To some, coins are merely a type of currency. But, to the collector, they are artistic masterpieces that can be held in the palm of one's hand. It is said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Of the thousands of coin designs to grace coins over the ages, here are five world coins that I consider particularly stunning.
Central American Republic 8 Reales (38mm, 27.07g)
The Central American Republic was formed in 1823 when provinces in Central America declared independence from Spain and came together to form a sovereign nation. The 8 Reale was the highest denomination silver coin minted by the Central American Republic.
The obverse displays a sun peeking out from behind a row of five mountains. Legends read “REPUBLICA DEL CENTRO DE AMERICA” or “Central America Republic”. The reverse features a tree dividing denomination. Below, mint, assayer’s initial, and fineness. Legends read “LIBRE CRESCA FECUNDO” or “Free Grows Fertile”. Minted from 1824-1842 and from 1846-1847. (Coin image source HA.com | Coin image by NGC Photo Vision, NGCcoin.com)
1Basel 1 Thaler (42mm 25.75g)
Basel is a canton at the very northern tip of Switzerland. The canton of Basel was founded in 1501 after joining the Old Swiss Confederacy. The obverse of this Thaler features a winged dragon facing left and holding the arms of Basel. PACE” or “Keep Us In Peace Lord”. The reverse displays a beautiful city view of Basel. Legends read “BASILEA” or “Basel”. Minted for one year in 1756. (Image source NGCcoin.com)
Japan 20 Yen (35.06mm, 33.33g)
The Meji era brought great change to Japan, including their monetary system. In 1871 the New Currency Act was enacted, introducing a gold standard based on the yen. It is as follows: 1.5g of gold = 1 yen, and 1 yen = 100 sen = 1,000 rin. The 20 yen coin was the largest denomination coin minted during this era. The obverse features a dragon within a beaded circle. Legends read “年 三 治 明 · 本 日 大· 圓 十 二 ·” or “Great Japan · Year 3 of Meiji · 20 yen ·”. The reverse of this coin features military flags crossed, around the national emblem. Minted in 1870, 1867, 1877, 1880, and again in 1892 for the World’s Columbian Exposition. (Image source Wikipedia Commons)
United Kingdom “Godless” Florin (28mm, 11.31g)
In 1849 the United Kingdom introduced the Florin. The Florin features a bust of young Queen Victoria on the obverse and the cruciform shields of the United Kingdom, along with the nations emblems on the reverse. This type is nicknamed the “Godless Florin” because the legends don’t include “D.G.”, which is short for “Dei Gratia” or “by the Grace of God”. This coin was also one of the first steps towards decimal currency, as the reverse reads “ONE TENTH POUND”. Business strikes were minted for one year in 1849. (Image source NGCcoin.com)
South Peru 8 Reales (38mm, 27.07g)
The Republic of South Peru was part of the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, which lasted for only 3 years until the Confederation was dissolved. During this time, the Republic of South Peru came out with a few beautiful coins, this 8 Reale being one of them. The obverse of the coin features a radiant sun face with stars above. Legends read “REPUB SUD PERUANA” or “Republic of South Peru”. The reverse of this coin features a volcano, ship, castle, and cornucopia all within a wreath. Legends read “FIRME POR LA UNION” or “Sign for the Union”. Minted from 1837-1839. (Image source NGCcoin.com)
No matter where you find beauty in the hobby, may the pursuit be exciting and your reward fulfilling. Happy collecting!
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