1810 RIJKSDAALDERS REFLECT DUTCH, FRENCH, ARABIC INFLUENCE IN THE DUTCH EAST INDIES
By Marcel van der Beek
Countries and cities along important trade routes bring together a rich mix of individuals and cultures. In early 19th century Dutch East Indies, an important Dutch paper money issue illustrates just how different cultures come together to create trade.
Following the end of the Dutch East India Company, most of current-day Indonesia still fell under the Dutch Crown as the Dutch East Indies. The area was rich in natural resources, but facilitating trade proved difficult with lack of specie and paper money to keep goods from changing hands.
Hindering trade even further was Napoleon’s march through Europe. The French had taken control of the Netherlands and tried to exert power over the Dutch Colonies. As expected, the English were trying to hinder Napoleon’s advance, which placed additional stress on their government coffers. Hindering trade in the East Indies, which was helping feed the French war efforts, was pivotal.
In January 1808, Herman Willem Daendels (1762-1818) arrived in Java to get goods moving. The Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, who was a French sympathizer, was determined to make a difference and start moving goods through the British naval net. However, Daendels had limited resources to raise funds. In addition to taxing and moving goods, he was authorized to raise money by selling lands to investors.
At first, Daendels sold Tenggeran, Krawang and Bantam, among others. In 1810, a buyer for the Probolinggo Regency and surrounding lands was found. The Han Chapit family from China was willing to pay 1 million Rijksdaalders, and negotiations were finalized with Han Tikko. Since they lacked the funds to pay for the purchase immediately, a special currency issue was created with Tikko as the creditor. The notes were to be redeemed in bi-annual payments over 10 years. A lottery decided which notes were redeemed every six months, and Tikko was to pay the bearer in silver with each installment.
The declaration of legal tender status and the ability to redeem them in silver coin made them an important and official paper money issue of the Dutch East Indies. Its history and even design elements involved a melting pot of cultures. First, it was born in wartime out of necessity, then issued by the Netherlands as administrator while under Napoleonic rule (the seal of Louis Bonaparte is at bottom left) with a Chinese family as buyers in a region that was primarily Muslim (requiring an Arabic translation on the note).
A complete denomination set of the six notes from 100 Rijksdaalders to 1000 Rijksdaalders is being offered in Heritage’s upcoming Long Beach World Paper Money Signature® Auction. It’s expected to sell for at least $125,000. This is the first recorded offering of a complete set from a highly important numismatic issue.
MARCEL VAN DER BEEK is the former curator of the Geldmuseum in the Netherlands.
This article appears in the Fall 2019 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.