Origin: These tin pitis coins were struck in Palembang, a major port in 18th century Indonesia that was controlled by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Besides being a hub for the spice trade, the region was also notorious for something else—pirates.
The Strait of Malacca has always had a strong association with piracy, a legacy that continues to this day. The area was an incredibly important shipping route, but pirates also had plenty of places to hide within its many coves and inlets.
Palembang was located along the east end of the strait, and was a standard stopping point for merchant ships. But during the Golden Age of Piracy, these ships would be routinely seized for their cargo of rare spices and money—namely Spanish reales, VOC duiten, and these Palembang pitis coins.
These one-sided coins are made from cast tin, and most bear the Malay inscription "the sultan of Palembang year [date]." They are holed because they were meant to be strung together, drawing inspiration from Chinese cash coins. Each dates back to the late 18th century, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.
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A Dutch painting of the conquest of Palembang, 1857.
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