Paxos, Levkas, Ithaca, Zante, Cephalonia, Kythera) were a British protectorate from 1815–64. Established by the Treaty of Paris following the Napoleonic Wars as a device to keep the islands out of the hands of either Russia or France.
When the British took over, the currency then used throughout these islands, mainland Greece and the rest of the then Ottoman Empire was the kuruş. In European languages, the kuruş was known as the piastre. The British counterstamped the para (one kuruş = 40 paras) and introduced the obol (plural oboli), divisible into 4 lepta, from 1819 to 1863. The obol was equivalent to an English halfpenny and equated to five Greek lepta (after Greece broke free from the Ottoman Empire, after a lengthy War of Independence (from 1821-1830).

Malta became a British protectorate when it was officially part of the Kingdom of Sicily. This protectorate happened between the capitulation of the French forces in Malta in 1800 and the transformation of the islands to a Crown Colony in 1813. Malta became self-governing in 1964 and a republic in 1974. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
For the first 25 years of British rule, the legal circulating currency included the coins of the Knights of the Order of St John, as well as Spanish and Sicilian coins. In 1825, the British regularised the local monetary system and introduced £sd. However, as Malta traded heavily with other countries in the Mediterranean, business was conducted in various currencies. In 1855 all foreign coins were demonetised and British coins, alongside the Maltese Knights, became the sole legal tender. In 1886, the Maltese coins were demonetised. Malta gained independence in 1964. British coins remained legal tender until 1972 when the island adopted the decimal system and issued its first coinage as an independent nation - the Maltese pound, divisible into 100 cents and 1000 mils. In 1985 the currency became the Maltese lira, divisible into 100 cents, and in 2008 the euro was adopted.

Menorca was captured by Britain in 1708 during the War of the Spanish Succession. The British later annexed the island by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). Occupied by the British, on and off, until 1802 when it was finally handed back to Spain as part of the Amiens Treaty.
The British gave Menorca 'freeport' status and Spanish, French, Portuguese and British currencies circulated.


British West Indies

Anchor Money was introduced in 1822 on orders from the Colonial Office for use in the West Indies where British troops were stationed. It was an issue of four silver coins and the name comes from the crowned anchor that appears on the reverse of the coins. The denominations were sixteenth, eighth, quarter and half dollars, indicated by the Roman numerals XVI, VIII, IV and II on each side of the anchor. The obverse design was the royal coat of arms. Spanish coinage was in circulation when England claimed the various West Indies territories.

The Bahamas aroused British interest in 1629 and the first settlers arrived in 1648 from Bermuda. Piracy became a problem because of The Bahamas' complex geography of islands and cays, until order was restored in 1717 and the Bahamas then became a Crown colony. Over the following years troubles erupted between Britain and Spain. The islands were finally ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Versailles in 1783. The Bahamas achieved self-government in 1965 and gained independence in 1973. They are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
In 1806 a copper penny was issued as small change for 'petty dealers' with the name 'Bahama,' commonly referred to as the 'Ship's Penny' because of the reverse design which commemorates the victory of Captain Wodes Rogers over pirates in 1717. In 1838, the pound was made the unit of account. British coins were used until 1966 when the Bahamian dollar became the national currency.

Barbados was first occupied by the English in 1627 and remained a British colony until internal autonomy was granted in 1961. Became independent in 1966. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Spanish silver dollars cut into bits and French colonial base-metal coins circulated on Barbados in the 18th century. Some private copper tokens were issued in 1788 and 1792. The cut coins were withdrawn from circulation in 1838 and the pound sterling became the official currency in 1848. British sterling coinage was eventually replaced in 1955 by the British West Indian dollar. The East Caribbean dollar replaced the British West Indian dollar in 1965. The Barbadian dollar, divisible into 100 cents, replaced the East Caribbean dollar in 1973.

British Guiana was part of the British West Indies even though it is in South America. It changed hands several times between the Dutch, French and British between 1780-1813. Berbice, a region along the Berbice River, was a Dutch colony from 1627 to 1815 when it was ceded to Britain. It was merged with Essequibo and Demerara to form the colony of British Guiana in 1831. Gained independence in 1966 and renamed Guyana. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Dutch guilder was the currency between 1796 and 1839 until replaced by the British pound and British Guiana dollar. British West Indies dollars appeared in 1951 and issued in the name of the British Caribbean Territories, Eastern Group. In 1965, the East Caribbean dollar replaced the British West Indian dollar and circulated for a year until, following independence, the Guyanese dollar was introduced.

Cayman Islands were ceded to Britain by Spain in 1670 when they became a part of Jamaica. Became internally self-governing in 1959, separating from Jamaica in 1962 and becoming a British crown colony. They still remain a British Overseas Territory.
The Cayman Islands followed the currency of Jamaica until the introduction of the Cayman Islands dollar in 1972.

