Keeling Cocos Islands “Plastic Ivory” Tokens

Keeling Cocos Islands Tokens

The Keeling-Cocos Islands were 27 coral islands situated in the Indian Ocean located 1,300 miles northwest of Australia.  They were discovered by Captain William Keeling of the British East India Company in 1609.  A settlement was established on Direction Island by English adventurer, Alexander Hare and Captain John Clunes Ross for the purpose of storing East Indian spices for reshipment to Europe.  When the venture failed, Hare left the island and Clunies Ross became its sole owner.  The island began exporting coconut products, calcium and phosphate.   The coral group became a British protectorate in 1856, was attached to the colony of Ceylon in 1878, and was placed under the administration of the Strait Settlements in 1882.  In 1903, the group was annexed to the Strait Settlements and incorporated into the colony of Singapore until November 1955 when the island was placed under Australian administration.  Currently, only two of the islands are inhabited by just over 600 people.

In 1913, Clunies-Ross issued coins made of “plastic ivory” to be used by the workers at the company store.  Coins came in denominations of 5 Cents, 10 Cents, 25 Cents, 50 Cents, 1 Rupee, 2 Rupees and 5 Rupees and each coin had its own serial number stamped on it.  For example, the serial number on the 5 Cents is 1662, on the 10 Cents is 665, etc.

Mintages of these coins are as follows: 5 Cents – 5,000, 10 Cents – 5,000, 25 Cents – 5,000, 50 Cents – 2,000, 1 Rupee – 2,000, 2 Rupees – 1,000 and 5 Rupees – 1,000.  Consequently, the coins are considered quite rare, especially a complete set such as this.

Image courtesy of the Australian Coin Auctions of 05/07/2011.    (

Country and coin information courtesy of Krause Standard Catalogue of World Coins 1901 – 2000, 37th Edition, and Wikipedia article on Cocos (Keeling) Islands.


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