Author Topic: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories  (Read 8298 times)

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Offline <k>

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Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« on: August 24, 2013, 11:17:40 PM »
From Wikipedia:

By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world's population at the time. The empire covered more than 33,700,000 km2 (13,012,000 sq miles), almost a quarter of the Earth's total land area.

In December of 1922, the Irish Free State was established. It was not the end of the British Empire, but it was the beginning of the end. In 1947 India, the so called "Jewel in the crown" of British Empire, became independent. After that, it was downhill all the way. In 1980 Britain returned Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, to African rule, and in 1997 Hong Kong was returned to China.

Like France, Britain is now left with a handful of territories spread around the world, and all those who wanted to become independent have long since done so. In this topic, I want to look at Britain's uninhabited territories - that is, those territories that have no permanent indigenous human inhabitants - and the nature of the collector coins that have been issued for them.

The UK pound sterling is the official currency in all three of these overseas territories, therefore the coins issued in their name are not circulation coins. I shall refer to them as collector coins, because they are issued as souvenirs and keepsakes. They are called "non-circulating legal tender" (NCLT) by the Standard Catalog of World Coins, whilst our forum administrator, who stresses utility above legality, prefers to call them "pseudo-coins", because they do not circulate and are therefore not used as money.

The issuing of these collector pieces must be regarded as primarily political on the part of the British government. These pieces proclaim the message, we must assume, that these territories are British, that they are here, and that they are here to stay.

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2013, 11:20:24 PM »
From Wikipedia:

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is a British overseas territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean. It is a remote and inhospitable collection of islands, consisting of South Georgia and a chain of smaller islands, known as the South Sandwich Islands. South Georgia is 167.4 km (104 miles) long and 1.4 to 37 km (0.9 to 23.0 miles) wide and is by far the largest island in the territory. The South Sandwich Islands lie about 520 km (320 miles) southeast of South Georgia. The total land area of the territory is 3,903 square km (1,507 sq miles).

There is no native population on the islands; the present inhabitants are the British Government Officer, Deputy Postmaster, scientists, and support staff from the British Antarctic Survey who maintain scientific bases at Bird Island and at the capital, King Edward Point, as well as museum staff at nearby Grytviken.

The United Kingdom claimed sovereignty over South Georgia in 1775 and the South Sandwich Islands in 1908. In 1908 the United Kingdom annexed both South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The territory of "South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands" was formed in 1985; previously it had been governed as part of the Falkland Islands Dependencies.

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2013, 11:33:04 PM »


South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands issued its first two collector coins in the year 2000. The common obverse showed the special effigy of QEII, by Ian Rank Broadley, that is reserved for commemorative coins. Both were cupro-nickel, had a face value of 2 pounds, and were 38mm in diameter. One celebrated the 100th birthday of the Queen Mother, whilst the other commemorated the 225th Anniversary of the Discovery of South Georgia.

Subsequent coins honoured famous explorers: Captain Cook, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Ernest Shackleton, and Royal Events such as the Queen's golden Jubilee and Prince William's 21st birthday.
 
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 12:50:47 AM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2013, 12:00:09 AM »
In 2007 a coin with a rather political theme was issued: the 25th anniversary of the liberation of South Georgia.

From Wikipedia:

The Falklands War was precipitated on 19 March 1982 when a group of Argentinians, posing as scrap metal merchants, occupied the abandoned whaling station at Leith Harbour on South Georgia. On 3 April the Argentine troops attacked and occupied Grytviken. Among the commanding officers of the Argentine Garrison was Alfredo Astiz, a Captain in the Argentine Navy who, years later, was convicted of felonies committed during the Dirty War in Argentina.

The island was recaptured by British forces on 25 April in Operation Paraquet. In 1985 South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands ceased to be administered as a Falkland Islands Dependency and became a separate territory. The King Edward Point base, which had become a small military garrison after the Falklands war, returned to civilian use in 2001 and is now operated by the British Antarctic Survey.


I remember the short interlude of the Falklands war very well. I was in my mid twenties at the time, and very excited by the news. Most of the population, including the official political opposition, got behind the government, despite the fact that most people had never even heard of the islands. Before long the troops sailed from Portsmouth on a sunny day, while some young women on the quayside took off their tops to give the departing troops a treat. I waited for a ringing declaration of war from Mrs Thatcher. To my frustration, it did not come. The BBC referred merely to "the Falklands crisis", and Mrs Thatcher deliberately kept the whole affair low-key as she first tried to negotiate with the Argentinians. This did not go well, and even some top American politicians were keen to keep their distance from Britain. Mrs Thatcher saw the whole issue as a moral one, in which a democracy (Britain) had been attacked by a military dictatorship, as Argentina then was.

