Wednesday, 31 August 2016

100 years old coins hidden in East New Britain Province - Papua New Guinea

A German historian has discovered vital information that suggests the possibility of gold, silver and bronze coins hidden in the Rabaul town more than 100 years ago.

These "special company coins" belonging to the German New Guinea Company that once governed parts of the northern parts of Papua New Guinea were buried in a certain location in Rabaul, according to Professor Dr Herman Hiery.

The "bird of paradise coins" were valid only in New Guinea and the currency was known as the "New Guinea Mark". It was in circulation between 1884 and 1911.

Currently, the coins are scarce and in high demand. According to Prof Hiery, a gold coin is worth a lot of money.

He mentioned his discovery during a recent historical lecture at the New Guinea Club in Rabaul and gave more information on his discovery during a recent interview with the local daily newspaper - the Post Courier.

Prof Hiery is an international expert on the German colonial era in South-East Asia and the Pacific. He is currently the Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Bayreuth in Germany.

He said before WW1, the company took the coins which were minted in Berlin, Germany, out of circulation.

"They took them all out of circulation because the German New Guinea Company was still here but not running any more government. The government was the German government and the legal tender was German money and not the special New Guinea coins of the German New Guinea Company and because they took them all out of circulation there are very, very few left that still exists," he said.

He said the coins were supposed to go on a ship back to Germany to be melted down but the Australians came during WW1 and the German officials did not know what to do with the coins so they hid them in a steel box.

The Rabaul Post Office officials wrote down the exact number of the gold, silver and copper coins and the box was hidden five metres into the ground.

He said there have been a number of volcanic eruptions in Rabaul since 1914 and the box should now be located about 10 metres below the surface.

VIDEODiscover the history of Rabaul during the WWII.


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