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Mystery FAO Coin Design Quiz

Started by Galapagos, September 01, 2009, 03:54:44 PM

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The Royal Mint in Britain once hired a numismatic artist to produce a coin design with a FAO theme for an overseas country.

The talented artist came up with two designs. The Royal Mint liked both but could choose only one.

Above is an image of the artist's sketch of the rejected design. I took a photocopy of it at the National Archives at Kew, London.

My question is: can you name the coin that this design was originally intended to grace?

 You need to name the country, the year and the denomination.

There are no prizes – I'm simply doing this as an experiment and for fun.

I have removed any numerals and/or denomination from the sketch.

I will post an untouched image once somebody correctly names the coin for which it was intended.


PM sent -- or shall we post our guesses here? :)

Had no idea that RCC is still around, by the way.



I have received your answer and it is correct! Well done, Christian. Let's see if anybody else has a try - and is successful.

I'll give some others a chance to have a guess before I post up the correct images.


Well, the page has had lots of views now.

The viewers who emailed me were all correct, so I'll put up the answer.

Below you can see the unedited sketch of the rejected design.

Beneath that is an image of the design that actually was chosen.

It appears on the Tanzania 5 shilingi coin of 1971.

Both the rejected and the accepted designs were created by the late Christopher Ironside.

Mr Ironside was an Englishman who designed many coins in his time.


I like both designs, but I find the accepted one a little too geometrical.

Does anybody agree?


To some extent, yes. Well, I don't know whether the lines around those four fields, and the shapes between them, have any particular meaning in Tanzania. Or maybe the government and/or the mint decided that the bull should not play such a central role in the design. But if I could simply pick one of the two, solely based on what I like better, I would have preferred the "refused" design.



Sillman 10c-sketch.jpg

Sillman hippos 10c FAO sketch.jpg

Sillman 10c-sketch3.jpg

Sillman 10c-sketch2.jpg

Once again I have a treat for the members, a numismatic first. These photocopies of sketches from the Royal Mint records, at the National Archives, Kew, are seeing the light of day on the Internet for the first time, to the best of my knowledge.

What are your thoughts about these prototypes and their eventual uses? This time the answers may be more difficult, so I will ask you to post your guesses below, for others to see, and hopefully get a discussion going.

As before, it's all just for fun - there are no prizes for the correct guesses.  ;)

I will reveal the answers sometime on Monday 28th September 2009 (GMT). Or maybe you will find them first?


Oh my ... round coins (thus no "easily" recognizable shape), English text, and a denomination in cents. That should be easy. Not!

Could be Seychelles, judging from the denomination. But those animals ... from the scenes, I'd say Africa too. Swaziland also has cents, but those are not round. Hmmm.



Liberia would be too small, sae goes for Sierra Leone...

So if not Kenya then Uganda.

Early to mid-1970s.


Thanks Mr Paul Baker


I am sure it's satirical.  ;D

Perhaps launched by the British Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  ;)

If they are meant as real coins my guess is GAMBIA, which has all four animals depicted on its coins.


Quote from: Afrasi on September 24, 2009, 07:45:35 PM
I am sure it's satirical.  ;D
Perhaps launched by the British Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  ;)

Any more quips like that, my lad, and it'll be detention and six of the best for you.  :o

Anyway, there is no such society:-

From Wikipedia:-

"The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is a charity in England and Wales that promotes animal welfare. Founded as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in 1824, it adopted its current name after being granted royal status by Queen Victoria in 1840. It has inspired the creation of similar groups in other nations, starting with the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Northern Ireland and including the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA or SSPCA), Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Australia, the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RNZSPCA), and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals."




Have a look at these attachments.

I took them from the same sheets I photocopied.


Note the word "POSSIBLE". You'll notice that I never claimed they WERE used. The number 3 refers to the fact that these sketches were number three in a series. I do have one or two other series I can post - but now that you know, I will point out that these others were NEVER used.

All the same, artists always recycle their unused material in one way or another, so it was interesting to hear your comments. Perhaps Afrasi's comments were most interesting. The sketches are not satirical, but at least he was thinking outside the box.

Here are some REAL coin designs by Mr Sillman:-

Kenya. 1985. 5 shillings.  President Arap Moi.

1972. 1  cent.    Re: Cow.      F.A.O.  Aluminium.     
1972. 5  cents.   Re: Cabbage.  F.A.O.  Aluminium.   
1972. 5  rupees.  Re: Aldabra tortoise on tropical beach. 

1964. 6d.  Morning glory flower.
1964. 1s.  Trumpeter hornbill.
1964. 2s.  Bohor reedbuck.

Common obverse: Coat of arms.

1968. 1  ngwee.   Aardvark.
1968. 2  ngwee.   Martial eagle.
1968. 5  ngwee.   Morning glory flower.
1968. 10 ngwee.   Trumpeter hornbill.
1968. 20 ngwee.   Bohor reedbuck.
1969. 50 ngwee.   Maize.  F.A.O.
1972. 50 ngwee.   2nd Republic, 13th December 1972.
                  Re: Coat of arms.

Common obverse: President Kenneth Kaunda.


I still think if they would have been used, it would have been in The Gambia.
You will find the ox on 2 Sh and 50 ct, the hippo on 8 Sh, the sitatunga on 500 D and the francolin on 3 p and 10 b.
I think this four animals together matches no other english-speaking country using cents.

Why "satirical"? "Artificial insemination makes better cattle"  ??? I prefere "slow food"!!!  :)
Did you ever taste beef in the Sahel? You should! You will never more discuss if British, French or German beef is best.  :) :P :D


I should add that, although some of the species match the Gambian coins, THOSE coins were designed by Michael Rizzello, not Norman Sillman. Mr Rizzello, also of England, designed both the pre-decimal and first decimal coins of the Gambia. I have documentary evidence of this, because I saw the Royal Mint records at the National Archives. They give Mr Rizzello's name and address, how much he was paid, and include letters from Mr Rizzello himself.

The pre-decimal Gambian records cover 1964 to 1966, and the coins were minted in late 1966. You'll see that Mr Sillman's designs were for 1968-70. It's not impossible that artists are influenced by other artists' work, or by the coins already issued at the time. Or maybe the FAO people told him what designs to produce - I don't know, as only the drawings were in the files and no supporting documentation.

See my earlier posting in this topic for Norman Sillman's actual African designs (Seychelles and Zambia).

But in sum - no, these sketches on this topic were NOT the basis for the Gambian coins. Their similarity is a coincidence, for which there may be other reasons, such as I have touched on above.