Four coins

September 19, 2013

I am negotiating a coin swap with another collector. He requested high-quality scans of the coins he requested. Here they are, in the unlikely event that anyone else could have productive use of these images:

four coins obv

four coins rev

India, 1 rupee, 2008 (Mumbai)

June 28, 2012

Here’s something different…

India, 1 rupee, 2008 (Mumbai Mint) (KM #331)


India’s coins in the British era were of high quality, the the mints of the Republic of India have let the quality standards slip a lot since 1990. Many of India’s coins today are struck at such low relief that legends and mintmarks are often illegible even on brand new coins. The dot for Mumbai was barely visible on this specimen. In India, what we Americans would call the Thumbs Up means “one” to the Indians. It’s the size of a US quarter, and yet this coin is worth less than USD $0.02!

Metal Stainless Steel
Weight 4.8 g
Diameter 25 mm
Thickness 1.47 mm
Shape Round
Orientation Medal alignment

France, 1 franc, 1992

April 13, 2012

And here is today’s coin…

France, 1 franc, 1992 (KM #925.1)


I first featured this type of French franc on 25 August 2011.

What happened in 1992? The Soviet Union dissolved into the Confederation of Independent States. Former Soviet states Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia, now separate nations, minted their first coins in decades. Mexico revalued their peso 1,000 to one. Argentina revalued their peso 10,000 to one. The Olympic Games were held in Barcelona, Spain. Bill Clinton won the election, making George H. W. Bush the latest incumbent president to lose a reelection bid and our latest single-term president. The Rodney King Riots tore apart Los Angeles. Jay Leno replaced Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. Disney scored a hit with Aladdin, but Army of Darkness and A Few Good Men also draw movie audiences. And I visited New Mexico

Metal Nickel
Weight 6 g
Diameter 24 mm
Thickness 1.79 mm
Engraver Louis-Oscar Roty
Shape Round
Orientation Coin alignment
Demonetized 02-17-2002

Fix America’s cash!

April 10, 2012

With Canada’s recent announcement to stop producing their 1-cent coins, there has been lots of talk of if and when the United States will follow suit. Here’s my not-so-humble opinion.

I have long believed that the hundredth of a dollar has become obsolete, no longer really meaningful in daily commerce. I think customers and merchants alike would be happy enough with the tenth of a dollar, one dime, to become the new lowest subunit of a dollar. Prices would become $4.9 instead of $4.90. (The United States used to have a one-thousandth of a cent, one mil, that has only seen sporadic use in American history. Why it persists at gas stations generations after it died everywhere else is beyond me. $3.479 per gallon…. really?)

The death of “cent” as subunit would of course kill the penny and nickel. But it leaves the quarter dollar in an awkward spot. In a world without nickels, you couldn’t offer up three quarters to pay for a $0.7 item and expect change back. As cash, quarters would only be useful in pairs. What should we do with our former workhorse denomination?

My wife points out that the quarter is still the default coin of choice for coin-operated machines like gumball machines, parking meters, car washes, and laundromats. Eliminating the quarter would put those machine owners in the bind of either relying on an obsolete coin or to make expensive upgrades to their machines. I’ll revisit this concern after presenting my proposal.

The new lowest coin would be the dime, of course. It’s small but still potent enough to bother with. We’ve minted 78.4 billion dimes since 1965, and that should be enough to get us by while the Mint increases supply to match increasing demand. Leave well enough alone.

Instead of the quarter, the next coin would be the half dollar. While most of us have never seen a half dollar in years, if not decades, we have lots of them… over 2.7 billion minted since 1971. Those halves are sitting around unused, collecting dust while the quarter does all the work. Let’s got those halves to good use. For values under a dollar, the dime and the half dollar will suffice. 2.7 billion halves won’t be enough for commerce in the long term, but it would be enough for the interim, especially while we use up our standing supply of quarters until the Mint can match half dollar output to consumer demand.

For those of you who think that the half dollar is too heavy, one half dollar weighs the exact same as the coins it would replace, two quarters, at 11.34 grams. Any currently-running commemorative design series for the quarter would transition to the half dollar instead.

The next coin up is the dollar coin. We treat dollar bills like spare change anyway, and a single $1 note is kinda useless all by itself. Meanwhile, we have billions of brass dollar coins sitting in Federal Reserve vaults waiting for consumer demand to materialize, which never has. While the vending machine industry has supported the dollar coin, and while mass transit systems have begun dispensing them in ticket machines, the dollar coin has failed to catch on in America because the dollar bill continues its zombie existence. End production of the dollar bill, and all those Sacageawea and Presidential dollar coins will be used and accepted. And with the quarter gone, there will be no more mistaking a dollar coin for a quarter anymore.

