This section has been included at the request of hundreds of visitors to this website. Since it was set up we have had over two million people visit - and we hope that many more will enjoy the fruits of hours and hours of research by Scott Balson and his research team.

November 2005

Dear Scott

I find your site interesting; but there are a couple things I question at bit.

Particularly the 'melting down' of a Konigsberg gun. Do you have any written record of this? They did melt down shell cases. I actually have a 4.1" naval brass in my collection - and the story of where it came from. Are you aware that at one point Lettow made Schnee leave behind 9 (or 11 - memory is a bit hazy) 60 pound porter loads of Interim bank notes & coins - that is a lot of notes. So they are not even scarce let alone rare (except in 200 rupie & maybe even a few higher). Have you read the Tanganyika Notes & Records articles on the currency & war in general? My main interest is in the books. I recently produce the first English (actually an English/German) edition of Walther Dobbertins "Lettow-Vorbeck's Soldiers" 120 pages of first class photos with captions & a bit of text. Take care.

Herzliche gruesse, Jerry

Gerald Rilling
Dealer in out of print books on East Africa

October 2005

Addressed to Spink:

Dear sir

In 1927 H A Parsons produced a booklet called "The coinage of Griqualand" for Spinks.


The findings of Parsons research have now been found to be flawed - based on thirty years of research backed up by over 50 books from the time.

According to Parsons the Griqua Town coins circulated in Griquatown from 1815 to about 1817.

For the evidence see:

Kind regards

Scott Balson
Researcher and Numismatist


Dear Mr Balson

Thank you for your most interesting e-mail and linked exhaustive articles.

We do not dispute any of your findings.

With kind regards

Jeremy Cheek
Coin Auctions
Spink 69 Southampton Row
London WC1B 4ET

More at this link

September 2005

Dear Scott

I finished reading your book last night. I enjoyed it and it is always nice to come across new information about the company. I always thought that the minting of the tokens was a shrewd business move but I never realised that they were so widely used in the Transkei. I wish I had read your book before printing mine as I would have made more of a fuss of the tokens. Thank you for the complimentary review of my book on your website. I enjoyed the homework pun! Your website makes the company live beyond 1984. It would be sad if all that history was forgotten.

Regards Milner

September 2005

Dear Scott

Thankyou for your advice regarding my S&Co tokens. (Tom has about 40 pieces including one MH)

Perhaps you would like a little more information regarding their origin. I do not have the Strachan family tree, but a Miss Strachan married an attorney named Kannemeyer who practised in Burgersdorp. He eventually retired to Grahamstown. They had two children, Donald and Margaret.

Donald and I qualified as advocates at about the same time in the late 1940's and practised as such in Grahamstown, both subsequently taking silk and both eventually being appointed judges. We were close friends, and knowing my interest in historical matters, he gave me the tokens. As I mentioned, he died some years ago.

His sister Margaret married Rex Rainier, and I see from one of the web-sites that she published a book on the Strachan family under the name Margaret Rainier. I think she is still alive although Rex died.

Before the war I lived for a while in Matatiele, and after I qualified and started practice in Grahamstown, I frequently visited Kokstad with the circuit Court, so I came to know the area very well. But how it has changed! I avoid going there now. Strange that you were probably at Ixopo during some of this period.

I will wait to hear from Allyn Jacobs and will contact you as soon as I get a copy of my monograph.


Judge T M Mullins
Port Elizabeth 6001

It was Judge Mullins who found Lucas Mangope, the former President of Bophuthatswana, guilty of fraud amounting to over five million rand.

Mullins notes:

Coincidences are strange, but a few months spent in Umzimkulu in 1947 changed my whole life. I returned after the war to the relief staff of the old Native Affairs Department which I had joined before the war, and was posted to various magistracies including Umzimkulu. I fully intended remaining in the civil service. The magistrate at Umzimkulu told me to read through the departmental circulars that had been issued during my absence, and one of these offered ex-servicemen from the civil service unpaid leave of up to three years to go to university to obtain a law degree. There were also study loans available. I decided to take advantage of this, and went to Rhodes University during 1947 and 1948, obtaining my LLb degree. By the time I qualified, I realised that there were other opportunities outside the civil service, so I resigned and joined the Bar in Grahamstown, where I spent the next 30 years.

September 2005

Dear Scott

Richard Johnson has passed on to me your recent messages to him re the Mount Currie Express stamps. Unfortunately I was unable to log on to the web pages you referred to.

I prepared my monograph many years ago, and have no further up-date to offer, but I am always interested in other views. If I remember correctly, I agreed with your view that the postal service was a private enterprise, but I felt that it received approval from the Griqua government. I certainly agree that the government was in no way involved financially or in the running of the postal service.

I used to have a number of tokens issued by Strachan @ Co of Umzimkulu, but I must have disposed of them. I have never seen any issued by Goodliffe and Ballance.

I would be interested in any further comments you may have.


Tom Mullins
Judge T M Mullins
Port Elizabeth

(Author of The Mount Currie Express, the stamp of East Griqualand)

September 2005

Dear Scott

I am happy to swap two of my Strachan books for two of your books. I will put your books in the post on Friday. I will also include a little pamphlet that the Kokstad museum printed a few years ago for which I wrote the introduction. It is a brief history of the Griqua written by Headman De Bruin. Yesterdays e-mail was a bit brief but I had to write it quickly between lessons (I'm a school teacher).

Ken Strachan was a charming and very helpful man and I am sorry he died before I finished my work on Strachan & Co. I knew Aubrey Larkan who gave me a lot of information on his family. He was writing a book about Glengarry and the Larkans but was unfortunately killed in a car accident before it was finished. I have an incomplete manuscript of his book and did use some of the information in the Strachan book. If you would like I could e-mail you a typescript of the book I am working on at the moment. It has a lot about James Cole and other traders (It has not been proof read and so there will be a lot of spelling mistakes).

