World of Coins

Modern coins, pseudo coins and trade tokens of other continents => Sub-Saharan Africa => East Africa => Topic started by: <k> on June 16, 2010, 09:05:37 PM

Title: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: <k> on June 16, 2010, 09:05:37 PM
Here is a rather mysterious Mozambican set that I managed to piece together from purchases on ebay a few years ago.

According to Wikipedia:

“Mozambique became independent after ten years of sporadic warfare in Mozambique and Portugal's return to democracy through a leftist military coup in Lisbon on 25 April 1974 (partly as a result of the expenses from the wars in the overseas territories in Africa). FRELIMO took complete control of the territory after a transition period, as agreed in the Lusaka Accord, which recognized Mozambique's right to independence and the terms of the transfer of power. Within a year of the Portuguese coup, almost all Portuguese population had left the African territory – some expelled by the new government of independent Mozambique, some fleeing in fear. Mozambique became independent from Portugal on June 25, 1975.”
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: <k> on June 16, 2010, 09:06:12 PM
Samora Machel, who was the leader of the FRELIMO black independence movement, established a one party Marxist state in Mozambique, and it is his portrait that can be seen on the obverse of all the coins. This set, which is dated 1975, ranks as Mozambique’s first independence coinage.

Samora Machel died in a plane crash in 1986. Years later, Nelson Mandela would marry Machel's widow, Graça, in 1998.

The Royal Mint (UK) prepared the designs, which consist of eight denominations, in late 1974. The proposals for this alternative coinage were discussed in an atmosphere of great secrecy because of the Portuguese situation at the time. The Mint could not produce the full amount agreed in time because of various difficulties, but some hundreds of thousands of coins were minted. It is my understanding that the minting of these coins was contracted out to the Birmingham Mint (England). The designs, however, were created by English artist Geoffrey Colley (http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,9492.0.html), who was under contract to the Royal Mint. Mr Colley also designed the first decimal circulation coin set of Nigeria, as well as the first circulation set of the United Arab Emirates
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: <k> on June 16, 2010, 09:06:40 PM
At some point the coins reached the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), who apparently held them in storage for their Marxist African ally. Whether any of the coins ever reached Mozambique, and if so, whether any were issued and circulated, is a question that remains shrouded in mystery to this day. What we do know is that in 2003, after a dispute with the Royal Mint, the Birmingham Mint was forced to close. It was after that event that pieces from the 1975 Mozambique set started appearing on ebay.

After purchasing a set, I wanted to know what species of plant were represented on the reverse designs. Some of them were obvious; others were not. I first consulted Gerhard Schön’s famous coin catalogue: “World Coin Catalogue of the 20th Century.” Only two of the designs were described, and then not to my satisfaction. I therefore asked an online botany group for assistance. They were able to agree on only four out of the eight species. One of them thought that the exotic-looking plant on the 2½ meticas coin was actually a cotton plant, but gave the opinion that the sepals had not been properly drawn.

Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: <k> on June 16, 2010, 09:06:56 PM
My next step was to ask the Royal Mint which species the designs were intended to represent. Their assistant curator looked into the archives and sent me the following answers:

1  centimo.    Angolan protea.      Protea angolensis.
2  centimos.   Rain daisy.            Dimorphotheca pluvialis.
5  centimos.   Purple dissotis.       Dissotis princeps.
10 centimos.  Sugar cane.
20 centimos.  Tea plant.
50 centimos.  Cashew nuts.
1  metica.       Sisal agave.
2½ meticas.   Cotton plant.

So my botanist correspondent had been correct about the cotton plant, but it was evident that the artist, Geoffrey Colley (http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,9492.0.html), was no botanist. Nevertheless, I find his designs very attractive, anatomically correct or not.

Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: <k> on June 16, 2010, 09:07:14 PM
What happened next was that Gerhard Schön found my online questions to the botanists - I had mentioned to them that I had consulted his coin catalogue - and asked me if I had got any results. I duly sent him the information I had received from the Royal Mint. As a result of this, he added the data to the 2007 edition of his catalogue and sent me a complimentary copy of his catalogue. And there, on page three, was my name, as one of contributors. So I have a special affection for this mysterious set, for all sorts of reasons.

