Sample of rare and interesting South African Metal Token Coins

All the token coins below have been scanned from a much larger collection in the Balson Holdings Family Trust Collection (notes listed below in the left column opposite tokens partly sourced from Dr Theron's 1978 catalogue and other sources like Pat Moran - our own comprehensive independent research, where applicable, is linked from the column on the right "More on this coin...")

The entire research on the famous Strachan and Co currency tokens, South Africa's first indigenous currency, is linked from the listing below.

The "R" Ratings displayed alongside the linked menu items below are the real historic scarcity of each piece (rarest rating of a piece from a set in the Balson Holdings Family Trust Collection displayed) as per FULD Rarity Scale. It is impossible to estimate real values based on supply or demand, but pieces above R6 are highly sought after and prices often pass several hundred US$ each on R7 pieces. It is only a matter of time before R6 pieces join this sought after category.

Coins displayed here

The Cape:
Brink Bros Bpk
City of Cape Town
De Beers Consolidated Mines
Diamond House
E D Drysdale
E K Green
East London Municipality
Floyd and Cole
George Divisional Council
Hermann Sohr
J H Cartwright
J W Irwin
Katco
Marsh and Sons
Montagu Divisional Council
Morris's Hotel
South African Railways
East Griqualand:
Creighton and Dennis
F C Larkan
James Cole
M Hersch
Staffords Post
Strachan and Co
W W Phillips

Natal:
A H Guy
Blackwood Couper
Duchen and Kleinman
Durban Club
H Guy
Kleinman and Finchen
M Franklin
Mine Stores
Peters Lounge
St Faiths
Bechuanaland/Botswana:
Bechuanaland Border Police

Orange Free State:
Daniel and Hyman
Die Afrikaanse Handelshuis
Harding and Parker
Jagersfontein Municipality
The Hotel

Transvaal:
Anglo Austrian Cafe
Cornwall Light Infantry
Government Printing Works
J A Taylor
OK Bazaars
Premier Tvl Diamond Mining Co Ltd
Pretoria Garrison Institute
Pretoria Soldiers Institute
Voorspoed Diamond Mining Co
W Stein, European Hotel

The red "R" ratings are scarcity - "R10" unique.. "R5" and lower common. More details at the links below.

Comprehensive research on other token coins linked from this page include:
F C Larkan
Bechuanaland Border Police
De Beers Consolidated Mines
W W Phillips
James Cole
Creighton and Dennis
Blackwood Couper

Strachan & Co
M Hersch
St Faiths
M Franklin
Durban Club
The Hotel
East London Municipality
Jagersfontein Municipality

Token coins, their history and their types

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Bechuanaland
Bechuanaland Border Police More on this coin at this link

This coin is featured on Wikipedia (search token coins)

Cape
J H Cartwright

John Henry Cartwright, born in 1855, was a British sailor.

He settled in the Cape becoming a railway contractor. In 1883 he completed the Bill Wright line over the Cape Flats then helped George Pauling and Co Ltd construct the rail line from Kimberley throught Vryburg to Mafeking. In 1897 he worked on the New Cape Central Railways from Ashton to Swellendam and from Riversdale over the Gourits River to Mossel Bay through to George. Cartwright was a meticulous man and kept a well-stocked shop in which these tokens were used from 1898. In 1912 he had his equipment and these tokens stored in stables in a shed in Rosebank. The Liesbeeck River broke its banks and washed away most of the token coins. A few were discovered in 1950 - making just eight complete sets with a balance of just thirty two 2/6; nineteen 1/- and fourteen 6d.

The 20/-, 10/-, 6d (displayed here) are ex W.J. Noble Collection, Sale 61B (lot 1557) and R.J.Ford Collection (lot 910 part in Spink Australia Sale) Purchased at Noble Numismatics sale 21 23 July 2009 lot 2388. Duplicates of the 2/6 and 1/- are held and displayed here.

The Balson Holdings Family Trust has one of the eight complete sets in existence (coins seen right).



Common reverse
City of Cape Town

Used at the Cape Town Pier Restaurant from c1911 to 1913.

The restaurant was located at the bottom of Adderley St.

It was demolished when the harbour was enlarged. 

J W Irwin
Cape Town

On 26th April 1879 the Cape Town "Lantern" noted:

The undersigned having found great difficulty hitherto in giving change in coppers, and in order to facilitate trade, has imported a quantity of half penny tokens which will be issued as change, and begs to notify that their value at anytime payable at his warehouse, Bree and Waterkant Streets. J W Irwin.

