Author Topic: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975  (Read 9921 times)

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Offline <k>

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Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« 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.”
« Last Edit: November 25, 2013, 06:12:26 PM by <k> »
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Offline <k>

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #1 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, 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
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 09:47:50 PM by coffeetime »
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Offline <k>

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #2 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.

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Offline <k>

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #3 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, was no botanist. Nevertheless, I find his designs very attractive, anatomically correct or not.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2011, 10:32:03 PM by coffeetime »
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Offline <k>

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #4 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
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 08:22:20 PM by coffeetime »
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Offline andyg

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #5 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.
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

Offline <k>

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #6 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.
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Offline Afrasi

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #7 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 ...  >:(


Offline Figleaf

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #8 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
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline andyg

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #9 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?
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

Offline Afrasi

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #10 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.

Offline andyg

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #11 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)
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

Offline Afrasi

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #12 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.

Offline <k>

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #13 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?
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Offline Prosit

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Re: Mystery Mozambican Coins of 1975
« Reply #14 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