Tin Ingots Currency.


As early as the 16th Century,foreign traders recorded for commerce was cast into tin ingots of fixed weight and used for all major transactions in the bazaar (market place) as a form of currency.The value of each ingot depended upon it's weight,thus the shape and size of each ingot was of little consequence.Most of the ingots were cast in Perak.These tin ingots circulated extensively in Perak,Selangor and Negeri Sembilan over a very long period.They were also acceptable in the neighbouring Malay States in the Malay Peninsula as well as in Sumatra.

The earliest ingots were made in simple sand  moulds and were cast in the shape of conical cylinders, rounded cones or cones decorated with raised ridges running from top to bottom which gave them the appearance of being 8 sided.This was followed by mount shaped ingots called "Chandi".

Gradually these tin ingots developed into the shape of sawn off four sided pyramids with flat tops known as the 'sugar loaf type'.Later,pyramids or 'pagoda-shaped' ingots were cast with wide thick rims and flat tops.
The tops of these pagoda shape tin ingots were sometimes decorated with one of the many varieties of the 'tampok manggis' i.e. mangosteen rosette or calyx.This design may have been intended to indicate the mint or place of manufacture.

In Perak it became the practice to price all merchandise in smaller tin ingots called 'Bidor'.Their weight was 2.1/2 Katis (1 Kilo 512.5gm) and these were equivalent to 25 Cents of the Spanish silver dollar (8 Realers).
Gradually the term 'bidor' became so popular that most of the tin ingots of Perak,irrespective of their weight,came to be called 'Bidor'.

These currency blocks of tin ingots were used for internal trade as well as in international commerce.These tin ingots continued to circulate until the mid 1850's when they were gradually replaced by the minor coinagesof the Dutch and British East India Companies.

Source:Mr.Saran Singh.
Last week end,I met my old classmate Mr.Ma in Port Dickson,he showed me 2 pieces of Perak tin ingots that he bought from a fisherman. The fisherman found these tin ingots in Straits Of Malacca near Cap Ricardo,Port Dickson,Negeri Sembilan.

This tin ingots exhibited an ornamenttal design based on the 'tampok manggis' or mangosteen rosette,but its design doesn't resemble any of the Perak tin ingots listed by Mr.Saran Singh in his book "THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF THE COINS OF MALAYSIA ,SINGAPORE AND BRUNEI 1400-1967.



  1. Do other country are using the same ingot design as perak that time Dickson?

  2. Hi Dickson,
    We find these items really tough to collect.
    The reason is they are rarely seen and hard to differentiate between fakes and genuine ones.
    But got to admit we love them too esp when they remind us of our past glory as a tin producing country.
    Thanks a lot for sharing, Dickson :)

  3. Wow Mr Dickson,
    This is very lovely. I wish i can own one of these too in the future.

  4. Dear Lunaticg,
    As Mr.Saran Sign Book stated,it was widely accepted in Peninsula Malaysia and Sumatra,The Dutch were also used it as a currency to trade in Perak,Selangor and Negeri Sembilan,however,I will personally ask Mr.Saran on this week end when I meet him to collect his biography.
    Are you still busy finding methods on how to make more money on internet?Don't neglect your Queen! Or she is even more hard working than you!Haha!!

  5. Dear mnfaj,
    Meanwhile,you are just like me,can own the picture only,not yet the physical unit.haha!
    Tomorrow,I will be in Johore Bahru till Friday evening,shall we meet?I will be in Persada Convention center on whole Friday! You may SMS me your contact to 017-9796337!

  6. Dear whycollect,
    I was taught by Sifu sikit-sikit,the fakes pieces are looked new with sharp edges,heavier in weight as the moist density is still high,whereas the genuine ingots are more delicate,lighter in weight,if drop it may break into pieces.I got more to learn!!

  7. Mr. Dickson:

    These are fascinating pieces. I was wondering if I could ask you or mr. singh about these types of pieces? I am catalogueing artifacts from two 15th Century shipwrecks that have a lot of these onboard (outside of Malaysia). I am trying to write a paper about them...

  8. sy aga sekeping TAMPANG...minat call 0199302817