In colonial days, the port of Galle, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), served as a natural staging point on the sea route linking Europe, Africa and Arabia to the riches of the Orient. This maritime road was known as the Spice Route.
The Portuguese first established a trading post in 1505. In 1640, the Dutch East India fleet arrived with 2,000 soldiers and took control the island. During the Dutch era, Galle’s fortifications were expanded to what they are today. The Dutch East India Company, with its “VOC” emblazoned on its possessions (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC in old-spelling Dutch, literally “United East Indian Company”), then controlled the Spice Route and access to the famed treasures of the East.
Cannon Beach Treasure Company duits are recovered from Galle Harbor, and Galle Fort, Sri Lanka, by Robert Lewis Knecht, Captain Carl Fismer and a small team of local divers, when they were in Sri Lanka working on the Taj Mahal Sunken Treasure project. There is no record of a shipwreck in the area, so perhaps the coins were lost when a small boat transporting them from shore to a VOC vessel sank. Others were found buried around the fort. If the coin is dated after 1796 it was recovered from a river in Indonesia and was once used in the Dutch East India Company posts on the islands. Local legend holds that several chest of these coins were dumped into the river during a revolt.
The Dutch East India Company copper coins are called duits (“doy-it”). They have been found in New York and along the East Coast, and are also called New York Pennies as the Dutch first settled and named what is now New York (of course, they called it New Amsterdam).