Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Tampang Perak ( Perak Sultanate 16-19th century) This is a tampang coin from Perak Sultanate as early as 16th century. This form of currency is called tin ingot. These ingots were casted of fixed weight and used for all major transactions in the bazaar as a form of currency.The value of each ingot depends upon its weight. By mid 1850's , ingots were gradually replaced by coinages. Obv : An ornamental design of four rosettes based on the tampok manggis Rev: Blank Weight : 1 Kati 131/8 tahils, 1100 gm Height :50mm Dim : 100 x 100 x 50 mm Date : 16-19th century Rarity : RRR Denom : 1 tampang Material : Tin Reference : SS38 The picture shows a solid cast tin ingot in the shape of a pyramid on a flat base. It is approximately 70mm square and weighs close to 630 grams or 1 Kati with a patina typical of old tin. The extended base was cast very thin and much of it has broken off over the years. There is an inscribed cross on top of the pyramid said to be an early sign for Perak. These are variously known as a Tampang, Tin Hat, Pyramid or Pagoda money, although the latter two names are more common in Perak. They are an early form of currency with a value that was calculated against the amount of tin by weight which could be exchanged for one Spanish Silver dollar. There are a number of views as to when the Tampang first became recognised as money, but there is no doubt that these were widely used in the Malay Peninsula, particularly in Perak, Pahang and Selangor, as objects with a defined monetary value. Some experts claim that the first Tampangs date from the 1400s, others opt for the 17th century, but whoever is correct, it is a fact that they are recorded by Museum Negara (Malaysian National Museum) as being minted in Pahang until 1889 and were legal tender there until 1893. These were the hollow variety known as the Tin Hat (rather than solid like this example) and generally featured Jawi script, providing the date of minting. In Perak and to some extent Selangor, Tampangs (more commonly known as Pyramid or Pagoda Money here) are said to have been solid cast like the one pictured and featuring some form of marking on the top to show origin. Later this became more ornamental and sometimes included a flower decoration. It is suggested that they were slowly phased out of general circulation in Selangor and the Straits Settlements once Dutch and then British East India coins became available in these states, Perak of course being the latest due to its remoteness from the Straits Settlements. The final complication regarding dating these items is the way in which they were cast, for as well as solid castings like the one shown, (almost certainly cast in a sand mould) there were also the hollow cast, versions requiring a two-piece brass mould to produce a lighter, more convenient object that could be fitted together or stacked, one inside the other. The latter are generally thought to date from the late 1700s/early 1800s and only in Pahang. Taking all the above into account and the fact that these items were interchangeable across all the Malay states and Sumatra (for tin always had a defined value by weight) we would date this particular Tampang as around 1600 from Perak. The above is a synopsis of a variety of different documents and other sources, including the Muzium Negara publication, "Tin Hat and Animal Money" by Shaw, W., Kassim Haji Ali, M (1970), held in the ipohWorld library.

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