According to members of the Cole family the manager of the Standard Bank in Kokstad refused to extend James's overdraft and so he went off and had the tokens minted. Might not be true but a wonderful story anyway. It does, however, fit his character. I presume you have read Birkby's A Zulu Journey in which he interviewed James Cole. My advice to you is not to visit Umzimkulu. Remember it as it was. It is now an incredibly dirty run down Transkei town. Many of the old Strachan buildings have been pulled down and replaced by non-descript furniture shops and fast food outlets. The hotel is still standing but in a terrible state. Taxis are washed on the bowling green and the swimming pool is full to the brim with sand. I have been into your website often. It is pleasure to go into and I keep finding something new every time I go in. Ken gave me a copy of your book on the tokens which I treasure.

Aubrey Larkan sent a copy of your paper on the Larkan tokens. The account book for the Larkan trading stores is in the Kokstad Museum. Is your novel on the Griqua coming out soon? I would love to read it when it does. I notice from your website that you have a St faith's trading token. My grandfather managed the Brooklands store for strachan and company in the 1940s which is near St. Faiths. He often spoke about a Mr R.R. Hill who owned the St faith's store for many years. Is it possible that issued the tokens?

I am delighted that we have made contact. Not that many people are interested in Umzimkulu and it is nice to share infomation with some one who is.


Milner Snell, Kokstad

August 2005

Hi Scott

Yes, it has been a while, and it is always good to hear from you!

Have been trying to find any evidence that the Griqua Town coins been used in and around Griqua Town for more than a year now and could not find any.

Looks like old Campbell was just a dreamer.

Keep up the good work Scott and stay in touch.



July 2005

Dear Mr Balson,

I want to thank you most sincerely for putting that wonderful German map of Griqua and Pondoland on the web.

I had been searching for the location of Fort William for quite some time now and it was carefully marked on this map, but seemingly no where else. At least, no where else accessible to me. My interest in the Transkei area is very peripheral to yours but I am hoping that you might have heard of the McMinns. They appear to have been trading from Fort William (18 km to the NE of Flagstaff) from about 1860. The original W.H.C. McMinn was evidently into gun running to the Amapondo about that time--before he married and settled on a farm in Ixopo.

Willi's four young male cousins (or some of them) appear to have taken over his trading station business on his death in 1881. The four men subsequently moved around but were basically centered on the Flagstaff area by 1910. They seem to have brushed up against the law at times, one being extradited from the US to South Africa in the thirties. I don't know why, but no doubt the answer is in the National Archives.

I know very little about the McMinns of Pondoland . . . as yet, but I would imagine they too had to use tokens as the shortage of cash would have been a regional issue. Interestingly, although I doubt that Willi knew it, his ancestor Francis McMinn of Donaghadee, Down, Ireland had issued tokens in Ireland.

Francis McMinn of Donaghadee was one of a small number of Ulster merchants who issued copper tokens during the eighteenth century. The Ulster merchant’s issue of tokens virtually came to an end with the arrival in Ireland of the George II regal copper coins in 1736. The merchant tokens were no longer necessary. Regal coinage was to continue to meet small change requirements until the 1750s but then there was another shortage and Francis once more obliged until things improved. Francis was Willi's Gt. X 3 grandfather and built the Georgian house that Willi grew up in in Donaghadee.

Hope this is of interest.



Kenneth C. & Penny E. Harvey
1908 Forest Drive,
Camden, SC 29020-2022
United States of America

July 2005

Dear Scott,

A copy of the Minutes of the local society's last meeting will be winging its way to Weller's Hill on Monday. Has your letter been acknowledged yet?

Now an item of Transkeian interest! In an old copy of Africana Notes & News (June 1969) I came across the following gem in the form of a letter from one Bill Hammond, dated Lusikisiki 30 June 1965 "

"Dr Mitchell wrote to me about the "Ogee" tokens (Scott, you may recall that at that time these were not recognised for the barber-shop tokens they are - some idiot had attributed them to Orrick & Gillieland in Ficksburg, and this led to many letters from supporters and detractors) and I thought I had seen them before, but the particular ones I wrote to you about are in denominations of 3d & 6d only, have been holed in the middle and you will observe numbered incuse. I found them by accident and made enquiries from the owner of the trading station "Luqoquieni" from 1950 to 1963 who wrote to me as follows :

'My late father had these coins made during the early 20's while he was trading in the Mganduli district. I believe they were made in Holland and only 3d & 6d coins were made as at that time grain was bought by the dish lots, at 3d & 6d a dish full and these coins were used as "good fors" to purchase in the shop.

When I started to mill mielies for local customers at Luqoquieni I got a hundred of these coins from my brother who was then running my late father's shop, who numbered each one and drilled a hole through the coin, here again these coins were used as "good fors" as the mielies were to be milled and paid for and the customer issued with a coin which was handed to the boy who milled the mielies."

It appears therefore that the Ogee tokens you have are perhaps the original token made and struck for use by Mr Kreb's (the man from whom I received this letter) father........... "

I have had the good to fortune to pick up two of these pieces (counterstamped "81" and "15" - the normal ones are invariably stamped from "1" to "8" - I don't believe I've seen higher numbers). They were originally in the Badenhorst collection, and sold with his "Barber-shop" tokens to Peter Bowles. Martin himself may not have known the significance, and Peter certainly didn't as he charged me fifty rand each.

I will enclose a copy of the article in the letter to be sent to you.

I've already put them in the Transkei album. What do you think?

Incidentally, have you ANY idea where the devil I can get a turn-of-the- century map of the Transkei to illustrate my album? It is frustrating not to be able to pin-point some of the known issuing places.

Now something that I really hope will be new to you!

