Thursday, April 12, 2012

Penang Centenary Token 1886 Queen Victoria

This is not legal coin, but just a commemorative token. It had be issued (by unknown, but it is highly believed that from the behalf of authority) in conjunction of 100 years of British Colonisation in Penang Island at the year 1886. The is one of the rare token in any condition available in market. Do you even have a chance to view it on hand before?  It has witnesed and evidenced the history of British Colonisation in Pinang Island. Although it is not a legal tender, but it's unique historical value and rarity has overiden the current view of note and coin collection parameters.  This token is even not be recorded in any collection reference book currently.  

How well do you know about the Colonisation of British in Penang Island?

In the 16th century, Portuguese traders from Goa, India sailed to the Far East in search of spices. It is said that a small rocky isle on the northern coast of a main island became a landmark for traders to stop and row in by boat to obtain fresh supplies of water from a nearby river. The local Malays called these traders ferringi, an Indian term for Europeans, especially Indian born Portuguese. That rocky isle was then referred to as Batu Ferringi, better known now as "Lover's Isle". The Portuguese called the main island "Pulo Pinaom" or Betel Nut Island. Probably areca nut palm trees were found abundantly then. The palm tree is known as PINANG to the Malays or PENANG to the English.

During the 17th century the turtle-shaped island of Penang situated at the northern entry point to the Straits of Malacca had provided a natural harbour during the monsoon months for Indian, Arabian, Chinese, Dutch, Danish and French ships. Penang island also became a haven for pirates who plundered ships that passed through the Straits of Malacca.

In the 18th century, the spice and opium trade between the East and west had become extremely lucrative. The Dutch dominated the Far East spice trade and the British too needed to establish themselves in the region. Thus, in 1765 Francis Light was instructed by his Company, Jourdain Sullivan and de Souza to establish better trade relations in this part of the world. During this period Penang island belonged to Kedah. In 1771, the Sultan of Kedah offered Captain Francis Light the island of Penang in return for British Protection from the constant threats of the Siamese and Burmese armies. This treaty never materialised as Francis Light's superiors refused to offer any aid.

In 1772 Captain Francis Light left Kedah for Junk Ceylon (Phuket) to set up business with his friend James Scott. By then he was knowledgeable of the peoples' customs and the local language. This helped him to win their trust in him. In 1786, Francis Light acted as middleman in securing Pulau Pinang from the new Sultan Abdullah of Kedah in return for a promise of British protection from his various enemies. It is said that before the agreement was signed, Light sailed in three vessels to the island with a small civilian and naval staff. He landed in that part of Penang now known as the Esplanade on July 17, 1786. On August 11, 1786, Light officially took possession of the island for the Crown and the East India Company. He christianed it "the Prince of Wales Island", and the Union Jack was hoisted over the new stockade. So, in all legal documents, Penang was known as Prince of Wales Island. The settlement in the eastern cape of the island was called Georgetown named after the King of England, George III.

In 1790, when Sultan Abdullah heard that the British would not give protection, he formed an army to get rid of the Dutch and English. He assembled his men at Prai to retake the island of Penang but was defeated. Captain Francis Light had carried out night raids on the enemy's fortress. In 1791, Sultan Abdullah signed a treaty with the British handing over Penang Island to the British. Light promised to pay the Sultan 6,000 Spanish dollars annually. Today, almost two centuries later, the Penang State Government still pays RM 18,800.00 to the Sultan of Kedah annually.

Captain Light's term as the first Superintendent of the Prince of Wales Island came to an end in 1794. He died on October 21, 1794 at the age of 54 probably due to malaria. He was buried at the Protestant cemetery at the end of Northam Road (now known as Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah). He was survived by Martina Rozells, a local Eurasian of Portuguese descent and son, William Light who later founded the city of Adelaide, Australia.

After Francis Light's death, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Wellesley (Colonel Wellesley the then, future Duke of Wellington) arrived in Penang to coordinate the defences of the island. It was in 1800 that Sir George Leith, then Lieutenant Governor of the Prince of Wales Island secured a strip of land across the channel from the island. He named it Province Wellesley. This gave Penang control over its harbour and food supplies from the mainland. Till this day, the State of Penang comprises two areas – Penang Island and Province Wellesley.

In 1804, Penang was elevated from a Settlement to a Presidency. In 1805, a new Governor, the honourable Philip Dundas took over. His assistant secretary was Thomas Stamford Raffles, the future founder of Singapore in 1819. In 1832, the Straits Settlements was formed comprising the states of Malacca, Singapore and Penang. Penang became its capital but in 1935 Singapore took over Penang as capital of the Straits Settlements.


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