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East India Company One Cent coin

Date: 1845
Overall: 29 x 2 mm
Medium: Copper alloy
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Coins and medals
Object Name: Coin
Object No: 00051322

User Terms

    This English East India Company one cent coin was minted in 1845 for use in the amalgamated settlements of Penang, Singapore and the Malacca Straits, known collectively as the Straits Settlements.
    SignificanceThis One Cent coin is significant for its association with the East India Company, the major British influence in Asia from the time of its formation in 1600 until its collapse in 1857. East India Company influence extended to the Australian colonies and was an important factor in the early colonial period.
    HistoryIn February 1819 Stamford Raffles established the settlement of Singapore on the island at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula. Raffles was an agent of the British East India Company, which was expanding its trade activities with China, Japan and the other countries in east Asia and the south pacific. The Malacca Straits and islands of Penang and Singapore were regarded as strategic strongholds facilitating the trading activities of the East India Company in the region.

    In 1826, the settlements at Penang, Malacca and Singapore were amalgamated as the Straits Settlements, administered from Penang. At the time, these settlements were circulating the Spanish dollar and attempts to implement the Indian rupee, used throughout India had not been successful. This difference in currencies caused great confusion in the East India Company accounts. Consequently, in 1845 the East India Company issued the bronze quarter cent, half cent and cent denominations. The one cent was issued in 1845 and 1847 (though all coins were dated 1845), and were in circulation until 1862, despite the settlement's government being transferred to British India in 1858.

    The coin was engraved by William Wyon (1795-1851), the most famous of the Wyon family of medallists and engravers. He held the post of official chief engraver at the Royal Mint from 1828 until his death, and is listed as the engraver of at least 43 different coins struck for circulation in England. His portraits of Queen Victoria were used on all British coinage until 1887 and for all postage stamps until 1902.

    East India Company:

    The East India Company was formed on 31 December 1600, when a group of merchants who had incorporated themselves into the East India Company were given monopoly privileges on all trade with the East Indies. The Company's ships first arrived in India, at the port of Surat, in 1608. Sir Thomas Roe reached the court of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, as the emissary of King James I in 1615, and gained for the British the right to establish a factory at Surat. Gradually the British eclipsed the Portuguese and over the years they saw a massive expansion of their trading operations in India. Numerous trading posts were established along the east and west coasts of India, and considerable English communities developed around the three presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. In 1717, the Company achieved its hitherto most notable success when it received a firman or royal dictate from the Mughal Emperor exempting the Company from the payment of custom duties in Bengal.

    The Company saw the rise of its fortunes, and its transformation from a trading venture to a ruling enterprise, when one of its military officials, Robert Clive, defeated the forces of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daulah, at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. A few years later the Company acquired the right to collect revenues on behalf of the Mughal Emperor.

    However, despite this increase in revenues, the Company found itself burdened with massive military expenditures, and its collapse seemed imminent. State intervention put the ailing Company back on its feet, and Lord North's India Bill, also known as the Regulating Act of 1773, provided for greater parliamentary control over the affairs of the Company, besides placing India under the rule of a Governor-General.

    The first Governor-General of India was Warren Hastings. Under his dispensation, the expansion of British rule in India was pursued vigorously, and the British sought to master indigenous systems of knowledge. Hastings remained in India until 1784 and was succeeded by Cornwallis, who initiated the Permanent Settlement, whereby an agreement in perpetuity was reached with zamindars or landlords for the collection of revenue. For the next fifty years, the British were engaged in attempts to eliminate Indian rivals, and it is under the administration of Wellesley that British territorial expansion was achieved with ruthless efficiency. Major victories were achieved against Tipu Sultan of Mysore and the Marathas, and finally the subjugation and conquest of the Sikhs in a series of Anglo- Sikh Wars led to British occupation over all India. In some places, the British practiced indirect rule, placing a Resident at the court of the native ruler who was allowed sovereignty in domestic matters. Lord Dalhousie's notorious doctrine of lapse, whereby a native state became part of British India if there was no male heir at the death of the ruler, was one of the principal means by which native states were annexed.

    The annexation of native states, harsh revenue policies, and the plight of the Indian peasantry all contributed to the Rebellion of 1857-58, referred to previously as the Sepoy Mutiny. In 1858 the East India Company was dissolved, and the administration of India became the responsibility of the British Government.

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