In 1980 Mozambique issued a new set of coins, depicting mainly socialist themes. Whereas in 1975 one metica was equal to one hundred centimos, in 1980 one metical was composed of centavos, so it was in effect a different currency.

To see the Mozambique 1980 Socialist Set, click on the URL below:

http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,2223.0.html
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: andyg on June 16, 2010, 09:21:11 PM
I bought 8 or 9 One Metica's for 5p each in a junk shop in about 1994 - so they were about pre the closure of Heaton's.  I remember a rather snooty lady in Peter Ireland Ltd, Blackpool told me they had no value ~ I thought pretty much the same about her comments, so it could be that Ebay just brought them onto the market.  The 1980 Metical replaced the Portuguese Escudo at par, so these coins are indeed of a completly different coinage.
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: <k> on June 16, 2010, 09:31:26 PM
Have you heard the idea that the Mozambican Communist Party objected to the 1975 coins, because they showed Machel's portrait? They apparently regarded this as a sign of "the cult of personality" - i.e. Marxist-speak for dictatorship. I don't know whether this is true, or why the coins were eventually dropped.
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Afrasi on June 16, 2010, 09:55:56 PM
These coins never reached Mozambique and were sent to Eastern Germany to shredder them in three different factories in Hettstedt and its surrounding. Many workers took a handful of them home, where the pieces often were used as play money for the children. That is the reason, why some of them look used.

One seller from that region sold some years ago a complete unc set to a Chinese buyer, who some weeks later offered hundreds of complete sets ...  >:(

Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Figleaf on June 16, 2010, 11:06:23 PM
Makes sense. The USSR had managed to turn decolonization into a cold war theatre, using the GDR and Cuba as proxies. We lost that one and Machel probably owed them the equivalent of years of oil production. The coins would have been shipped to Berlin as part repayment of arms deliveries.

Frelimo completely frutzed up the oil installations, turning a Western cold war loss into a money drain for the USSR and its allies and hastening their demise at the margin. Machel's death and the implosion of communism brought the West back in Mozambique. It is now part of the unfortunate African states that suffer from hyper-corruption and huge differences in income due to the oil sector. Truly an unlucky country.

Peter
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: andyg on June 16, 2010, 11:14:11 PM
One seller from that region sold some years ago a complete unc set to a Chinese buyer, who some weeks later offered hundreds of complete sets ...  >:(

I'm a little sceptical of this claim (sorry Afrasi) ~ because the quantities that turn up are not equal.
20 and 50 Centimos are hard to find, the 2M50 is near impossible yet the 1,2,5 and 10 are quite common, with the 1 Metica less so - had sets been manufactured in China the quantities of each denomination would be the same?
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Afrasi on June 17, 2010, 12:32:37 AM
I'm a little sceptical of this claim (sorry Afrasi)

You have your good right to do so, but I persist in my statement. Both higher denominations were scarcer long before. It is no problem to buy them today. Only the price for them (the fakes) is kept very high - much to high.
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: andyg on June 17, 2010, 12:40:46 AM
How do we tell then a fake from an original ~ given that I have in my possesion a 1 Metica since 1994 (or thereabouts)
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Afrasi on June 17, 2010, 01:21:00 AM
Until now I did not find any clear differences. But I still hope to find some one day!

The Chinese fakes of the Libyan coinage of 1979 lack any diffrerences to the original coins, too.
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: <k> on June 17, 2010, 02:58:05 PM
How do we tell then a fake from an original ~ given that I have in my possesion a 1 Metica since 1994 (or thereabouts)

Since the 1 metica was in existence from 1975 onwards, and the Royal Mint and/or the Birmingham Mint had the dies, I don't see how the Chinese could have managed to make accurate copies so early. Gerhard Schön makes no mention of forgeries in his catalogue, so I would assume your piece is genuine. We can put it down to East German workers stealing the pieces and taking them home.

