Printed Money, Brewer & Joske Sugar Mills - Ca.1871-75



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Fiji Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau

Ratu Sera
Cakobau REX

5.6.1871 - 10.10.1874

FIJI Brewer & Joske, Private Banknote Issues, 1871-73

Colony of Fiji

Printer: Hamel & Ferguson, Melbourne

PRIVATE ISSUES -  Brewer & Joske Sugar Mills

N.10, CR.1, P.UNL  $1/4  1.1.1873
Signed: Brewer & Joske, fraudulent?

Back No.187

N.11, CR.2, P.UNL  1 Dollar 1.10.1873

Images Needed

Fiji N.1, P.UNL, CR.3  2 1/2 Dollars  1.10.1871
N.12, CR.3, P.UNL(1)  2 Dollars  1.10.1871
Unsigned as Usual, Partial wmk top edge  CL1


N.12, CR.3, P.UNL  2  1.10.1871  *
Unsigned as Usual


N.15, CR.4, P.UNL  1 Pound 1.10.1871

Images Needed


Two early Suva , Fiji settlers, Wm. H. O'Halloran Brewer & Paul Joske, convinced from earlier experiments in sugar manufacturing conducted in Fiji, established the first sugar mill in the islands in 1872. They produced small quantities of crystallized sugar which they sold for 5d per pound and eventually scaled up production shipping ten tons to AustraliBrewer & Joske Sugar Mills Ca. 1870 Suva, Fijia in April 1874. The soil conditions in Suva proved unsuitable to maintain production and the venture struggled on for a few years closing in 1875. The pair had reputedly invested 30,000 in the venture, an enormous sum at that time. Brewer distraught from the experience committed suicide.  Joske started a new unrelated firm.

Brewer & Joske's experience dampened others from starting new sugar production for some time. Some years later, with the help of the new government in Fiji, the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. of Sydney, Australia setup a large successful sugar mill which by 1900 employed over 7000 men, mostly indentured East Indians. Sugar became Fiji's most important industry and remains a chief export today. The indentured Indians were given an option of obtaining permanent residency and a small plot of land in exchange for working without pay. Many accepted this opportunity as the conditions in India were not very attractive at the time. Ethnic East Indians now outnumber native Fijians, a situation which has caused political problems in recent years.

Little is known of these notes, although they were apparently the first issues emanating from the current capital of Suva. Fiji
Sera Cakobau
Young Sera CakobauTreasury notes, Bolivian Dollars, German Thalers along with many other types of foreign coins and currencies circulated. Hastily scrawled I.O.U's were also issued by merchants and circulated as currency. In an 1872 Brewer & Joske newspaper ad for the sale of general merchandise, payment was accepted in "beach currency  (which may have included their notes),  Gold and Treasury Notes taken at par". At the time many other Fiji merchants were discounting Fiji Treasury notes up to 20% because of the instability of the government. On 23 July 1872 King Ratu Sera Cakobau issued "An Act to Establish and Define Legal Tender of Money in Fiji" which offered to exchange Treasury Notes for gold or silver or 10% Treasury Debentures.

An August 23, 1873 Notice published by F.C. Hedemann in Levuka stated
"As the GOVERNMENT are not able TO CASH THEIR NOTES  I consider the GOVERNMENT NOTES (the LEGAL TENDER) from and after this date are NOT TAKEN in my Stores  Or ANY OTHER CONSIDERATION". The financial situation in Fiji remained precarious and it was reported that by 1874, Treasury notes were being discounted up to 40%. A subsequent government act (XXII) made any legally issued gold or silver coin of any country legal tender in Fiji.  
Brewer & Joske, probably intended to finance their various ventures with these issues, however no evidence exists of any backing or that the notes were officially released. Some probably slipped into use, along with other contemporary "foreign" currencies accepted in Fiji at the time.  It is more likely that they were used as store chits at the Brewer & Joske Sugar Mills since only one note has surfaced with a questionable signature.

Notes have been found with values of Dollar, 1 Dollar, 2 Dollars and 1 Pound. Several are pictured by ** Rogers & Cantrell in their 1989 book, Paper Money of Fiji I, published by the
International Bank Note Society. Examples shown in the book are from The Fiji National Archives,  the Fiji Museum and private collections. All of the notes I examined at the Fiji museum show severe signs of the tropical climate.

I know of only one note found with a signature, a 1/4 Dollar  shown above. However, the signature appears fraudulent. All other notes are found without signatures.  Very few pieces ever come on the market and all are rare with the 1/4 Dollar being very rare.







204 x 110 mm





1 Dollar


122 x 78 mm







192 x 110 mm

Partial Watermark along top edge




1 Pound 


195 x 110 mm

Watermark "Hodgkinson & Co.

(1) Previously listed in SCWPM, 3rd Edition as P.A1
** Rogers & Cantrell, Paper Money of Fiji I, published
1989 by the
International Bank Note Society


CL1   We gratefully acknowledge CL1 for provided these images.

* We gratefully acknowledge Neville Cuthbert who provided images used in this section.

We gratefully acknowledge Don Cleveland, IBNS Assistant General Secretary & Assistant Treasurer for Australasia who provided images used in this section.

This section has been renumbered in accordance with the 12th Edition of the SCWPM, Modern Issues, 1961 - Present