There is no value stated however, but its reverse carries the Arms of the Cape of Good Hope. This design reminds collectors of British Colonial copper halfpennies of Newfoundland and the reverse of one of these is shown with Arms and Supporters. Engraved by Ralph Heaton II, the R H is in small letters over the centre of the 1846 date. He died in 1862, but the engraver of the Irwin piece, whoever he was, may have used Heaton's work as a model.

Ex W.J. Noble Collection, Sale 61B (lot 1561) and R.J.Ford Collection (lot 910 part).

Bought on Auction at Noble Numismatics - 23 July 2009; Lot 2389

Marsh and Sons
Cape Town

Their name appears in Directories from 1846 to 1921 listed as General Importers and Ironmongers at 1 Burg St, Cape Town. The reverse has a paddle steamer under sail and steam and the die was also used by H. J. Marsh and Brother in Tasmania.

The brother died in1854 and the Tasmanian issue can be dated to a year or so earlier like other undated issues for the Island. The unknown maker is probably English. Despite a strong assumption that branches of the same family are involved, no family history has been found, the only connection is the reverse die. The Cape Town copper halfpennies are thought to have been issued in the 1870's.

In April 2010 one of these tokens sold for over US$800

South African Railways Department
Cape Town (Reverse Blank or duplicated)

The tokens made out of bone were used at the catering department of the House of Assembly (Parliament) in Cape Town.

So the common reference to "Railways" seems to be somewhat misplaced.

E K Green

E K Green was a wine merchant in Simonstown and Kimberley. A letter from the manager states that these tokens represented a deposit on a bottle which was refunded when the bottle was returned. The tokens were worth a cash refund of 1d "as empty bottles when returned were valued at one shilling per dozen".

The tokens were used from 1907 and only withdrawn in about 1930.

There were cardboard varities of these tokens issued at one stage.

Same on both sides
Hermann Sohr
De Aar

The trading company used these tokens during the Boer War.

East London Municipality

These tokens were minted for use on the local ferry crossing the Buffalo River because of the scarcity of small change.

More on this coin at this link
KATCO (Kat River Co-operative Citrus Co Ltd)
Fort Beaufort

Used from 1927 to 1938 as  means of checking the total daily output of each labourer employed in the making of export boxes - the number of tokens reflecting his pay.

The labourer had a small wooden box beside the table he built the boxes. On the completion of each box he would call over the white supervisor in charge of the team. After he had checked the box he would insert one of these tokens into the small box. At the end of the day the number of tokens collected reflected his pay.  

George Divisional Council

Only the George and Montague Councils issued day tokens as pay a type of pay check for labourers.

They were used in the very early days although the exact dates have never been established.

There are four tokens in the series, a day; three quarter day; half day and quarter day. The quarter day piece is extremely rare.

The pieces here are:

Ex Dr Theron collection

Ex W.J. Noble Collection, Sale 61B (lot 1579) and R.J.Ford (lot 910 part) Collection.

Bought on Auction at Noble Numismatics - 23 July 2009; Lot 2397




Morris's Hotel
Grahamstown

Most likely a bottle deposit token for this hotel in Grahamstown, Cape Province.

The reverse is shown with a regal halfpenny of 1873. There is no doubting that the latter was the model. Despite the Penny value on the token it probably did get into general change as change was scarce in those times.

De Beers Consolidated Mines
Kimberley

The native labourers lived in compounds, later called hostels, at the mines. These tokens issued from the 1880s were used to buy from the Mine Stores which did not accept any other form of payment. They were a monopoly token and could not be used by the mine's staff anywhere else.

The labourers were paid with these tokens as payment for their work. When they left the employment of the mine they could exchange the coins for normal currency.

The various mines in the group at which the coins were originally issued are represented by the piercings - see coin right. 

More on this coin at this link
Diamond House
Kimberley

Theron quotes A.M. Catalogue (pg 81) "Diamond House, drapers, clothiers and dressmakers is first found listed in the Argus Annual for 1890 and it was taken over by R H Henderson Ltd at the end of 1896."

Our own research from the book Man of many facets, Dr W G Atherstone by Nerina Mathie (1998) says this in volume one (pg 324) when quoting from his trip to Kimberley in December 1873..."How strangely altered everything seems as we trot through the refuse heaps of Bultfontein, past the Diamond House , and original verf (plot) of the boer proprietor, onto the lofty mounds of chalky debris from the abandoned claims of DuToit's pan! How metamorphosed! Where are the ten thousand diggers busily working like ants on their heaps? A few modern stores, brokers stands, and straggling tents, a hotel or two, and the wire ropes and pulleys of unknown companies, lifting the sand and water from buried claims, and hoping to reach the diamonds before all their capital gets buried too, is all that is left to represent the working industry of the once busy tented that has moved on bodily three miles further to Kimberley."

E D Drysdale
Cape Town

The issuer of these tokens was apparently a blacksmith in Dock Road from 1889-94.

Floyd and Cole
Kimberley

Very little is known about this coin but it is estimated to have been minted in 1873.

Brink Bros Bpk
Montagu

A firm established in 1906.

The Managing Director wrote in 1966:

The tokens were introduced in 1944 and used for about two years.

Farmers would exchange produce like eggs, butter and skins for coins and were then exchanged for other goods.

More on these token coins at this link

Brink Bros Bpk - fibre set
Montagu Divisional Council (Afdelings Raad)

These pieces, like the George Divisional Council, were presented for work done.

The labourer got paid based on the total time they had worked. The "A R" stands for Afdelings Raad the Afrikaans for "Divisional Council".

The coins were "unearthed' by Col J C Piek according to a letter he wrote to Dr Alec Kaplan in 1950. They had been issued many years before that.

Montagu Divisional Council
Half Day

More on these token coins at this link

Montagu Divisional Council
Quarter Day
East Griqualand
W W Phillips
Various stores

More on this coin at this link
James Cole
Various stores
More on this coin at this link
Strachan and Co
Various stores
More on this coin at this link

The Strachan and Co set is featured on Wikipedia (search token coins)

F C Larkan
Various stores
More on this coin at this link
Creighton and Dennis

UNIQUE PIECE

More on this coin at this link
E(ast) G(riqualand) (Staffords) P(ost) T(rading) Co

UNIQUE PIECE

Staffords Post was a small, remote trading post located on the main ox wagon route between Umizmkhulu and Kokstad. It was near here, at Rietvlei, that the Griqua rebels planned their failed 1878 attack/seige of Kokstad.

More on this coin at this link
M Hersch
Thaba 'Nchu, Lesotho

More recent pieces (post 1950s)

More on this coin at this link.
Natal
St Faiths

UNIQUE PIECE

More on this coin at this link
Duchen and Kleinman
Durban

Dan Duchen stores, established in 1914, became Duchen and Kleinman. The DNC stands for Durban Navigation Collieries. It has been suggested that they were used at the mine stores.

Kleinman and Finchen (common reverse in image right)
Dannhauser

Very little is known about these pieces.

Blackwood Couper & Co
Durban

The coins were issued in 1861 because of the lack of circulating coinage of the Crown in the region in what was then a remote British outpost. The store was burnt down in 1864.

The Balson Holdings Family Trust owns a complete set of these extremely rare and historic pieces.

 

More on these coins at this link
Durban Club

There are three varieties of this 1860 token seen right.

The coin shown here in the Balson Holdings Family Trust collection is the unique pattern struck before the three varieties were issude.

More on this coin at this link.
A H Guy
Durban

Apparently issued by A H Guy who was born in Kimberley in 1861.

Guy worked on the laying of the railway line to Port Shepstone in the early 1900s.

H Guy
Durban

Cousin of A H Guy.

Very little known is about this coin but it is believed Guy worked in the Pietermaritzburg area.

Peters Lounge
Durban

Issued by a Mr S M Naidoo who ran the Mysole Cafe in Queen St in 1919 and Peter's Cafe from 1923 and Peter's Lounge from 1927.

The coins were used in the pin tables at these venues with Mr Naidoo getting a percentage of the takings.

There are are a few varieties. The variety shown here is not listed in Hern or Theron - apparently unique.

Mine Stores
Glencoe

M Franklin
Pietermaritzburg
Franklin was listed in the 1865 Natal Almanac as a working Tinsmith and General Store keeper. The obverse letters P.M.B.U.R.G represent the engraver's shortening of Pietermaritzburg with some misplaced stops! The reverse uses Britannia, but no value is shown. This is Penny size (33mm), a similar piece of 27mm was also produced and would have equated to a halfpenny. Reverses could be confused with British regal bronze and about half the coins are countermarked with "A CARD" to the left and "NO VALUE" to the right of Britannia. A document records that this was done personally by Franklin.
More on this coin at this link

Dannhauser

Smaller coin

Orange Free State
Daniel and Hyman
Bloemfontein

The partners Daniel and Hyman establshed their Storekeepers and General Dealers business on the 1st January 1864. These coins were issued by the Bloemfontein based business partners to overcome a shortage of small change.