I did read an article, year ago, that claimed the 2½ meticas were escaping from the Birmingham Mint and appearing in the parking meters of Birmingham. This is because they were made to the same specifications as the UK 50 pence piece. Unfortunately I didn't keep the article that claimed this. I think it was in Coin News but cannot now be sure. This is a pity, as our fellow forum member africancoins was fascinated by the story and wanted to try to authenticate it.

Afrasi, when is the earliest date that the Chinese started making forgeries of modern African coins?
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Prosit on June 17, 2010, 03:15:18 PM
I have a question.  If there is currently no known way to tell the difference between the fake and the original...How is it possible to draw a conclusion that fakes do exist.  I mean, who decided they did and how was that determined?  Something had to lead to that conclusion.  Maybe I missed that part...

Dale

Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Prosit on June 17, 2010, 03:19:12 PM
Second part.   If the fakes really do exist and lots of them and no one can tell the difference...wouldn't the proper conclusion to draw be that no expert has examined an actual original?  All the coins examined by experts are the fakes which is why no differences are noted?

Dale
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: <k> on June 17, 2010, 03:27:00 PM
These coins never reached Mozambique and were sent to Eastern Germany to shred them in three different factories in Hettstedt. Many workers took a handful of them home.

One seller from that region sold some years ago a complete unc set to a Chinese buyer, who some weeks later offered hundreds of complete sets ...  >:(


So that is Afrasi's story, Dale, but you're right, it would be interesting to know its source.
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Afrasi on June 17, 2010, 11:27:29 PM
Source is the seller.
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: andyg on June 17, 2010, 11:37:34 PM
that might actually mean that the Chinese buyer managed to acquire some elsewhere though, there are deceptive fakes out there I agree, but absolutely perfect fakes that cannot be told apart?

I agree a lot of Libya coins (1979) seem to have come out of China also, but these are quite a low value (and always have been) so I wonder if it would be worthwhile forging these.  You'd be better off forging UK £1 coins or Swiss 5 Francs. ~ Even with the best technology available in the UK we still can't manage decent forgeries of £1 coins!
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Prosit on June 17, 2010, 11:44:38 PM
When it comes to African coins I certainly have no reason to doubt Afrasi's conclusions.  Still, it seems to me, that if a fake and an original are examined side by side, there should be a way to tell the difference.  I still think the problem may lie with the lack of sufficient originals to compare with.

Well, what I am sure of is that I don't know anything about it.  Just curious is all.

Dale
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: natko on October 11, 2011, 11:16:14 PM
It's very unpleasant find about forgeries, now, when I purchased 1 metica and 20 cent coins for 150 euros. I miss two of them now. I still believe it's some catch, at least with original dies, so nobody can ever tell the difference.

They were cheapest 4-5 years ago, I saw at least twice sets for about 100 dollars on ebay. I bought first, 1 centimo for maybe 30 dollars in 1999 or 2000 and it was first I personally saw on the internet. Price has dropped after, but then rose quite much again now, as actually whole numismatics. That's why I wanted to finally complete it.

Didn't know also for Libyan 1979 set, I've got few sure originals in VF-XF and they're, as Afrasi said, exact as the UNC pieces bought recently. From weight to everything...just checked.

It is not scarce in our hobby, however that original dies are used later for rare coins. Good example is Yugoslavian pattern of 25 para, 1 and 10 dinara 1979 that even have original mintages od 15-20 stated in Krause. I own all and they are sometimes available in local auctions for not more than 100 euros each. first examples, sold in 80s were costing about 2000 DM, which, I would be free to compare with at least 2000 euros today.

Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: andyg on October 11, 2011, 11:31:32 PM
It's very unpleasant find about forgeries, now, when I purchased 1 metica and 20 cent coins for 150 euros. I miss two of them now. I still believe it's some catch, at least with original dies, so nobody can ever tell the difference.

They were cheapest 4-5 years ago, I saw at least twice sets for about 100 dollars on ebay. I bought first, 1 centimo for maybe 30 dollars in 1999 or 2000 and it was first I personally saw on the internet. Price has dropped then rose a much again.

Didn't know also for Libyan 1979 set, I've got few sure originals in VF-XF and they're, as Afrasi said, exact as the UNC pieces bought recently. From weight to everything...just checked.

