Straits Settlements Coins | Forgotten Singapore coins collectors will love

Posted on 11 April 2019

Straits Settlements Coins : Forgotten Singapore coins collectors will love

Straits settlements

It might be difficult to imagine when you visit the modern, buzzing and culturally diverse metropolis which is Singapore today, how things were early days as a small tropical trading post 19th....

Before gaining independence from the United Kingdom and then Malaysia and ultimately becoming one of the most advanced countries in Asia (if not the world!), Singapore was as a key part of of a small, but fast growing Far East trading post, The Straits Settlements.

The Straits Settlements was made of four trading ports in modern day Singapore and Malaysia comprising of Singapore, Penang, Malacca and Lebuan.

A British settlement in Singapore had been established in 1819 and was to be transferred to the East India Company in 1824 alongside Penang and Malacca (Lebuan only becoming part of The Straits Settlements nearly 90 years later in 1912).

Originally Penang was viewed as the most important of the Settlements, but Singapore was soon recognized as the primary Settlement as its importance as a leading trading post grew and grew.

With the loss of the trade monopoly for China in 1833, the East India Company’s interest in The Straits Settlements declined and after a period being ruled by the governor general of India, The Straits Settlements were eventually to become a Crown Colony in 1867.

The Straits Settlements grew rapidly as a trading powerhouse which was to continue until the Japanese successfully invaded Singapore in 1942.

Following Japan’s surrender and withdrawal from the Straits Settlements, the Settlements were broken up and linked with the Malayan Colonies with the formation of Malaya in 1948. The rest, as they say, is history...

Straits Settlements Coins

There are essentially five Straits Settlements coin series issued between 1845 and 1950.

Queen Victoria 1837- 1901 | Straits Settlements Coins:

Queen Victoria 1837- 1901 | Straits Settlements Coins:

With the phasing out of Spanish, Mexican and Japanese coins and the need for currency for the traders to trade with, early Straits Settlements coins were released in 1845 by the East India company.

Later examples under Queen Victoria bore the inscription of “Straits Settlements” from 1871 onward.

Early examples from the Queen Victoria era trade hands for substantial sums of money.

Straits Settlement Queen Victoria Coins to collect:

¼ Cent, ½ Cent, 1 Cent, 5 Cents, 10 Cents, 20 Cents, 50 Cents (which commands very high prices today) and British Trade Dollars.

Trade dollars were legal currency in The Straits Settlements from 1895 to 1904 and make for a beautiful silver collector’s coin. For more on British Trade Dollars Click HERE

King Edward VII 1901- 1908 | Straits Settlements Coins:

King Edward VII 1901- 1908 | Straits Settlements Coins:

¼ Cent, ½ Cent, 1 Cent, 5 Cents, 10 Cents, 20 Cents, 50 Cents and the Straits Settlements Dollar

Straits Settlements Dollars were first introduced under King Edward VII in 1904 when other silver coins including Mexican and British trade dollars ceased to be legal tender.

King George V 1910- 1936 | Straits Settlements Coins:


King George V 1910- 1936 | Straits Settlements Coins:

Coins in the Straits Settlements under King George V were issued in the same denominations as under King Edward VII but we saw the issue of the ‘square’ 1 and ½ cent. The was also a proof silver dollar issued 1919-1926 which a tough one to get hold of today.

King George VI  1936- 1952 | Malayan Coins:

King George VI  1936- 1952 | Malayan Coins:

Malayan coinage replaced Straits Settlements dollars with a single currency being issued for the Malay States (including Brunei) and Straits Settlements colonies from 1939.

These coins followed the same design as the Straits Dollars issued under King George V just with the impression Malaya instead of Straits Settlements.

To this day, Singapore and Brunei continue to use descendants of the Malayan Dollar…

Check out our selection of Singapore and Straits Settlements coins HERE

Want to know more about Straits Settlement Coins – there are a couple of great books covering Straits Settlement, Malaya and British North Borneo coins:

K N Boon - Malaysia, Brunei & Singapore, Banknotes & Coins Books

Singapore and Straits Settlements Coin Book


Steven Tan  - Standard Catalogue Of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei Coin & Paper Money 22nd edition

Singapore and Straits Settlements Coin Book

Happy Exploring!

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