But I hear your cry…. “coins are too heavy”… “I want my folding money”…. “paper is more convenient”. Well fine, for those of you who insist on paper money, I offer as a $1 bill substitute the $2 bill. It’s more convenient than two $1 bills, and again, like the half dollar and dollar coins, we have a standing supply of them that aren’t being used. If you’re carrying two dollar coins in your loaded pockets, then you have enough to trade up for a $2 bill, and your heavy coin burden is over. You shouldn’t have to carry more than a single $1 at a time. Similarly, you wouldn’t have to worry about carrying more than one half dollar at a time, either. Having a readily available $2 bill will reduce the number of dollar coins you get back in change, too.

I think we should have a $2 coin like Canada, the UK, the Eurozone, and Australia do, but I’m not going to push my luck here. America has never had a $2 denomination of coin, no standing supply to take advantage of. $2 coins would have to be made from scratch, and that would take time and money. But we have a $2 bill we can start using tomorrow…. right now. But we should wisely expect that we will need a $2 coin in the future, and ought to be thinking about it now.

There’s another benefit to using the $2 bill. It preserves the jobs and workloads of all those employees who make the current $1 bill at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. They would simply switch from printing $1s to printing $2s. Their jobs are safe, and Crane Paper Company can keep selling the BEP their special paper too, thus preserving Crane’s precious government contract. $1 makers keep their jobs… Crane keeps their business, and we are saved from using too many heavy coins. It’s a win for everyone involved.

I see no need to change the lineup of current paper bills $5 and up. $5s, $10s, and $20s have been convenient and sufficient for everyday commerce for decades. We still have $50s and $100s, but those don’t get used much. Most of us would rather charge an expense that large, and most merchants are skeptical of bills over $20 already. If they stopped making $50s and $100 tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t notice. Would you?

And in a flash, America would have a modern and updated cash system composed of three denominations of coins and six denominations of bills. That’s simpler than the four (or six) coins we have now, so merchants would have extra room in their register drawers. We have enough coins on hand to start this scheme right away, without having to manufacture and stockpile new denominations of cash in advance. We’d have three easy to distinguish coins, and a “new” $2 bill to replace the $1 bill.

Kill the penny. Kill the nickel. Kill the quarter. Revive the half dollar. Replace the $1 bill with a $1 coin. Revive the $2 bill. Problem solved.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot… quarters for coin-op machines. Been to Chuck E. Cheese lately, or anywhere else that uses proprietary tokens? There’s usually a machine somewhere in there that can take a bill and turn it into a number of tokens for you to use on the premises. Why can’t laundromats and car washes do this with quarters? The quarter dollar would live on like a casino chip, constantly circulating but never leaving the few places that will honor them. The quarter is and will always be worth $0.25, even after the rest of commerce moves to the half dollar. Those who still need quarters will be able to find them and use them. Meanwhile, banks will probably end up with a supply of quarters to meet the demands of parking meter users for some time to come.

France, 1/2 franc, 1965

March 15, 2012

Sorry of the many months with posts. Here’s hoping I can climb back in this saddle and stay in it this time.

France, 1/2 franc, 1965 (KM #931.1)


In 1965, France replaced its large brass 50-centime coin with this smaller but thicker coin of solid nickel. The sower design is a French classic from the 1890s. The coin’s nickel content alone is worth about $0.09 USD. That is your consolation prize, since this coin was demonetized in the Euro Advent.

Mintage = 184,833,000
Metal Nickel
Weight 4.52 g
Diameter 19.43 mm
Thickness 1.95 mm
Engraver Louis-Oscar Roty
Shape Round
Orientation Coin alignment
Demonetized 02-17-2002

Canada, 25 cents (ice hockey), 2007

December 20, 2011

I found some foreign coins at the bank, so I now have some Coin of the Day material.

Canada, 25 cents (ice hockey), 2007 (KM #683)


Between 2007 and 2010, the Canadian Mint released 16 quarters as part of a series building hype for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. As it turns out, the gold medal finalist game for ice hockey that year was a real corker of a match… the USA versus Canada. The Canadians fought hard, and well earned their gold medal on home ice for their favorite sport!

As for the value of this coin, the Canadian dollar is just under par with the US dollar right now, so this coin is worth USD $0.241.