Jamaica was captured by England from the Spanish in 1655 became a British possession in 1670. Jamaica became a crown colony in 1866, gained self-government in 1944, was part of the Federation of the West Indies in 1958 until gaining independence in 1962. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Jamaican assembly started to counterstamp circulating Spanish réales with a floriate 'GR' in 1758. They were censured by Britain for exceeding their authority and the practice ceased in 1759. The first British coins for use in Jamaica were issued for the British West Indies in 1822. These were small denomination coins that supplemented the circulating gold and silver coins. The Jamaican pound was the official currency between 1840 and 1969. It circulated as a mixture of British currency and local issues. The Spanish coins were demonetised with the exception the Spanish doubloon, which remained legal tender until it was demonetised in 1901. The British copper and bronze coins were unpopular and in 1869 cupro-nickel pennies and half-pennies were minted becoming the first truly Jamaican coins. British West Indian dollars were made legal tender in 1951 but had limited circulation relative to the Jamaican pound, divisible into 20 shillings and 240 pence. In 1969, Jamaica replaced the Jamaican pound with the Jamaican dollar, divisible into 100 cents.

Trinidad & Tobago became united in 1899. Trinidad was part of the Spanish Empire until 1796. Tobago was established as a British colony in 1797. They were part of the Federation of the West Indies from 1958 until 1962 when they self-governing. Became a republic in 1976. They are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Early currency was circulating coinage cut or counterstamped, 'TBO' for Tobago, 'T' for Trinidad. Copper coins were generally not used on the islands until after 1850. The British introduced the pound Sterling, and it was used while Trinidad and Tobago were separate British colonies. The British West Indian dollar was introduced in 1935, replaced by the East Caribbean dollar in 1951 until 1964 when it was replaced by the Trinidad and Tobago dollar.

Turks & Caicos Islands became a British colony in 1783, became part of Bermuda from 1799 until 1848 before becoming separate colony again. They became part of Jamaica in 1874. They were part of the Federation of the West Indies from 1958 until 1962 when they gained independence. Remains a British Overseas Territory. They are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Turks and Caicos Islands followed the currency of Jamaica until the switch to the US dollar in 1973.

Windward and Leeward Islands:

The Windward Islands were established in 1833 and included Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and Tobago. St. Lucia joined in 1838. In 1871, a federal constitution was established for the Leeward Islands, which included Antigua, St. Kitts, Montserrat, Dominica and the British Virgin Islands. In 1885, the statute of the Windward Islands was rearranged and excluded Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent. Dominica left the Leeward Islands group to re-join the Windward Islands in 1940. The Federation of the Leeward Islands and the Federation of the Windward Islands were dissolved in 1956 and each island formed a separate administration.
US dollars and British pounds circulated until the introduction of the British West Indian dollar (British Caribbean Territories, Eastern Group) from 1955 until 1965 (1959 for British Virgin Islands) when it was replaced by the East Caribbean dollar (East Caribbean States) with the exception of the British Virgin Islands.
Only the British Virgin Islands has issued coins for circulation. All the other islands have issued only collector coins.

Leeward Islands (north to south):

Anguilla was colonised in 1650 by English settlers from St. Kitts. In 1871 Anguilla was forced into a federation with St. Kitts, and Nevis-was added in 1882. In 1980, Anguilla was formally disassociated from St. Kitts to become a separate British dependency. It still remains a British Overseas Territory.

British Virgin Islands was first settled on Tortola in 1666, coming under English control in 1672 at the outbreak of the Third Anglo-Dutch War. They were administered variously as part of the British Leeward Islands or with St. Kitts and Nevis, gaining separate colony status in 1960, and self-governance in 1967. They are a British Overseas Territory.
An Act of 3 Feb 1801 authorised the counterstamping and cutting of silver and counterstamping of copper coins. The silver coins all had plain cut edges with 'TORTOLA' in an oblong indent. The copper coins had an incuse letter 'T'. The circulation of cut and countermarked coins lasted for nearly a century; the silver 1-bit and ½-bit coins and the black doggs were withdrawn in 1889 and the cut half-, quarter- and eighth-dollar segments were withdrawn in 1892.
US dollars and British pounds circulated until the introduction of the British West Indian dollar from 1955 to 1959 when the US dollar was adopted. Since 1973, the British Virgin Islands have produced coins for local use.

