|Trading Companies, Figures 1 to 4.
The right to have gold and silver coined in England was incorporated
in the Charters of two of the Companies trading with Africa. Fig.1
shows the obverses of gold 5 and 2 guinea pieces of Charles II,
dated 1668 and 1664 respectively. They have an elephant under the
bust denoting that the gold was supplied by ‘The Royal Adventurers
to Africa.’ This Company was incorporated in 1662 and had an elephant
as part of its badge.
Figure 2 shows obverse and reverse of
a gold 2 guinea piece of Charles II dated 1682, with elephant &
castle under the bust. The gold was supplied by a successor company,
formed in 1672 “The Royal Africa Company.” The device under the
bust comes from their Company badge. Silver was also coined, but
is very rare. Figures 3 & 4 show the obverse and reverse of
a five shillings of Charles II with elephant under the bust, dated
1666, struck using silver from the earlier company. This was bankrupt
in 1672, but the elephant does appear with later dates occasionally.
The practice continued until 1726.
Figures 5 to 8.
Numismatists use the term “primitive” for local currency
either made locally or in the case of Cowrie shells imported. For
much of the period of British control Cowrie shells, Figure 5, provided
the means of making extremely low value payments. Far from being
primitive, they are clean, impracticable to forge and by accepting
only specific types of the shell from the Indian Ocean only devalue
when too many are imported. For monetary use they were strung and
Figure 6 shows a decorative alternative when no longer accepted
Figure 7 shows a large punch decorated copper bar
known as Manilla used in Nigeria. The two smaller ones are European,
probably from Birmingham. Their use ended near the end of the 19th
Century due to excessive European imports. Figure 8 shows hand forged
iron rods, twisted together and the ends flattened. They circulated
in Sierra Leone at twelve to the shilling and were known as ‘ Kisi
Sierra Leone, Figures 9 to 14.
The first specific coinage for a British African territory
began with copper pennies, Figure 9(left) and silver dated 1791.
This was the date of the founding of “The Sierra Leone Company”.
The coins were minted in 1792 and the pennies did not fit in with
the silver dollar standard so they were replaced by 1 Cent coins,
Figure 9(right). Figures 10 and 11 show the obverse and reverse
of a redesigned dollar, struck in 1793, but still with the 1791
Figure 12 shows the reverses of the 10 cents, 20 cents,
and 50 cents. All have the lion obverse as shown on the dollar,
A copper piece, which used to be classified as an
anti-slavery medal has no country name, the date is 1807, referring
to abolition of the slave trade. The obverse and reverse on Figures
13 and 14 show no monetary value, but the records of the Soho Mint
have an order completed in 1814 for 50,000 pennies for Macaulay &
Babington, for use in Sierra Leone.
Figures 15 to 20.
The first coins for the Gold Coast were struck for “The Company
of Merchants Trading to Africa” which was created by Act of Parliament
in 1750. The silver one Ackey has a crowned cypher obverse Figure
15 and the Company badge and 1796 on the reverse Figure 16. Figures
17 and 18 are the obverses and reverses of the minor silver consisting
of the half and quarter Ackeys and the Takoe, the latter being one
eighth of an Ackey. Both terms come from the gold trade.
issue in 1818 consisted of one and half Ackey pieces. The obverses,
Figure 19, use the Head of George III, which would appear to be
unofficial on a non-Regal issue. The reverse uses the Company Arms,
West Africa, Figure 21.
Countries of West Africa were generally short of coin and utilised
any they could get. They also, as elsewhere, cut Spanish dollars,
Figure 21, and countermarked them in an effort to prevent clipping
and counterfeiting. These measures were not very effective and only
when adequate supplies of British silver became available was this
Southern Africa, Figure 22.
The London Missionary Society had coins struck for Griqua Town,
but they were little used and soon withdrawn. Extremely rare, they
consisted of silver 10d and 5d and copper halfpenny and farthing.
Figure 22 shows a photocopy with the Society’s flying Dove on the
obverses and values on the reverses. Elsewhere in the south they
used whatever came their way, including tokens.
Eastern Africa, Figures 23 to 31.
British involvement in the late 19th Century in East Africa
included naval attempts to enforce the ban on slave trading. This
included co-operation with Zanzibar through a treaty in 1873 and
it became a British Protectorate in 1890. Figure 23 shows obverses
of copper Pysas of Sultan Ibn Sa’id. Figure 24 has the dated reverses
equivalent to 1882 and 1887. The coins were minted by Heaton in
A Concession was obtained by “The British East Africa
Association” in 1887, covering a large inland area and Mombassa
plus some of the Coastline. The Company issued coins; Figure 25
shows the silver Rupee obverse which uses the Company badge. The
reverse is dated 1888 with the Company’s name around the scales.
Figures 27 and 28 show obverses and reverses of the minor silver
comprising half and quarter rupees and two annas. A copper Pice
(quarter Anna) has obverse and reverse with English and Arabic inscriptions,
Figure 29. The Indian Rupee of sixteen Annas was the usual currency
for Eastern Africa at this time.
Finally Figures 30 and 31 show
the only example of regal coinage for British Territories in Africa
before the 20th Century. These one Pice coins were minted each year
from 1897 to 1899. They circulated alongside Indian Rupee coinage
into the 20th Century.