October 16, 2001
In the early 1400, Malacca was a bustling port handling many ships that ply
the East Asia and the Western world. Malacca was the "half way house" where
traders from the east would dock, replenish and trade with traders from the
west. Malacca was located in a strategic location offering safe and calm
waters protected by Straits of Malacca. It was there that the world trading
of spices, silk etc took place. In short, it was a "melting pot". Everyone
wanted to take control of Malacca. Malacca has a very rich cultural heritage
from days of just local natives & Malays, Portuguese came in 1511 and
there was the Dutch, British, Japanese and later independance.
The history of this tin animal money started in the wonderful days of the Malacca Empire. After the cowrie shells, some form of money had to be used as Malacca was the trading port. It was discovered that the surrounding area had abundance of tin ore. Tin was considered as a precious metal and the Chinese believed that tin brings luck, prosperity and wards off evil spirits. At the entrance of many Chinese houses, tin is used to line the walls and columns. This is believed to bring luck to the inhabitants of the house. Tin was chosen as the medium as tin was considered precious, malleable & soft thus easily shaped and tin is widely accepted. This gave birth to the "Tin Animal Money".
This form of money, made by Chinese, comes in a few denomination, the largest weighing 1
and the smallest 1/20 kati. The full denomination are 1 kati, 1/2
kati, 1/10 kati
and 1/20 kati. The rarest of them are the 1 and 1/2 kati. Various animal shapes
have been found. To date, four distinct animal which is the
tortoise, fish, rooster (chicken) and crab (very rare). Only the tortoise come in
1 & 1/2 kati. The others do not have the larger denomination. It was found that
each animal comes in several designs and variants. It incorporates design
from the Ming Dynasty, brought by the Chinese settlers that came from
China. So trade was effected using this form of medium of exchange. It must
have been a heavy task for the rich to carry around 20 katis of tin if he
wanted to buy something big.
This type of coins were only known to us lately in the last 30years. It laid hidden for almost 600 years,unknown to the modern civilisation.They were first discovered by fisherman in an island not far off the coast of the mainland, "Pulau Besar". Over the last 2 decades, a few more were found when excavation works took place in town. Several sites were identified and it was discovered that people lived near to the beach area as the tin money were found there.
What makes it very rare?
Fakes & How to check them?
1) Visual Inspection
2) Scratch Test
Please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org should you need more info. Or else, you are encouraged to get more info and pictorial at http://www.collectibles-museum.com/htm_original/coin_introd.htm. Please take into account that tin animals like crocodiles, rams and certain roosters, shown at the above link, are made by the malays. They do not have the consistancy of the items made by the Chinese and shown below.
1/2 kati = 300 grams
1/10 kati = 60 grams
1/20 = 30 grams
Special thanks to Stephen Tai for Chinese characters reading.
Chinese Coinage Web Site