Antigua was colonised by English settlers from St. Kitts in 1632, captured by the French in 1666 and ceded to England by the Treaty of Breda in 1667. Antigua was a British colony that included the dependencies of Barbuda and Redonda. Became self-governing in 1961, gained independence in 1981 and took on the name of Antigua & Barbuda. They are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

St. Kitts & Nevis aka St. Christopher & Nevis. St. Christopher became an English colony in 1623 (England's first Caribbean settlement) and St. Nevis became an English colony in 1628. Anguilla became federated with St Kitts in 1871, followed by Nevis in 1882. Became self-governing in 1967. Anguilla formally disassociated in 1980 and St. Kitts & Nevis gained independence in 1983. They are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Sterling was established on the islands in 1849 on St. Kitts and 1858 on Nevis. St. Kitts issued copper coins counterstamped 'S' and 'S.K.' in the early 1800's. Spanish silver dollars, cut into halves, quarters and eighths and counterstamped were prepared for circulation but not issued (being sent to Tortola instead). At the same time Nevis issued both small silver and copper coins counterstamped 'Nevis'.

Montserrat was settled in 1632 from nearby St. Kitts. Was taken twice by the French in 1664 and 1782 and formally recognised as British by the Treaty of Versailles in 1783. Became self-governing in 1962, gaining independence in 1983. It is a British Overseas Territory.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Spanish silver and French colonial base-metal coins circulated with the counterstamp letter M. British currency was established as legal tender in the mid-19th century.

Dominica was colonised by the Frenched in 1632, but captured by the British in 1761 and made a British colony in 1763. Became self-governing in 1967 and independent in 1978. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Spanish silver dollars were used in Dominica in the 1700s. The local authorities counterstamped the dollars and pierced them with either heart-shaped or circular, crenelated holes. British currency became standard in 1862.

Windward Islands (north to south):

St. Lucia became a British territory in 1814. Attained self-governance in 1967, gaining independence in 1979. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
St. Lucia used cut and counterstamped silver pieces from 1798 until 1851. Although the island was under British rule, the coins were denominated in French currency. British currency replaced the counterstamped coins in 1851.

St. Vincent & the Grenadines became a British possession in 1763. Attained self-governance in 1969, gaining independence in 1979. They are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Cut and counterstamped (SV) Spanish silver dollars and French base-metal and Portuguese joes circulated in St. Vincent from 1797 until 1823.

Grenada became a British possession in 1762. Attained self-governance in 1967, gaining independence in 1974. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Spanish silver dollars and Portuguese gold joes were counterstamped G for use in Grenada from 1798 to 1840. The pound sterling was adopted in 1840.


Caribbean Occupations

Curaçao (with Aruba and Bonaire) was occupied by the British from 1800 to 1803 and then again from 1807 until 1816 before returning to the Dutch control. Known as Curaçao and Dependencies (Aruba, Bonaire) until 1954.
The currency was the Dutch administration reaal, counterstamped by a 5-petal rosace during British occupation.

Guadeloupe was colonised by the French in 1635. For a time, it was a dependency of Martinique. The island came under British occupation during the Seven Years' War from 1759 to 1763, during the French Revolutionary Wars from 1794-1801; and again, during the Napoleonic wars from 1810 until 1816.
Coins for local use were being cut and stamped by the French when the British took control. Under British administration, coins were counterstamped with a crowned 'G'. A 'G' radiate was used on plugs cut from coins.

Martinique was under Britain's command during the Seven Years' War from 1762 to 1763; during the French Revolutionary Wars from 1794 to 1802; and again, during the Napoleonic wars from 1809 to 1814.
Under their first occupation, Britain imported Spanish réales from Gibraltar with a heart-shaped piercing. During the second occupation, cut third and quarter segment Spanish dollars (8 réales) were issued with crenated edges. During the third British occupation, a cut fifth segment of a Spanish dollar was issued. These pieces were not counterstamped.

St. Eustatius was under British military occupation a number of times between 1665 and 1816, before finally being returned to the Dutch. Known as St. Eustatius and Dependencies (Dutch sector of St. Martin, Saba) until 1954.
During times of British occupation between 1771 to 1816, circulating coinage was countermarked 'SE'.

St. Martin was under British military occupation a number of times between 1759 to 1816, before finally being returned as a partitioned colony between the French and the Dutch.
During times of British occupation, circulating coinage was countermarked 'StM' or 'St MARTIN'.


Atlantic Ocean

Bermuda was settled by English colonists in 1609 and became a Crown colony in 1684. Gained independence in 1968. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The first British colonial currency was struck in Bermuda. King James I granted the colonies' plantation permission to produce coinage. It was called 'hogge' money. Struck in 1616 in denominations of two, three, six, and twelve pence, the obverse showed a hog with the denomination in roman numerals above the animal and the legend 'Sommer Islands' within two circles of beads (the two and threepence coins have only a single circle of beads and lack the legend). The reverse displayed a ship, probably the 'Sea Adventurer,' with a single circle of beads around the border and no legend. In 1793, coinage bearing the name 'Bermuda' was struck, commonly referred to as the 'Ship's Penny' because of the reverse design. After 1793, no other coins were produced in Bermuda until the commemorative crowns of 1959 and 1964. British currency was replaced in 1970 by the Bermudian dollar.

