Coins as gauge for growth VOC- doits to probe Java’s deep monetisation, 1700–1800

Number: 
49
Author: 
Feenstra, A.

During the eighteenth century the VOC imported over a billion small copper coins (doits) to Java, which is a remarkable operation for the world’s largest enterprise at that time, since these coins were unfit to pay for the company’s wholesale trade. This paper argues that the VOC responded to Java’s specific need for small coins, because people increasingly relied on the market for daily necessities and became less dependent on subsistence farming. The alternative explanations of population growth, substitution and inflation do not satisfactorily explain the increased demand for these copper doits. Therefore, this paper proposes that Java’s economy underwent a transformation, particularly after 1750.

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