Monthly Archives: September 2012

Estonia: 20 senti 1992

The senti is the subunit of the Estonian kroon which was replaced by the euro last year. This coin was minted in 1992, close to a year after Estonia’s independence following the collapse of the USSR. Estonia had been a soviet republic since World War Two, but it was the republic which always had the closest connections with the west. Today Estonia is one of the most successful ex-communist countries.

The independence of Estonia also saw the return of the three lions from the coat of arms (where they’re blue). The lions have many similarities with the three lions of the Danish coat of arms and this is because Estonia actually was under Danish occupation during the 13th and 14th century.

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Ukraine: 1 Hrivnja 2004

This is one of two common designs of the Ukrainian 1 Hrivnja coin. The text that reads YKPAÏNA (Okraina) is the name of Ukraine in Ukrainian and above the name you have a trident in the country’s coat of arms. This trident (sometimes also interpreted as a hawk) dates back to the medieval ages. The trident is also strongly connected with Volodymyr Velikij (Vladimir the great) and it is he who is featured on the other side of the coin. Volodymyr was the ruler of the Kiev Rus’ kingdom from the late 10th century until the year 1015. Kiev is today the capital of Ukraine with about 4 million inhabitants. The country itself has about 45 million inhabitants. It’s one of Europe’s largest country, but unfortunately overshadowed by its huge neighbor, Russia.

The early history of the Kiev Rus’ kingdom is very interesting. In the beginning it was actually founded, to a large extent, by Viking settlers coming from Sweden. The Swedish Vikings went eastward (the Danish and the Norwegians went westward) and this led to many places of Eastern Europe becoming colonies and settlements ruled by these Vikings. There’s a theory that the Vikings that founded Kiev Rus’ in the 9th century originated from the region of Roslagen, the coastal area of the province Uppland of Sweden (where I’m at). The name of Kiev Rus’ should by this theory come from Roslagen. Kiev Rus’ later became a vital part in the founding of the Russian empire, or Rossiya. It’s quite a funny thought that some people from Sweden in the 9th century are the cause of Russia bearing its name of today.

Let’s continue with Volodymyr. On the coin he’s holding a cathedral – symbolizing the fact that it was Volodymyr that introduced Christianity to Kiev Rus’ and other parts of Eastern Europe. The cathedral does actually exist in reality, in Kiev. Its name is Sofiyskyi sobor (Saint Sophia Cathedral) and it was Volodymyr that decided that it would be built. Saint Sophia Cathedral is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1990 and it’s as beautiful outside as it is inside (but you’re not allowed to take photos inside). I’ve got first hand experiences from this cathedral because I visited it last year, and it was amazing.

Ukraine is a country with a lot to offer – both for travelers and coin collectors!

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Russia: 50 kopek 1899 + Bonus

Nikolaj II Romanov was the emperor (czar) of Russia between 1894 and 1917, during the last period of the Russian Empire. Nikolaj was the father of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, who according to legend would have survived the execution on her family, but this has been disproven.

This is a beautiful silver coin with the czar himself and the towheaded eagle – a symbol of the Russian Empire. Post-USSR the eagle is once again used as a symbol of Russia but now without the crowns, the spire and the globus cruciger. Nikolaj looks very secure on the coin, there’s and aura about him that radiates “good leader”. In 1899 this may have been the way that the world saw him as well. But that would change. Nikolaj were to be the last czar. He would bring the Russian Empire to its end.

First of all I need to mention the war with Japan (1904-1905). The war mainly concerned the region of Manchuria (present day China and Russia) and the Russians thought that it would be an easy victory against the undeveloped Asians. However Japan was developed – a result of major economic changes during the 19th century. Japan won and marked the first victory of an “undeveloped” country against one of Europe’s superpowers. Russia’s prestige was diminished and so was Nikolaj’s.

Internal problems continued in Russia. The population mainly consisted of farmers, people who lived tough lives with little help from the ruling classes. Tension continued to stir with different organizations defying the czar’s rule.

In 1914 Russia was a part of the entente, an alliance also consisting of Great Britain and France, whom stood against the central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) during what would be known as the Great War and later (at the time of WWII) as the First World War. Russia was an early looser with the powers of Germany overpowering it. This was yet again a disaster, but of a grander scale. The war took place in the motherland and the Russians were losing. The already low standard of living decreased, there was food shortage and millions of soldiers were lost in battle. Uprisings started in the larger cities among workers and together with deserters of the Russian army the czar was forced to abdicate. This was the result of the February revolution (in March according to the Gregorian calendar) 1917.

A provisional government was formed but this too would have to step down. During the October revolution (in November) the Bolsheviks (translated to “men of the majority”) managed to get power by another military uprising. The Bolsheviks was a result of the misery in Russia and they shared a communist ideology – calling for an end of a society divided by class with an ambition of collectivizing ownership. The new Russian ruler quickly made peace with Germany, resulting in the loss of large areas. Their new system was put to use and the royal family, with Nikolaj and Anastasia, was executed. A civil war started together with a witch hunt on wealthy people and landowners.

Russia’s new leader was Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the rebels since the turn of the century. He was a vital part in turning Russia yet again to a super power, but now as a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

This Soviet 1 ruble coin is commemorating the year when Lenin would have turned 100 years (1970).

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Ireland: 1£ 1990

This Irish coin features a red deer, a beautiful animal, which exist in large numbers over Europe and pars of North Africa and Asia. The coins of the Irish pound feature many different animals. The red deer is the largest non-domesticated animal in Ireland and the 1£ coin was the largest coin of the Irish pound.

