Batavian Crown or Real of 48 Stivers 1646 (Scho. 12 (1645, the date 1646 is not listed), 21.16 g., die orientation ↑↑). Obv. VOC- monogram surmounted by the value • 48 ST• , countermark of a crown between the monogram and the value; 4 sets of scrolls within a rope-like inner circle and an outer circle of pearls / Rev. Coat of Arms of the city of Batavia (an upright sword within a laurel wreath); similar double circle with legend BATAVIÆ left and ANNO 1646 right, scrolls dividing the legend on top and bottom. The last digit of the date is somewhat weak due to a shallow dimple, but is unmistakable a 6. Granulated surface, plain edge, VF for issue, of utmost rarity, presumably the 3rd reported specimen with the date 1646
Provenance: Dutch private collector.
On Feb. 26, 1645 notification was given that the Japanese ‘schuitzilver’ (silver ingots) on hand were to be used for the provisional production of a limited amount of Batavian Crowns by the burgher goldsmith Jan Ferman and a Chinaman named Conjok 'to the relieve of our necessity'. Thus these coins were true emergence coins, and the first silver Dollar-sized coin minted in the Orient. The larger silver coins were hoarded by the inhabitants, to be sold at great profit upon arrival of Chinese junks.
Weight & fineness:
For every 1000 thails of Japanese ingots (weighing 1370 reals or 37,605.77 grams) 1487 specimen were to be delivered. While allowing a melting loss of 1½ %, the weight had to be 7/8 of a Lion dollar (Leeuwendaalder). The weight of Dutch Lion-dollar of 48 stivers is 27.684 g. with a silver fineness of 0.750, which was considered the actual representative of the imaginary 'Real' (a money of account of 48 stivers). But this Batavian Crown, being an emergency coin, was of lower weight. Due to counterfeiting soon after their release the emergency coins were as early as Sept. 23, 1647 withdrawn from circulation.
An XRF test of coin concerned reveals a silver content of 90-94 %, Cu 5-7 % & Pb 1%. This is considerable more than the fineness of the Lion-dollar, which is 750/1000, however, when the amount of fine silver is calculated for 7/8 of the Lion-dollar it comes to 27.684x 0.75x 7/8 =18.168 g. For the 48 stiver concerned the amount of fine-silver would be between 19.044 - 19.890 g.
The fineness complies more to the Spanish 8 real pieces. The Batavian Crown was often referred to as real. The remark by Bucknill (The Coins of the Dutch East Indies, 1931) that 'The coins were made of a poor grade of silver' is not confirmed by the actual fineness found by this XRF test and must been due to visual observation of the coins he had seen.
Before the arrival of the Dutch on Java the coin production was basically done by casting the technic. During the 16th and 17th century cast copper cash coins and tin pitjis were produced by the Sultanates of Bantam and Cheribon on Java. There was also a large scale production of Chinese and Japanese type bronze cash coins, the so-called ‘Shima-sen’, but also lead-tin imitations.
By giving the instructions for the production to the goldsmith Jan Ferman and Chinaman Conjok it is obvious that the first person has to look after the fineness of the silver and the second on the production, which no-doubt would have been by the Chinese art of casting. Starting in the late 5th century AD, the majority of Chinese coins were cast in two-piece moist sand moulds into which a master coin (called a ‘seed’) was used to make many impressions. Channels were cut to connect the impressions and, after joining the two pieces, molten metal was poured in. When taken apart, the mould yielded what looked like a tree studded in coins, which was then cut apart.
The impression of the mould’s sand grains leaves a granular surface. The coins were run over a rasp to smooth the surfaces, often leaving a series of parallel file marks which wear off very quickly and are only visible on very high grade specimens. The lower points on the coin are not affected by the rasp and usually retain some evidence of the pebbled surface.
Cutting the coins from the tree left a rough spot on the edges which was then filed smooth. The coins were cast with wide rims to allow for this filing.
For the Chinese this method was easy, very fast and, because all of the coins were impressed with the same seed coin, thousands and even millions of identical coins were possible, allowing calligraphy variations to be used as mint and date control marks. Each coin would be exactly the same diameter except for small size variations caused by filing the edges. The only major drawback was in controlling the weights. It was impossible to control the exact depth of each seed impression, and a slightly deeper impression gave a heavier coin and a shallow one a light coin. Weights could vary as much as 25% from coin to coin, so officials concerned themselves with the average weight of one thousand coins, not the weight of each individual coin.
The coin concerned shows all the aspects of the production by the Chinese casting process, viz.: a somewhat grained, and adjusted edge by cutting off the rough surface, the result of casting. This is also confirmed by Bucknill 'The coins were made of a poor grade of silver, were cast in moulds and have a plain edge'.
