British Museum collections, £12.99
Gold S.Thome of João III, king of Portugal
Goa, India, AD 1548-57
Doubting Thomas in India
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to settle in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, to advance their trade. They also produced coinage for their settlers and traders. Malacca (captured in 1511) was the site of the first of these coinages, using the same material, tin, as had their predecessors, the sultans of Malacca. Goa, captured in 1510, was the main Portuguese settlement. Some of the coinage was produced for the internal use of their settlers and traders, and of native peoples directly subject to them. However, for their large-scale international trade, the Portuguese used high-value western gold (their own cruzados and Venetian ducats), supported by locally-produced pagodas and larins. From the mid-sixteenth century the Portuguese provided their own equivalents to some Asian coins, mostly from the mint at Goa. The gold S.Thome appeared in 1548-9 as the equivalent of the pagoda, but was in appearance a western coin, with St Thomas, Apostle of India, on the back.
B.J. Cook, Origins, evolution and circula (Delhi, 1998)
J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)