Author Topic: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?  (Read 16924 times)

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Galapagos

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Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« on: November 29, 2009, 03:21:37 PM »
There are many reasons for demonetising coins, or whole systems of coins. In some cases, a country adopts a simpler, more logical system, for instance, when the UK, Australia and New Zealand switched from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency. In more recent times we have seen various EU members adopt the euro for political and economic reasons. And political upheavals, such as in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, have seen new countries emerge and adopt new currencies, and former communist countries ditch old currencies.

Inflation is another reason why coins, and sometimes whole currencies, are dumped. Sometimes coins are removed from circulation because of their silver content. Other coins are reduced in size and / or produced in cheaper metals because of rising metal prices.

I suspect that all these changes mean that it will probably be rare to find a country where the coins are much more than forty years old. In the UK, our oldest decimal coins still in circulation are our 1p and 2p coins dated 1971. In Europe, probably Switzerland, which has seen many decades of political and economic stability under a unchanged currency, would probably be a good candidate. Countries that have suffered several periods of high inflation, such as those of Latin America, or Third World countries generally, will likely have few candidates.

In Asia, we could possibly look to Japan or South Korea, or, who knows, even China. However, I am merely trying to narrow down the field here, as I do not know the answer to my own question. So what do the members think? Which country has the oldest circulating coins?

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2009, 03:41:08 PM »
In theory, all US silver coins are still legal tender, but in practice, silver coins will circulate only by mistake. Probably all Swiss decimal coins are stilllegal tender, with the possible exception of the 5 Franc coins, but here also, you'd be hard pressed to find any dated before say 1968 in circulation and the silver has disappeared also. UK coins from 1968 onwards can probably still circulate, but now that many coins are smaller, I doubt if you'll find many in practice. Indian rupee coins might be a candidate.

I once thought of doing an article on how young the "old" euro coins really were, as I was irritated by the bleating over these great losses of tradition. Some examples: the DM system dated from 1949, the Italian lira was created in 1951, the French franc in 1960, the Spanish peseta was created in 1940, the Dutch guilder is one of the oldest (1815) if you are willing to overlook a large devaluation after the second world war. Of course there were coins with the same name before, but thinking they are the same coins would lead you to believe that a decimal British penny is the same as a Roman denarius aureus.

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

Galapagos

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2009, 03:45:22 PM »
The large UK 5p and 10p coins were introduced in 1968, the large 50p in 1969, but both were demonetised in the 1990s and replaced by the smaller versions. Of the original decimal coins, only the 1p and 2p remain in circulation. The 20p didn't come along until 1982, whilst the modern pound coin dates from 1983.

Offline chrisild

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2009, 04:31:44 PM »
Switzerland is a pretty complex case when it comes to what is legal tender and what is not. The 1 and 2 r/c coins cannot be used any more; the 5 r/c pieces from before 1980 are not legal tender either. Now the 10 r/c coins have been the same for 130 years, and you can still use them all - except for the brass (1918-19) and nickel (1932-39) issues.

20 r/c: Coins from before 1939 are not legal tender.
1/2 F, 1 F, 2 F: Coins from before 1968 are not legal tender.
5 F: The silver coins (until 1969) are not legal tender; Cu-Ni pieces (as from 1968) are, but the 1985-93 issues are not.

(Please replace "r/c" with "rappen/raps/centime(s)/centesimo or centesimi" where applicable. :) ) So the only Swiss coin that could win the title, I think, is the 0.10 piece. Now if you asked about which country has the oldest designs in circulation, Switzerland would sure be among the winners ...

Christian

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2009, 05:26:37 PM »
I believe that the original intention was to find which country has the oldest coins which still circulate (on a regular basis) although we are really looking a bit further than this once we add coins that could circulate.   This effectively makes a double question.

a) Which country has the oldest coins in regular circulation, and what ones are they?
b) Which country has the oldest coins that can be circulated as they are legal tender although they are rarely, if ever, seen in circulation, and what ones are they?

