Author Topic: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule  (Read 259 times)

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Offline <k>

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Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« on: September 21, 2020, 10:17:04 PM »


Map of Cyprus.



From Wikipedia:

After the Bulgarian April Uprising in 1876 and the Russian victory in the Russo-Turkish War in 1877–1878, Russia had liberated almost all of the Ottoman Empire's European possessions. Britain and other European powers were faced with preventing Russian expansion into areas controlled by a weakening Ottoman Empire. Russia wanted to fill the power vacuum by expanding the Tsar's empire west and south toward the warm water port of Constantinople and the Dardanelles. Britain had threatened war with Russia if it occupied Constantinople, and France did not want another power meddling in either the Mediterranean or the Middle East.

Britain and France were already poised to colonise Egypt and Palestine. The British considered the entire Mediterranean to be a British sphere of influence and saw any Russian attempt to gain access there as a grave threat to British power. In June 1878 the British therefore concluded the Cyprus Convention, a secret alliance with the Ottomans against Russia, in which Britain was allowed to occupy the strategically-placed island of Cyprus. The island served Britain as a key military base on the sea route to British India, which was then Britain's most important overseas possession.

In 1906, a new harbour at Famagusta was completed, increasing the importance of Cyprus as a strategic naval outpost protecting the approaches to the Suez Canal. Early in the First World War the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary and Germany. On 5 November 1914 Britain therefore annexed Cyprus, bringing an end to the Cyprus Convention. In 1923, under the Treaty of Lausanne, the nascent Turkish republic relinquished any claim to Cyprus, and in 1925 it was declared a British crown colony.
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Offline <k>

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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2020, 10:31:37 PM »


Flag of Cyprus, 1922 to 1960.



My story starts in 1955, when Cyprus was still a British colony. In those days it used the flag shown above. For Britain, Cyprus was a strategic military base. The population of Cyprus was approximately 530,000 in 1955. At this point it was still a peaceful island, where those of Greek and Turkish descent still lived in close proximity, though usually with their separate communities. Ethnically Turkish Cypriots comprised around 18% of the population, leaving ethnic Greeks overwhelmingly in the majority.

The British Empire was in a transitional state. It had lost India, and now it seemed only a matter of time before other colonies became independent. There were however still some British die-hards who wished to cling to the Empire. Meanwhile, many Greek Cypriots were keen on the idea of enosis: union with Greece. The Turkish Cypriots at this point mostly regarded the British as their protectors against this aim by some of the Greek Cypriots.
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Offline <k>

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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2020, 10:52:37 PM »
The Cypriot pound was issued from 1878 onward, when Cyprus came under British control.

From Wikipedia:

Before 1955, 1 pound was divided into 20 shillings, and each shilling was divided into 9 piastres. In 1955, Cyprus decimalized, with 1000 mils to the pound. The system was based on a proposal that had been presented to the British parliament in 1881, to introduce a decimal currency system into the United Kingdom. The political debate on decimalising British coinage had been going on since 1824, but the 1881 motion failed to gain parliamentary approval, and so the mil-system was never introduced into the United Kingdom itself. Instead it was used in various British colonial and protectorate territories, including Palestine from 1927, and Cyprus from 1955.

In 1955, the coins of the King George VI issues were withdrawn from circulation. These were replaced by coins with Queen Elizabeth II, denominated in mils. The 50 mil coin became known as a 'shilling', because it was the same size and value as the 1 shilling and 9 piastre coins. The 100 mil coin became known as '2 shillings', because it was the same size and value as the 2 shilling and 18 piastre coins.
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2020, 11:03:00 PM »



Above you see the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, as it appeared on the obverse of the 3 mils coin.

This portrait was used on the obverse of all the new coinage of 1955.

It was the work of English artist Cecil Thomas.


At this time, British colonies, protectorates and dependencies were required to use the crowned portrait of the monarch.

Only the UK and the Commonwealth realms (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa) were allowed to use the uncrowned effigy on their coins.

Southern Rhodesia was expected to become a Commonwealth realm in due course and so was also allowed to use the uncrowned effigy.


Here we see the Queen in the early years of her reign. Prosperity was returning to Europe after the harsh years of the Second World War.

Now it is late in the Queen's reign, and we see that various Commonwealth realms, such as Barbados and Jamaica, wish to become republics.

For Cyprus in 1955, independence as a republic was also not far away, as we shall see.

 
« Last Edit: September 22, 2020, 11:50:37 AM by <k> »
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2020, 11:08:47 PM »



The 3 mils coin was made of bronze and was 20 mm in diameter.

The coinage was produced at the Royal Mint (UK).


The reverse of the 3 mils coin carried a charming fish design, as found in ancient Greek art.

After the heraldic designs of the older coinage, this new and beautiful thematic set was an unexpected change.

The reverse designs were the work of English artist and engraver William Gardner.
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2020, 11:13:27 PM »



The 5 mils coins was made of bronze and was 25.4 mm in diameter.

The reverse design featured a Bronze Age man carrying a copper bar on his shoulders.

Since ancient times, Cyprus has been noted for its rich supplies of copper.
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2020, 11:18:54 PM »



There was no 10 mils coin in this design series.

