World of Coins

Research and reference => Numismatics => Topic started by: <k> on August 01, 2010, 12:16:30 AM

Title: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 01, 2010, 12:16:30 AM
Throughout the world, you will find two systems of denominations generally in use:

1] The denominations progress as follows: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50.  The USA is a good example of this system.

2] The denominations progress as follows: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50. The UK follows this system.


So, if you have a 2 unit, you will have a 20 unit but not a 25. If you have no 2 unit, you will find a 25 unit instead of a 20.

The currency union of the Central African States uses a hybrid of these two systems, however:

1] 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50.  See the image below of their 2006-dated coins.


Do you know of any other coinages with unusual systems of denominations? I can think of the Bahamas, with their 15c coin, and the Soviet Union, which used denominations including 1, 2, 3 and 15 kopecks. I think some countries in the Soviet or Russian sphere of influence also used, or use, a similar system.


Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: andyg on August 01, 2010, 12:42:20 AM
My favourite decimal system has to be that of Imperial Russia, a coin for every occasion,
¼, ½, 1, 2, 3, 5 (two types, silver and bronze), 10, 20, 25, 50 Kopeks
1, 3, 5, 7½, 10, 15 and 25 Roubles
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Ukrainii Pyat on August 01, 2010, 12:43:45 AM
When USSR broke apart in 1991 the successor states came out with their own coinages, or proposals for coinages.  Ukraine cartridge factory in Luhans'k minted several patterns of coins, one of which was a 15 kopeikii coin.  But when the coinage system was selected they went with 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50 Kopek, and 1 Hryvnia coin.  Now the 1, 2, and 5 kopeiks are pretty worthless and only used in large grocery stores for change.  Lots of people throw them away, to the street, in parks etc.  My youngest daughter and I have competitions to find out how many of these coins we can find in walks, because you always find some.

Last year I did find one of the 1992 pattern 25 kopeiks in change - the ones close to selected design somehow leaked into circulation and still can be found if a coin collector is aware of them.

During the USSR time the 3 kopek coin was used in trade, but not quite as popular as the 2 kopek coin which was price of a phone call in the post office or at payphone.  Nothing could be bought just for kopek.  The price of trolley ticket then was 5 kopeks, and usually you saved pyatachakii for using trolley.

There was 3 ruble banknote, and it was largest state treasury bill and used a lot in trade.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 01, 2010, 12:48:39 AM
My favourite decimal system has to be that of Imperial Russia, a coin for every occasion,
¼, ½, 1, 2, 3, 5 (two types, silver and bronze), 10, 20, 25, 50 Kopeks
1, 3, 5, 7½, 10, 15 and 25 Roubles

That's quite a weird system. When we used pound shillings and pence in the UK (pre-1971), the half crown, or two shillings and sixpence, always struck me as a strange denomination, but it was in common enough use.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Figleaf on August 01, 2010, 01:48:54 AM
I thought at first that you were talking about decimal coin systems only. The optimum series is 1-2-5 (repeated with more zeroes), as e.g. the euro: 1-2-5 cent, 10-20-50 cent, 1-2-5 euro, 10-20-50 euro, 100-200-500 euro.  A 1-2-3-5 series, as in Russia/USSR, is pretty efficient from the user's POV, but not from the POV of the producer. Countries with high inflation often use the 1-5 series (Israel, until recently), to limit the number of coins that have to be produced.

The Netherlands long had a 1-2.5-5 series. It was workable enough, but less efficient than the 1-2-5 series. One problem is that the lowest denomination has an influence on the higher ones: if you withdraw the half cent, you must also withdraw the 2.5 cent. Many of the 25 denominations (including the US 25 cents) come from the Spanish doubling series, as in 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, 4, 8 reales. If you take the 8 reales as a decimal dollar, the 2 reales (2 bits) becomes 25 cents. This is why some South American countries issued coins with the denomination 12-1/2.

In non-decimal series, anything is possible, from denominations 2/3 to 7. If you take gold/silver tariffs as values, denominations are even weirder, as in 1 guinea = 21 shillings or 1 gold rider = 14 gulden.

