LOT 240
SOLD €26000,00

[V.O.C. Banknotes] Extremely rare letterpress/ manuscript V.O.C. letter of credit for Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

"No. [filled out in pen: vijfhonderd negentien] goet voor Ryksdaalders 5. Zegge Vyf Ryksdaalders. Wy ondergetekende certificeeren, dat Thoonder deezes, by de Compagnie te goet heeft Vyf Ryxsdaalders van 48. zwaare Stuyvers, Indisch-Geld, voor welkers waerde dees Kreditbrief overal ten deezen Eilande gangbaar zal gehouden worden. Kolombo den 17. september anno 1795." Letter of credit issued by the Dutch East India Company, bifolium w. letterpress text in Dutch, Sinhala and Tamil typeset, signed by the last governor of the island, Johan Gerard van Angelbeek (1794-96), by T.G. Hofland (according to Ceylon Coins and Currencies "Negotie boekhouder") and by 1 more person, unidentified, w. black rectangular stamped seal of Colonel James Stuart in the middle of signature George Gregory in pen (see explanation below), 24.5 x 16.5 cm.

Folded, minimal other imperfections. Landwehr, V.O.C. 1099 (two copies, 1 in the Netherlands and 1 in Sri Lanka, ostensibly not filled out). Extraordinary and very rare early "banknote", which remained valid for 117 years. In September 2017 a copy was auctioned off in London. The history of this letter of credit: "After the British Invasion of Ceylon in 1795 the Dutch surrendered to the British, Trincomalee on 1795 August 26th, Jaffna on 1795 September 27th. Doubts arose among the populace about the ability of the Dutch Government to redeem the Kredit Brieven owing to the threatened investment of Colombo by the British. By Plakaat of 1795 December 18th Notice was given to issue Paper Money of smaller denominations 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 Rix-Dollars. Called Kas Nooten the notes were issued dated 1796 January 1st. The British under Article 6 of the Capitulation of Colombo, on 1796 February 15th accepted the liability for up to £50,000 (i.e. 468,750 Ryxd) of Kredit Brieven and Kas Nooten still in Circulation and pay interest at 3% per Annum, payable half yearly. Notes [including ours] were Endorsed in English in pen with 3 percent per annum on this Kredit Brief payable by the British Government of Ceylon under the condition of the Sixth article of the Capitulation of Columbo and on back of Kas Nooten Bearing Interest 3 percent for Annum. Below a Black rectangular Seal of COL.STUART with Persian text in middle of Signature Geo. Gregory over Reg. Colonel James Stuart led the British troops to take Ceylon from the Dutch. George Gregory was collector for Colombo for the British. (...) The Dutch promissory notes taken over by the British Government in 1796, were never called in. (...). After obtaining the approval of the Secretary of State and protracted negotiations with the holders the Government bought in the 130 [remaining] notes in 1912, for a sum of Rs. 13,890 and cancelled them, thus wiping off finally a permanent charge on public funds." (Dutch Ceylon Paper Money 1785-96, online article). From 15 February 1796 up to 1912 the note retained its value for the British state. All this has been noted on the banknote, as its validity had to be extended annually by hand. The note (apparently one of 130 copies still in circulation by 1912) is therefore abundantly covered with these extensions, also on page 2 of the bifolium (together with transfer registrations by name). The stamp "Cancelled' has been applied to the printed side and on p. 2. We thank Burgersdijk and Niermans for their help with this description and that of the two other V.O.C. letters of credit in this auction.

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