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Straits Settlements one cent, 1873

Date: 1873
Overall: 29 x 2 mm
Medium: Metal; Copper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Coins and medals
Object Name: Coin
Object No: 00051325
Related Place:Malacca, Strait of, George Town, Singapore,

User Terms

    This ONE CENT coin was minted by Great Britain in 1873 for use in the amalgamated settlements of Penang, Singapore and the Malacca Straits, known collectively as the Straits Settlements. The Straits Settlements had become a crown colony in 1867.
    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 1786 the British East India Company purchased from the King of Quedah the island of Pulo Penang, which it renamed Prince of Wales Island (now known as Penang) and in 1795 the Dutch surrendered Malacca and its dependencies.

    In 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 Straits Settlements became a separate British crown colony in 1867.

    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.

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