St. Helena was a useful re-supply base on the long journey from Europe to the Indies. It became a Crown colony in 1651 with the East India Company (EIC) responsible for administration. It was under British control between 1815 and 1821 when Napoleon was exiled there, before reverting to the EIC. In 1834 control of St. Helena passed to the British Crown. Ascension and Tristan da Cunha became dependencies of St. Helena in 1922 and 1938 respectively. It was reclassified, along with other Crown colonies, as a British Dependent Territory in 1981. In 2009 the Overseas Territory of St Helena and Dependencies became the Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
In the 1600s, the official coinage for St. Helena was sterling, but Spanish dollars were the primary coins that circulated. Coin shortages led to the production of coins for St. Helena by the East India Company in 1714, though imported coins continued to circulate. In 1821, the EIC issued copper halfpennies. The British pound became the legal tender in 1843. The South African pound was additionally legal tender from 1925 to 1949. St. Helena and Ascension share a joint coinage, first issued in 1984.

Ascension was occupied by the Royal Navy in 1815, became a British possession in 1822 and became was a dependency of St. Helena from 1922 until 2009. Ascension was administered by the Eastern Telegraph Company (now Cable and Wireless) following the 1899 installation of a submarine cable until 1964.
Ascension has only issued collector coins.

Tristan da Cunha was settled by Americans in 1810, but became a British possession in 1816. The island was made a dependency of St. Helena from 1938 until 2009.
Tristan da Cunha has only issued collector coins, which include issues for Stoltenhoff, Gough and Nightingale Islands in the Tristan da Cunha Archipelago.

Falkland Islands became a Crown colony in 1840. In 1981, it was reclassified as a British Dependent Territory (now a British Overseas Territory). Sovereignty is disputed by Argentina, which refers to them as the Islas Malvinas.
The Falkland Islands included the dependencies of South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands, South Orkneys, South Shetlands and Graham Land from 1908 until 1962 when the South Orkneys, South Shetlands and Graham Land were made part of the British Antarctic Territory. South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands became a separate British territory in 1985.
The Falkland Islands had previously used British homeland coinage, but in 1974 it introduced its own circulation coinage. British coins and currency are still legal tender.


Southern Ocean / Antarctica

South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands were dependencies of the Falkland Islands from 1908 until 1985. They became a British Overseas Territory in 2002. In the interim from 1985 they were not (and did not comprise) a British Dependent Territory.
The South Sandwich Islands are uninhabited, and a very small non-permanent population resides on South Georgia. Only collector coins are issued.

The British Antarctic Territory (BAT) comprises the sector of the Antarctic south of latitude 60° S, between longitude 20° W 20 and 80° W. This includes the South Shetland Islands, South Orkney Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula with a sector of the continent extending to the South Pole. BAT was formed in 1962. Before then, it was a dependency of the Falkland Islands.
Only collector coins are issued.



Newfoundland was claimed by England's 1583. Became a colony from 1610 to 1907 (the first overseas colony). Became a dominion (including Labrador) in 1907, a dependent territory in 1934 and a province of Canada in 1949.
The pound was the currency until 1865 when it was succeeded by the Newfoundland dollar. Canadian dollars became the currency in 1949 when Newfoundland became a province of Canada.

Nova Scotia was ceded to Britain by France under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Following further conflict with the French, Cape Breton Island was ceded to Britain under the 1763 Treaty of Paris. It was then merged with Nova Scotia (present day peninsular Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). Nova Scotia became self-governing in 1848 and joined the Canadian Confederation in 1867.
In 1813, Halifax businessmen began importing halfpennies into Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotian government ordered their withdrawal in 1817, and between 1823-43 issued copper coinage, without authority from England. In 1856, with the permission of the British government, Nova Scotia issued one of the most beautiful of the Canadian colonial coinages, bearing an image of a mayflower. The pound was the currency until 1860 when it was succeeded by the Nova Scotian dollar. Nova Scotia issued bronze cents and half cents in 1861 and 1864, cents alone in 1862. Canadian dollars became the currency in 1871.

Prince Edward Island came under British control in 1758 and was formally established as the British colony of St. John Island in 1769, later renamed to Prince Edward Island (PEI) in 1798. The colony entered the Canadian Confederation in 1873.
PEI's governor, in 1813, ordered 1,000 Spanish silver dollars in which the centre had been punched out, thereby producing two coins: a ring (or 'holey' dollar) valued at five shillings and the punched-out centres (called 'plugs') valued at one shilling. The pound was the currency of until 1871 when it was succeeded by the PEI dollar. Only one type of coin, the one-cent piece, was struck for the PEI dollar, in 1871. The obverse showed Queen Victoria with the date. The reverse featured the seal of the colony - a large oak tree, symbolising England, sheltering three younger ones, which symbolised PEI's three counties. Canadian dollars became the currency in 1873.