The boer capital at this time depended on cardboard "good fors" which quickly became damaged.

One hundred pounds worth of these beautifully designed tokens valued at 2/6d, 2/-, 1/- and 6d were minted in 1867 for the partners by a coinmaker based in Birmingham. They were quickly withdrawn by the company when counterfeits appeared and are today rare.

The coin displays the coat of arms of the Orange Free State with the words "Te Goed Voor" (Good For) and the value on the other.

The Hotel
Riverton, near Kimberley

These tokens were issued in 1876.

The Daily Independent newspaper states:

The Hotel Riverton now under new management of Mrs D Bisset late of Kimberley, is replete with every comfort, and affords superior accommodation for visitors and travellers first class table. Best brands of liquors. Good stabling. The cost was 12/6d per day.

The Riverton Hotel, seventeen miles from Kimberley on the Vaal River, was known as "THE Hotel" and is believed to be the issuer of these coins.

More on this coin at this link
Jagersfontein Municipality

In January 1913 Stewarts and Lloyds of Bloemfontein won the tender to put up 41 water pumps in the streets. 10,000 of these coins minted in Birmingham were issued by the Jagersfontein Municipality and used to purchase three gallons of water per unit from the pumps.

The coin was known as the "water penny" and was placed in a slot in a "lion's mouth" - once the lever was pulled the water was released. Water was only provided to houses in 1935. 

More on this coin at this link
Vorspoed Diamond Mining Co

This diamond mine was situated north of Kroonstad.

It was proclaimed on 28th November 1906 (#34 of 1906) by the acting Governor of the range Free State.

Mining stopped in 1914.

The Kroonstad Centenary Album states "A feature of the Voorspoed, however, was its remarkable regular circular shape.

Image of common reverse seen right

Harding and Parker
The firm had branches at Kroonstad, Excelsior and Frankfort.

They were used to buy produce from local farmers.

Die Afrikaanse Handelshuis
Winburg (Common blank reverse)

Bakelite coins issued in 1931 but in use as late as 1955 to purchase products.

Thet were manufactured by Hart & Co, Jacobs, Natal.

Transvaal
Premier Tvl Diamond Mining Co Ltd
Cullinan
Thomas Cullinan purchased the farm that the mine was on in 1899 for over fifty thousand pounds. On 26th January 1905 the world's largest white diamond, the Cullinan Diamond, was found on this mine. This stone was presented to Kind Edward VII by General Botha. The Premier Diamond Mine was the biggest diamond mine in South Africa in 1910 when they started using these tokens. The brass tokens were used in the Closed Compound for over 50 years by labourers before being withdrawn in 1969 with the instruction that they should all be melted.

Only a handful of various denominations have survived.

Anglo Austrian Cafe
Johannesburg
OK Bazaars
Johannesburg

OK Bazaars had a chain of supermarkets across South Africa and were once the largest retail outlet in the country.

The coins are struck in brass. They preceded the plastic staff discount tokens (issued in 1970s) by many years.

J A Taylor
Klerksdorp

General Merchants circa early 1900s. A large cache of these tokens in near UNC condition was discovered in the 1970s.

It is unlikely these uncirculated pieces were ever used at the store.

W Stein, European Hotel
Pilgrim's Rest

This nickel piece was used in the European Hotel in Pilgrim's Rest during its golden heyday in the late 1800s. The proprietor, W Stein, operated out of a building which is now annexed to the current Royal Hotel.

Coin ex Allyn Jacobs collection (2008)

Scott Balson's 2006 trip to Pilgrim's Rest can be seen at this link

Government Printing Works Social Club (Metal)
Pretoria (Same on both sides of the coin)

Issued for use in the social club.

Government Printing Works Social Club (Fibre)
Pretoria Garrison Institute
(Common reverse seen on image on right)

This is a set of bakelite coins used at the PGI store located at the military camp located on Roberts Heights.

The coins were used between 1940 and 1947 for the sale of petrol at Defence Headquarters.

They were replaced by paper coupons from 1947 to 1951.

Pretoria Soldiers Institute
(Blank reverse)

This is a set of metal coins used at a store located at the military camp located on Roberts Heights. Probably the forerunner of the PGI bakelite coins above.

Cornwal Light Infantry
(Blank reverse)

Canteen tokens used by the Infantry during the Boer War.

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