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4 Testerns (four reales) silver
Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603),
East India Company.
mintmark O, (1600)
obv. crowned arms, around O: ELIZABETH. D;G; ANG; FRA; ET. HIBER; REGINA. crowned E R at sides
around crowned portcullis
R. Manley Foster Collection, Sotheby 3 November 1903, lot 194
Baldwin 1957
Lt-Col A.E. Bray, Glendining 1 May 1985, lot 105
Money Company Auction, Hong Kong, 6 September 1985, lot 880


A piece of paper J.Lancaster 1619

[although an unknown sale in 1619, it is interesting from being close to the time of issue]

Research shows there was a [Sir] James Lancaster born c. 1554, Basingstoke, Hampshire, Eng.
died June 6, 1618, London.
In April 1601, in command of the Red Dragon, Lancaster went on the first trading expedition of the East India Company. Lancaster remained a director of the company.

"one should not assume that there was a sale of any kind in 1619 to account for that piece of paper? I don't see why there should have been one. Why couldn't that paper have meant that it came from J. Lancaster who died in 1618 and was simply acquired in 1619? After all, do you think that a coin like that would actually be auctioned in 1619 after having been minted only in 1600/1? - perhaps it would have been. What evidence is there for auctions at this period?" Comment: Dr. Alan Walker

Some 400 years ago there was a requirement for a trading coinage that would be recognized. The East India Company had been created with shares valued at £200 each; the capital raised was £30,000. Thomas Smith was the first Governor of the company and at the court of Directors a questions was asked "What currency would the company trade with?" Queen Elizabeth 1st. was approached to request her permission; the Queen understood the requirement and after consideration granted it. Six ships were to be purchased but five ships were finally acquired and were prepared on the Thames.

The outward cargo was £30,000 of foreign bullion of which £6,000 would be exchanged for English bullion which would be specially minted in Elizabeth name. The coin would be in four denominations, 1, 2, and 4 testerns and 1 dollar. Although I am not an expert I understand the weights matched Spanish and Portuguese weights. The Royal coat of arms would be displayed on the obverse and the portcullis would be displayed on the reverse.

It was later decided to make a further small sum +/- £50 of the above coinage and £20 of these coins were issued to the company officers in London and their friends. Maybe the £20 of coinage left in London is the source of most of the coins available today. The fleet, now consisting of 5 ships eventually arrived in Sumatra in the East Indies. Basses were established and trade commenced. There are today 184 +/- pieces of this currency known, 46 x 1 testerns, 45 x 2 testerns, 46 x 4 testerns and
47 x 8 testens.

Dr. Alan Walker

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