It is not scarce in our hobby, however that original dies are used later for rare coins. Good example is Yugoslavian pattern of 25 para, 1 and 10 dinara 1979 that even have original mintages od 15-20 stated in Krause. I own all and they are sometimes available in local auctions for not more than 100 euros each. first examples, sold in 80s were costing about 2000 DM, which, I would be free to compare with at least 2000 euros today.



I think Mr. Afrasi and myself agreed to differ on this one - I'm not aware of any fakes of the Mozambique coins that are as good as the originals.  Also supplies seem to have dried up again, which if they were fakes I would expect more to appear in a constant trickle.

The Libyan set I think it is likely that it was re-issued with frozen dates after 1979.
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: africancoins on October 12, 2011, 12:14:02 AM
I agree with Andy for 1975 and 1979..... those Libya 1979 were frozen dates - easiest to be sure of for the 50 and 100 Dirhams.

As for Mozambique - I really hope one day we can find a definite answer regarding those pieces that appeared later - as Andy says the supply ended - another similar point is that if this series had been copied in quantity then surely a few other sets would have been done too (not too easy to think which others would be worth doing though but there are some....).

Also wouldn't the seven-side shape (as per British 50 Pence) for the 2.50M present a few problems for anyone making copies of high grade ?

Back to Afrasi's explanation in the first post....  perhaps the Chinese buyer decided to put a lot of effort into finding someone in Germany full sets - with or without help from the first German source.

I remember a Chinese person telling me he had completed this set for someone - just over 10 years ago. He knew of the possibly melting of these in Germany and mentioned only a few of his set having come from Germany. He believed the availability in Germany at that time to be related to the possible melting in Germany.

Thanks Mr Paul Baker
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: natko on October 14, 2011, 01:41:20 PM
As of Mozambique, there are numerous possibilities that support Afrasi's story. As an expert in African coins his words are to be trusted and his worries taken into consideration for sure.

But I also think it's unlikely to make 100% exact copies from original coins, although from what reason exactly I don't know.

Somebody could have purchased original dies (I don't know the circumstances around the closing of Birmingham mint) produce some sets or individual coins and smartly sell it.

Somebody could have purchased many original coins from Germany or Birmingham itself.

There are also some other stories for sure that could support the story of individual that Afrasi know.

My seller got the the following info on several 1 meticas the had(couldn't get pictures): 1 Metica, no difference in leaves, but if you see all UNC coins you expect them to be all same detailed, instead one has bark more defined than others but perhaps less in some other points etc. so at the end none looks really MS65, like the other coins do. The 2,5 quotes very high, but in my experience the tougher coin of the set is the 50 centimos, even if when you find you may pay it less than the other coin.

that might even be taken as evidence of copying, but I think we all know that in minting several million pieces dies have to be changed and weakened, especially for a contract mint, who never care too much about the quality.
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Harald on October 16, 2011, 08:50:13 PM
The 1975 coins were produced officially, based on a law of 21 June 1975 which authorised the Central Bank to produce coins and banknotes.
However, the currency reform planned for mid 1976 (possible date 26 June 1976, unconfirmed) was never carried out and the Escudo continued to circulate until 1980. Probably due to the civil war.

Not much of a mistery so far, occasionally a currency reform gets stuck in the middle  ;D

What is more mysterious, how could the authorities come up with an incorrect name? Or was it the mint, which has turned "metical"
into "metica"? The word is derived from the Arabic weight unit "mithqal", so the L cannot be dismissed.

cheers
--
Harald
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Afrasi on October 16, 2011, 09:17:11 PM
The letter "L" is a weak one in many languages. The Portuguese language don't loves it, too. So the Spanish Reales converted to Reais and Reis.
African Brazilians for example spell the word "Brazil" like "Brazeeoo" with a very short "oo". There is no more any "L" to hear.
In Mocambique the "L" - may be - was lost in the living language, too. Nobody remembered the derivation from "mithqal" and so ...
Title: Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
Post by: Harald on October 18, 2011, 09:13:11 PM
In 1980 they found the L again ...  ;)