Amongst the Badenhorst papers that were with his tokens that Bowles acquired in 1994 or 5, and which I was recently allowed access to, I found a fax (surprisingly still in reasonably good condition ten or more years down the line) that had reference to the Larkans!

I know you were in touch with the family and this may be old hat to you. Nonetheless I am enclosing it with the other papers. Researcher that you are, you will be happy to find two addresses if you wish to pursue the matter - one in Durban, and one in Australia!

Cheers for now, and regards,


June 2005

Hi Scott

I have been to your site several times. When I start to write on the Griqua coins in the future I am going to refer to your site. We are in the process of changing our Webmaster and upgrading our entire site. We have though not selected a new Webmaster. As soon as we do this then I will come back to you on the links.

Well done with your purchase of the XF Veldpond. You will find that it is worth a substantial amount of money in US $ terms in the not too distant future. I hope that you have a great week ahead.

Best Regards

South African Coin Corporation

June 2005

Dear Sir/madam,

We are compiling a “coffee-table” book for our members and would like to show the kind of money used during the Great War in German East Africa. May we have your permission to use a picture of the two coins and paper money on your website? We will of course recognise your contribution in the upcoming book.



Stephen Mills
Chief Executive Officer
P.O. Box 46406
Nairobi, Kenya 00100


Permission granted and pictures sent with acknowledgement to be made in the book

May 2005

Hello Scott,

I am a member of the Pietermaritzburg coin club, and I have known about you and your marvellous website for some time. Before I retired I was professor of computer science at the University and worked one floor below Clive Graham.

I though that you would like to know that a large number of Strachan tokens came up for auction here recently. They were in the family of Guy Scott who I understand was an accountant in Umzimkulu and a director of Strachan & Co. I was the successful bidder.

You may also find interesting that a number of other items associated with the Company were also on auction: a Victorian cash register, an Ansonia “station” clock, two documents relating to the hotel, a mini-Gladstone cash bag, a match box dispenser, and so on.

My guess is that these tokens are not a “new” find but were given by Ken Strachan to Guy Scott. In support of this is the fact that on the copy of Kence is written, “With the compliments of the Directors of Strachan & Co. Ltd, October 1978”. Also 3 type 4 sets were in presentation cases (made from old SAM boxes with the recesses reworked to accommodate the 4 tokens).

Image right: Book acquired by the Balson Holdings Family Trust from Michael Laidlaw in January 2006.

All the best,

Michael Laidlaw

Scott's response:

Thank you for the most welcome email.

I only heard about the auction by Ross Canon in Durban last weekend after it was too late!

The lot owned by Guy Scott would probably have come from his old store - if it's the Scott I am thinking of. I doubt if Ken would have just given him a pile of coins.

The numbers of S&Co turning up in recent years (ie the common varieties) fully supports my view that the tokens were issued as currency and not just for trading with the stores.

I saw the cover of "Kence" as described by you in a digital image with the coin boxes and tokens  (see image right) - the writing in ink is in the hand of Ken Strachan - and Clive and I have signed that copy.

It is probably on of 30 copies purchased by Ken Strachan and given to directors of the company - see: and is a valuable find in its own right.

Full sets of Strachan and Co are now selling for US$3,000 so I would suggest that you have done very well.

Allyn Jacobs (who I will send a copy of your email is in regular contact with me). Allyn did most of the research on Hern's recent book on tokens.

I miss the meetings that we used to hold in that old building opposite a hotel... there were about twenty of us stalwarts - I used to travel all the way from Ixopo to the meeting and then return the same night. I was much younger in the late 70s.

How is Clive? I have not heard from him since I left Pietermaritzburg in the early 80s. How is Phil Cassere - he is a wonderful old man with a heart of gold and I often think after him.

I would be happy for you to share this email at the next meeting and to say "Hi" to all the new members - and maybe some of the old from over 30 years ago!

It is interesting that the National Numismatic Society are having a meeting this month to discuss the Griqua Town coins - I believe that their President is of the old school (Parsons) and accepts that they were actually used as currency by the griquas in 1815/16.

I have attached a copy of a letter that I have asked to be read at that meeting because this complete fallacy needs to be rectified!

Kind regards to all and thank you for your email.

Scott Balson

Queensland Numismatic Society:

March 2005

A summary of what numismatists from around the world have to say about this web site

Take this link

February 2005

Hi Scott

My name is Dave Southwood and I have always had a fascination for the old coinage and Africa as it used to be, I currently work for a newspaper in london devoted to the South African Community. I feel saddened as to what has happened to a glorious country and the only way to keep that memory and interest is to collect these special coins, banknotes and tokens which were pre decimalisation.

I would like to find out what you suggest is the way forward to get hold of some of these tokens.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Dave Southwood

January 2005

Dear Scott

I am glad that I could learn more about you. Your knowledge of and interest in the Griqua People is highly appreciated.I would like to keep in touch with you and to meet with you when you will be visiting South Africa in future.

I will study your web and try to forward to you more info,although you must keep in mind that it is for us just as complicated as it was for you to acces the relevant documentation.

Hope we will communicate again soon.

Cecil Le Fleur
Griqua National Council

October 2004


This evening when I returned from work, your envelope awaited me! It was cleverly unregistered and I could feel the contents. But at the same time my heart sank. No news from you, and that had to mean that my (also unregistered letter must have miscarried). I couldn't bring myself to open your envelope as I felt I'd have no option but to return it. I came down to my coin room, and as I so often do I tuned in to your web-site, just for the joy of it, and imagine my delight to discover you had a few Phillips tokens pictured!!! I couldn't wait to dash upstairs and open the envelope. Well, I've seldom been more thrilled. This week I spent R3500 (25% over catalogue) to acquire from Brian Hern a Benoni bus token (ex Anthony Govender, I have no doubt), and it left me stone cold in comparison with these glorious dung-filled delights! Man, Scott, they are just too beautiful. Too thrilling for words. As I mused over the story behind them, I just got goose-pimples.... Thank you so much for parting with a set. It breathes new life into my Larkan pages. And what a way of acquiring a Cancele etched piece! Now all I need is a Stafford. And of course some inspiration as to include the bobbin in the ledger sheets!

