SOUTH AFRICA (Page 5 of 5)

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Tokens of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd.

Many of South Africa's older tokens were issued by the owners of companies involved in the mining industry.  Amongst these are the tokens of the well-known De Beers group in Kimberley. This company dates back to 1888, when Cecil John Rhodes, who owned the de Beers Company, persuaded his rival Barney Barnato, the owner of the rich Kimberley Mine, to join forces. The amalgamation gave rise to De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited.

Within a short time after the merger many other mines such as the adjoining Du Toitspan, Wesselton and Bultfontein mines joined the group which then controlled something like 90% of world diamond production. For over 100 years the company has maintained world dominance in all aspects of diamond exploration, mining, trading etc... These days the "De Beers" group of companies has mining operations not just in Southern Africa but also in Canada.
The use of tokens probably started as early as 1888. The native labour lived in compounds (later called hostels) that adjoined the mine, and these tokens were used to buy from the mine store. They were issued solely for buying from the store, and were not used elsewhere. Also they were not called into being because of a shortage of small change, as was often the case with issues elsewhere.   The labourers were obliged to buy these tokens out of their wages as the stores accepted only token money and not real money.

As regards the tokens of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd., we recognise five separate issues.

(1) A brass set of five pieces - a halfcrown; a shilling; a shilling with a large central hole; a sixpence with the right-hand quarter sheared off; and a square threepence (or, as it was called, a "tickey"). Each with the central denomination, "D.B.C.M. LD" curved-above and "STORE" curved-below and then a beaded border and rim - to the obverse and a blank/flat reverse.

(2), (3) and (4) are issues for mines in the immediate vicinity. Each issued a halfcrown; a shilling; a sixpence and a tickey, all made of a dull white metal (with some resemblance to Zinc) and the designs follow those of the Brass set. Further details:-

(2) Bultfontein Mine : The distinctive feature of this issue is a cut-out dumbell in the centre;

(3) Du Toitspan Mine : Here the distinguishing feature is a cut-out of a crescent moon, and

(4) Wesselton Mine : These tokens are plain, i.e. no cut-outs.

(5) At some stage, in later years, the company issued plastic tokens for the purchase of bread and milk. Details as follows:-
A uniface red plastic token with a round central hole, marked:-"D.B.C.M. BREAD" curved-above the hole and "1 lb." curved-below between two dots.
A uniface white plastic token with a round central hole, marked:-"D.B.C.M. MILK" curved-above the hole and "1 Pint" curved-below between two dots.

Some pictures - here an example of each denomination of the "dull white metal" types - including one of each of the two cut-outs. 

De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited Zinc 3d   De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited Zinc 6d   De Beers Consolidated Mines 1 Shilling
De Beers Consolidated Mines, dull white metal, 3d with dumbell cut-out, 6d without cut-out and 1 Shilling, without cut-out (scan scaled to 200dpi)

De Beers Consolidated Mines, Zinc, halfcrown
De Beers Consolidated Mines, dull white metal, halfcrown, crescent moon cut-out (scan scaled to 200dpi)

For reasons unknown, the halfcrowns have an incuse springbok; the shillings an incuse lion; the sixpences an incuse sheep; and the tickeys an incuse hare.

the animals on the D.B.C.M. tokens
Here are the animals - hare, sheep, lion and springbok - stamped incuse. Notice how all are a similar size. (scanned at 600dpi)

As regards rarity, the dull white metal tokens are relatively common though usually found somewhat worn. The brass pieces of halfcrown, sixpence and tickey are seldom encountered.

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New page at May 2013 - Tokens of De Beers Consolidated Mines.