Metal Nickel-plated Steel
Weight 4.4 g
Diameter 23.88 mm
Thickness 1.58 mm
Engraver Susanna Blunt (obverse)
Shape Round
Orientation Medal alignment

United Arab Emirates, 50 fils, 1393 AH (1973 AD)

October 15, 2011

My mother found this one for me. It’s old, from the 14th Century… Muslim century that is.

United Arab Emirates, 50 fils, 1393 AH (1973 AD) (KM #5)


In 1971, seven emirates on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf united into one nation, now known collectively as the UAE. They adopted the dirham as their currency, which, like many Arab nations, is divided not into 100 subunits but rather 1,000 subunits known as fils. This coin is 50 fils, which is akin to our American nickel. At current exchange rates, 50 fils is worth USD $0.014. I wonder how this coin came into US circulation for my mother to find in her pocket change. Did it ride home in the pocket of a tourist fresh from the 21st Century Las Vegas that we call Dubai? Was it brought here by a US soldier home from the Gulf? Or did it simply masquerade as a US quarter? I’ve got my money on the latter.

Mintage is 8,400,000
Metal Copper-nickel
Weight 6.57 g
Diameter 24.85 mm
Thickness 1.79 mm
Shape Round
Orientation Medal alignment ↑↑
Demonetized yes

France, 2 francs, 1941 (aluminum)

September 25, 2011

Another bonus coin for today.

France, 2 francs, 1941 (aluminum) (KM #885a)


France made two kinds of 2-franc coins in 1941, using the exact same design and diameter. One is made of brass, and the other of aluminum. Today’s coin is the latter type. Next year, the 1931 design by Morlon would be replaced with the Vichy double-axe. Morlon’s design would return to French coins with the re-establishment of the legitimate French government in 1944, and would continue until Oscar Roty’s designs are resurrected in 1960 for the Noveau Franc. By the way, this coin is worthless.

Mintage is unreported.
Metal Aluminum
Weight 2.2 g
Diameter 27 mm
Thickness 1.8 mm
Engraver Pierre-Alexandre Morlon
Shape Round
Orientation Coin alignment
Demonetized yes

Switzerland, 20 rappen, 1961

September 25, 2011

The coins I pulled first for this entry is a duplicate UK penny from 1988 (featured on March 23rd). I pull again.

Switzerland, 20 rappen, 1961 (KM #29a)


As a time traveler, I love Swiss coins. This design, like the ones for the 10 rappen, 1/2 franc, 1 franc, and 2 franc coins, has survived unchanged since 1879! It’s one little bit of 19th Century everyday art that has survived to the present day. Swiss coinage has a longevity and continuity unmatched in most world currency. Only a few places on Earth can say that they are still using eh same coins that they were using 60 years ago, and Switzerland is one of those places. I would love to go roll hunting in Switzerland.

The 20 rappen coin changed metals in 1939, from nickel to copper-nickel, and has stayed in continuous production ever since. I highly respect that. Furthermore, it’s worth 22.1 cents USD right now.

Fun fact: the year 1961 can be read upside down! It was the first year since 1881 that had that distinction, and it won’t happen again until 6009 AD. (This is actually an annoying thing about 1961 when I’m looking at coins that split the year in the design, putting “19” off to the left and “61” to the right. I always have to check to see if I’m holding the coin upside down.)

Mintage is 8,234,000
Metal Copper-nickel
Weight 4 g
Diameter 21.05 mm
Thickness 1.65 mm
Engraver K. F. Voigt (reverse)
Shape Round
Orientation Medal alignment

United Kingdom, 5 pence, 1989

September 25, 2011

Here’s today’s first coin.

United Kingdom, 5 pence, 1989 (KM #937)


For most Britons, this is the youngest large-size five pence coin they’ll ever see, since the denomination was greatly reduced in size starting in 1990. (I say “most” since there was a trace amount of large-size fives struck in 1990, but they were only made for Mint sets.) Technically no longer legal tender in the UK, but possibly worth 7 cents USD if you can get some one to honor its exchange rate.

And of course, 1989 was the beginning of the end for communist rule in Europe, the year the wall came down and the Iron Curtain was torn away.

Mintage is 101,406,000
Metal Copper-nickel
Weight 5.65 g
Diameter 23.59 mm
Thickness 1.78 mm
Engravers Raphael David Maklouf (obverse)
Christopher Ironside (reverse)
Shape Round
Orientation Medal alignment
Demonetized 12-31-1990


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