New Brunswick was partitioned from Nova Scotia in 1784, becoming a separate colony. The colony entered the Canadian Confederation in 1871.
An anonymous halfpenny appeared in St John about 1830. In 1843, the New Brunswick government issued copper pennies and halfpennies without authority from England. These were followed in 1854 with another issue, this time with the permission of the British authorities. The pound was the currency from 1841 until 1860 when it was succeeded by the New Brunswick dollar. New Brunswick issued cents in 1861 and 1864, and silver coins in 1862 and 1864. Canadian dollars became the currency in 1867.

Canada was formed as a British colony in 1841 by merging the colonies of Upper Canada (1791-1841) and Lower Canada (1791-1841). Upper Canada was a division of Old Quebec, covering what is now the southern portion of the province of Ontario and lands bordering Georgian Bay and Lake Superior. Lower Canada was a division of Old Quebec, covering the southern portion of the current Province of Quebec and the Labrador region of the current province of Newfoundland and Labrador (until the Labrador region was transferred to Newfoundland in 1809).
Canada became a dominion in 1867 by the confederation of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Quebec and Ontario had been formed from the areas previously contained within Upper and Lower Canada. Gained self-governance in 1931 and independence in 1982. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
During the early 1800s, the American half-dollar was imported by Canadian banks and used widely in Upper and Lower Canada. When the two Canadas were united in 1841, the Bank of Montreal was allowed to coin copper pennies and halfpennies in 1842. Halfpennies were issued again in 1844. After 1849, the Bank of Upper Canada received the right to coin copper, and large issues of pennies and halfpennies appeared in 1850, 1852, 1854 and 1857. The Quebec Bank was allowed to issue pennies and halfpennies in 1852. In 1858, the Canadian dollar appeared, aligned with the US dollar. The first coins of the dominion of Canada, issued in 1870, were silver 5, 10, 25 and 50-cent pieces. Bronze cents were added in 1876. In 1908, at the opening ceremony for the Ottawa branch of the Royal Mint, Governor General Earl Grey struck the Dominion's first domestically produced coin: a silver fifty-cent piece bearing the effigy of Edward VII.

British Columbia (Canada's most westerly province) was established as a British colony in 1858 and entered the Canadian Confederation in 1871.
The pound was the currency of British Columbia until 1865 when it was succeeded by the British Columbian dollar.
In 1857 and 1858, gold was discovered in the interior of British Columbia. In 1862, $10 and $20 gold pieces, although never released for circulation, were part of the first official initiative to mint coins in Canada.

Northwest Territories was formed in 1870 when it was given that name after it joined the confederation of Canada. In 1670, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) was formed from a royal charter granting commercial monopoly over Rupert's Land (Hudson Bay drainage basin). Territories to the northwest of Rupert's Land were made regular use of by HBC as part of its trading area. The Treaty of Utrecht saw the British become the only European power in the region, with the French surrendering their claim to the Hudson Bay coast. HBC surrendered its charter in 1870.
There was little need for coinage in the territories controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company, the fur trade depended primarily on barter.



The original thirteen British colonies involved in the American War of Independence were Massachusetts (1629), New Hampshire (1629), Rhode Island (1663), Connecticut (1662), New York (1664), Pennsylvania (1681), Delaware (1664), New Jersey (1664), Maryland (1632), Virginia (1624), North Carolina (1729), South Carolina (1729) and Georgia (1752). The dates given correspond to them becoming colonies, and not when they were first settled. The colonies were divided into three geographic areas consisting of the New England (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire), Middle colonies (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) and Southern colonies (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia).
Two other colonies, British East and West Florida, were formed in 1763, but they did not take part in the war. British West Florida became a colony when it was ceded from Spain as part of the 1763 Treaty Paris. At the same time British East Florida was formed when Britain received all of French Louisiana east of the Mississippi River, with the exception of New Orleans. In the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the War of Independence, the British ceded both colonies to Spain.

During the first decades of the English colonisation of North America the settlers needed to obtain their own small change. The only small change coins to gain general acceptance throughout the colonies were English coppers. Although English silver and gold coins were not allowed to be exported to the colonies, there was no restriction on the export of coppers. During much of the 17th century wampum (shell beads) and commodities served as the primary substitutes for coppers. English money was always scarce and coins from Spain, Portugal and France circulated in the colonies as a result of trade with the West Indies. Individual colonies wanted to issue their own currency to alleviate this scarcity, but the British government wanted to retain full control over the monetary system. The first large scale shipments of British coppers date to 1734 and 1735, when the colony of Georgia was being established.

