Today the coins you find in your change are all produced by the Royal Mint. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if coins, and the metal to make them, disappeared.
When people have had to go to extreme lengths in the face of emergency, it has produced some of the most intriguing and interesting currencies around. And here are six of the most unusual currencies ever issued, and what drove people to create them.
The coins made from a drinking cup
In 1646 in a town under siege, with no incoming money, the people of Newark needed to find a way to pay soldiers for protection. So they reached for whatever metal they had available to make coins – and that meant their cutlery! Silver cups and plates were surrendered, cut up into small diamond shaped pieces, and had a denomination stamped onto them.
Because of the way these coins were made, you could sometimes see the pattern of the cup or plate from which the coins were made. Understandably these coins, which surely belong in a museum, are hugely desirable among collectors and are rarely available.
The notes that were issued to be devalued
It seems odd that a government would issue money just for it to be devalued. But during WWII when the American army was based in North Africa this is exactly what happened. The American government was concerned that if the Germans were to mount a successful attack, they could take over the currency. Therefore, all notes used to pay soldiers based in North Africa had a yellow seal added to them. This meant that should the Germans take over, the notes could be easily identified by their yellow seal and instantly devalued.
The Russian stamps used as German propaganda
During WW1 the Russian government found it increasingly difficult to issue coins. Instead, they turned to ‘currency stamps’ printed on thin cardboard instead of normal stamp paper. Using stamps instead of coins was a way of saving precious metal for the war effort.
Several denominations of ‘currency’ were issued, with a statement on the reverse stating that each stamp had the circulating equivalent of Silver coins. However some of these stamps soon landed in the hands of Germans who counterfeited them but with one clever detail – the statement on the reverse was changed to an anti-Russian message. The idea was to destroy confidence in the Russian government and devalue the currency.
An unusual English denomination
George III’s reign is known for the vast number of interesting numismatic pieces issued, and the Bank of England emergency tokens are no different. Conflict in George III’s reign had caused financial panic, and thousands of people hoarded silver coins out of fear.
The Royal Mint’s limited ability to issue coins posed a problem as they could not make enough coins for the demand, so eyes turned to the Bank of England. An agreement was made that allowed the Bank to issue emergency currency. However technically speaking these were tokens and not coins, which is why they appear in the unusual denominations such as 1s 6d or 1 Dollar.
Why money was burnt in revolutionary France
In revolutionary France in the early 1790s, the government issued paper money, known as Assignats, backed by the value of clergy property. The government continued to print money, and faced with an influx of counterfeits from Britain, the value of these Assignats soon reached a massive 45 Billion Livres, despite the value of clergy property only being 3 Billion Livres.
In 1796, the notes had lost all of their value and were publicly burned, to be replaced with a new paper money. Any of these surviving notes are incredibly rare as most of them were destroyed, making them very desirable among collectors.
How a Civil War turned a stamp into currency
It’s hard to imagine a small paper stamp, issued over 80 years ago, being used to pay for goods and services. But in Spain in 1938 that’s exactly what happened.
The Civil War caused the public to hoard coins out of fear, and so they all but disappeared from circulation. Because metal was in limited supply, the government turned readily available stamps into ‘coins’. Unlike Russian emergency stamp currency, these stamps were welded onto a special board with the coat of arms printed onto the reverse. The stamp value gave these new ‘coins’ a denomination, and they were released into circulation to help towns and cities trade.
With such a delicate nature and small number, it’s no wonder that these coins are scarce and difficult to track down today.
Nowadays the Royal Mint is well suited to meeting our coin demands so it’s unlikely we’ll ever need to use stamps or cutlery in place of coins! Emergency currency is always a fascinating area for collectors, with some of the rarest and most unique issues having appeared out of difficult and troubled times. It’s not often that these emergency issues appear on the market – but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye out for them!
If you’re interested…
Today you can own one of these unusual and fascinating numismatic issues – a Spanish 15 Centimos ‘Coin’. There are only an extremely limited number of these issues available worldwide, and considering the fascinating story behind these issues, our stock is likely to be snapped up fast.
Revealed for the first time today, Royal Mail are set to release 10 NEW James Bond stamps, to celebrate the milestone 25th film in the franchise, No Time To Die.
Scheduled for release on 17 March 2020, the complete set of ten BRAND NEW 2020 stamps pays tribute to the six beloved Bond actors – Connery, Moore, Dalton, Lazenby, Brosnan and Craig – as well as some of Q Branch’s most well-known gadgets on the exclusive Miniature Sheet – including the Lotus Esprit Submarine, Aston Martin, Bell-Textron Jet Pack and Little Nellie.
The stamps are likely to prove immensely popular with the British public, and collectors throughout the world!
Here’s your first look at the NEW James Bond stamps…
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in Goldeneye
Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living Daylights
Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die
George Lazenby as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger
The NEW and official UK James Bond Stamps are sure to Shake and Stir collectors
The Bond films are the longest running series in film history with James Bond known all over the world. The films are renowned for many features, including the musical accompaniment, with the theme songs having received Academy Award nominations on several occasions, and two wins.
Another important element to the Bond franchise are 007’s gadgets, including his cars and guns, which he is supplied by Q Branch.
It is these iconic gadgets which are the focus of the Minisheet in the stamp issue. Celebrating some of Q Branch’s most well-known gadgets, and centring around arguably the most famous one of them all, Bond’s DB5.
This miniature sheet isn’t quite as it seems; look at the sheet under a UV light and all will be revealed where detailed specs of each gadget will become clear. In another unusual feature the stamps carry a unique 007 perforation.
If you’re interested…
You can reserve all of the NEW Royal Mail James Bond stamps right now, postmarked with the First Day of Issue of their release, and protectively encapsulated to preserve their pristine condition for generations. Click here for details >>
At the end of the month Britain will be leaving the European Union and HM Treasury have already announced a special commemorative 50p will enter circulation to mark the significant moment.
And if you want to be kept up to date with information about this new UK Brexit 50p, click here to register your interest.
But this won’t be the first time Britain’s relationship with the EU has been commemorated on coins. Whatever your feelings on our upcoming departure from the EU, our relationship with the continent has certainly produced some of the most iconic and important 50p releases ever from The Royal Mint!
Here are the coins that tell the story of Britain in the EU…
1973 European Economic Community 50p – the FIRST commemorative 50p!
After over a decade of debate and discussion, in 1973 Britain was finally successful in its attempts to join the European Economic Community, known as the EEC. And to mark this important moment, The Royal Mint issued a brand new 50p to celebrate the UK’s accession. It features nine hands clasping each other in a circle, symbolising the nine member states of the community.
This coin now stands as a hugely significant issue in British history, but it also stands as an extremely important numismatic release. That’s because it was the FIRST EVER commemorative 50p! This was the coin that started what has become the world’s most popular coin collecting craze and paved the way for the Olympic, Beatrix Potter and Kew Gardens 50ps we’re now so familiar with.
1992/3 UK European Community Presidency – the RAREST ever 50p!
The 1992/3 50p celebrates the UK’s presidency of the European Council of Ministers, and the completion of the Single Market. The design by Mary Milner Dickens features a conference table seen from above, around which are the 12 chairs for the Council of Ministers with the UK at the head of the table.
This 50p was released at a difficult time in the UK’s relationship with Europe. A strong Eurosceptic voice began to be heard in Parliament, with Thatcher having recently stepped down as Prime Minister and the formation of the UK Independence Party.
But most collectors will be aware of this 50p as being one of the most sought-after coins ever issued by The Royal Mint. There have been some extremely scarce 50ps issued since its introduction over 50p years ago, but with a mintage of just 109,000 (around half of the Kew Gardens 50p) the EC Presidency is the rarest UK 50p coin to enter circulation!
1998 UK entry to EEC 25th Anniversary 50p – the FIRST new-sized 50p!
In 1998 a new 50p was issued to commemorate 25 years of the UK in the EEC. The previous decade had been occupied with much debate and discussion over Britain’s membership of the European Union, playing a part in the decline of the Conservative Party and the landslide election victory by Tony Blair’s Labour Party.
This 50p marked a key change in the 50p – it was the FIRST to be released in the smaller sized specification we know today. The old larger coins were removed from circulation and it’s this new sized 50p that has featured some of the UK’s most iconic coin designs.
2020 Brexit 50p – the MOST IMPORTANT coin release of the decade!
To mark the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, it has been announced that a brand new 50p will be released into circulation on 31st January along with special commemorative Gold, Silver Proof, and Brilliant Uncirculated editions available to order from that date.
The final design features the inscription ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’ and the historic date 31st January 2020 – the date the UK will officially leave the European Union.
The three previous 50ps issued to mark the UK’s relationship with the EU have all become iconic releases in their own right, and I have a feeling this brand new coin may just stand as the most collectable of them all!
If you want to be kept up to date with information about the new UK Brexit 50p, then register your interest below.
If you’re interested…
Britain’s departure from the EU at the end of the month is sure to be one of the most important historic moments of our lifetime. And to mark the occasion you can own one of a limited number of Silver Britannias alongside the original 1973 EEC 50p, specially preserved in a one-day-only DateStamp™ issue to mark Britain leaving the European Union.