In the excitement I barely noticed we seemed to have exchanged an un-holed tickey for an unholed tickey! Sorry if I wasn't clear - I was looking for a tickey with a hole and a two-bob without a hole. Perhaps in our next transaction we can sort something out?

Incidentally, whilst idling around the web-sites I spotted another chappie looking for Transkeian tokens - I made a note of the name but now I've misplaced it in this hell-hole of a study that I can only liken to the Bermuda Triangle - everything, but everything goes missing.... It occurred to me that most likely this is another of your web-sites - I seem to recall your mentioning you had several. Can it be? Was it info@something? Anyway I've no intention of responding.

Scott, all for now - shall keep in touch, and once again a thousand thanks!

Regards, Allyn

October 2004

Hi Scott

Just for your info; I’m now also a proud owner of a complete set of Strachan and Co trade tokens.

I have posted on our web site at the following URL:


Daniel Van der Laan

September 2004

Dear Scott,

Thanks for note. YES, as you can see from the letter I sent off a week ago (but which obviously miscarried) I DID receive my Loo-piece. Great! And thanks!

To complement my Larkans it would be of tremendous interest to acquire even a single corroded piece. I appreciate these would be more highly prized than the bag specimens.

Do let me have your thoughts. And of course a refusal would certainly not offend.

You haven't responded to my mention that I should shortly have three Phillips pieces to spare.

I also have an odd Larkan sixpence.

 Cheers for now,

Allyn Jacobs

August 2004

Goodmorning Scott,

It is 4am in Detroit. I become most productive when others are sleeping. I have added your post to the description of subject coin. Your help in clarifying this history is greatly appreciated. The design of the Griquatown coins is powerful in its simplicity. I hope to visit South Africa next year and will enjoy expereiencing the real thing.

All my best,

Warren Biller (Buller)

July 2004

Dear Scott,

I was just glancing through some of our correspondence - in particular the Transkei tokens that are of interest to you.

I recently upgraded my James Cole, Riverside with three nice EF pieces. Thus the tickey and sixpence which I had, I no longer need, and I'd sooner they went to someone like yourself than a dealer. They are only VF at best. You set the price.

I also managed to find an Ntlaza shilling to complete my set of three.

Also a Dawood Amod tickey and a beautiful Roe-Scott sixpence, so you can see I've been busy. Not particularly enjoying my bread-and-water diet!

You may have to update your web-site! - where, incidentally, I never cease to be thrilled to see my name in print!.

Of course I don't have to tell you that Brian's prices for these pieces need serious reconsideration! I guess realistic prices are determined ultimately by what  knowledgeable collectors are happy to pay.

Downcountry I'm chasing some tantalizing "plaaitjiesgeld" - including a full set of Moore - but unfortunately my well has been drained. The asking price of almost two thousand rand a piece is perhaps a little steep, but such opportunities don't occur at regular intervals.

What are your thoughts? I asked Peter Bowles and he seems to favour at least three times the catalogue price on the tin issues\

Sorry that this (as always!) is so drawn out. I know it becomes difficult to respond in detail.

Look forward to hearing from you when time permits. Regards,

Allyn Jacobs

PS> I found a squat third series shilling for R400, and I paid R600 each for two Larkans with etched reverses - Cupar and Piknini. The other two aren't going to be that easy to find!!! Any to spare????????????? Let's talk!

March 2004

Dear Scott

I am very keen to purchase over time a collection of the Strachan & co coins.I suspect this is not going to be that easy,so I am enlisting your advice and guidance in this venture.

The book looks great and I will send up an order for you.Do you have any hardback copies?and can it be signed by the Author?

Some Strachan family members have asked that I do a family history on the Strachans which is proving long and a tad exhaustive!And Im now about to engage a chap in Scotland to help me further.By chance do you know of any old books on the history of Strachan & Co in South Africa?Or indeed can I have details of the Strachans you have spoken to over there which may include email details.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

Scott J Strachan

March 2004


In the days when I travelled southern Africa ( mid 70's ) and was on my way either to or from Lesotho ( NW of Mt. Frere ). I cuddled up in the bush one evening and awoke to a group of workers cutting trees, after a conversation one asked me to drive him to some hut where he whipped out a massive quantity of these Strachan and Co tokens strung onto necklaces .

It's good that I'm still in the office ( have to pick up my kid at a party later ) to answer your questions.

Did you acquire the entire stock of coins? YES


Are all the tokens holed in the middle? YES ( THEY WERE ALL STRUNG THRU THE MIDDLE, NOT THE LITTLE HOLE )


Best wishes, Steve

Happy collecting - Steve


Pomexport Ltd.


January 2004

Dear Scott,

The speed with which you work leaves me stunned. I tend to be an adherent of the late Oscar Wilde's who claimed that he never put off till the next day anything that he could possibly do on the day after..... It is hard to believe that within a month of my stroke of good fortune in spotting a difference that was there all along, that I can see it in print together with your very generous ack-nowledgement.

It is only minutes since I opened your letter, but I can see that the book will be a joy and a jealously guarded addition to my library.

This boasts several thousand books and reference works,mostly on British coins - some going back to Cromwellian times - but, more importantly now, a belatedly burgeoning (Rege's word, and I like it!) collection of reference works on our own series.

The illustrations are great. They add that little extra touch of class. How I wish that Brian could be persuaded to include a few in his catalogue, but he seems adamant. I suppose at the end of the day the cost is a factor. Obviously he will never recoup his outlay, and in many ways it has been a labour of love. For that reason alone I wish I wish I could persuade him to defer his visit to his printers for a little while longer.