Peter
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Luis on August 05, 2010, 10:02:09 PM
Portugal is a similar example to the Dutch. However, as I was growing up, the 50 centavos coins were gone but the 2.5$ coin remained in circulation for several years.

So we had 0.5, 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 25, later replaced by 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200. We then finally dropped the 2.5$, but we never had a 2$ coin.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Abhay on August 06, 2010, 09:44:47 AM
In 1970s and 1980s, India had 1,2,3,5,10,20,25,50,100 (1 Rupee) coin system. These were all circulating coins. In Proofs, we had 10 Rupee, 20 Rupee and 50 Rupee coins as well. In most of the proof sets, 20 Paisa coin was not included. Later, in 80s, a new aluminium 20 paisa coin came in circulation.

Presently, although legal tender as per Reserve Bank Of India, you don't find smaller paisa coins in circulation. Only rupee coins are in circulation. (1,2,5 and 10 Rupees).

Abhay
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 06, 2010, 01:44:55 PM
In 1970s and 1980s, India had 1,2,3,5,10,20,25,50,100 (1 Rupee) coin system.

A "3" unit is unusual in any decimal system. We Brits did have a 3d in our pre-decimal system, of course, because that was a quarter of a shilling.

As I wrote above, a 2 usually goes with a 20 - not a 25. So that is another unusual part of your system.

The third curiosity of your system is that you have both a 20 and a 25 unit coin together.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 06, 2010, 01:50:28 PM
Portugal is a similar example to the Dutch. However, as I was growing up, the 50 centavos coins were gone but the 2.5$ coin remained in circulation for several years.

So we had 0.5, 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 25, later replaced by 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200. We then finally dropped the 2.5$, but we never had a 2$ coin.

1] 0.5, 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 25.  This looks logical. You can multiply each denomination by 5 or 10 to find another denomination.

2] 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200.  This is less logical. It would make more sense to have a 25 unit, rather than a 20, and a 250 rather than a 200.

3] 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200.   Again, this does not fit modern decimal patterns. If you have a 20, you should really have a 2. If you have no 2, you should have a 25 instead of a 20.

However, as a collector, I prefer the system that has more coins, however illogical, as more coins mean more designs and more to collect. So, from that point of view, I prefer the 1,2,5,10,20,50 system to the 1,5,10,25,50 system.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: ciscoins on August 07, 2010, 01:31:01 PM
My favourite decimal system has to be that of Imperial Russia, a coin for every occasion,
¼, ½, 1, 2, 3, 5 (two types, silver and bronze), 10, 20, 25, 50 Kopeks
1, 3, 5, 7½, 10, 15 and 25 Roubles

Decimal system was invented in Russian Empire in 1704 and then spread all around the World. And it included all the denominations that could be imagined:
1/8, ¼, ½, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50, 75 kopeks
1, 1½, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7½, 10, 12, 15, 25, 37½ roubles

And the other countries which adopted the decimal system were trying to simplify it, so they excluded some denominations like 4 and 15 kopeks.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: andyg on August 07, 2010, 01:33:56 PM
1/8, ¼, ½, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50, 75 kopeks
1, 1½, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7½, 10, 12, 15, 25, 37½ roubles

Did these circulate all at the same time?
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: ciscoins on August 07, 2010, 01:40:44 PM
Did these circulate all at the same time?

No, in different years from 1704 to 1917. And at different territories. For example, 75 kopeks (3/4 roubles) coins were minted only for Poland.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Figleaf on August 07, 2010, 02:16:43 PM
I checked up on those 4 kopeks and bumped into a 1/3 tymf 1707 (KM 126). Further on, I found a tynf 1707-1708 (KM 127), where it is explained that a tynf is 12 kopeks, so you can add that to your list. Which is the right spelling, tymf or tynf?

Peter
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: ciscoins on August 07, 2010, 03:12:53 PM
Which is the right spelling, tymf or tynf?

