The Early Days Of Singapore Coinage.

When the East India Company obtained possession of Singapore in 1819, There was no dominant native currency. The Spanish dollar was the main unit of account, and other coins were also in circulation.
Spanish Dollar
Penang Coin
The early days of the Straits Settlement of Singapore were marked by an acute shortage of currency. Indian and Penang coinage were the official standards, but merchants preferred the Spanish dollar and its lineal descendent , the Mexican silver dollar. (The high quality silver in these coins was the main reason for the merchants' preference.) In the mish-mash could also be found Peruvian, Bolivian and Hongkong silver dollars.
Mexican Silver Dollar
Singapore Merchants Tokens.

By around 1830, the shortage was so acute that the more substantial Singapore merchants were forced to import their own tokens for local circulation.

American Trade Dollar.
With official records kept in rupees and everything else done in dollars, the resulting confusion, inefficiency and public demonstrations came to a head in 1867, and the Indian coins tender (in the Straits Settlement), was repealed. From 1 April 1867, the silver-Spanish, Mexican, Peruvian, Bolivian, and Hongkong-was declared legal tender within the Straits Settlements. The American trade dollar and Japanese silver yen were added to the list in 1874.

British Trade Dollar

Representations from far traders led the British trade dollar being struck in 1895. This was legal tender in Hongkong, the Straits Settlements and Labuan. It was demonetised in 1904 after the Straits Settlements dollar was declared to be legal tender.


In addition to the various silver dollars in use as currency, the Straits Settlements government, in 1871, issued 20-,10- and 5-cent coins struck by The Royal Mint in London. These coins had the words 'QUEEN VICTORIA' with the effigy of the queen looking left. She is wearing a jewelled diadem. The reverse showed the value coin surrounded by the words 'STRAITS SETTLEMENTS' and the date-1871. A 50-cent coin was issued in 1886, but no notes were issued until 1899.

Source:Stories Of Singapore's Money.Doreen Soh.


  1. Hi Dickson,

    I believe the picture for American Trade dollar is wrong. The picture in the post was a Morgan Dollar.

  2. Hi Sharul!
    Thank you for your comments!"Tersasul"!
    Amended accordingly!
    Most welcome to visit my Blog and welcome your comments to better my Blog!

  3. Hi Mr Dickson,
    Terima kasih banyak2 kerana paparkan koleksi syiling2 lama yg pernah digunakan di Nusantara.
    Tidak hairan syiling2 begini masih ada disimpan oleh orang2 tua lama mungkin mereka pusakai secara turun temurun.
    British trade dollar agak banyak yang dipalsukan dan dibuat replika menyebabkan orang ramai kurang berkeyakinan untuk membelinya dari penjual biasa..
    Terima kasih banyak2 Mr Dickson

  4. Hi Dickson,
    Love the silver pillars and BTDs.
    Haven't seen one with a VF grade selling cheaply for a long time.
    The prices of these big crown size silver coins seem to keep on increasing.
    Thanks for sharing this interesting article :D

  5. Depankanta,
    Rule of thumb-buy numismatic books,do more reading on numismatic,listen to good advice from experience collectors and trust worthy dealers before start to buy expansive numismatic items!
    Sesuatu yang cantik,bermutu tinggi dan murah tawaran mesti kena berhati-hati!Syiling BTD,Milled Edge 50 sen tahun 1967,68 dan 69 muncul banyak yang palsu didoktorkan!

  6. Dear whycollect,
    That is "Numismatic"!
    You just need to be more careful on selection of items and price to pay,returns are always guarantee.
    Everyday,I am promoting this good hobby to our younger generation and explain to them what is numismatic!
    "King of hobbies and hobby of Kings"! Cheers!

  7. Keep it up!
    I wish more collectors are willing to touch about the stories behind their collections, rather than collect blindly of whatever written in a catalague book.

  8. mnfaj,
    Thank you Bro.!You too,do talk more on tin coins,of course the genuine one!Ha!ha!

  9. I was offered the Mexican and Spanish silver in Terengganu few weeks ago. RM150 each. Googled a bit before considering, and read there were many counterfeits of those coins. So turned it down. Just wondering if i come by those coins again, any heads up on what to look for?

  10. Sugar Coated Candyman ,
    Weight,always weight the coins and look at the rim.
    Well,you may need to make a mistake buying a counterfeits in order to compare with a genuine piece!