I'm sure Jani will do everything in her power to organise those scans, whilst I for my part should get off my but (or have I a butt?) and chat to Pietie, her dad. If I tell you I've been meaning to contact him since the mid-nineties when Theronie first told me his collection of tokens was destined to go to his son, whom he hoped would retain them and perhaps even add to them in time to come, you will realise what a pooh-arser I am..

(How I wish I had continuity! Apparently one can't live forever, and what's worse you have to go empty-handed. I try not to think what will become of my tokens, yet of course I should. Please chase me on this score. I'm a firm believer that rarities should be in the safe-keeping of a custodian who can really appreciate them.)

Even in advance of even my first reading, a thousand thanks for the gift. To be one of the Chosen Score is an added privilege which I'm not all that sure I deserve.

Meantime,Martin Badenhorst to whom I had a long chat over the weekend was delighted to hear that you are well and sends you his best.

Cheers for now,

Allyn Jacobs

January 2004

Hi Scott,

Received your new token book and eagerly devoured it! Well done!

Lots of new info that answers many key questions about the Griqua and leads one to search for more.

Keep in touch,

Rege Podraza

January 2004


All the tokens and coins were given to my father and two aunts. I believe most of the tokens went to my father (also Dr. G P Theron) though. I do not think that he would part with them easily, but maybe forward your contact information and I will see that he gets it. He has also been talking for a long time about perhaps updating my grandfather's book and republishing it - although I think he will wait until he retires.

Kind regards,

Jani De Wit

January 2004

Mr. Balson,

Thank you for your prompt reply. I have contacted my father and also forwarded him the information on your book that I found on your website. He was very excited about it and the news of another book on South African Tokens will surely also please him. I have also forwarded your contact details to him.

He has the entire South African token collection, and is fully aware of the historical value of the tokens. Of course the value of the tokens as a legacy of my grandfather to the our family is also very special to us. He was a great man and my father was very close to him. I am sure that my father would be willing to assist anyone who is doing research on the cointokens.

Kind regards,

Jani De Wit

January 2004

Dear Sir,

While browsing I came across your site and a tear came to my eyes when I saw the scanned letters of correspondence between Mr. Balson and Dr. GP Theron, my grandfather. It makes me very proud to read the wonderful reference to his passion for Tokens and coins and to see that his work is still being used as reference.

I have wonderful childhood memories of him in Gourits, discussing his collection with my father in his study.

Thank you for keeping his memory alive, we miss him dearly.

Kind regards

Jani De Wit

January 2004


Thanks for the email. I went to your site and found the link to my page. I find the history of South Africa, as told by my Great-great-great-grandfather Eli Wiggill, fascinating. The description of his life in South Africa makes me desire to visit the places that he mention. Maybe one day, I will be able to visit. I will get out my maps and encyclopedia and visit those places on the internet.

Les Olsen

January 2004

Hi there Scott,

and the Compliments of the Season to you. Do hope you're well and finding impossible additions to your collection!

Something I'd like to share with you Brian Hern's catalogue is coming along slowly and I had the leisure a day or two ago to go through his Strachan pages, and the one thing I found awkward was the footnote giving the differences between the third and fourth issues. Awkward, because unless you had both two-bobs in front of you, how do you know which is the larger lettering and which the smaller? And so on down the line with the other denominations. The "1" of the Type 3 shilling only looks short and squat when compared to the longer, thinner "1" of Type 4, but if you have only a single specimen how do you decide which it is????

I looked at your table of differences and felt there just HAD to be a simpler solution, and, after studying the pieces for literally hours on end, was about to give up when Bingo! - a flash of inspiration, and there it was : a simple fool-proof method!

The secret lies in the Ampersand (&) : in the earlier series the tail is STRAIGHT, whereas in the fourth series it has a little kink or twitch or tail, and this goes for all four pieces!

I had the pleasure of a visit from an American client of yours - Rege Podraza, and your enthusiasm for the Transkei series has certainly rubbed off on him! We spent some very pleasant hours together and I was able to assist him with some additions to his fledgling collection. His Holy Grail is to acquire a Dawood Amod piece! I've told him to find a duplicate for me whilst he's at it!

Anyway he's now back in the States, and just in case I was getting excited over nothing, I told him about my discovery and his reaction was one of delight. It works for him, and hopefully it will for others. Do please let me know what you think of it.

I now have to try to persuade the cataloguer to revise his footnote - not the easiest of tasks, believe me. Otherwise, as I say, it's progressing and should be ready for printing in the early months of the new year. There are only a handful of tokens that we haven't succeeded in finding - apart from the Mozambiquan pieces, virtually all the locals are illustrated.

I am still battling to familiarise myself with the mysteries and delights of e-bay. Seems the only possible way these days of adding to one's collection. Do please drop me a line if you decide to put something on that may be of interest to me -even if Ihave to get Rege to bid on my behalf!

Do hope we'll find many excuses to chat in the year ahead, but meantime let me wish you a really Happy New Year with lots of exciting discoveries in your particular field.


Allyn Jacobs

January 2004

Hi Scott

Thanx for prompt reply

i am the chairman of the east griqualand museums board of trustees and would like to purchase some coins for myself and the vice-chairman (we both have an interest in the history of the umzimkulu district and the griqua people) and would also like to purchase some on behalf of the museum as we only own a part set of the Strachan & Co coins which are on permanent display. please let us know what you have for sale and the price. As you probably know most of the coins were destroyed by ken Strachan (passed away last month unfortunately) and Mr Button from Umzimkulu died last week. We are losing all the knowledge of the area as the younger folk have not bothered to record or keep any of the historical artefacts or documents from the area.


