The Australian Numismatic Society <>
< style="font-weight: bold;"><>The coins shown below won the Best Display vote at the 2012 Conference.
Dutch coins in Australia

"The Dutch coins from my collection, which did or could play a role in Australian history"

Since the beginning of Dutch navigation to the East Indies in the 1590s, Netherland's merchants operated separate trading companies to import spices, constantly competing against each other. By 1602 these early companies had welded themselves into one major body:

Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (United East India Company) or just VOC for short.

States-General of the Netherlands granted them a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia. It was the second largest multinational corporation in the world and the first company to issue stock. It was also the first mega corporation, possessing huge powers, including their own army, ability to wage war, imprison and execute convicts, negotiate treaties, establish colonies and coin money.

In early of the year 1606 the Dutch ship Duyfken encountered and then charted the shores of Australia’s Cape York Peninsula. The ship made landfall at the Pennefather River in the Gulf of Carpentaria and this was the first authenticated landing on Australian soil.

For the first time Australia appeared on the map.

We don’t know if they brought or left any coins, but I hope that the captain of the ship Willem Janszoon, as the proper tourist, threw some coin in the water just for the good luck. So, what would that be? Probably nothing of great monetary value, perhaps some sentimental piece like this medallic token (purely my wishful thinking) :

Minted in Dordrecht in 1579, so called “Rejection of peace”

On obverse is Spanish cavalry and foot soldier fighting with Dutch cavalry and foot soldier.

Reverse shows, beheaded bodies of the Dutch national heroes, counts Egmont and Horne lying on the ground, their heads on a pike.

Token was minted to lift up a fighting spirit of the Dutch people against an oppressive rule of Philip II. of Spain.

The next ship was also Dutch. On 4. of June 1629 the ship Batavia struck Morning Reef near Beacon Island off the Western Australian coast. This time, we know for sure it brought some coins.

In total 9 129 coins were recovered from which 71% of Dutch origin.

Let’s have a look at some of them:

Kruisrijksdaalder also called Burgundian rijksdaalder, still with the title of Philip II. of Spain.

Rijksdaalders from united Netherlands. The Rijksdaalder (Dutch, "national dollar") was a coin first issued by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands in the late 16th century during the Dutch Revolt. Featuring an armoured half bust of the William the Silent, Rijksdaalder was minted to the Saxon Reichs Thaler weight standard - 448 grains of .885 fine silver, equal to 48 stuivers; Friesland, Gelderland, Holland, Kampen, Overijssel , Utrecht, West Friesland, Zeeland, and Zwolle minted armoured half bust Rijksdaalders until the end of the 17th century.

Half Rijksdaalder, this particular one, minted in Overijssel province, actually comes from a Batavia shipwreck.

In September 1628 Dutch admiral Hein captured the whole “ New Spain Flotilla” near Havana and took home to Holland a vast quantity of silver.

That’s why the next Dutch shipwreck in Western Australia, Vergulde Draeck or Gilded Dragon did carry almost entirely only Spanish silver.

By contrast, the Zuiddorp (meaning 'South town') in 1712 vas loaded by Dutch coins and here comes the new one, Ducaton.

In 1659 the Dutch states started production of the 'silver rider' Ducaton, featuring a mounted knight on horseback. This design weighing 32.779 grams of 0.941 silver also featured the crowned arms of the United Netherlands on the reverse, with a shield below the knight indicating the province of minting. Rider ducatons were minted until 1798. In the period 1726-1751 Ducatons were minted bearing the monogram of the Dutch East India Company.

As a trade coin, the familiar design of the Dutch rider helped it to compete against well-known world coins such as the Spanish dollar. It was valued at 60 stuivers.

Speaking about stuivers, small silver coins, here is the one stuiver from Holland province, Dutch used to call it Bezemstuiver which means broom.

This coin really puzzled me for a while, so called Arendschelling of city of Zwolle, with title of Rudolf II, minted in 1601. Dutch republic was in the war with Spain at that time, so what is the Spanish coat of arms doing on the reverse? It is known that in 1590 mint master Balthasar Wijntgens asked the city of Zwolle for permission to mint ducats and double ducats of the Spanish type. Imitations of the Spanish so-called excellente and double excellente. The city first wanted to have the arms of Zwolle on the reverse, but by the opinion of Wijntgens this would have bad influence on the acceptation of these coins in international business. The more it looked like the original Spanish types, the better it would be. Because at the times when Dutch republic was created, nobody believed that a country which is not governed by the king or church can be taken too seriously. On 2nd september 1592 the city of Zwolle gave permission to Wijntgens to produce ducats with the Spanish coat of arms. So only for commercial reasons.