The 25, 50 and 100 mils coins were all made of copper-nickel.

This is how the Queen's portrait looked on the copper-nickel coins.
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2020, 11:22:53 PM »



The 25 mils coin was 19.2 mm in diameter.

The reverse design showed a bull's head, in ancient Greek style.
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2020, 11:25:20 PM »



The 50 mils coin was 23.5 mm in diameter.

The reverse design featured stylised fern leaves.
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2020, 11:27:09 PM »



The 100 mils coin was 28.5 mm in diameter.

It weighed 11.3 grams and was the highest denomination of the series.

The reverse design featured an ancient Phoenician galley, symbolic of the sea-going trade of the island.
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2020, 11:45:03 PM »
Of this coin series, all the denominations were minted in 1955. The 5 mils coin was also minted in 1956, and the 100 mils coin was also minted in 1957. Both these coins are highly sought after by collectors. No more coins of this series were minted after 1957.
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2020, 12:33:43 AM »


A British soldier, photographed in action during the Cyprus Emergency of the 1950s.



By 1955 many Greek Cypriots had become tired of British rule. They knew that the British saw Cyprus in purely strategic terms and were not interested in developing the island's economy. Meanwhile many Greek Cypriots longed for enosis: the union of Cyprus with Greece. However, the British considered that they had a duty to protect the ethnic groups of Cyprus equally, in order to prevent communal violence and keep the peace.

EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston - 'National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters') was a Greek Cypriot nationalist guerrilla organisation that fought a campaign for the end of British rule in Cyprus, for the island's self-determination and for eventual union with Greece.

In the 1950s, EOKA was established with the specific aim of mounting a military campaign to end the status of Cyprus as a British crown colony and of achieving the island's unification with Greece. The leadership of AKEL, the island's communist party, opposed EOKA's military action, advocating a "Gandhiesque approach" of civil disobedience. EOKA was headed by Georgios Grivas, a Greek Army officer and a veteran of World War I and II.

Initially, the struggle was political, not military. EOKA wanted to attract the attention of the world through high-profile operations that would make headlines. On 1 April 1955, the EOKA insurgency began their attacks. After a series of follow up incidents, the Governor General, Sir John Harding, declared a state of emergency on 26 November of that year. The British encountered great difficulty obtaining effective intelligence on EOKA, since many of the Greek Cypriot population supported them and others were intimidated into remaining silent. The British were also hampered by a drain on manpower, caused by the Suez Crisis and Malayan Emergency. Towards the end of the 1950s, the British enjoyed more success.

By 1958 Greek Cypriots were frustrated by the intercommunal violence and the struggle against the British. Archbishop Makarios hinted in an interview that he was ready to accept an independent Cyprus. This development infuriated EOKA but was backed by influential members of the Greek Cypriot Community. EOKA was losing its broad support base.

During the last months of 1958, the Greek Cypriot side was afraid that partition was becoming more and more imminent; Greece was anxious that the ongoing situation could lead to a war with Turkey; Turkey had to manage the ongoing crises on its eastern borders; and the British didn't want to see NATO destabilised by a Greek-Turkish war. On 5 December, the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey acknowledged the situation and a series of meetings were arranged that resulted in the London-Zürich Agreements. This was a compromise solution in which Cyprus would become an independent and sovereign country. Makarios and Grivas accepted the agreements with a heavy heart, but the Turkish-Cypriot leadership was enthusiastic about the compromise. On 9 March 1959, Grivas issued a leaflet declaring his acceptance of the London agreements. According to historian Heinz Richter, the activities of EOKA resulted in the death of 104 British soldiers, 54 policemen and 238 citizens.

Cyprus became an independent republic in 1960, and Britain retained control of two Sovereign Base Areas, at Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and still does today. The euro is the official currency in these British bases.

In January 2019, the British government agreed to pay £1 million to a total of 33 Cypriots who were allegedly tortured by British forces during the uprising. They included a woman, aged 16 at the time, who said she was detained and repeatedly raped by soldiers, and a man who lost a kidney as a result of his interrogation. The payout followed the declassification of government documents in 2012, although Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan stated that "the settlement does not constitute any admission of liability" but that "the government has settled the case in order to draw a line under this litigation and to avoid the further escalation of costs".




On a personal note, an uncle of mine, long dead now, was a British corporal based in Cyprus. He once cheerfully told me of how he was shot in the ankle in 1956 while on duty. I also have a neighbour who is originally Greek Cypriot. In the 1950s she married a British policeman based in Cyprus and settled in London. Her husband is long dead now, but she still shuttles energetically between London, Cyprus and Greece, despite being in her mid-eighties.
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2020, 12:43:17 AM »


Unissued Cyprus design of 1955.



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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2020, 04:12:40 PM »




The final colonial coins of Cyprus referenced the Government of Cyprus in their legends.

See also: Issuing authorities named on coins.

 
« Last Edit: September 25, 2020, 01:55:31 PM by <k> »
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Re: Cyprus: final coinage under British rule
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2020, 04:13:10 PM »


Cyprus, 50 cents, 1991.



 
« Last Edit: September 25, 2020, 01:54:33 PM by <k> »
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