Fabio Petronio


Dec 2003

Hello Scott

Thanks for your email.Do you know Han Eybers from South Africa? We have been checking and chatting about your website, Strachan's tokens etc.I have seen this piece before when I browsed through your site.Unique!

It sure has value for all the collector's of Boer war stuff. Very unusual piece.

You bid under the ebay name tokensa1 right?

However as far as a value for the piece you sent me a scan of I wouldn't be able to guess.

If there is a demand for it which there should be it could be worth a lot.


Jaco van Tonder

December 2003

Dear Scott

This is largely to confirm that Dower's Annals of Kokstad and East Griqualand was despatched by air on Friday afternoon. Thank you very much for your order. I visited your website, and was fascinated by the account of your personal experience of East Griqualand. I was in Umzimkulu on Thursday, and it seemed almost uncanny to read, only one day later, of your time there. I have always thought East Griqualand a sadly neglected part of the country. Parts of it are stunningly beautiful. The Cedarville Flats, even today, retain a wild, yet tranquil beauty that is quite unlike anything I've seen elsewhere in Africa. I am a field guide, and have considered that there might be some interest in tours "in the steps of Finch-Davies", or along similar lines. Some of C.G. Finch-Davies best bird pictures were created when he was stationed in the region, and before the marshes were drained. There is very little formal protection afforded the natural heritage sites of East Griqualand. Franklin Vlei, which is regarded as one of the most important wetland sites in the country, deserves far more protection than it gets. Mount Currie is administered by KZN Wildlife, but no other area enjoys similar attention, unless one considers Coleford as falling within E.G., which I don't believe it does. Frankly, I've never been able to establish conclusively where the borders are. The Weza/Ngele forest is almost certainly outside "Nomansland", but where does the boundary fall? Perhaps you could solve this riddle for me. Hope the book reaches you soon.

Yours sincerely

Lindsay Christison

Christison Rare Books
P.O. Box 100245 Scottsville 3209 South Africa

Please visit our Website:

October 2003

Thank you for the tremendous scan of the Larkan reverses. I have passed this on to Brian Hern for his catalogue. Presently when I get to see the latest draft I'll make sure that the bobbin section has been suitably amended.

Did you get the letter I sent you a while back with Knobel's notes on James Cole?

If so I hope you found it of interest, but if for any reason it hasn't reached your fair shores do please let me know and I shall painstakingly make a copy - unfortunately not a straightforward thing as the Colonel's notes were in pencil and this doesn't photocopy satisfactorily - it has to be touched up. I could of course do a typewritten version, but the original is so much more interesting.

Brian Hern tells me that a Creighton & Dennis sixpence has turned up. I have a Creighton shilling. I believe the late Mr Rathbone from Natal had a two bob which I'd desperately love to have but no one seems to know what happened to his tokens. Any clues

Look forward to hearing from you when time permits.

Kind regards,

Allyn Jacobs

October 2003





P&G Coins, Johannesburg

October 2003


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October 2003

Just to let you know that we are still here and working on this birthday bash for the branch!

I will have to go back to your site (?), to copy some photo's!

Windows crash!!!!! And I burned everything on CD, except the coins!

The birthday is the 25th October.

Greetings Frans

Yesterday saw a 50% failed money-transport-security van robbery at Barclays Umzimkulu!

The staff were held at gunpoint, some trunks with money were stolen and all but one of the 15 (!) robbers escaped!

He was shot by a security guard.

So far only one attempt is recorded in Kokstad of a robbery of a security van. The robber climbed on the roof to get in through the airvent, but was shot.

The Natal Mercury Newspaper run the article.

September 2003

Hi Scott,

Thanks for confirmation of your order.

I spent last night re-reading my copy of Kence, inherited from Mom. It again made me think about how long she had been working on her "magnus opus" seeing letters from you from the mid 70's.

For your records, both my brother and I have a full set of the coins. In addition I have various others, which I detail in the attached file. Hope you can open it. The text is set out below.

Strachan and Co coins in possession of John Rainier

1 Full set


2/- 1/- 6d 3d

S&Co 0 6 1 6

MH 0 1 1 2

Old "in goods" 0 3 0 8

New"in goods" 24 10 5 11

78 24 20 7 27

This may help in your estimations of how many are left.

I will try to get to the post office today.

Kind regards, and thanks for including the book flyer on your web-site; I will let you know how it goes.


August 2003

Hi, I came across your website.

You may be interested in the recent history of Donald Strachan we have privately published.

I attach the details.


John Rainier

August 2003

Dear Scot,

Thank you, thank you, for the attachment to your e-mail - the detail is incredible, and I only wish I had a colour printer to bring it down for my scrap book - all so much more detailed than even your article in the Africana Notes & News. The "cross" reverse on the Larkan series was quite new to me (and will be to everyone else here) although I had noted it in your ANN article. Do you think you could send through a scan of this reverse, as I'd like to persuade the cataloguer to include it.

I am also delighted to learn of the actual use of the bobbins. At the moment there is a note in the Price Guide which I didn't particularly like (and which can now be revised!) :

Bobbin - both these pieces illustrated (NFL and RPL) were found in a cache of tokens found by Prof.Graham. The initials on the pieces can be traced back to Strachan family members.

Knowledgeable collectors believe that these are wage tokens but this is not proven."

The bobbins are as yet unpriced, but the prices for the others (no distinction drawn as regards stores of issue) tentatively are EF/VF/F R250/200/150 Perhaps you would care to comment!!!! I say

"tentatively" because the compiler has suggested that Peter Bowles, he and I should get together and discuss these. (I look forward to doing this as I have pieces that are unique - at this stage - and they are listed at less than R3000)

On a totally different score, now that I have found you, may I (belatedly) have your blessing for having included a section from Kence in an article I was persuaded recently to write for De Nummis, a local publication put out every five or ten years by the local society - ex Transvaal Numismatic Society, but now rejoicing in the name National Numismatic Society.