In V.V. Uzdennikov catalog (one of the best catalogs of Russian Empire coins) the Russian variant is "tinf", but the translation into English is "tymph". So I don't know the correct variant. These coins were for Poland, so it's better to ask someone from that country.

Also I've found some other denominations there. And the complete list will look like this:
1/8, ¼, ½, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 75, 96 kopeks
1, 1½, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7½, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 37½ roubles

I've counted only the coins that were nominated in Roubles and Kopeks. And there were lots of other denominations in Russian Empire. And each of these coins had its own alloy and weight, so sometimes it's hard to compare them.

efimok, rus, chervonets, grosz - for all the empire;
zloty, tymph, szostak - for Poland;
penny, markka - for Finland;
abaz, bisti, puli - for Georgia;
thaler, groschen, solidus - for Prussia (occupational coinage);
para - for Moldova and Wallachia.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 10, 2011, 12:34:28 AM
It's worth including here what members have posted about unusual denominations in other topics.

The "15" unit as a denomination in a decimal series.

1] Paraguay has a circulation 15 centimos coin, dated 1953 only.

2] Our member Fosseway mentions that the Soviets and their satellites were fond of the "15" denomination, and he notes that Cuba issued a 15 pesos in gold for three years (1988-90, KM212). He adds that the Russian 15 kopeek coin ended with the Soviet Union.

3] The Romanian 15 bani lasted from 1960 until 1975.

4] The Bahamas are hardly communist, of course, but their central bank includes a 15c coin among its circulation coins:

http://www.centralbankbahamas.com/bank_coins.php

5] Of non-circulating coins, our member chrisild mentions that both Australia and Canada issue $15 coins.


Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 10, 2011, 12:39:52 AM
As for the "3" unit within a decimal series, I was surprised to see that the USA had a 3 cents coin from 1851 to 1873.

Again, the Soviets used a 3 kopeck coin, but the post-Soviet Russians have never issued one.

Communist-era Romania issued a 3 bani coin in the 1950s and a 3 lei coin in the 1960s.

Further back, the French issued 3 centimes coins in the 1800s.

These days, I know of no "3" unit still existing within a decimal series.

Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 10, 2011, 12:42:35 AM
The "4" unit within a decimal series. I found both a 4 centesimos and 40 centesimos for Uruguay in the 1800s. I can't think of any other "4" units offhand.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 10, 2011, 12:46:14 AM
Fosseway mentioned that Venezuela reintroduced the 12½ centimos in 2007, allegedly because it reminded President Chavez of his childhood. Presumably this is the only example of a "12½" unit still circulating within a decimal series. Or am I wrong?
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 10, 2011, 12:53:33 AM
The "2½" unit. I can't think of anywhere in the world that uses this now. Can you? When Britain went decimal in 1971, the old pre-decimal sixpence was still very popular, so a campaign was started to keep it. It was kept, but with a decimal value of 2½p, it became very UNpopular. I guess people don't like messy fractions.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 10, 2011, 12:56:55 AM
The "½" unit. Britain had a pre-decimal halfpenny until 1968. The decimal halfpenny lasted from 1971 until the end of 1983. It was not missed or mourned. How many countries still use a "½" unit these days?

Apart from a few anomalies, it seems that the vast majority of monetary systems these days use only units of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50. Units of 3, 4, 12½, 15, etc., have dropped out.
Title: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Bimat on August 10, 2011, 08:45:17 AM
These days, I know of no "3" unit still existing within a decimal series.
I can think of Slovenian €3 commemorative coins which can be had for face value and are legal tender only in Slovenia, but AFAIK, they circulate to a very very limited extent (won't say that they do not circulate at all) so kind of NCLT only.

Aditya
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: FosseWay on August 10, 2011, 09:38:27 AM
IIRC both Cyprus and Malta had 3 mil coins up to the early 1980s, when both countries abolished the mil and switched to £ and cents.

Not current, of course, but the Weimar Republic issued a 4 pfennig coin, alongside the more obvious 1, 2 and 5pf ones, in the early 1930s.

The UK issues non-circulating 3p and 4p coins for the Royal Maundy.

