World of Coins

Modern coins, pseudo coins and trade tokens of other continents => Pacific Islands => Topic started by: Bimat on June 27, 2009, 10:01:34 AM

Title: Vanuatu: Obama Coin
Post by: Bimat on June 27, 2009, 10:01:34 AM
Stamps & coins: Living citizens sometimes portrayed on coins

By Peter Rexford
Creators Syndicate
Published: Saturday, Jun. 27, 2009 - 12:00 am | Page 6D

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a new stamp saluting the life and career of entertainer Bob Hope. I mentioned it was being issued this month. Hope died in 2003 at the age of 100. One eagle-eyed reader noted that only six years have passed since his death. Historically, the Postal Service had a rule that – other than a president – 10 years must elapse after a person's death before he or she can be depicted on a stamp.

Recently, though, the requirement changed. Now, a person can be commemorated as soon as five years after death.

As for coins, time frames are a bit grayer.

Naturally, a situation rarely arises where a living person might be eligible to appear on a coin. The primary reason is that we seldom change the designs on U.S. coins, so the issue is moot. Not until the series of U.S. state quarters did coins receive much attention insofar as design modifications. Of course, that's here in the United States.

I mention this because of a new coin just released by a small country in the South Pacific called Vanuatu. Few have heard of it, and it's technically been around for only 28 years. Before receiving its independence, it had been under the control of France and Britain.
As with more countries than most would care to count, Vanuatu receives economic assistance from the United States. Would they like more? I'm sure they would. And, given their newest coin, they just might have hedged their bet a bit.

The new Vanuatu coin has been issued in honor of President Barack Obama. The design on the reverse features a portrait of Obama with an inset of an eagle modeled after one found on a vintage U.S. coin. The wording reads, "President B. Obama United States of America." The front of the coin features the Vanuatu coat of arms and the legend "Ripablik 2009 Blong Vanuatu."

Since Obama hasn't yet been in office for a full six months, it may seem quite early to be featured on a coin. Then again, this isn't entirely new. Other small countries have quickly issued coins showcasing U.S. presidents early in their terms. Admittedly, it may not be entirely meant to curry favor but rather to capitalize on the opportunity and make a profit.

It's that last part I have to look at closely. You see, there are actually three coins.

One is minted in cupro-nickel, much like our current quarter or dime. No precious metal value there as reflected by its price of $15.

Another is struck from sterling silver. Weighing 1 ounce, it sells for $65 – a fairly hefty premium over its silver content value but more or less in line with similar collector coins.

Finally, there is a version made from pure gold. Given the current value of gold, that would naturally attract most people given its price of only $85. That made me wonder until I checked on the coin's size. It measures 11 millimeters, roughly the size of your pinky fingernail. That is one very tiny coin. I don't believe it comes with a magnifying glass.

The gold coin's weight of 1/64 of an ounce is also is a concern.

Given its $85 price tag, that's not a prudent investment. Gold would have to be over $5,400 an ounce to break even.

Of course, I'm being literal. Most would purchase a coin such as this for its commemorative nature and not as an inflation hedge or metallic value. But with money being tight and most people closely watching their budgets, it would be wise to get the biggest bang for the buck.

The silver and gold versions are limited to 10,000 each. The cupro-nickel edition has an unlimited mintage. Will any of them be valuable in the future? Given similar past releases, it's doubtful. But for those who continue to collect everything Obama, it's another item to add to the list. More information on the coins can be found at the Web site of the distributor,

Source: The Sacramento Bee (
Title: Re: Vanuatu: Obama Coin
Post by: chrisild on June 27, 2009, 11:23:12 AM
Of course, that's here in the United States.

Of course. ::) Isn't that the country that, apart from the 50 State Quarters, is currently issuing a (short) series of Territorial Quarters, a definitely not so short series of Presidential Dollars, and Lincoln commemorative pennies, and Native American Dollars with a new design every year?

And yes, the US has had people on coins who were alive when the piece was issued. Oddly enough, when I sometimes mention that in "my" country we don't do that, I may even hear from Americans that they do not do it either ...

However, what is certainly true is that a current US coin would not depict Barack Obama. And what he has to do with Vanuatu, I don't know. Judging from the portrait, he is not very happy about these coins Pobjoy products. ;D

Title: Re: Vanuatu: Obama Coin
Post by: BC Numismatics on June 27, 2009, 03:50:33 PM
Aditya & Christian,
  I wouldn't mind getting the cupro-nickel commemorative medal-coin depicting President Obama,as Vanuatu is a British Commonwealth country.

Liberia was actually the first country to have a medal-coin commemorating President Obama's election & inauguration.Yes,that was also struck at the Pobjoy Mint in England as well.

Title: Re: Vanuatu: Obama Coin
Post by: Bimat on June 27, 2009, 06:45:26 PM
the normal Cu-Ni issue is priced 15$ ::) I don't know why a country like Vanuatu is so fascinated by Obama ;D
Judging from the portrait, he is not very happy about these coins Pobjoy products. ;D
Agreed ;D

Title: Re: Vanuatu: Obama Coin
Post by: Figleaf on June 27, 2009, 07:02:34 PM
I am amused at how the journalist seems slightly shocked that Pobjoy doesn't respect the rules of the US Post Office. I am even more amused at how the journalist assumes that development aid comes from the US, goes to all developing countries and is a lot of money. In fact, the US total aid effort is shamefully low, to a very large extent protectionist, politically and military inspired and consequently of low quality and impact.

The US is a very minor donor to Vanuatu:

"Since 1980, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and New Zealand have provided the bulk of Vanuatu's development aid. (...) Between 1977 and 1987, Vanuatu received just under $3 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including projects focusing on assisting the transition to indigenous plantation management. In June 1994, the regional USAID office located in Suva, Fiji, was closed due to U.S. Government budgetary cutbacks. The U.S. military retains training links and conducts ad hoc assistance projects in Vanuatu."

Source: US department of State (

Of course, these pieces will never reach Vanuatu. They serve only to enrich Pobjoy, who will probably be quick to point out that they pay a royalty to Vanuatu, forgetting to mention the percentage.

Title: Re: Vanuatu: Obama Coin
Post by: BC Numismatics on September 30, 2009, 01:26:04 AM
I will be getting the bottom denomination in this issue of Vanuatuan medal-coins.

It will be a great conversation piece,especially at next year's Levin Interclub Meeting.