Archive for September, 2011

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

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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

Austria, 1 schilling, 1970

September 24, 2011

Jump forward seven years.

Austria, 1 schilling, 1970 (KM #2886)


Not legal tender since 2001, in case you were wondering. Contains a few cents of brass, that’s all.

1970 brings to mind Apollo 13, Patton and the Osaka World’s Fair, in that order.

Mintage is 10,678,600
Metal Aluminum-bronze
Weight 4.2 g
Diameter 22.5 mm
Thickness 1.1 mm
Engravers Ferdinand Welz (obverse)
Edwin Grienauer (reverse)
Shape Round
Orientation Medal alignment
Demonetized 02-28-2002

United Kingdom, half penny, 1963

September 24, 2011

We took a trip on a grand old ship….

United Kingdom, half penny, 1963 (KM #896)


Under the pre-decimal system, this coin was worth 1/2 of a penny, or 1/24th of a shilling, or 1/480th of a pound sterling. That’s almost one fifth of a decimal penny! What a low valued coin! USD $0.0032! People complain enough about one cent being useless. Think of how much grief there would be if we still used thirds of a cent.

But the matter is moot since this coin, since it lost legal tender status decades ago. But it still has 4 or 5 cents of copper in it.

1963 is, of course, the year JFK was assassinated. From Russia With Love and The Great Escape were big at the movies. Alcatraz is shuttered. The Beatles record and release Please Please Me. The USS Thresher is lost with all hands to an unknown cause. Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.

Mintage is 45,036,000
Metal Bronze
Weight 5.7 g
Diameter 25.4 mm
Thickness 1.3 mm
Engravers Mary Gillick (obverse)
Thomas Humphrey Paget (reverse)
Shape Round
Orientation Medal alignment ↑↑
Demonetized 08-01-1969

Italy, 10 lire, 1953

September 21, 2011

I’m surprised that this common Italian coin has not been featured already.

Italy, 10 lire, 1953 (KM #93)


The aluminum 10-lire coin debuted in 1951 and was minted for half a century through 2001, right until the euro advent. It features a plow and wheat, illustrating Italy’s agricultural bounty. Who can imagine Italy without pasta?

What else was going on in 1953? Dwight Eisenhower took office as President. Joseph Stalin died. An armistice brokered a truce for the Korean War (which still stands to this day). Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for treason, allegedly for selling nuclear secrets to the Soviets. The atomic submarine Nautilus was under construction. Watson and Crick discover the DNA double helix, and Jonas Salk reveals his polio vaccine. Hilary conquers Everest. Elizabeth II is crowned. My mother’s parents got married.

Mintage = 151,500,000
Metal Aluminum
Weight 1.6 g
Diameter 23.25 mm
Thickness 1.5 mm
Engraver Giuseppe Romagnoli
Shape Round
Orientation Coin alignment
Demonetized 02-28-2002

Canada, 1 cent, 1977

September 18, 2011

Close to home, here’s a Canadian coin for a change.

Canada, 1 cent, 1977 (KM #59.1)


Ah, 1977… back when US and Canadian cents were still bronze. 1977 will be forever remembered as the year that gave us Star Wars.

This coin is still worth one cent in Canada, and will exchange for a US cent too. I wonder how long that will last as Canada currently debates the discontinuation of the cent. it is my opinion that the fate of the one cent coin (both US and Canadian) is purely political; its economic fate has already been sealed. I think both US and Canadian cents will stop production by decade’s end, 2020.

Mintage = 453,762,670
Metal Bronze
Weight 3.24 g
Diameter 19.05 mm
Thickness 1.65 mm
Engravers Arnold Machin (obverse)
George Edward Kruger Gray (reverse)
Shape Round
Orientation Medal alignment

Italy, 50 lire, 1962

September 18, 2011

Same coin as the one from March 6th, just a different year.

Italy, 50 lire, 1962 (KM #95.1)


These 50-lire coins are very common in foreign coin bins at local coin shows. They are worth very little since they are not rare, no longer legal tender, and only made of stainless steel. Mintage is 17.7 million.

For me the defining thing about 1962 was the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Metal Stainless Steel
Weight 6.25 g
Diameter 24.8 mm
Thickness 1.95 mm
Engraver Giuseppe Romagnoli
Shape Round
Orientation Coin alignment
Demonetized 02-28-2002