Merry mintages

 Merry mintages
Merry mintages

The history, architecture and culture of cities and towns throughout the world can be the catalyst for daydreams about a trip around the world. If such a journey is on your wish list but you lament the lack of time or money to make that wish come true, don’t give up yet.

Paper money collectors can still take that journey without setting aside piles of cash or making airplane reservations.

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BRAZILIAN 1,000-cruzado note issued in 1987 features a scene of Rio de Janerio in 1905 on the back of the note.

World paper money featuring images of towns and cities is a terrific way to see the world. (So, actually, you’ll be amassing some cash, but you’ll want to keep it in albums rather than spend it.) Collecting by topic is a popular way for paper money collectors to approach the hobby.

Topical collecting involves selecting a theme, and then building a collection around that theme, which can be almost anything.

After selecting a theme, collectors should consult such books as the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. Members of the American Numismatic Association can borrow reference books such as this one from ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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HARBOR SCENE of Mar del Plata in Argentina is featured on the back of a 5,000-peso note.

Sometimes these books are also available in a local library. Coin and paper money dealers often offer for sale reference books listing world paper money.

Collectors who are serious about building a topical collection should consider purchasing books related to their interests.

Many nations have issued notes depicting a city, town or village scene. While the city may not be the central focus of the note’s design, if you look closely you can spot the houses, apartments, huts and other buildings that make up a community. Some designs depict aerial views while some are close-ups of a specific architectural feature with homes and other buildings in the background.

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BACK OF 10-rial Oman note of 1996 shows a view of the ancient city of Nizwa.

Some of the notes are current, still in circulation in their issuing countries. Others are no longer current, but can still be found in the secondary market.

A quick look through the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money netted nearly 40 different countries issuing notes featuring views of cities and villages, with some nations issuing several denominations featuring different cityscapes as part of the note design.

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Merry mintages
Merry mintages

BACK DESIGN on the Brunei 10-ringgit note issued in 1989 shows waterfront village with mosque in the background.

Here is a brief list of nations offering such notes: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burundi, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic, Faeroe Islands, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Katanga, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Macao, Macedonia, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Western Samoa, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

The notes issued in the late 1940s by the Faeroe Islands feature some of the most interesting designs.

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BANK OF PORTUGAL issued this 50-escudo note in the late 1960s featuring back design showing the old city of Conimbria.

These 18 islands are located in the North Atlantic about 250 miles due north of Scotland, positioned between Iceland and the Shetland Islands. The islands are a self-governing community within the kingdom of Denmark.

The designs are rustic, clearly pen and ink drawings of scenes around the islands. But the starkness of the images makes these notes even more appealing. Several denominations feature street scenes and the islands’ famous sheep.

The rugged climate doesn’t offer much land to cultivate but the raising of sheep is big business there. The name Faeroe Islands is said to mean «sheep islands.»

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VIEW OF WARSAW can be seen on the back of a Polish 200,000-zloty note issued in 1990.

A view of the old city of Warsaw in Poland can be seen on the back of the Polish 200,000-zloty notes. A Portuguese 50-escudo note also features a view of an old city, Conimbria.

Other Portuguese denominations feature street scenes of Lisbon and Braga.

Argentina has issued many notes featuring views of cities such as Ushuaia and Rosario along its coastline, including the 5,000-peso note depicting Mar del Plata. A view of a street scene in Rio de Janeiro in 1905 is featured on a 1987 Brazilian 1,000-cruzado note.

The nation of Brunei, a member of the British Commonwealth located off the coast of the island of Borneo, has several notes featuring city and village scenes. The 10-ringgit note shows a waterfront village, while the 10,000-ringgit note depicts an aerial view of Bandar Seri Begawan.

Some depictions of city or village scenes are very small, such as the one on the Hungarian 500-forint note showing an aerial view of Budapest and the Danube River.

Sometimes a view of a community is not the focus on a note, such as in the design on the back of the 5-lira note issued by the Republic of Malta.