As we can see, quite a lot of Dutch coins have been in Australia even before the English settlement.

And then, the first fleet arrives.

We know from the historic records, that Captain Arthur Phillip was given by The Treasury some cash to buy supplies on the way to Botany Bay and it was golden Dutch Ducats.

The very first Dutch Ducat of 23 2/3 karat or 0.986 gold was minted in 1586 shortly after the seven Dutch provinces declared independence from Philip II. of Spain.

Let’s have look on the classic design:

On the obverse, because Netherlands were republic, there is no head of the King but anonymous knight holding a sword and seven arrows representing the seven united provinces. Date and legend around:


Loosely translated:

 “Unity makes small things grow”, followed by a short legend indicating the province where the Ducat was minted, in this case Zeeland province.

The reverse shows the shortened legend which reads:

“MOneta ORDinum PROVINciarum FOEDERatorum BELGicarum AD LEGem IMPerii”

Loosely translated:

“Money of the United Provinces of Belgium in accordance with the law of the imperium”.

Belgium is an old Latin name for all Netherlands or Low countries, not only for the Kingdom of Belgium

The golden Ducats were minted in all provinces (except Groningen) and also in the Hanseatic cities like Dordrecht, Zwolle and Kampen.

A little bit different design has this Ducat 1595 from West Friesland, so called Hungarian type. Historical region of West Friesland is often mistakenly connected with Friesland province which is actually across the water. In fact, West Friesland was part of Holland province but with some degree of autonomy.

Utrecht province 1596, the legend for Utrecht is TRA or TRAI as short for Latin Trajectum.

Again a little bit different design has Ducat from City of Kampen 1603, with title of Rudolf II.  Cities like Kampen, Dordrecht and Zwolle were members of Hanseatic League and because they had some privileges granted them by the Holy Roman Emperor, they often included emperor of the day on their coins.

Overijssel province 1614, the legend for Overijssel is TRAN, short for Transisalania

Friesland province 1615, the legend is FRI

Gelderland province 1636, the older type, the legend is GEL

City of Zwolle with title of Emperor Ferdinand II.

Another Ducat from city of Zwolle, this time with title of Ferdinand III.

Holland province 1757, the legend is HOL

One more from Gelderland, this time the newer design. After the year 1708 was the legend GEL replaced with D.G.&.C.Z. meaning  Duchy of Gelderland and the County of Zutphen.

West Friesland 1761, the newer design, with a nice mintmark of Hoorn mint, the rooster.

In mid December 1790 the Dutch ship Waaksamheys arrived in Sydney Cove carrying some provisions from Batavia for the starving colony and it started a slow but steady infiltration of Dutch coins into NSW.

It could be Leeuwendaalder or Lion Dollar, coin minted from 1575 mainly for foreign trade. The lion dollar circulated through the Middle East and was imitated in several German and Italian cities. It was also popular in the Dutch East Indies as well as in the Dutch New Netherlands Colony (today’s New York) and also circulated through the English colonies during the Seventeenth and early Eighteenth centuries. Examples circulating in the colonies were usually fairly well worn so that the design was not fully recognisable, for this and also for the lower silver contents they were sometimes referred to as "dog dollars."

Or perhaps these two, six stuivers with beautiful sailing ship or 10 stuivers alias half gulden.

And here comes for every true Australian Numismatist the prominent year 1800 and governor King’s famous eleven Proclamation coins.

And what can we see? Two Dutch coins are becoming to be part of the official currency of New South Wales colony, number 4 is the golden Ducat and number 9 is the silver Gulden (Guilder)

The first gulden, a 10.61g in .910 silver, was minted by the States of Holland and West Friesland in 1680. The original Gulden design featured Pallas Athena standing, holding a spear topped by a liberty cup in her right hand, resting her left hand on the book Gospels. Gulden was divided into 20 stuivers, each of 8 duits. The gulden gradually replaced other silver coin denominations circulating in the United Netherlands - florijn (28 stuivers), daalder (1½ guldens or 30 stuivers), rijksdaalder (2½ guldens or 50 stuivers), silver ducat (2½ guldens or 50 stuivers) and the silver rider ducaton (3 guldens or 60 stuivers). Gulden was minted until 2002, when it was replaced by the Euro.

And this is the last coin from my display, seemingly out of content.

Ducat minted by Dutch Royal mint in 1999. As you can see, design didn’t change much in last 413 years.

It’s still a very beautiful coin with the great appeal for collectors all around the world including Australia.

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15th June 2012