The Strachan & Co token coins were minted in England as a solution to the launching the company and overcoming the problems faced by the Griqua Raad as East Griqualand was very isolated and had no currency of its own.
They were minted because of the absence of an alternative form of currency in the East Griqualand/Nomansland area in which the Strachan and Company stores operated.
The coins were approved by the Griqua Government in 1874 as the region's official currency and were accepted in payment of taxes and fines and circulated widely.
There were four different types of token sets minted.
These were minted then put in general use as currency in the area of Nomansland (south of Natal) from 1874 to 1932 (when they were outlawed by (South African) Government decree after con of the crown became more accessible (banks opened in Ixopo some 20 miles from Umzimkulu). Standard Bank in Kokstad in 1878 refer to these coins being in wide circulation when they opened.
Over 20,000 coins were counted in 1980 when research on these tokens was first undertaken by Scott Balson. Since then several thousand more tokens have come to light - revealing an enormous volume of coins whose numbers (estimated between 50 to 100,000) go far beyond the requirement of use in their trading stores.
All Strachan and Co tokens were holed at 12 o clock so that the indigenous people could wear the coins around their necks together with their beads. The sound that they made when they clinked together resulting in the native name of "kence" (pronounced "kenhjle").
The rarest set of S & Co is the Mountain Home set with the old 1/- "in goods" variety being the rarest individual coin.
In the 1980s the Strachan & Co stores were sold by the Strachan's to the South African government and the family left what was then known as the Transkei.
After Ken Strachan, the last in the family to run the stores, left Umzimkulu he took and stored the coins that were catalogued by Scott Balson in the late 1970s before having them destroyed in the late 1980s. The new caches of hundreds of Strachan and Co coins appearing today reflect the sheer volume of these coins once in circulation and use as currency in Nomansland for over 50 years.
Despite the numbers of S&Co coins known to have survived (several thousand) their individual prices continue to climb.
From careful studying the new caches found we can say that there are only about 60 complete sets of the 16 Strachan and Co tokens in existence - making them highly valued and sought after today.
Complete sets of the 16 tokens change hands today for as much as US$4,000 (as at 2015).
Scrapped Strachan and Co tokens now being offered for sale on the Internet at US$11 each
|Other interesting books containing information on these tokens:|
|E J Maynard's Tokens of Southern Africa
(Africana Museum, Johannesburg) (1966)
|Kence, the trade tokens of
by C S Balson and Dr C Graham (1978)
|G P Theron's Tokens of South Africa
and their history. (1978)
|The Griquas of South Africa and their
by C S Balson (2003)
|Handbook on Southern African
by Brian Herne (2004)
Numismatists and institutions who are known to own a complete set of the Strachan and Co tokens - there are only about 60 sets in the world: