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.
Fabergé Eggs are some of the most valuable pieces of art on the planet, renowned for their lavish artistry, extraordinary detail and immense value. Nowadays, intact Fabergé Eggs are thought to value up to $33 million and are usually kept away under lock and key in museums, art galleries and billionaires personal collections – although some have vanished without a trace…
A bit of history…
It was in 1855 that the first Fabergé Egg was created, commissioned by Tsar Alexander III for his wife as an Easter gift. She was so thrilled with the gift that it then became a tradition that the eggs would carry on being made, two each year, as gifts for wives and mothers of aristocracy.
A little different than our (now) traditional chocolate Easter Egg!
It is thought that around 69 eggs were created from 1885 to 1917, each carefully curated by Peter Fabergé and an expert group of craftsman that used only the finest precious metals and gemstones found around the world.
What’s more, each of the eggs were rumoured to contain a unique surprise – like the ruby pendant found in Empress Maria’s first egg.
The greatest Easter Egg hunt of all time…
The fatal fall of the Romanov dynasty during the Russian revolution meant that the inaugural Fabergé Egg collection – that had been mounting over the years – was stolen and scattered throughout the world.
As the revolutionaries topped the monarchy, it is thought that some of the eggs were destroyed and others taken to sell in markets. For the last 100 years, eager arts dealers have hunted them out and with little success. One egg in particular – Nécessaire Egg – was sold to a mystery buyer in 1889 and has never been seen since!
The hunt for Fabergé Eggs has become one of the most notorious Easter Egg hunts ever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved…
Your unique way to own one…
Whilst most people will never be able to own an original Fabergé Egg, the multi-award winning designers at CIT have enabled everyone to own their own piece of Fabergé, in honour of the 100th Anniversary since Peter Faberge’s death.
Before anything else though, you should know that this coin has proven so popular that it’s already SOLD OUT at the mint! This coin truly is a piece of excellence and pushes the limits on what can be achieved through modern day minting techniques.
2oz Silver Apple Blossom Fabergé Egg Coin
** NOW SOLD OUT **
The stunning 2oz Silver Coin features the Apple-Blossom Egg – one of the largest eggs ever created by The House of Fabergé and the only one to lie on its side. The egg now takes pride of place in Lichtenstein Museum and is made of Jade, Gold and Diamonds.
It is fair to say the advanced minting techniques this coin has gone through does not disappoint. Leading colourisation techniques and selective gilding have captured the essence of the Apple Blossom Egg, perfectly replicating the intense jade colour and precious gemstone detailing.
But that’s not all, the coin has also undergone an advance form of Smartminting to create high-relief. While conventional minting procedures require more raw material to increase the relief, Smartminting coins attain their impressive relief without the need for more material – suitably encapsulating the elegant nature of the coins inspiration.
This coin is truly worthy of this cultural icon.
Given the unique nature of this coin, the rarity of its edition matches that of the real Fabergé Egg itself. Only 888 will be produced for collectors worldwide, of which the FULL edition limit is already allocated!
In fact, even as an official distributor it was a challenge to get just a small allocation of these coins for UK collectors. Unfortunately, Collectors Gallery were only able to exclusively acquire 15 of these gorgeous coins for collectors and they’ve now SOLD OUT.
If you’re interested
Did you know that the LAST EVER UK Peter Rabbit 50p has just been released!?
Join Alex and I in our latest video to find out everything you need to know about this FIFTH and FINAL Peter Rabbit 50p. It’s going to be popular so don’t miss out!