British Trade Dollar in Brunei

British Trade Dollar coin found in Tutong. Picture Credit: Borneo Bulletin
I was pleasantly surprised to find these on the front page of the Borneo Bulletin yesterday. Apparently a family in Tutong found the coin and BB decided to make this 111 year old coin headline news.

A friend of mine text me and asked how unique is this coin. I told him that it is not that unique and I have a few in my collection. This is what the coin looked like close up:

British Trade Dollar coin. Picture Credit: Rozan Yunos
But then a lot of people are non collectors so this coin is unique to them. The British Trade Dollar coin was was issued from around 1895 to 1935. This coin was quite popular and used in Singapore and Hong Kong to stop other countries’ silver dollars from being circulated in British colonies. This coin was known as Ringgit Tongkat in Malaya because the Brittania statute was holding a trident.

The coin first appeared in China because China lost the Opium Wars. China had to open up their ports to the British. Many foreign banks were then established ans silver coins from all over the world were used to pay for Chinese products such as tea, silk and porcelain. The Spanish silver dollar was very popular and the British and the Americans decided to mint their own silver dollars as well, hence the British Trade dollar coin was minted for use in the Far East. That is why at the back of the coin we can see Chinese as well as Jawi writing.

The original Trade Dollar coin was originally a mostly silver (90% silver with 10% copper) coin weighing around 420 grams. There were many of these coins and it is not surprising that a number could be found used in Brunei as well. For 1911 alone, more than 37.5 million coins were issued.

So, how much is it worth? You can buy one off ebay for anything between US$75 to US$300 depending on the year of manufacture and quality of the coin. But do be careful. There are many fakes out there. I know the fake coins can be bought for as little as $5 each in one ASEAN country but if you don't know what they looked like, anybody can sell that fake coin for any amount they like.


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