Regarding a), the UK has the 2p and 1p of 1971 which are still in everyday use.   For b), the question becomes more interesting as Maundy money, silver 4d, 3d, 2d and 1d, dating from 1822 is still valid currency as 4p, 3p, 2p, and 1p to this day.   I believe that the old (everyday) silver 3d is still valid at 3p because of its similarity to the Maundy coins which probably means that the 4d is similarly valid.   Added to this, I believe that old Crown coins are still valid at 25p and double-florins at 20p as they do not appear to have been demonetised.

I would like to find out more about the validity of coins that I have listed under b) as it is a subject which interests me.   Yes, I'm fully aware that they won't be found circulating, but I believe that they could.

Bill.
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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2009, 11:17:30 PM »
So we can still spend old Queen Vickie's coins in the shops - though only in theory, as in practice no shop assistant would accept them!

Exactly.   There is an excellent site on Maundy Money where you will find several references to 1822 which seems to be the accepted date for validity.   The interesting point is that the shop assistant would be rather stupid to refuse to accept 92.5% silver, or even 50% during the years that figure applied.

Bill.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 11:24:52 PM by UK Decimal + »
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2009, 11:22:01 PM »
I think that all means that the US is world champion old coins in circulation. Switzerland may be European champion. My candidate for African champion is South Africa, though Egypt may be a contender. Asia is difficult, but in theory, India should win. I just don't know what circulates in practice.

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

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2009, 11:28:08 PM »
... ... I just don't know what circulates in practice.

Peter

Then let's make that a definate question.   For the UK it is 1971 1p and 2p.

Bill.
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2009, 12:18:16 AM »
Sorry, but European  champion Switzerland can easily make it back to 1968 and in the US, it is not strange at all to receive cents from the 1950's.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

andyg

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2009, 01:45:03 AM »
I think that all means that the US is world champion old coins in circulation. Switzerland may be European champion. My candidate for African champion is South Africa, though Egypt may be a contender. Asia is difficult, but in theory, India should win. I just don't know what circulates in practice.

Peter

Some thoughts;
South Africa - change in coin sizes in 1990, not sure if the older coins are useable but still exchangeable at banks.
Egypt - when I was there in 2007 I didn't see a single coin, just lots of scruffy low value banknotes.
India - 1957 - 25 Paise?

Have attempted to list all places where coins from before 1950 can be used.....
USA 1836 (silver coins changed size), possibly find Nickels from 1938 onwards in current circulation.  Have found Nickels from the late 40's in change.
Canada - 1858 10 Cents - Oldest coin likely is 1965 (have never found a Gillick portrait Elizabeth coin in change there)
Switzerland 1879 10 Rappen - Oldest I've ever found in change are from the 1940's
Belize - 1894 (?), suppose 1965 is possible.
Haiti - 1904 (?)
Australia - 1910 (?) are 6d 1/- and 2/- still valid?, otherwise 1966.
Guatemala - 1925 possible but silver, 1965 more likely.
Panama - 1929, Uses US$ so possible.
Honduras - 1931 possible but silver, 1967 more likely.
Mauritius - 1934 (?), 1987 more likely.
Seychelles - 1939 (?) again silver coins (25 Cents), 1981 more likely.
Djibouti - 1948 (?) but French colonial style so probably withdrawn.
Malaysia - 1948 (all the silver coins were slightly different in size), 1967 more likely.
Fr. Polynesia - 1949
Japan - 1949
New Caledonia - 1949

I've spent 1890's cents in the US, George VI nickels in Canada and 1890's 10/20 rappen in Switzerland,
but have never received any in change :(
 
« Last Edit: November 30, 2009, 02:18:40 AM by ***** »

Offline Bimat

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Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2009, 05:58:23 AM »
Indian small denomination coins (25 Paise) theoretically circulate,but I haven't found any.Even if you get,none of them are old.The 'oldest' coin I have got in change is the 1991 2 Rupees,in very bad condition.I remember MS had once mentioned that he got a 1950 Rupee in change...

Aditya
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translateltd

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2009, 08:47:56 AM »
Australia - 1910 (?) are 6d 1/- and 2/- still valid?, otherwise 1966.

I assume the predecimal coins that are the same size as the 5c, 10c and 20c are still legal tender, though they would all have disappeared from circulation in the 1970s, being silver (Oz never went to cupro-nickel until 1966, and 1969 for the 50c).

Just been discussing something similar on the NZ forum - our 6d, shillings and florins were finally retired in 2006 when the decimal equivalents were reduced in size.  However, the legislation didn't mention the "legal tender" crown-sized dollar coins struck from 1967 to 1990, so you could still spend them for $1 if you wished (I used to do so occasionally to see what response I got).  The standard (and correct, in practice) answer to what NZ's oldest circulating coin is would be 1990 ($1 and $2 in Cu-Ni-Al), but legally it would have to be 1967, as above.


Offline MS

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2009, 12:22:46 PM »
Quote
I think that all means that the US is world champion old coins in circulation. Switzerland may be European champion. My candidate for African champion is South Africa, though Egypt may be a contender. Asia is difficult, but in theory, India should win. I just don't know what circulates in practice.

Indian small denomination coins (25 Paise) theoretically circulate,but I haven't found any.Even if you get,none of them are old.The 'oldest' coin I have got in change is the 1991 2 Rupees,in very bad condition.I remember MS had once mentioned that he got a 1950 Rupee in change...

Aditya

While it is common to find circulating coins in India from the 1990s and 2000, anything older is more difficult to find. I manage to find the odd 1 rupee coin from the 80s every month. Anything below 1 rupee does not move very well. Something I have tried very successfully is offering to buy such coins at face value from local shops. Because of that I have found quite a few coins from the 50s, 60s and 70s even a 1947 BI 1/4 Rupee coin.

Also note that Aditya, myself and a lot of other forum members from India come from large cosmopolitan cities. Older coins are still circulating in smaller towns and villages. One of local shops I visited during the coin hunting spree informed me that he sends all his lower denominations to a village in Kerala where they are still useful.

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2009, 12:59:58 PM »
1817 ½ and 1 Sovereign can still be used, Crowns possibly back to 1818.

Yes, you're right of course.   I always forget coins like the Sovereign which I've never come into contact with.

I'd like to be able to prove that Crowns are still valid, likewise the Double-florin and groat.   I have also seen that the silver 3d (non-Maundy) are nowadays accepted as being 'as Maundy' and therefore valid back to 1822 but yesterday I came across this link where the part of the text that I quote below says 1870.

Quote from link: Victorian threepences were produced both for maundy use and for normal circulation in all years between 1838 and 1901 except 1847, 1848, and 1852 (probably because of the possible advent of a decimal currency at the time (see florin), when the 3d at 1/80th of a pound would not have fitted within a decimal system. Currency silver threepences from 1838 to 1926 were of identical design and cannot usually be distinguished except in the best conditions when the higher striking standard of the maundy coins stand out; this resulted in the curious legal anomaly that when the currency was decimalised in 1971 all silver threepences from 1870 onwards were revalued at three new pence, not just the maundy coins. Threepences were produced with both the "young head" (1838–1887) and "Jubilee head" (1887–1893), inscribed VICTORIA D G BRITANNIAR REGINA F D, while those produced with the "old head" (1893–1901) are inscribed VICTORIA DEI GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP.

I know that dates around 1820 relate to coins produced following the Coinage Act of 1816, which is why 1816 is an important date and new lower value coins were gradually introduced in the years following then.

Has anyone seen the year 1870 mentioned elsewhere or have any idea (other than being 100 years) why it might apply?

Bill.
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translateltd

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Re: Which Country Has The Oldest Circulating Coins?
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2009, 11:43:01 PM »
I believe (though would have to check my sources, perhaps John Craig's book The Mint (1953)) that British gold prior to 1837 was demonetised during Queen Victoria's reign.  That may have been the 1870 reference, but again we'd need to check to confirm.