After Grytviken, in South Georgia, was retaken by the British, Mrs Thatcher gave an interview to the Press in Downing Street. For reasons of security, she was not able to reveal too much, and eventually, tired with their questions, she told them, "Rejoice! Just rejoice at that news!" She was ridiculed for her use of that rather old-fashioned word, but by and large the population did experience a feeling of relief, though the Falklands themselves remained under Argentine occupation. Some people now wrongly believe that Mrs Thatcher used that phrase after the sinking of the Belgrano, but that is simply not true. News at the time was strictly controlled, and an old-fashioned bespectacled civil servant, looking as though he had stepped straight out of the 1930s, used to deliver news broadcasts that were already 3 to 5 days old and strictly censored. There was no public internet in Britain in those days, and we only had 3 TV channels.

Eventually Britain won back the Falkland Islands, with a lot of secret inside help from the US, Chile and even France, who all provided intelligence reports to Britain. Mrs Thatcher showed a determination and a cool head in a crisis, and her reputation as the Iron Lady was now complete. She never forgot her gratitude to General Pinochet of Chile, and she publicly supported him years later, when he was briefly arrested on a visit to Britain and detained by Tony Blair's government, at the request of the Spanish government, though he was later released without charge.

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2013, 12:38:24 AM »
In recent years the Territory's collector coins have depicted the 200th anniversary of the Nimrod Expedition, International Polar Year, and the local wildlife, including whales, seals and penguins.

This 2 pound collector coin of 2012 features king penguins.

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2013, 12:54:36 AM »


From Wikipedia:

The British Antarctic Territory (BAT) is a sector of Antarctica claimed by the United Kingdom as one of its 14 British Overseas Territories. The Territory was formed on 3 March 1962, although the UK's claim to this portion of the Antarctic dates back to Letters Patent of 1908 and 1917. The area now covered by the Territory includes three regions which, before 1962, were administered by the British as separate dependencies of the Falkland Islands: Graham Land, the South Orkney Islands, and the South Shetland Islands.

Since the Antarctic Treaty came into force in 1961, Article 1 of which states "The treaty does not recognize, dispute, nor establish territorial sovereignty claims; no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force", most countries do not recognise territorial claims in Antarctica. The United Kingdom has ratified the treaty. In 2012, the southern part of the territory was named Queen Elizabeth Land in honor of Queen Elizabeth II.

The territory is inhabited by the staff of research and support stations operated and maintained by the British Antarctic Survey and other organisations, and stations of Argentina, Chile and other countries. There are no native inhabitants.

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2013, 01:02:25 AM »


British Antarctic Territory issued its first collector coin in 2008. It commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Granting of Letters Patent. The obverse showed the special effigy of QEII, by Ian Rank Broadley, that is reserved for commemorative coins. The piece was cupro-nickel, had a face value of 2 pounds, and was 38mm in diameter.




 
 
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 07:08:38 AM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2013, 01:08:33 AM »
In 2009 BAT commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, with a design showing an albatross, seals, penguins and a whale.

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2013, 01:10:43 AM »
BAT issued a 2 pound coin in 2012, to commemorate the naming of part of the Territory as “Queen Elizabeth Land”, in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (60 years as monarch).

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2013, 01:23:51 AM »
From Wikipedia:

The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) or Chagos Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom situated in the Indian Ocean, halfway between Africa and Indonesia. The territory comprises the six atolls of the Chagos Archipelago, with over 1,000 individual islands – many tiny – amounting to a total land area of 60 square kilometres (23 sq miles).

The largest island is Diego Garcia, 44 km2 (17 sq mi), the site of a joint military facility of the United Kingdom and the United States. Following the eviction of the native population (Chagossians) in the 1960s, the only inhabitants are US and British military personnel and associated contractors, who collectively number around 4,000 (2004 figures).

In 1965, the United Kingdom split the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius and the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches (Des Roches) from the Seychelles to form the British Indian Ocean Territory. The purpose was to allow the construction of military facilities for the mutual benefit of the United Kingdom and the United States. The islands were formally established as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom on 8 November 1965. On 23 June 1976, Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches were returned to Seychelles as a result of its attaining independence. Subsequently, BIOT has consisted only of the six main island groups comprising the Chagos Archipelago.

