Nigeria: predecimal to decimal design continuity

Started by <k>, October 15, 2017, 11:38:32 AM

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<k>

From the late 1950s to the 1970s, many of Britain's former colonies or Dominions became independent. Those that had formally used their own version of pound, shillings and pence transitioned to their own national currency.

Some of these countries, such as Ireland and the Gambia, transferred some of their old designs from the predecimal coinage to the decimal coinage.  Other countries, such as Nigeria, did not use the same designs but did use some of the same design themes. Here I want to look at the design continuity, if any, during Nigeria's transition to a decimal coinage.
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<k>



Nigerian halfpenny.




Nigerian penny.


First, let's look at Nigeria's predecimal coinage of 1959. Nigeria in fact did not become independent until 1 October 1960. The two lowest denominations, the halfpenny and penny had similar designs, including the seal of Solomon, which actually looks like the Star of David.
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<k>




½d. Value.
1d.  Value.
3d.  Cotton plant.        D: Paul Vincze.
6d.  Cocoa beans.       D: Humphrey Paget.
1s.   Palm branches.    D: Paul Vincze.
2s.   Peanut plant.       D: Humphrey Paget.

D = Designer.



Above, we see the remaining designs of the set. Nigeria never issued a half crown or a crown.
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<k>

The naira was introduced on 1 January 1973, replacing the pound at a rate of 2 naira = 1 pound. This made Nigeria the last country to abandon the £sd currency system.

The 1 naira was therefore equal to 10 shillings (or 50 pence, in terms of the current British decimal coinage).

One naira was divided into 100 kobo.

One shilling was therefore equal to 10 kobo.
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<k>



Queen Elizabeth II had appeared on the obverse of most of the old coins (three pence and upwards), but the common obverse of the decimal coinage shows the Nigerian coat of arms. Because of Nigeria's Muslim contingent, it was requested that no animals be shown on the coins, but in fact the coat of arms includes two horses and an eagle.

In 1973 coins were introduced in denominations of ½, 1, 5, 10 and 25 kobo, with the ½ and 1 kobo in bronze and the higher denominations in copper-nickel.
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<k>




The ½ kobo, equivalent to six tenths of a penny, featured cotton plants.

This theme had appeared on the old threepence.
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<k>





The 1 kobo coin depicted an oil rig. This was a new theme, showing that the country was rich in natural resources.
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<k>





The 5 kobo coin featured cocoa beans.

It was equivalent to the old sixpence, which had also depicted cocoa beans.
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See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>





The 10 kobo coin featured palm trees.

It was equivalent to the old shilling, which had depicted palm branches, so there is a thematic connection.
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<k>





The 25 kobo coin featured peanuts. It was equivalent to two and a half shillings.

It had no predecimal equivalent in terms of value, but the old two shillings coin had depicted a peanut plant.

So there is a thematic connection between those two coins.

 
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<k>

So we can see that there were some thematic correspondences between equivalent denominations.

A 50 kobo coin was not issued until 1991, and it featured a corn cob, which did not appear on any predecimal coin.
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<k>

A little later I will include the physical specifications of the old and new coins, to see if there are any matches.
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Figleaf

Quote from: <k> on October 15, 2017, 11:43:19 AM
The two lowest denominations, the halfpenny and penny had similar designs, including the seal of Solomon, which actually looks like the Star of David.

The star is in fact a symbol found often on Islamic coins. It consists of two triangles with a similar function as the yin and yang symbols in East Asia (see the central device on the flag of South Korea): the unity of opposites. The star is seen most often on coins of Central Asia and North Africa. It occurs frequently on modern Moroccan coins and especially on older Moroccan coins.

Those Moroccan coins are the key to understanding the star on the Nigerian coins. The Moroccan coins travelled with the (slave) traders on caravans through the Sahara. West Africans did not have their own coins, so they used the Moroccan coins as small change. To them, the star signified "this piece of metal is money". When the British came in, they needed a device on their colonial coins that would make them acceptable to the locals. The star gave exactly the message the British wanted to convey.

Note that in British East Africa, elephant's teeth on the coin had the same function.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

<k>

Thank you, Figleaf. At first I wondered if there were perhaps any Jewish people in Nigeria. It's not such a strange idea - remember the Falasha (Ethiopian Jews) ? There are in fact Jews among the Igbo in Nigeria: Igbo Jews.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.