Half Cent, Coin Type from North Borneo - detailed information

Half Cent, Coin Type from North Borneo (issued 1885 - 1907)
Coin TypeHalf Cent

The British North Borneo Company had the right to produce coin under its Royal Charter, granted in 1881. It had 1 cent coins struck in England from 1882 and 1/2 cent pieces from 1885. These coins were linked to the silver dollar as used in the Straits Settlement and Hong Kong. In 1904 the Company moved from the use of bronze to copper-nickel for the 1 cent.

The half cent coin measured 72 grains in the measurement units of the time, which is equal to 4.66 grammes. It was first authorised for circulation by Ordinance No.4 of 1885.

The currency of the British North Borneo Company was demonetized on 1st September 1953, after which date the currency of the Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya and British Borneo became sole legal tender. The latter was gradually replaced by the coinage issued by Bank Negara Malaysia which was introduced in Sabah in 1967 and finally became sole legal tender on 16th January 1969.


Shield of Arms of the British North Borneo Chartered Company; within the shield, a lion above a dhow (native boat) with sails; below, the date; the mint mark (H for The Mint Birmingham Limited, known as Ralph Heaton and Sons Limited before 1879), above the date.

Obverse Inscription [year]

Within a wreath of olive branches, HALF CENT; above and below the denomination it is repeated vertically in Chinese characters: 洋元半分 ("yang yuan pan fen", or "foreign dollar half cent"); below the wreath the denomination in Malay ("tengah sen", of "half cent" in Jawi script); around above, BRITISH NORTH BORNEO Co.

Reverse Inscription BRITISH NORTH BORNEO Co. HALF CENT 洋元半分
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone

Krause lists these coins as bronze. However, "The Coins of Malaysia" (1969) by Kevin Kavanagh and "The Encyclopaedia of the Coins of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, 1400-1967" (1986) by Singh Saran list them as made of copper.

References to additional information:

[Book] Atkins, James. 1889. The Coins and Tokens of the Possessions and Colonies of the British Empire. p 231.
[Book] Kavanagh, Kevin F. 1969. The Coins of Malaysia, pp 61-64.
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue of British Commonwealth Coins, pp 82-85.
[Book] Saran, Singh. The Encyclopaedia of the Coins of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, 1400-1967. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Malaysia Numismatic Society, 1986. pp 373-411.

Coin Type: Half Cent - (5) Coins
Coin NameMintageEffigyLegend
Half Cent 1885 1,000,000 1885
Half Cent 1886 1,000,000 1886
Half Cent 1887 5,000,000 1887
Half Cent 1891 2,000,000 1891
Half Cent 1907 1,000,000 1907
Royal Mint
Royal Mint
Half Cent: Details
CountryNorth Borneo
CurrencyBritish North Borneo Dollar
Face Value1/2 (x Cent)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1953)
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
Size23.500 mm
Mass4.660 g
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Half Cent: Photos
Coin - 1/2 Cent, British North Borneo Company, 1891
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Coin - 1/2 Cent, British North Borneo Company, 1891
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY