The Exchange : New York's First Cent

New York's First Cent

In the early 1600's, the Dutch had the largest merchant fleet in Europe. They worked closely with the Portuguese and were able to collect valuable maps and directions. This lead to the 1600's becoming known as the "Golden Age" of Dutch history. The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC, in Dutch) was established at the beginning of this time in 1602. They were one of the first multinational corporations and the first company to issue stock. Originally, it was set up to profit from the spice trade but, due to great success, it gained power including governmental support, the ability to wage war, coin money, and establish colonies. 


In 1609, Henry Hudson was sent to on an exploratory mission of North America. His goal was to find a Northwest Passage, an all water route to China through America. He explored the area around the New York Metropolitan area, which lead to the Hudson River being named after him. While exploring he discovered the abundance of beavers and sent news about the exploitation of beaver pelts. Trappers and hunters came and New Netherlands officially became a Dutch settlement in 1624 (in 1667 it was renamed New York). The capital of was New Amsterdam located on the southern tip of Manhattan. This land was purchased from the Shinnecock Indians for trade goods valued at around $24. The Native Americans had no concept of land ownership and only later came to understand what the Dutch had in mind.  


Due to the fact that the Dutch were instrumental in the founding of New York, their coinage joined the Spanish, Portuguese, and British coins used for daily transactions in the American colonies. The duit was a small copper Dutch coin minted by the Dutch East India Company for use wherever the Dutch settled or traded. The duit was worth 2 penning, with 8 duit pieces equal to one stuiver and 160 equal to one gulden. These coins, monogramed with VOC, were valid in Indonesia and later in the Americas. The obverse contains the VOC monogram with a date below between 1726 and 1794. The reverse contains crowned arms of the respective province. The duit was often used as a cent, earning it the title of "New York's First Cent".


Today, if you know what you are looking for, you can add one of New York's First cents to your collection for around $10!  



Ames, Glenn J. (2008). The Globe Encompassed: The Age of European Discovery, 1500-1700. pp. 102-103.

Wikipedia: Dutch East India Company

Encyclopaedia Britannica: Dutch East India Company New York Penny Dutch Duit Copper


Written by Gavin Buckley at 14:00



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