Maryland had the colonial Lord Baltimore coinage forced into circulation by a Maryland act passed in 1662, but was not made legal tender having been privately ordered without the permission of the Crown. The coins were minted in silver in denominations of four, six, and twelve pence. The obverse of the coins depicted the bust of Cecil Calvert (Lord Baltimore) and the reverse displayed the family shield with a palatine coronet above.

Massachusetts, by the 1640s, was trading with the Dutch, English and Spanish. Thus, foreign silver coins began to enter the Massachusetts economy in significant numbers. To guarantee a standard weight and value of foreign coins, legislation was drafted authorising the establishment of a mint where foreign silver coins would be melted down to produce local coins denominated in shillings and pence, so challenging England's ban on colonial coinage in 1651. In 1652, silver shillings, sixpences, and threepences started to be struck by silversmiths John Hull and Robert Sanderson at Boston. The first design was 'NE' types, produced for just a few months ('NE' indicated 'New England') which were stamped on the reverse with the denomination of III, VI or XII. As the remainder of the coin was blank, it was easy to clip the coins. This problem was directly addressed by legislation in 1652, in which the General Court changed the style of the coins so that they had a more complex design. This resulted in the 'Willow Tree' design issued 1653-60, followed by the 'Oak Tree' 1660-67 and finally the 'Pine Tree' design from 1667 to 1682. All 'tree' designs are denominated III, VI or XII as with the 'NE' issue with the exception of the oak tree design which had a twopence coin introduced in 1662. All coins are dated 1652 with the exception of the twopence oak tree which is dated 1662. Twopence oak trees dated 1652 exist but all are forgeries.

New Hampshire was the first of the rebellious colonies to consider its own coinage. A few months before the Declaration of Independence the production of copper coinage was authorised. The design depicts a pine tree with the legend 'American Liberty'. The reverse bears the date 1776 and features a harp.

New Jersey used St Patrick halfpennies and farthings. The St. Patrick coins were struck in Dublin circa 1663 to 1672 for use in Ireland. The English quaker merchant Mark Newby acquired a large supply of these coins which he took with him when he emigrated to New Jersey in 1681. They became legal tender in 1682 because of the pressing need in local commerce and remained in circulation throughout the colonial period, and continued to be found in change in western New Jersey into the early 19th century. The obverse shows a crowned, kneeling King David playing the harp as he looks up at the English crown with the legend 'Floreat Rex' (May the king flourish) above. The reverse of the halfpenny shows St. Patrick with mitre and crozier blessing a congregation with a shamrock. Behind Patrick is the heraldic shield of the city of Dublin consisting of three castles (each pair of towers represents a castle). Above is the legend 'Ecce grex' (Behold the flock). The reverse of the farthing shows Saint Patrick wearing a mitre and holding a metropolitan cross as he banishes various reptiles and serpents from the country. Behind him is a church. The legend reads 'Quiescat plebs' (Let the people be at ease).

Virginia issued the only coin that had Crown approval - a halfpenny dated 1773. The bust of George III was on the obverse and the shield of Virginia on the reverse.

Plantations Tin Money was authorised by James II for use in the American colonies and, as such, are considered to be de facto currency, rather than tokens as they were termed. They were struck at the Tower Mint in 1688, but denominated in a Spanish unit because Spanish coins were the standard in use in the Colonies. The value assigned to these pieces, 1/24th of a real, was equal to about 1½ farthings. The obverse shows James II on horseback. On the reverse are the crowned shields of Arms of England, Scotland, France and Ireland forming a cross. With the English tin industry experienced a depression, for the owners of tin mines in Cornwall and Devon it was a way to offload their now low-value product. Some coins were struck, but, unfortunately, in Nov 1688, William of Orange arrived in England and deposed his uncle/father-in-law in the Glorious Revolution. Probably had only modest circulation.

Rosa Americanas were coins introduced by William Wood for 'the plantations' (i.e., North American colonies) for 14 years starting in 1722. They were struck in bath metal (alloy of copper and zinc) and issued in three denominations - twopence, penny and halfpenny - showing the bust of George I on the obverse and a device with a rose of different styles on the reverse. This was an attempt by Wood to take advantage of a situation whereby regal coppers arriving in the colonies were of insufficient quantity. Although there was a need for small change, the colonists rejected these lightweight products. Massachusetts resorted to printing pence notes on parchment rather than using the despised Rosa coins.


North Pacific

Bonin Islands were populated by an eclectic mixture of European and American settlers throughout the 19th century. Britain claimed them in 1827. With the opening up of Japan, particularly after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the Japanese took an active interest in the islands and in 1875 they dispatched a warship to the islands to claim them for the Japanese Empire.

Hawaii (formerly known as the Sandwich Islands) became a British protectorate in 1843 at the request of the Hawaiian king after a war scare with France. The demise of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 presaged the end of British influence and the start of American influence.
While US coins had become the predominant currency, a motley mix of English, Austrian, French, Italian, Russian, Belgian, Mexican, Peruvian, and Spanish coins also had legal tender status.