On 2½, the Netherlands and its colonies had coins of this denomination for a long time. Portugal had 2$50 coins until the late 1980s (presumably they went when the 50 centavos coin was dropped). South Africa still issues 2½c coins -- the continuation of the old threepence or tickey -- as non-circulating commemoratives, because of the iconic status the tickey had before decimalisation.

40 is another unusual but findable denomination. France made 40-franc gold pieces in the mid-19th century, alongside a decimal system that was otherwise unexceptional in its choice of denominations. Cuba has/had 40 centavo coins.

(Sorry for the vagueness of this -- I'm at work and can't look anything up!)

Then there are some completely wacky denominations. I'm sure when browsing through KM I've seen Austrian and German States coins with denominations of 7 and even 17. I struggle to see how these fit into any currency system I've ever heard of -- apart from anything else they're both quite large (for the context) prime numbers, therefore indivisible.

And let us not forget the marvel that was Jersey before 1872, when they had coins denominated as 1/13th, 1/26th and 1/52nd of a shilling.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Figleaf on August 10, 2011, 10:45:39 AM
The 7 and 17 denominations came from a currency reform. They make sense in te reformed currency but are expressed in the new currency.

I think the world record for denomination weirdness goes to this humble coin. No one has ever been able to show what 5 1/16 means or refers to. There are just theories, all sounding odd. This coin was used as a duit in the Netherlands Indies.

Peter
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Abhay on August 10, 2011, 11:12:15 AM
Well, this topic reminds me of a Joke, I read a long time back.

A counterfeiter, by mistake, prints a bundle of 15 Rupee notes. Reluctant to destroy the notes, he tries to use the notes in a small village, thinking that the villagers will be ignorant of 15 rupee notes. He goes to a moneylender, and asks whether he can get the change for 15 rupee notes. The Moneylender says that he can give him the change, but will charge a commission of 1 rupee per note. The counterfeiter agrees, and hands over the bundle of 15 rupee notes. The monelender takes out 2 bundles of 7 rupee notes, and hands over them to the Counterfeiter. ;D ;D >:D >:D

Abhay
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 10, 2011, 12:28:28 PM
I can think of Slovenian €3 commemorative coins which can be had for face value and are legal tender only in Slovenia, but AFAIK, they circulate to a very very limited extent (won't say that they do not circulate at all) so kind of NCLT only.

Aditya

That's like the commemorative crowns (5 shillings) issued in the UK in the 1960s. Our highest circulating coin back then was the half crown. I notice also that Malaysia produced 25 sen coins as part of its Endangered Species series in recent years, but they do not have a standard circulation 25 sen; they do have circulation 20 sen coins, though.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 10, 2011, 12:29:39 PM
Well, this topic reminds me of a Joke, I read a long time back.

A counterfeiter, by mistake, prints a bundle of 15 Rupee notes. Reluctant to destroy the notes, he tries to use the notes in a small village, thinking that the villagers will be ignorant of 15 rupee notes. He goes to a moneylender, and asks whether he can get the change for 15 rupee notes. The Moneylender says that he can give him the change, but will charge a commission of 1 rupee per note. The counterfeiter agrees, and hands over the bundle of 15 rupee notes. The moneylender takes out 2 bundles of 7 rupee notes, and hands over them to the Counterfeiter. ;D ;D >:D >:D

Abhay

So the moneylender must have been counterfeiting too.  >:(
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: chrisild on August 10, 2011, 01:08:59 PM
Not current, of course, but the Weimar Republic issued a 4 pfennig coin, alongside the more obvious 1, 2 and 5pf ones, in the early 1930s.

Well, they tried, and it failed (of course ;D ). See here:
http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,9659.0.html

The German Empire also had the "3" denomination, but only as 3M (monarchy) and 3 RM (republic), not as pfennigs.

Christian
Title: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Bimat on August 10, 2011, 07:03:32 PM
Another unusual denomination I just saw: Suriname 250 cents coin. Why didn't they call it 2.5 Gulden?

