via BiblioAsia, Oct-Dec 2023: The discovery of two ancient gold coins with Jawi inscriptions in Singapore in the 19th century, believed to be from Aceh, highlights potential trade connections and historical significance, but their whereabouts remain a mystery.
Acehnese coins may have been a widely accepted foreign currency in Johor from the mid to late 16th century after its conquest by Aceh in 1564.6 During this period, the island of Singapore was under Johor’s jurisdiction and gold coins were most likely used for high value trade or as a marker of status.
The 1849 Singapore Library Report published Logan’s transliteration of the Jawi text inscribed on the coins into Rumi (Romanised Malay). However, the text in the published report does not match any of the recent studies on Acehnese gold, which suggests that the initial reading of the text could be inaccurate. At this point, one would need to examine the original artefacts to confirm if the original transliteration was accurate. This, however, is a problem, because the two Singapore Library coins have vanished.
By 1884, the coins were no longer listed in an exhibition catalogue of the Raffles Museum. Karl Richard Hanitsch, the first director of the Raffles Library and Museum, wrote an article on the history of the museum published in 1921 where he mentioned that there was a list of artefacts initially associated with the Singapore Library that could no longer be found. The coins may have been included in this list.