Featured The British Protectorate of North Borneo

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Cachecoins, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    Date: 1891


    Obverse: Coat of arms of the British North Borneo Company and date - PERGO ET PERAGO / H / 1891

    Reverse: Wreath, name and denomination - One Cent (English, Chinese and Malay below) / British North Borneo Co. around top

    Minted by Ralph Heaton & Sons - Birmingham Mint

    This is a bronze 1 cent coin of the British protectorate of North Borneo, a territory in the far north of the island of Borneo that was governed by the North Borneo Chartered Company (NBCC) also known as the British North Borneo Company (BNBC). Under its 1881 royal charter the British North Borneo Company gained the right to produce coinage. These coins were produced by Ralph Heaton and Sons Birmingham Mint and were possibly engraved by the very prolific medalist Joseph Moore. This coin was minted in 1891 under the tenure of Rutherford Alcock as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

    On the obverse is the Coat of Arms of the British North Borneo Chartered Company. In the middle is shield with a lion above a dhow (native boat) sailing on the water. The shield is supported by two native (Dayak) warriors, one holding a shield, the other a large sword or machete. Above the shield are two arms clasping a flag staff, below the shield is a ribbon with the Latin motto PERGO ET PERAGO (I undertake and I achieve). Below the ribbon is the date 1891 and above the date is an H which is the mint mark for The Mint Birmingham Limited, known as Ralph Heaton and Sons Limited before 1879.

    On the reverse is a wreath of olive branches with the denomination ONE CENT in English in the center. Above and below the English denomination are Chinese characters which read "foreign dollar one cent". Below the wreath the denomination in Malay (Jawi script) reads "one cent" and around above reads BRITISH NORTH BORNEO Co. in English.

    The territory of North Borneo was formed from the 1877-78 purchase of concessionary rights from the American merchant Joseph William Torry (who acquired them from the then struggling Sultanates of Brunei and Sulu) by the German businessman, adventurer and diplomat Gustav Overbeck (Baron von Overbeck) for $15,000. This transfer of concessions was dependent on Overbeck's successful renewal of rights from local leaders. Overbeck formed a joint venture company called the Dent & Overbeck Company with financing from the brothers Alfred and Edward Dent. In 1877 Overbeck received renewed concessions from the Sultan of Brunei and from the Sultan of Sulu in 1878. These concessions amounted to much of the territory of North Borneo.

    Alfred Dent: A founder of the British North Borneo Company

    This drew the attention of Spanish forces stationed in the Philippines who contested the acquisition and forced Overbeck to seek aid to defend his newly acquired territory. Although he failed to attract much interest on the European continent, he did draw the interest of the British Empire. Overbeck transfered rights to the Dent brothers which led to the formation in 1881 of the British North Borneo Provisional Association Limited in 1881 to manage the territory and the establishment of the British Protectorate of North Borneo. The next year the company became the North Borneo Chartered Company. After the enactment of the Madrid protocol in which Spain relinquished rights in North Borneo but received recognition of their rightful presence in the Philippines (the Sulu Archipelago), North Borneo became a British Protectorate in 1888.

    The exact nature and wording of the concessions were later disputed by the Sultan of Sulu on the grounds of the different interpretations of the text of the concession. The British and the North Borneo Company translation uses the terms grant and cede while the Sulu version says lease and further more the Sultan was to be paid 5,000 Malayan Dollars per year.

    Jamal ul-Azam: The 29th Sultan of Sulu who signed a concessionary treaty with Gustav von Overbeck in 1878

    British Translation
    ... hereby grant and cede of our own free and sovereign will to Gustavus Baron de Overbeck of Hong Kong and Alfred Dent Esquire of London...and assigns for ever and in perpetuity all the rights and powers belonging to us over all the territories and lands being tritutary to us on the mainland of the island of Borneo commencing from the Pandassan River"

    Sulu Translation
    "...do hereby lease of our own freewill and satisfaction to...all the territories and lands being tributary to [us] together with their heirs, associates, successors and assigns forever and until the end of time, all rights and powers which we possess over all territories and lands tributary to us on the mainland of the Island of Borneo, commencing from the Pandassan River"

    However the greatly weakened Sultanates of both Sulu and Brunei had lost effective control of much of their extended territories, most of which had abandoned their allegiance to their former masters whom in many cases only held those allegiances by force. They were no longer able to effectively govern or enforce their rule over the native inhabitants, local leaders and former Governors in many areas of their domains.

    Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin: 25th Sultan of Brunei from 1885-1906 who entered into a treaty of protection with Britain in 1888 making Brunei a British Protectorate

    The administration of North Borneo as a British Protectorate, following standard procedure, was made up of Residencies divided into Districts. Residencies were the seat of government for an area and were divided into Districts which were governed by district officers. British company men were top administrators while native local leaders governed at the local level. This was done as the British were unfamiliar with local customs and politics and believed such matters were best handled by local indigenous leaders. The top level British administration guided the development of the economy and industry as well as taking action to stem rampant piracy (one reason for the concessions) and arbitrating disputes between leaders engaged in local feuds and conflicts. It also outlawed slavery, head hunting, developed infrastructure and transportation, educational services, a police force while generally allowing indigenous populations to continue in their traditional way of life not forcing them to work for colonial business concerns.

    Sir John Rutherford Alcock: Chairman of the British North Borneo Chartered Company from 1882-93

    The British administration opened land to natives for farming but as the native population was not only small but often uninterested in in leaving behind their traditional lifestyle, the administration sought to attract workers from China and other areas of South East Asia. Tobacco was established as a major cash crop, logging operations were established and later North Borneo became a producer of rubber and oil.

    Like its neighbor the Raj of Sarawak, North Borneo was occupied by the Japanese during World War II and after Allied liberation it became a crown colony. In 1963 North Borneo along with Sarawak joined the Federation of Malaya to become states within the new nation of Malaysia.

    Coin images my own, other images linked. Thanks
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  3. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. I have a few coins from Sarawak and some DSC03916 (3).JPG DSC04312 (2).JPG DSC04313 (2).JPG notes.
    Thanks for the thread.
    Seattlite86, TuckHard and Cachecoins like this.
  4. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

  5. Robidoux Pass

    Robidoux Pass Well-Known Member

    Good history lesson. Although I have not been to the part of Borneo that was Britsh North Borneo, I've traveled extensively around the central, eastern, and southern parts of the island. In 1982, I visited several very remote encampments of Dayaks in the jungles of the central part of the island. These usually consisted of a couple of houses on high stilts in a clearing in the trees. And some of the men were still using a blowgun and darts.

    I was able to acquire a blowgun, darts, and dart case and bring them home with me. Yes, there was some trouble getting the ca. 2-meter long blowgun on airplanes, but eventually, I prevailed. It was not until I read your excellent article that I learned that the warriors shown on the Br. N. Borneo coin represented Dayaks. And I never saw any such headdress, clothing, or the long machete; but, granted, my visits were about a century later.

    Thanks for sharing. I truly enjoyed your article -- and the memories it brought back.
    Cachecoins likes this.
  6. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta Supporter

    I have done quite a bit of traveling myself but never to Borneo but I would love to one day.

    As for the Dayaks, if I am not mistaken, it is an umbrella term for hundreds of different ethnically district subgroups of indigenous people that live mainly around rivers and further in the interior. However visitors to the island would more commonly see the sea and river Dayaks as they would be the ones who would travel on the rivers and live around the coastal areas that are more developed. The ones who live deeper in the interior of the island tend to be far more isolated and less likely to have interaction with visitors.

    This area was also inhabited by Malay, ancestors of Chinese who came to work there and even more ethic groups. The people are an incredibly diverse mix of hundreds of ethnic groups and even more ethnic subgroups stemming from Borneo being a place that has been visited and settled by neighboring islands and groups from the mainland for centuries.This has made it difficult to rule or govern and caused the Sultanates that dominated the coastlines no end of trouble.

    One interesting note about the Dayaks is that it was this group, the so called Sea Dayaks that were often engaged in piracy and the Rajahs of Sarawak employed other Dayaks to fight them. He saw them as very effective warriors on both sea and land supposedly saying "only Dayaks can kill Dayaks."
    Chris B likes this.
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