The date 1646:
Bucknill mentions 'It is obvious that in the catalogue of the Batavian Museum (1886, p.45), a crown dated 1646 is listed; but it is probably a forgery. Netcher and Van der Chijs (1864) state (p.102) that the Half-Crown and Quarter Crown are also said to be known dated 1646 and that the die (or mould) of the Half-Crown of that year differs slightly from that dated 1645; but writer has not been able to obtain any information corroborating their belief and Mr. Schulman definitely states that no genuine piece so dated have ever been discovered.'
Some of Bucknill’s observation must be taken with a pinch of salt, like his remark about the fineness of the silver, but also 'a crown dated 1646 is listed; but it is probably a forgery.' It is only because Bucknill was sceptical about the existence of such a coin dated 1646.
As N & v.d Chijs noted the date 1646 also for the 24 & 12 stiver, it would not be surprising that 48 stiver pieces were made for that year too. In fact this is confirmed By the entry in the Batavian Museum catalogue of 1886.
The 1646 48 Stiver of Mario L. Sacripante:
This is also confirmed by the article of Mario L. Sacripante in World Coin News, May 2009. In this magazine Sacripante wrote an exhaustive article 'Story of 1646 Batavia crown an adventure', concerning the, till then, unique coin. The coin, subject in the aforementioned article, was offered for sale on 25 June 2009 by Spink, London, lot 620. Estimate 40,000 -45,000 (not sold).
Mario L. Sacripante, an Air Force sergeant in the Office of the Air Attaché in the American Embassy in Jakarta met in the early 1960’s the director of the National Museum. On hearing he was a coin collector, the director ask him whether he could help the staff with a numismatic exhibit, as there was no curator for the museum’s numismatic exhibit. The last one has been Mr. J.P. Moquette.
Sacripante, agreed and while working in the museum, said he saw old mint records in Dutch indicating that 22,000 crowns were made. Moreover he writes 'There were in the museum storeroom minting tools and equipment such as crucibles, screw presses and even dies and moulds for the 1645 and 1646 crown and subsidiary coins.'
Before he left Indonesia, when his tour of duty was finishing, the museum director presented him with a three-piece set of the 1645 Batavia Crown and its two subsidiary coins, the 12 and 24 stivers, as well as several VOC ducatons, of which the museum had many stacks.
The 1646 specimen Sacripante actually obtained in 1980 in Tokyo, together with dozen other Dutch coins claimed to be found by an Australian diver from a shipwreck.
Bucknill (p.33-34) observes that to meet the difficulties to suppress the counterfeiting, the Dutch authorities on Java often resort to countermarking and records that this also applied to the 1645 Batavian crown. No further details about the kind countermark are given, but from the survived specimen this countermark seems to be a ‘crown’ as can be observed from a specimen, now in the National Numismatic Collection with the National Bank in Amsterdam (ZENO Oriental Coins Database #212888), however most Batavian crowns of 1645 doesn’t show such a countermark. The two known Batavian crowns of 1646 show both the same countermark. It is in line with Bucknill’s observation that to suppress the counterfeiting the authorities has started to mark the original specimen by a minute countermark of a crown. Similarly a 24 stiver piece 1645, recently been auctioned by Heritage Auctions (Sale #3071, 6 - 7 January 2019, Session IV, Lot 34321), shows a small cinquefoil counter stamp (ZENO 212331).
The series of the Batavian Crown show, due to the casting process by which the currency issues were produced, a rather granular surface, much to the contrary of the well prepared ‘seed’ coins.
It are those ‘seed’ coins which were most likely cast in finely engraved soapstone moulds which were, as reported by Sacripante in the early 1960’s, still present in the museum’s storeroom. After casting, these ‘seed’ coins were very accurately tooled, as can be clearly observed on the specimen of the 48 Stiver 1645 shown on ZENO #39313. The currency coins were cast in moist sand moulds into which the master or seed coin was used to make the impressions.
A pretty large number of coins of this series (48 ST ; 24 ST ; 12 ST ) were studied in June 2009 by Arent Pol of the Money Museum in Utrecht. This study included also Sacripante’s 1646 crown. His provisional opinion was that the well-produced and therefore attractive specimen may have been later productions intended for collectors, much in contrast with casted specimen with a rather rough granulated appearance, which he regarded to be the authentic specimen. In his study of these coins, the production process, however, seems to have been overlooked, as for that process master or seed coins were required for impression of the sand moulds, and could not have been produced later for collectors.
It seems to be sufficient proved that the Batavian crown of 1646 is an authentic specimen, produced by the adopted casting process and that the more well prepared coins were the required ‘seed’ coins used in this casting process. The countermarking may have been introduced somewhat later in the year 1645, to distinguish them from counterfeit specimen and continued to be applied on the 1646 issues too.
The way the currency specimen have been produced, may make them aesthetically perhaps somewhat less attractive, but as an original historical edifice, very important and not less desirable.More...