Aditya
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 10, 2011, 07:08:54 PM
And Eritrea has a circulating "ONE HUNDRED CENTS" coin.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: chrisild on August 10, 2011, 10:05:22 PM
This explanation - which is about the piece from Eritrea but mentions Suriname too - makes some sense to me: "With the coins as they are all the people need to know is that all coins are in units of which there are 100 to the unit of the papermoney. So there is no need to read the denomination name - just the number." http://www.wbcc.fsnet.co.uk/af-eri.htm Sure, the coins from Suriname do have the word "cent" but it may still be easier to use one unit for them all ...

Christian
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Figleaf on August 10, 2011, 10:30:41 PM
There's a weird reason (after the fact) for the state of the Surinam coins. Hold on to your arm rests: Surinam coins have had two denominations.

The coins were introduced as parts of the Surinam gulden. Surinam got itself into a spiral of drugs smuggling and laundering money of local Maffia clans fighting to be the government. The winning capo was Desi Bouterse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dési_Bouterse). The domestic killing, necessary to get him in power caused great economic losses and the political instability scared off investors, while the Dutch stopped their subsidies to the state. The result was a firm bout of inflation. The coins lost their function as the currency went down the drain.

In 2004, a new currency was introduced, the Surinam dollar of 1000 surinam gulden. The coins were declared valid for 1000 times their original value, a windfall profit for those who had held on to their old coins.

Peter
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: andyg on August 10, 2011, 10:52:44 PM
Two more current '3' coins are Cuba's 3 Pesos and Azerbaijan's 3 Qapiks.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 11, 2011, 12:49:12 AM
Kazakhstan issued a 3 tenge coin in 1993.

Kyrgyzstan issued a 3 som coin in 2008.

Tajikistan has issued a 3 somonj coin in various years.

Uzbekistan issued a 3 tiyin coin in 1994.


Of all the post-Soviet "-stans", only Turkmenistan has avoided a "3" unit.
Title: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Bimat on August 11, 2011, 08:07:41 AM
Don't forget the Luxembourgian 700 cents coin which was issued recently. It was NCLT, though.

Cook Islands also have (triangular) circulating $3 coin.

Aditya
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 14, 2011, 08:04:40 PM

Cook Islands also have (triangular) circulating $3 coin.

Aditya


One dollar per side?  ;D  You are mistaken - it is a two dollar coin. You must be thinking of their $3 banknotes.  ;

 
Title: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Bimat on August 15, 2011, 07:05:17 AM
Sorry I was confused! But a $3 banknote?!?! That's VERY weird!

Aditya
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: <k> on August 20, 2011, 04:45:42 PM
If you look back through Brazil's numismatic history, you'll find denominations of 40 reis, 80 reis, 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 reis. But the one that wins the prize for eccentricity is the 960 reis. Whoever came up with that idea should have been sacked on the spot.
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: chrisild on August 20, 2011, 06:00:40 PM
Whoever came up with that idea should have been sacked on the spot.

Not so fast please. :) Would have to look this up, but I think that at that time, 960 reis was the equivalent of the Spanish 8 reales coin, aka piece of eight (real de a ocho) aka Spanish Dollar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_dollar). Can anybody else confirm this maybe?

Christian
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: Figleaf on August 20, 2011, 07:47:48 PM
Confirmed. 960 reis = 3 patacas = 1 patacão = 1 pieza de a ocho. There are also Brazilian coins of 640 reis, 320 reis, 160 reis 80 reis and 40 reis. The 960 reis connects Brazilian money with Spanish colonial money. Moreover, Spanish colonial pesos were counterstamped after January 1821 in Brazil to be circulated for 960 reis.

Peter
Title: Re: Unusual Denomination Systems
Post by: FosseWay on August 21, 2011, 03:26:42 PM
The 'problem' with 960 is not with the number of units but the failure to use a larger, more logical unit, if you see what I mean. It's not unusual for coins to have a notional value of 960 x a smaller unit; every UK coin worth £1 minted until 1956 is such, being worth 960 farthings. It's just that we don't denominate coins larger than threefarthings in farthings.