Mauritius: 1970s proposal for new circulation coin designs

Started by <k>, March 20, 2011, 11:17:35 PM

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<k>

If you look at the coinage of Mauritius under the British Empire in the 20th century, say under King George VI and the present Queen Elizabeth, you will see that it looks very similar in format to that of the (relatively) nearby Seychelles.

Both coinages were designed by George Kruger-Gray of the Royal Mint, and, whilst he included a few local thematic representational designs (e.g. wildlife, ships) for the pre-decimal coinages of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada, we find no representational designs on the pre-decimal coinage of the Seychelles, and only one on that of Mauritius: the red deer on the half rupee, which remains there to this day.

From the 1970s onwards, Seychelles' circulation coins have exploded with beautiful exotic wildlife designs galore. Yet apart from the red deer, Mauritius has only added the circulating 5 rupees palm trees design in the mid 1980s and the man harvesting sugar cane on the 1997 10 rupees.

So, I find modern designs of Mauritius to be rather a disappointment. However, it wasn't always meant to be that way. Here are some of the notes I took from my visits to the National Archives at Kew, London:-

Royal Mint Coinage Programme 1971-2    20/3868.

Mauritius. Talks held in London and Mauritius over 2 years (years not specified but probably somewhere between 1971 and 1974!) on new circulation designs were inconclusive, but a decision was made to top up existing coinage.

Royal Mint Advisory Committee: Meetings 1972   20/3929.

The document mentions fish and lizard designs for Mauritius (not shown!), the lizard being a gecko (P. Guentheri), which does not occur on the main island but is restricted to Round Island. The fish is Antigonia rubescens. Further designs and some illustrations are mentioned (as below) but also not shown!

a)   Banana tree
b)   Branch from tea shrub
c)   Travellers tree (Ravenala Madagascariensis)
d)   Tea shrub
e)   Flowering sugar cane
f)   Flowering sugar cane
g)   Pineapple
h)   Flowering sugar cane

Royal Mint Advisory Committee: Meetings 1973   20/3930.

New coins mentioned for Mauritius:-

1c – Sprig of a tea shrub
2c – Fish: Etelis Carbunculus
5c – Sugar cane
10c – Fresh water prawn

Mauritius wanted to include the designs in the FAO "Food For All" campaign. The RMAC found the designs to be an attractive series.




When I asked the National Archives about the missing illustrations, they advised me to contact the Royal Mint. Since the RM transferred the docs to the NA, I doubt they'll have retained anything themselves, unless they have kept original sketches or maybe even plasters for the Royal Mint Museum. So, as the documents said, the design plans proved to be inconclusive, and the designs themselves will probably remain a mystery. I was disappointed not to get a glimpse of these abortive designs.

Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

In 1972 the authorities of Mauritius were considering changes in the specifications of their 1, 2 and 5 cent coins. They wanted to have them minted in aluminium and also to introduce some new reverse designs that would feature agricultural produce that was important to the economy. The Royal Mint (UK) asked English artist Leslie Durbin prepared a suitable set of sketches.
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.

<k>

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.

<k>

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.

<k>

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.

<k>

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.

<k>

Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>


5 cents.  Traveller's tree: Ravenala Madagascariensis.




Image copyright of The Royal Mint Museum.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

In 1973 Mauritius asked for some amendments to Mr Durbin's sketches. He was asked to feature a different type of fish, since the one he had chosen was considered inedible. He was also asked to replace "Mauritius" with the words "Food for all". The country was evidently planning a FAO-themed set of coins.
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.