“The First New York Penny”

The first European settlers on the island of Manhattan were Dutch traders from the Dutch West India Company. New Amsterdam, as their settlement was called, was administered not by the Dutch crown, but by the trading company itself. Indeed, Peter Minuit, who famously bought Manhattan Island from the Canarsie Indians for the equivalent of $24, did so in his capacity as the company’s colonial director. It was the first in a long line of New York City commercial real estate transactions.

Peter Minuit haggles for Manhattan Island.

Peter Minuit haggles for Manhattan Island.

The company the Dutch called the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or VOC, was the first company to ever issue stock, and was arguably the most powerful company of all time. The VOC was such an economic powerhouse that it minted its own money.

The most famous of this currency is the duit, a copper coin worth 1/160th of the gulden or gilder. (Minuit paid 60 gilders for Manhattan, according to a Company memorandum, which means the island could have been had for a mere 9,600 duits).

This one-duit coin was widely used in the New World, and came to be known as “The First New York Penny.” It was used as currency long after the Dutch ceded the island to the British, and New Amsterdam became New York

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