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My Quarter Annas


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Here I am posting my collection of Quarter Annas. I aquired them in 2002 on a visit to Bagamoyo, Tanzania - an old Swahili town on the Indian Ocean that used to be the colonial capital of Tanganyika.


These are copper coins, slightly larger in size than a modern American quarter dollar. They were initailly issued by the British East India Company, though as you will see, there were a number of entities that minted versions of this coin.


I have six of these coins. As far as I know they aren't particularly valuable - they cost me about $1 apiece. I like them because I feel they illustrate the cultural fusion that was going on around the Indian Ocean trade routes during the 19th century.


Here is the first:


I am unclear as to what the symbol on the front of the coin is, though it appears to be some sort of heladic seal that includes some lions and a sheild with a cross. The revers features a wreath, the inscription "East Indian Company", and "One Quarter Anna", as well as a short phrase in what I believe is Arabic.


The coin is dated 1835. The British East India company was founded in 1600, so by this point, they had been minting coins for centuries...

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I do not know when this coin was minted. The English words that I can make out on the reverse read "Imam of Muscat and Oman" With the exception of "1/4 Anna", the rest is in Arabic.


It would make sense that this is an Omani minted coin, as the nearby (to Bagomoyo) island of Zanzibar was controlled by Oman durring the 18th century, prior to its falling under British Influence.

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This last coin bears the date of 1892, and features German on the front, and Arabic on the reverse. I'm not sure if this German coin quite qualifies as a "Quarter Anna", but to your average Swahili fish trader at the time, it was probably considerd an equivalent.


This coin was minted when Bagomoyo was the capital of German East Africa. That particular area had been taken by Germany durring the "Scramble for Africa" of the late 19th century, and would remain a German colony up until World War I, when it became British Tanganyika. At independance in 1964, Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar to become the nation of Tanzania as we know it today.

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