Central America

British Honduras became a British territory in 1783. Renamed Belize on becoming a self-governing colony in 1973, gaining independence in 1981. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The British counterstamped circulating currency with a crowned 'GR'. The British Honduran dollar (1885-1981) was introduced bringing British Honduras into line with Canada. Became the Belizean dollar when the Central Bank of Belize was established in 1982.

Mosquito Coast was a protectorate between 1638 to 1787. In 1787 Britain consolidated their holdings on the continent to British Honduras and handed over control of the Mosquito Coast to Nicaragua and Honduras.
The currency was the Spanish colonial escudo (up to 1824).


West Africa

British West Africa was an assortment of widely separated territories administered during the colonial period. These included Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Nigeria (with the British Cameroons), and the Gold Coast.

British Togoland was effectively formed during WWI in 1916 when Britain and France occupied the German protectorate of Togoland. In 1922 it was formally divided between them under a League of Nations mandate. into two territories, French Togoland (now Togo) to the east and British Togoland to the west bordering the Gold Coast. In 1946 the two Togolands became UN trust territories and British Togoland, the Ashante protectorate and the Northern Territories protectorate merged with the Gold Coast to create one colony. The colony became Ghana (although the ancient kingdom of that name was far to the north, in present-day Mali) in 1957. Ghana is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The British West African pound was replaced by the Ghanaian pound in 1958. The Ghanaian cedi (cowry shell), divisible into 100 pesewas, replaced the pound in 1967.

The Gambia became England's first African settlement when they gained trading rights 1558. Fort James was established on an island in the Gambia River in 1663. The 1781 Treaty of Versailles reserved the Gambia River for Britain. In 1889, France and Britain agreed that British sovereignty should extend as far as a cannon could shoot from a gunboat navigating the Gambia river, which determined the country's shape and demarcation with Senegal. Gambia became a protectorate in 1894 and an independent nation in 1965, becoming a republic in 1970. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Spanish dollars were used in Gambia until it was demonetised in 1880. The British pound then became the currency, although coins from other countries circulated. In 1913, the British West African pound became the currency. In 1964, the Gambian pound replaced the British West African pound. The Gambian dalasi, divisible into 100 bututs, replaced the Gambian pound in 1971.

The Gold Coast was proclaimed a British crown colony in 1874. It comprised the coastal areas and extended inland as far as the ill-defined borders of Asante. It takes another three decades before the Ashante kingdom, and its dependencies in the north (known as the Northern Territories), are finally brought under British control, becoming separate protectorates in 1902. The colony became part of Ghana in 1957.
The currency was the pound sterling until the creation of the British West African pound in 1913 for the establishment of a common colonial currency for Britain's possessions in the sub-region. In 1796 and 1818, Britain struck the ackey (alteration of akee, the seeds of which served as a unit of weight), divisible into 8 takoe, specifically for use in the Gold Coast. The ackey was equal to the British halfcrown.

Nigeria is a combination of four different colonies. Lagos was established as a British colony in 1861, subordinated to Sierra Leone from 1866 until 1874, and to the Gold Coast (Ghana) from 1874 until 1886. Lagos became part of Southern Nigeria in 1906. Southern Nigeria was established as the Oil Rivers protectorate in 1891, and went through several name changes before uniting with Northern Nigeria (which had belonged to the Royal Niger Company and established a protectorate in 1900) in 1914. Nigeria remained a British colony until it gained its independence in 1960, becoming a republic in 1963. British Cameroon was joined to Nigeria in 1961. Nigeria is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The British pound was used in Nigeria while it was a colony. Spanish dollars were used in Nigeria until demonetised in 1880. The British West African pound became the currency in 1907 - 'Nigeria British West Africa'. From 1913 'Nigeria' was omitted. The Nigerian pound was established in 1959. In 1973, Nigeria introduced the naira, divisible into 100 kobo, to replace the pound. Biafra issued its own pound currency, but it became worthless after Biafra was reincorporated into Nigeria.

Biafra established itself as a republic in 1967, leading to civil war with Nigeria. Biafra surrendered in 1970, and was reincorporated into Nigeria.
Issued the Biafran pound, divisible into 20 shillings, 240 pence.

Sierra Leone was colonised in 1787 by freed slaves arriving from England. They were sponsored and governed by the private Sierra Leone Company until 1808, when Britain made Sierra Leone a Crown colony. The interior became a British protectorate in 1896. Sierra Leone gained its independence in 1961, and became a republic in 1971. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Spanish dollar was used until around 1880 and British coins after 1825. In 1913, the British West African pound became the currency. After gaining its independence, Sierra Leone introduced the leone as its national currency, divisible into 100 cents.

