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 >>
Royal Mail have today announced the release of BRAND NEW Elton John stamps, which will mark a tribute to one of the UK’s greatest music legends on the 50th anniversary of his first album, Empty Sky.
The ‘Music Giants III Elton John’ stamps are Royal Mail’s third dedicated music artist stamp issue, following from their very successful Pink Floyd and David Bowie releases in 2016 and 2017.
Officially released today, 3 September 2019, the stamps will feature the iconic album covers and live performances from 1972 through to his final tour – Farewell Yellow Brick Road – at Madison Square Garden.
This is the first time Elton John has ever featured on UK stamps, and as such these are guaranteed to prove a hit with collectors!
Take a first look at the NEW Royal Mail Elton John Stamps and find out more about each of them below…
1st – Honky Château: Recorded in the Château d’Hérouville near Paris, Honky Château was Elton John’s breakthrough pop album, home to ‘Rocket Man’ – one of three songs he composed on the morning of the first day of recording.
1st – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: A double album that perhaps represents the artistic pinnacle of Elton’s 1970s’ career, a teeming, eclectic songwriting masterclass that features ‘Candle in The Wind’, ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ and ‘Bennie and the Jets’.
1st – Caribou: His fourth consecutive US number one album, Caribou, is best-known for ‘The Bitch Is Back’ and the epic ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’, but its most striking moment might be ‘Ticking’, the eerie saga of an armed siege in a bar.
1st – Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy: A concept album on which lyricist Bernie Taupin recounts the early days of his and Elton’s career, complete with a vivid depiction of Elton’s 1968 suicide attempt, ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’.
£1.55 – Sleeping with The Past: The last album Elton John made before going into rehab was intended as a homage to the soul and R ‘n’ B music that had inspired him in the 1960s: in ‘Sacrifice’, it produced his first UK solo number one single.
£1.55 – The One: The cover designed by Gianni Versace, its lyrics haunted by the unfolding AIDS crisis and Elton’s battle with drug addiction, The One re-established the now clean and sober Elton John.
£1.55 – Made in England: Largely recorded live in the studio, Made in England’s upbeat title track – a hit single in 1995 – masks the rest of the album’s mature mood, which features reflections on ageing both positive and negative.
£1.55 – Songs from The West Coast: “Going backwards to go forwards”, as Elton put it, Songs from The West Coast returned to the warm sound of his early 1970s’ albums and offered his and Taupin’s strongest collection of songs in years. A latter-day triumph.
1st – Madison Square Garden, 2018: Farewell Yellow Brick Road is an ongoing tour that began in Allentown, Pennsylvania on 8 September 2018. It is intended to be John’s final tour and will consist of more than 300 concerts worldwide, over three years.
1st – Buckingham Palace, 2012: On 4 June 2012 Elton John performed at the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace. His setlist included “Your Song”, “Crocodile Rock” and “I’m Still Standing”
£1.55 – Hammersmith Odeon, 1973: Live in concert at West London’s Hammersmith Odeon in December 1973, Elton’s “Christmas Party” received national coverage on BBC radio in the UK.
£1.55 – Dodger Stadium, 1975: The “West of the Rockies Tour” was a North American concert tour in support of his 10th studio album “Rock of the Westies”. The tour included a total of 17 shows across the United States and Canada.
If you’re interested…
You can now own the complete set of eight new Elton John stamps and official Miniature Sheet together on an exclusive limited edition FRAMED presentation. Professionally mounted and ready-to-hang, just 995 will EVER be issued. Click here for more information >>>