In 1990, the first BIOT flag was unfurled. This flag, as well as containing the flag of the United Kingdom, has depictions of the Indian Ocean, where the islands are located, in the form of white and blue wavy lines and also a palm tree rising above the British crown.

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2013, 01:33:49 AM »


BIOT issued its first collector coin in 2009, and its legend simply celebrated this fact! The obverse showed the special effigy of QEII, by Ian Rank Broadley, that is reserved for commemorative coins. The piece was cupro-nickel, had a face value of 2 pounds, and was 38mm in diameter. The design was taken from BIOT's coat of arms and featured turtles.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2016, 12:46:11 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2013, 01:38:21 AM »
Britain, which was once the world's super power and ran a huge empire, decided long ago that it wanted a "special relationship" with the new world hegemon. This has however caused controversy at times in the UK, especially during the Iraq war. Below you can the US military base on Diego Garcia, as well as the official flag of BIOT.

Offline <k>

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2013, 01:42:07 AM »
BIOT released a collector two pound coin in 2011 to commemorate the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge. As with the collector pieces of the other two territories, royal themes loom large.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2013, 04:01:52 PM »
This threads opens a question of interest to me: what is the status of these pieces. I don't know the details of each of them, so I'll take the Sandwich etc. piece in reply #2 as an example.

This piece was struck by Pobjoy mint, a UK private company. As the islands are not inhabited, there is obviously no way Pobjoy could have obtained permission from the natives. In principle, that would make the piece a fantasy, rather than a pseudo coin.

In practice, the responsibility for these pieces of rock probably rests with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). <k> suggests that it was part of a government policy to have these coins struck (which immediately raises the question why Pobjoy and not the Royal Mint). If so, the policy would challenge the anti-colony policy of the UN. In other words, the message would be: up yours, UN. Which UK interest would warrant that challenge? The UN can easily be ignored, but it is a handy tool in other circumstances. Nobody else is challenging the UK claims. All this piece could do would be to wake up sleeping dogs.

Another possibility is that Pobjoy asked and got permission from the FCO for this piece. It may have been just a letter saying "we intend to do this. If we don't hear from you we'll go ahead". My experience with the FCO is limited, but an anecdote may give some insight. I objected to the FCO against a series of Gibraltar coins commemorating the English invasion. I argued that territories change hands by treaty, not by occupation and the treaty came about only in 1713 and that this principle of international law should be of interest to the FCO. After some months, I got a short note back whose message was "we passed your letter to the Gibraltar authorities". In due time, I wrote again that the Gibraltar authorities had ignored the FCO instruction to contact me. I got a letter back saying that the Gibraltar authorities had taken note of my letter and it wouldn't happen again (by this time, the offending series of coins had been issued.) This is diplomatese for "climb back into the tree you came from". Does that sound like the FCO is overly concerned about who issues which coin-like objects for whom at any point in time?

The possibility I find most likely is that Pobjoy just went ahead and did it because they know the FCO couldn't care less. If challenged, they would probably answer that they had taken note of the objections and it won't happen again until next time. However, this option amounts to the piece being a fantasy.

So does anyone know more about Pobjoy's mandate to strike this thing? Or any of the others in this thread?

Peter
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 07:16:09 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2013, 07:08:16 PM »
This thread raises another question.

Some of the territories listed are in practice inhabited, although not permanently.* The people there must use some form of money - or at least must have used some form of cash in the days before electronic payments may have made cash completely unnecessary in such places. Do/did they use standard sterling? Or Falklands currency on South Georgia and in the BAT? US dollars in BIOT?

* Wikipedia's use of the word 'native' in relation to the populations of these places troubles me. I can see the distinction between somewhere that is populated, in the sense that human beings spend extended periods living there but then go back 'home', and somewhere which is permanently inhabited - i.e. people regard that place as home and live there by default. The BAT is AFAIK permanently populated but the population turns over entirely in that no specific individuals live there permanently. The Falkland Islands are permanently inhabited by people who regard them as their homeland. South Georgia I'm less sure about but is probably more like the BAT than the Falklands. But the question of 'nativeness' is irrelevant. What constitutes a 'native' population? People born there (the literal meaning of the word)? Descendants of the first known cultural group to live there? I can't help feeling that cans of worms are being unecessarily opened by Wikipedia's terminology here.