Gorée Island is a little over a mile offshore from Dakar's main harbour in Senegal. The Portuguese, Dutch, French and British all fought and killed each other over the slave trade from here. English occupation was from 1664–1677, British occupation from 1758–1763 and 1779–1783, latterly administered from Sierra Leone when it was ceded to France by the Treaty of Paris (1783).
French coinage predominated.


East Africa

Mombasa became a trading post, in 1885, for areas under the administration of the British East African Company (BEAC). In 1893 they transferred their rights to the British Government and the territory was divided to form the Uganda Protectorate in 1894 and East Africa Protectorate (later Kenya) in 1895. BEAC became bankrupt in 1896.
The BEAC introduced the rupee, divisible into 16 annas. on a par with the Indian rupee.

British East Africa was a protectorate formed in 1895 when the British East Africa Company's (BEAC) charter to administer and develop Britain's interest in east Africa was revoked in 1893. In 1920 the name changed to the British colony of Kenya, celebrating the region's highest mountain. Kenya gained independence on 1963 and in the following year became a Republic. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
BEAC Mombasa rupees first circulated. In 1906 'East Africa & Uganda' rupees, divisible into 100 cents, were issued, superseded by the 'East African' florin, divisible into 100 cents, in 1920-21 which, in turn, was replaced by the 'East African' shilling, divisible into 100 cents, in 1921. The Kenyan shilling appeared in 1966.

Eritrea was under British military administration following the defeat of the Italian army in 1941 until 1950.
During the British military administration, the British issued Indian-minted replicas of old Austrian Maria Theresa thalers, but these proved so popular that they rapidly disappeared from circulation. East African shillings, Indian rupees and British pounds were also legal tender. In 1945, the Ethiopian dollar was introduced, becoming the sole legal tender in 1952 when Eritrea was incorporated into Ethiopia.

Somaliland became the British Somaliland protectorate in 1884. In Aug 1940, it was incorporated into Italian East Africa, but British forces took back the area in Feb 1941. It gained its independence as the State of Somaliland in 1960 and the British and Italian administrative regions merged and formed the Somalia. In 1991, Somaliland seceded from the Somali and formed an independent Republic of Somaliland, though it is not internationally recognised.
Britain reintroduced Indian rupees in 1884, replacing the Egyptian piastre. The Italians used Italian East Africa lira during their brief rule over Somaliland, replaced by the East African shilling in 1941. The Somali shilling, divisible into 100 centi, was introduced in 1960.

Sudan became subject to restored Egyptian rule in 1899 by an Anglo-Egyptian agreement as part of a condominium exercised by the UK and Egypt. Independence was gained in 1956. The country split in 2011 when the population of South Sudan voted for independence from the Republic of Sudan.
Throughout its history, Sudan relied on coins imported from Egypt. British coins were used in the Sudan while it was part of the Anglo-Egyptian condominium. In 1957 Sudan introduced the Sudanese pound divisible into 100 piastres or 1000 milliam.

Tanganyika became the German protectorate of German East Africa in 1891. Tanganyika was under British military administration in 1916 and received a League of Nations mandate over the territory in 1922. The name of the territory was taken from the large lake in its west. Tanganyika became a United Nations Trust territory in 1946, gaining its independence in 1961. Became the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in Apr 1964, and the Tanzania in Oct 1964. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The rupie was the currency of German East Africa from 1890 until 1916, continuing to circulate in the Tanganyika Territory until 1920. The rupie, divisible into 64 pesa, was issued until 1904 when the currency was decimalised and became divisible into 100 heller. In 1921 it was replaced by the East African shilling, divisible into 100 cents, until 1964. The East African shilling continued to circulate in Tanzania until 1969. Tanzanian shilingi, divisible into 100 senti, were introduced in 1967.

Uganda was a protectorate formed in 1894 when the British East Africa Company's (BEAC) charter to administer and develop Britain's interest in east Africa was revoked in 1893. Uganda gained its independence in 1962 and became a republic in 1963. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
BEAC Mombasa rupees first circulated. In 1906 'East Africa & Uganda' rupees, divisible into 100 cents, were issued, superseded by the 'East African' florin, divisible into 100 cents, in 1920-21 which, in turn, was replaced by the 'East African' shilling, divisible into 100 cents, in 1921. Ugandan shillings became the currency in 1967.

Zanzibar became a British protectorate in 1890, ceded to Britain in exchange for Heligoland. The British protectorate was terminated in 1963 and the People's Republic of Zanzibar was declared in Jan 1964. Zanzibar united with Tanganyika in Apr 1964 and became Tanzania, of which Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous region.
The ryal was the currency of Zanzibar until 1908 and circulated alongside the Indian rupee and Maria Theresa thaler. The ryal was replaced by the Zanzibari rupee, divisible into 100 cents, in 1908. The East African shilling became the currency in 1936 until it was replaced by the Tanzanian shilingi in 1967.