The emphasis is on a marina in the foreground but if you look closely, you can see a harbor city view in the background.

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PENCIL DRAWING of a fishing village and church is featured on the back of a 50-krona note issued by the Faeroe Islands in the late 1940s.

A different geographical location is depicted on the 1,000-franc note of the Republic of Mali.

The note shows a mountain village scene from the West African nation. Even ancient cities have been depicted on notes. The Israeli 1,000-sheqel note shows a view of the ancient city of Tiberias. The Lebanese 10,000-livre note shows the ancient ruins of Tyros. A 10-rial note of Oman shows the ancient city of Nizwa. So if you long to travel but are armchair bound by finances or time, consider checking for notes with cityscapes.

Collectors can attend coin or paper money shows and look through the inventories of dealers in world paper money for pieces depicting the theme. Also, dealers offering fixed-price lists of world paper money are another resource to add pieces to a topical collection. Online auctions are another potential source for the notes.

Famous people

 Famous people
Famous people

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California officials, including the «Governator,» Arnold Schwarzenegger, conducted their official State quarter dollar release ceremony Jan. 31. Unlike the public ceremonies conducted for most of the previous State quarter releases, it was a private ceremony open only to accredited journalists and invited participants.

Information about the ceremony as well as the public collector’s forum held Jan. 30 can be found elsewhere in this issue of Coin World.

The focus of this column is the long list of actual people depicted on State quarters. John Muir is depicted on California’s coin. He is depicted admiring the Yosemite Valley, with a California condor flying overhead.

Muir was a leading conservationist and founded the Sierra Club in 1892. Before the State quarters program started, U.S. Treasury officials determined that no head-and-shoulders portraits could be used on the State quarters, so all of the depictions have been full-length views of a person.

The 1999 Delaware coin – the first of the 50 State quarters to be struck – features the colony’s Continental Congress delegate Caesar Rodney on horseback. Rodney, who was born in 1728 and died in 1784, was one of the political leaders most responsible for Delaware’s participation in the Revolutionary War.

As a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776, Rodney voted for independence after riding 80 miles on horseback to cast his vote in time.

He arrived at Independence Hall in Philadelphia during the last minutes of the debate of the resolution on Independence. His vote broke a tie.

The 1999 New Jersey coin depicts Gen. George Washington, part of a design based on Emmanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware.

The painting shows Washington and his troops in a boat on their way to attack the British at Trenton, N.J.

The 2001 North Carolina coin features Orville and Wilbur Wright, based on a famous photograph taken the moment their Wright Flyer aircraft took to the skies on Dec. 17, 1903. Wilbur is shown standing on the ground. Orville is at the controls of the plane. North Carolina was the site of the Wright brothers’ first powered flight, along the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk.

The 2003 Alabama quarter features a pose of Helen Keller seated in a chair with an open book on her lap. Keller’s name is inscribed in English and Braille to the right of the portrait with SPIRIT OF COURAGE on a ribbon below the chair. The design is bordered on the right by a branch of camellias, Alabama’s state flower, and on the left by a branch of needles and cones from the southern longleaf pine. Keller was born June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Ala.

Keller is the seventh actual woman depicted on a U.S. coin. The other six women are: Spain’s Queen Isabella, Eleanor Dare (with infant daughter Virginia), Susan B. Anthony, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Dolley Madison and Sacagawea.

Abraham Lincoln as a young man is depicted on the 2003 Illinois coin. The design features an image of a young Lincoln based on a sculpture by Avard Fairbanks titled The Resolute Lincoln. The image of Lincoln is superimposed over an outline of the state. In the background to the left of the Lincoln image is a stylized view of a farm setting and to the right of Lincoln is the Chicago skyline. Two inscriptions flank the main Lincoln design. One is the state slogan, LAND OF LINCOLN. The other inscription is 21ST STATE/CENTURY. To highlight the 21st theme, 21 stars frame the design.

