MALACCA, Sebastiao, 1557-78, tin dinheiro


MALAYSIA, MALACCA, Sebastiao (of Portugal), 1557-78, dinheiro, no date, Malacca mint, Obverse: B-A flanking 3 arrows, Reverse: armillary sphere, ecliptic band falling left to right, tin, 16-18mm, 2.65g, S-S15, VG

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The tin coins of Malacca started coming on the collector market in the 1980s. Over the years many genuine tin coins have come out of Malaysia and Indonesia, but also fakes have been made. Usually the fakes have some lead in them, but not always. The consensus seems to be that the Malacca coins are mostly or all genuine, and came out of the water.

Malacca was a great port city on the eastern coast of the Malay peninsula, ruled by a Sultan who acknowledged China as overlord. The Portuguese took it away from its Sultan in 1511 and ran it as the center of their eastern Asian operations until they lost it to the Dutch in 1641. The reference for this series is The Encyclopedia of the Coins of Malaysia Singapore and Brunei, by Saran Singh.

Modern Malaysia is a federation of old sultanates with an elected king. The Sultanates came and went for 1000 years, some succumbing to Portuguese and then Dutch attacks. In the 19th century the British took over most of the territory of the modern country and began consolidating the central administrative structures.

The big player in East Asia is China, of course. Then there is Japan and Korea, throw in Mongolia. South of China and east of India, but not including, for the most part, the islands to the east, is what we call Southeast Asia. From Burma to Malaya there have been a series of local kingdoms for about 2000 years. Russia, with its Asian Siberia, doesn’t count. We consider it part of Europe.

By “Modern World Coins” we mean here, generally, the round, flat, shiny metal objects that people have used for money and still do. “Modern,” though, varies by location. There was some other way they were doing their economies, and then they switched over to “modern coins,” then they went toward paper money, now we’re all going toward digital, a future in which kids look at a coin and say “What’s that?” We’ll say: “We used to use those to buy things.” Kids will ask “How?” The main catalog reference is the Standard Catalog of World Coins, to which the KM numbers refer.