Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Zemis and Coins

Rudy and Irene, the owners of R & I Patton Jewerly, are two people to whom the interns owe a great deal of thanks. This is because R & I Patton donates to the Friends archeology program 100% of the sales of gold and silver zemis sold in their store. They also provide bronze and silver zemis to the Friends to sell in our boutique or on the web at

Irene Patton, under the guidance of Ken Wild, archeologist with the National Park Service Caribbean Archeology program, made replicas of ceramic artifacts (zemis) found at the Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay sites. The terra cotta zemis were made by the Taino Indians who lived on St. John before Columbus. They represented spirits of ancestors, animals, birds and reptiles that served to convey special messages to the present and other world. They were attached to bowl rims and were broken after ceremonial use.

Rudy and Irene are also invaluable for their knowledge of coins and have provided some information regarding the 1822 Curacao coin featured in the previous blog. Rudy reports that"

"The coin is from (no surprise) Curacao Netherlands Antilles. The minting date is not so certain (surprise!)
This coin is a 1 Stuiver which is on the reverse side with a star in thelower field. The obverse has Curacao in the upper field, the date, 1822 inthe middle field and a star in the lower field below a line. The coin wasminted in the Netherlands (as Denmark minted coinage for use in the DanishWest Indies) in 1822 and then the dies were used again when it was alsostruck in 1840-1841. So even though it carries the date 1822, it may havebeen minted in 1840-41. It circulated at that later date as a 2 Centpiece. The star was the mint privy mark for the either the Enkhuizen mintor the Hoorn mint in West Friesland, The Netherlands.
This was shortly after the second British occupation of Curacao during theNapoleonic Wars (1800-1803 and 1807-1816.)
--1994 Standard Catalog of World Coins, 21st Edition by Chester L. Krauseand Clifford Mishler (covering coinage 1801 to 1994) Newer editions areavailable from Amazon.
BTW it is probably worth less than $100 on the World Coin market. Thecondition would be "Fine." This is the lowest condition assigned. Of course it is invaluable as a part of the excavation in Cinnamon Bay."
Ed Rothfuss adds that "It took 48 of these little silver coins to equal 8 reaals (schellings) or one peso, the equivalent of our 19th century silver dollar."
Many thanks to R&I Patton for providing this information and for their great jewerly! Please visit their website at to learn more.

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