State Quarter – Rotated Die Error

State Quarter - Rotated Die Error
State Quarter – Rotated Die Error

Durring 1999, the general press, including local and national news, radio stations and newspapers, released some inaccurate information about some 50 State quarter error coins known as Rotated Die Errors.

Many reports describe the coins as misstamped, turned, upside down, inverted and so on. Likewise, reports have erroneously stated that the coins are worth in the $500 range and have inaccurately described the method to take the test.

Take the test

Before you go on, first make certain that you indeed do have one of the rotated die errors. Rotated errors were reported for Delaware, Pennsylvania and Connecticut quarters from both Philadelphia and Denver; of course, other State quarters could possibly exhibit the same errors, since this is a form of error that can happen to any coin.

Please follow along with the photographs on this page that demonstrate the test.

Hold the coin in your left hand (by the edges – NEVER handle a potentially valuable coin by its obverse and reverse; it leaves oils that can ruin the coin’s surfaces) so that you’re looking at the obverse with Washington perfectly vertical, right side up.

Your thumb should be near the legend LIBERTY (9 o’clock) and your forefinger should be near the legend IN GOD WE TRUST.

2. Using your other hand, flip the coin end over end. Do not release the coin from your left hand – the coin should spin, and that’s the only thing that should move.

Once you have turned the coin all the way around and you are fully viewing the reverse of the coin, the reverse should be right side up and read normally from left to right.

If the design on the reverse is NOT right side up, or if it is rotated left or right, your coin is a rotated die error. Please note that a rotation of 5 degrees or less is considered within acceptable tolerances.

This coin is normal; its legends read left to right and the image is right side up. If this coin was a rotated die error, the design would be upside down, sideways or even diagonal.

History, cause and value

History, cause and value
History, cause and value

Rotated die error State quarters were first discovered in May 1999 on the Pennsylvania quarters. Coin World reported the discovery to the numismatic community first. Soon afterward, other unsubstantiated reports began to value rotated die State Quarter errors at $500 – a price that was not based on an actual sale but on an estimate of similar errors on other coins sold years before. Coin World has received no reports about rotated die errors that have sold for $500.

Please note that some State Quarters errors are worth $500 and even $1,000 or more. These errors, however, are major striking errors that are extremely rare and are infrequently found in circulation. Those types of errors have been around for years on other coins, but they are especially sought on State quarters, which has driven their prices up considerably. To read about such errors, please read more about Striking Errors and Planchet Errors.

In reality the price for a 180 degree rotated State quarter in Mint State (Uncirculated) condition is in the $50 range, according to error coin dealers who have listed such coins on their fixed-price lists. A Mint State coin features no wear and very few marks or scratches. It certainly features no stains, unnatural toning or other discolorations.

The manner in which the errors were formed is easy to understand. Most U.S. coins have the obverse and reverse dies oriented so each side is upright when rotated vertically (end over end), at an alignment of 180 degrees. This type of orientation is called «coin turn.» Rotated dies occur when one die is not mounted properly in the coining press and therefore a coin struck by that die will feature one side out of alignment. The degree of rotation varies from 5 to 180 percent. History dictates that coins with greater rotations are worth more to collectors.

The Mint has yet to offer an explanation as to why these coins exist, because machinery and production procedures are supposed to be in place in the Mints (Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco) to prevent such an error. There is also no way of knowing exactly how many of each rotated die error exists – there could be hundreds, there could be thousands. Some U.S. Mint presses can strike up to 730 coins per minute (yes, that’s 12 per second), and U.S. Mint dies are tough enough to strike 100,000 or more coins. Although coins are periodically spot-checked by technicians for flaws, errors still occur. However, the number of error coins that escape the Mint vs. the total number of coins produced is very, very small – a fraction of a percent.

Not all coin dealers specialize in error coins. Most error coin dealers have a broad base of customers who collect error coins and are therefore more likely to know how to properly identify and value error coins. If you are not an experienced coin collector, please note that a dealer’s buy price is lower than a list or retail price. If you sell your coin to an error dealer, he or she may not pay full retail price for the coin because he must turn around and sell the coin at the competitive retail price.