Author Topic: Cinco Centesimos  (Read 238 times)

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Offline gpimper

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Cinco Centesimos
« on: December 16, 2019, 08:29:36 PM »
I've always enjoyed these coin designs.  Simple but then not so simple :-)  Spent about 6 weeks in 1991 living out of a quasit hut right on the canal.  Henderson Air Base I think.  Great fishing, though!
The Chief...aka Greg

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Cinco Centesimos
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2019, 06:38:08 AM »
Panama KM 23. A dual purpose coin. The flans of this coin are exactly the same as those for the contemporary Jefferson cents (5 grams, 21.2 mm, 25% copper, 75% nickel, stirred, not shaken). Therefore, technically, you can use this coin in any US vending machine that takes US five cent coins.

The dual role is not accidental. After the success of the Suez canal, the French started work on the Panama canal. They gave up. Almost a quarter of a century later, the US took up the project and finished it a decade later. The canal came at a cost. It saved US tax payers enormous amounts of money, as warships could be speedily transferred from the Pacific fleet to the Atlantic fleet and vice versa. The US created the Panama canal zone, the canal plus surrounding territory. It was in effect cutting Panama in two parts, separated by a zone over which it had no sovereignty. The deal was sharply criticised. both by Americans and Panamanians. President Roosevelt was unmoved and Panama was the mouse that didn't roar.

The design of the coin reflects the story. At heart, it's a US coin hit by a different die. Even the different dies include a heraldic design that's quite American. The big five looks really different, until you remember that US 5 cent pieces once sported a large V.

As in most realistic stories, there are no good guys and no bad guys. Just people with different priorities. This is a story of sovereignty clashing with warfare and pride falling short of capability to construct something utterly useful. The world is a complicated place.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.