The chat is entitled "Just what are Tokens?" and I wrote :

"In their book on the Trade Tokens of Strachan & Co. the joint authors, Prof Graham and Scot Balson detail the various classes into which tokens fall, and as this book is not readily available to students of South African tokens I trust I may be allowed to incorporate their observations in this brief chat on tokens. They tell us that "strictly speaking, most of the world's coins are tokens.....etc. etc.....

and feel that the following basis for classification may be useful : (and here I detailed your numbers 1 - 11.before going on to discuss that comparatively new category of Advertising Tokens.

I told you, I think, of my efforts to track you down after Dr Theron told me that you were the man to chat to about Larkan, and I also mentioned that I'd hit a brick wall in trying to get a response from Prof. Graham (whose collection was bought by Peter Bowles at much the same time as he bought the Badenhorst collection) You doubtless knew Martin Badenhorst? And did you know Clive Page?

I have a copy of Theron's 1983 price list ready for posting to you tomorrow. This is a copy of the orginal roneod sheet. Peter Bowles still has a few copies of Theron and the Supplement available, but he's pushed up the price regularly and now asks R200 a copy; the original price was R24. A reprint is not on the cards, however much interest the new Price Guide might generate. I shall keep you posted on progress.

I shall certainly mention to Brian your suggestion of including web-sites. I cannot guess the reaction - he is a tad conservative.

Look forward to hearing from you. Cheers for now,

Allyn Jacobs.

August 2003

Dear Scot,

Dear Scot,

Thank you for the reminder that I hadn't replied to your e-mail!

Forgive me, but there is so much I wish to and will discuss, that I was wondering how best to go about it. I know that ideally e-mails should be short and sweet and to the point, but I often tend to regard them more in the light of old-fashioned "snail-mail" (I believe they are called) letters.

I have had a brief glimpse at your web-site which seems to be quite awsome - in time to come I will study it in detail. At the moment given my inexperience, it was a minor miracle I was able to access it, albeit briefly, before it disappeared from my screen without so much as the traditional puff of smoke.

I seem to have the happy knack of pushing the wrong button at the right time!

Dr Theron's second (and last) price list was published in 1983, and I can certainly let you have a copy.

In the intervening years, both for buying and for selling, we have come to apply a "factor" to adjust prices and make them more realistic. This varies, for the most part, between five and ten. Just how inadequate this is, however, I don't have to tell you - witness prices being fetched on overseas auctions and e-Bay auctions.

Dr Theron's pioneering work, your book, Pat Moran's book, and precious little else apart from articles in SANS newsletters and journals and so forth. Because of the absence of references I started many years ago compiling my own scrap-book, and into this goes whatever I can find on our token series. As , for example , your article on the Larkan tokens that was published in Africana Notes and News way back in September 1978. But more of that anon - there are things I DO wish to discuss with you.

But for the moment, what I require of you is a postal address to which to send the 1983 Price List if you do not have it, and also if possible a Fax number. I have yet to acquire a scanner, and the proposed pages on the Larkan series leave a lot to be desired. But that I will leave for a future e-mail.

Do you have any Larkan pieces to offer? In particular Cancele Store?

Do hope for a reply. Kind regards,

Allyn Jacobs (FSANS)

PS. Does your interest extend also to the Transkei issues? You don't perhaps have a spare Dawood Amod piece for me????? And what, briefly, is still missing from your collection?

June 2003

Hi Scott,

I knew Dr. Theron well. I have visited him short before he died. Most things of his collection I do have. Please write me what you do have from GSW.I would like to write a catalog abbout german colonial money From Etemba I have 50 PF 5 Pf . I am still loohing for Have another 50 Pf. to swop Fürst Bismark I have 50 Pf and 300 Pf. and a very very bad 150 Pf. All others I need Hotel Kronprinz I am looking for 10 Pf.. I have doublicates for change 50 Pf Do you collect only Grigualand token and coins???

Grigualand comes up 2-3 a year in german auction.

Should I keep my eyes open for you?

Last year was a US sale with Kaplan 50

and Kaplan 48 in UNC. One piece is still for offer from a Coin dealer. I must think who it is. 1 penny 1890 KMpn 6 an Kmpn 5(Pattern) was here in a sale 2 month ago. Not very expensive. Please write me which german colonial token you do have. Is it possible to get a scam from then?? I will write book abbout them.Do you know people which can help me I bought the part of SA Badenhorts collection. Do you know Pat Moran In Durban??

Kind regards

Ralf Müller

June 2003

Hello Mr. BalsonScot,

which GSW token do you have. I will write a book for

german colonial token and medls and do need any information

I have send all you message to Mr. Allyn Jakobs in Jo Burg

He is a very intereted man in SA token and trying to get contact to you over 10 years. Hope to hear from you soon. Do you collect only Grigualand or alsp some other things

Kind regards

Ralf Müller

June 2003

What an amazing account of the Larken tokens!

As to the Rhodesian emergency currency, I have one such card in my collection, which today I've put it on the stockcard to go to auction (Nutmeg). Don't know if you have any interest, it's not a token.

Ron Carlson

May 2003

Scott ~

I owned the Strachan set once upon a I recall it was a carded set of all the denominations and came with a history of the issue. Maybe you had a hand in that? So, you're probably better equipped than I am (or Ron Milcarek, for that matter) to authenticate the Griqua Town piece I've listed on eBay. I thought after I sent my last e-mail to you that I should have told you it's struck, not cast, and it sure looks like the work of the Lauer mint..I've owned many of their "model" coins and tokens, counters, etc....even a couple of GB patterns from the Victorian era. Note that the attached photos are .pngs's (uncompressed), so you may have to set an association for that file type in your image viewer...or maybe not. Will toss in another /jpg r two for your entertainment, as the .png's aren't as big as I'd thought.