The text punt is Irish for pound, and the text éire is the Irish name for Ireland. The harp is a classical symbol of Ireland and has a strong presence in the Irish culture. I recently heard a story about Queen Elizabeth I in the late 16th century banning the harp because it was a part of stirring the rebellions on Ireland. This gives the harp an even bigger meaning and it’s not hard to see why the harp would be featured in the coat of arms of Ireland.

The Irish pound was replaced by the euro in 2002.

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United Kingdom: 2£ 2009

Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, was born in 1809. This 2£ coin was minted in 2009 commemorating the birth of this very important scientist. The obverse side features Elizabeth II who’s been queen since 1952. The reverse side features Charles Darwin face to face with, the origin or our species, a chimpanzee. Of course, humans haven’t evolved from chimpanzees but according to Darwin’s theory we and other primates share the same ancestors. Darwin and his theory were despised during his lifetime and it wasn’t until the 20th century that his ideas were taken seriously – when they became the truth.

This coin was one of the first ones I managed to get my hands on during my visit to London earlier this year. And later during my stay there I met Darwin again – now as a huge statue inside the Natural History Museum.


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The new Swedish coins!

I am quite over the moon today because the Riksbank of Sweden has unveiled the design for the new Swedish coins. For a couple of years it’s been clear that the coins are going to be changed and modernized, and so today we got the final design. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait to 2016 before I can start using them and collecting them.

The artistic theme of the coins is “Sun, wind and water”. Sun, wind and water ought to be things that all swedes like and it’s also a famous song by Swedish musician Ted Gärdestad (1956-1997), in Swedish it’s called Sol, vind och vatten. Intentionally or unintentionally – the coins also give a nice message of sustainability. Sun, wind and water is all sustainable sources of energy.

Besides the new design on the king (which is not final) the new 1 krona will also be in copper with stripes around the reverse side symbolizing sunrays.

A new 2 krona coin hasn’t been minted since 1971 (there’s hardly any 2 kronor in circulation). This new coin will be similar to the 1 krona but it will feature nice swirls of wind.

The new 5 krona will be in brass (like the 10 krona) and it will feature the king’s monogram instead of his picture. The coin will also have small waves of water on the reserve side.

The Swedish 10 krona will be left unchanged.

Overall I’m very pleased with this change. I was not entirely happy about the 1 krona being copper-colored instead of the traditional silver, but I like the new designs and the shiny copper surfaces. So, all in all, I can’t wait until 2016!

For a nice slideshow with comparison to the older coins, click here!

For more information on the new coins, click here!

(The pictures are from the Riksbank of Sweden.)

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On this day…

11 years ago the world changed drastically. On this day a large portion of the world turned to fear and prejudice instead of reason. On this day many people lost their lives and many people are continuing to do that. Violence feeds violence, and will continue to do so until we start using other means of solving our differences.

Here is a state quarter (25 cent) from the state New York. This coin was minted 11 years ago in 2001. 1788 is the year when Ney York became a member of the union. The coin features George Washington on the obverse side (like all quarters) and on the reverse side you can see the outlines of the state with the Hudson River and the Erie Canal marked on it. In the foreground stands the Statue of Liberty. Through history New York has been the first place that immigrants come to when looking for a better life in America, it is because of this that the caption “Gateway to freedom” is featured on the coin.

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Iceland: 100 krónur 1995

Now this coin is an interesting one. 100 kr is a large number for being on a coin. This of course represents the financial situation of Iceland at the time of the coins mintage, but believe me the numbers can be even bigger on coins (this I’m saving for the future).

The oddly looking fish, casually swimming to the left is a Lumpsucker fish, and since it’s featured on an Icelandic coin I would presume that they are quite common in the waters around Iceland. Fish is a common motive on coins from Iceland and this is because fishing is one of the main incomes of the country.

The four stylized creatures in the circle on the other side are protectors of Iceland and they are also found in the Icelandic coat of arms. They all represent different geographical areas on Iceland. The screaming eagle is called Gammur, the crazy dragon is called Dreki, the grumpy bull is called Griðungur, and the sturdy old man, which is actually a rock-giant, is called Bergrisi (but I think that he has many similarities with Gandalf from the Lord of the rings. Tolkien was in many aspects inspired by Norse mythology so he might have gotten some characteristics for Gandalf from Bergrisi.

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Denmark: 25 øre 1991

The øre is de subunit of the Danish krone. This is not the coin I wrote about in the about-section but it is of that kind. A lot of different countries use currencies with names similar to the Danish krone (Norwegian krone, Swedish krona, Icelandic króna and Czech koruna) and here we get an example of why. One side of the coin features a nice crown and krone basically means crowns. For the Scandinavian countries the name was taken during the founding of the Scandinavian Monetary Union in 1873. During the 19th century the Scandinavian countries turned to friendship instead of hostility and the union was a strategy to stabilize the currencies with support from each other. The crown is an obvious symbol of monarchy.

A little heart can be found on the coin and this is a symbol that’s been used in Denmark for several hundred years. Originally the hearts may have been lily pads transformed into hearts through the centuries. This symbol can also be found in the national coat of arms of Denmark.


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Norway: 5 øre 1962

The øre is the subunit of the Norwegian krone.

This Norwegian coin features former king Olav V on one side and a moose (elk, U.K.) on the other side. The moose is the largest animal in the deer family and they are widely spread over northern Europe, Russia, Canada and some parts of the U.S. The moose is a popular animal for hunting and their meat is appreciated by many. People from countries without the moose often tend to have a big fascination with them. In Sweden we normally talk about the Germen’s big interest in the moose which contributes to a lot of moose-related souvenirs.

Norway is today, in many different aspects, considered one of the best countries to live in – with the highest level of democracy, with good schools, healthcare, pension system and so on. Of course much of this welfare is a result of the oil from the North Sea which has made Norway one of the richest countries in the world.

This coin was minted 7 years before oil was found.

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