BTW, what about Griqua counterfeits? ...are you aware of any out there?

Okay, enjoy the attached pix...I'd appreciate your comments. Oh...the white spot was something on the scanner...not on the coin. Since I took these scans, I've learned that scanning tends to wash out lustre, contrast, etc., so I guess a real photograph would have made for a better presentation...another hobby is the way I see that idea.

Thanks for the link, Scott! Looks great. I read of someone who did the same thing with the plantation's own supply of Keeling-Cocos tokens...a great adventure in numismatics, I bet.

Best ~


P.S. I noticed the bidding has hit the reserve on this piece, so I guess it'll have a new owner next week, one way or another. The high bidder appears to be an SA specialist, although maybe a newbie on eBay.

May 2003

Hi Scott,

I noticed on your web site information about tokens from James Cole. Do you have any of these for sale? Do you have extra Strachans & Co for sale. Do you have a list of tokens that you offer?


Rege Podraza

May 2003

Hi Scott,

Will let you know for sure. Don't know why, but postage from Ausie seem to take about twice as long as from anywhere else in the world. Not only do you guys beat us at cricket and rugby nowadays, but you let us wait for postage (lol)

I am really looking forward to this lot as I am also extremely interested in reading all about these coins. BY the way, I am impressed by what I have read so far about your research when you stayed here.

I used to visit the Ixopo, Kokstad, Lusikisiki etc. area regularly during the 1960's as I was then working for the dept. of Social Welfare.

Also did some research recently into the Griqua people as my wife had to do a crit on a book about these people. A book "Griekwa Psalms" in the typical Griqua Afrikaans appeared recently. It has some of the most beautiful poetry that I have read for a long time. Do not know if you ever read Afrikaans, but this book, if you understand is most beautiful.

Also own some Griqua coins.

And there I have now written you a long story on a simple request. One does get carried away sometimes don't you.


but Regards

Han Eybers

April 2003

Hi Scott,

Thank you very much. The reading material is very important and it is great to receive that as well. Thank you.

Your price is acceptable to me, but for one small difference. I would like to purchase the full set as well as the extra token. A friend of mine is also interested in the tokens. So please, I will pay the additional USD $750. Shall I try to pay through paypal as well?


Han Eybers

August 2002

hi scott

have been away for a few days but subsequent to my last email i have made a few more enquiries which might interest you. you were quite correct in stating that adam kok issued title deeds apparently this was not done satisfactorily and it is why the british government then decided to do a reisssue of these deeds in the 1880's I browsed through the archives at the museum and found two such deeds (adam kok's) i know one is accessioned and am trying to investigate the status of the other one. will report to you forthwith. Well if you ever do decide to visit Kokstad YOU WILL HAVE FREE BOARD AND LODGE. I 'm sure we will have a lot of things to discuss i dont know if i mentioned the fact that i did a short documentary on the griquas for tv3 last year and that we are currently raising funds for a full 3 hour documentary on the origins and migrations of the griquas . Would you be interested in joining such a project ? I dont know what your committments are but you would probably have to be in s.a. for at least 6-8 weeks. If you are interested then tell me how much money you require for transport,loss of earnings etc as i am busy preparing budgets to submit to the koisan trust (they have a R100,000,000 fund for similar developements so dont be shy ! ) They have alreaday allocated R1,8 million for the rebuilding of adam koks laager. till later


July 2002

thank you for your prompt and detailed reply

i dont know if adam kok ever issued any title deeds of his own as most of the land was apportioned by the then cape government under queen victoria i have some of these title deeds in my possesion signed by the various cape governors milne,hercules robinson etc they date back to the 1870's there again another small tragedy of history, a kokstad firm of attorneys messrs elliot and walker had over 400 of these documents (they contain hand drawn and colored drawings of either the farms or the town properties assigned to the griquas. would you possibly be interested ? i also have in my possesion just about every piece of history ever written on the griquas. You are welcome to copies of this material. My colleague is attempting a dr thesis on the griquas from the philipolis years onwards and has made umzimkulu his area of interest as well. As the museum we are trying to publish the memoirs of william dower's daughter and various other unpublished booklets relating to the east griqualand history. we are also in the process of committing the Kokstad Advertisers onto cd (have completed 50 years so far phew ! what a task

!) We have all the issues from about 1885 onwards (ie no1 etc) At this point we are fitting one year per cd but it has proved a much better option than microfilming as copies can readily be made to raise funds for the museum. I had a small spot on tv3 last year talking about the griquas and am currently raising funds to make a full documentary on this interesting people in conjunction with the sabc. i have a site called on which i will be posting various items and am toying with which you might find interesting. I live in kokstad and run the internet in kks and matatiele and also do most of the computer work in the area i find history a fascinating hobby. should retire now as it is almost 1 am in rsa i am sending you a copy of a typescript by headman de bruin which is the only history ever recorded to paper by a griqua it has never been published regards fabio petronio will get back to you soon re purchase of coins etc bear in mind that $500 is more than R5000 in our current economy so will have to put this to the board

Fabio Petronio

Chairman East Griqualand Museum Board of Trustees


February 2002

Hi Scott

It was nice talking to you over the phone regarding tokens. I just found out the following from a dealer in JHB

Strachan Tokens sell for R150 to R200 depending on condition

Larkhan Tokens sell for R120 to R200 depending on condition

Estimate for the St Faiths is R3000 to R3500

I will be interested in any Larkhan Tokens you want to sell

I will also be interested in a set of Strachan tokens. Maybe you can give me a better price.



Nov 2001

Dear Sir

We are the largest dealers in rare coins in South Africa. Do you have access to any of the coins of the ZAR? We would also be interested in any of the Griqua coins that you may have. Please send through a list of what you have on offer in this regard.

Yours faithfully

Mark T. Andersen

Chairman & C.E.O.(S.A. COIN)