SMALL CHANGE THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE: BAHAMAS COINAGE
Some time ago I did a series of posts about the lively and colourful wildlife stamps produced by the Bahamas Postal Service and its Philatelic Bureau, with numerous special editions over recent years featuring birds, reef fish, butterflies, flowers and much more besides. In due course I amalgamated the posts into a dedicated stamp page – click link STAMPS
Whistling Ducks 1994 for Endangered Wildlife
I have a vague theory that a country or government’s interest in the wildlife (and in the protection of it) that is enjoyed by its citizens can be measured by the quality of its stamp issues. Almost all countries must have stamps, and those that choose to celebrate their natural history on them deserve a cheer. The Bahamas has definitely taken the initiative.
Brown Pelican on Coat of Arms 1998
I’ve now found a new example of my stamp theory – national coinage. And again the Bahamas has taken the lead, producing plenty of coins featuring natural history both before, since and in honour of Independence. Earlier this week I found one of the recent 10c bonefish coins lying bright and shiny in a drawer. Then I thought about some of the other coins – the flamingos, the starfish, the conch and so forth. The result is the first of three posts about the small change you have in your pocket – the coins your use every day (except maybe the very high value ones, like the $100 ‘Independence’ parrot below) – starting with an avian theme.
Cuban Parrot for Independence 1973
Bahamas coinage is regulated and issued by The Central Bank of the Bahamas. In 1966, a ‘Numismatic Coin Programme’ was initiated through the banking department with the issuing of two specimen silver sets: a 7-coin and 9-coin set designed by a British artist Arnold Machin. These sets, being pre-Independence, were minted by the Royal Mint of London.
Magnificent Frigatebirds 1973
The NCP is responsible for many of the flashy ‘special editions’. As their website puts it: “Generally, proof/non-proof Gold and Silver commemorative coins are produced in collaboration with a promoter for sale to coin dealers and numismatists. In fact, many of the coin programmes commemorate events of both national and international significance, such as Bahamian Independence, the Olympic Games, the 500th Anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World, the World Cup; and have featured various wildlife themes.”
Sometimes coins featuring a particular bird will change either by having the design updated; or because a different value ‘flamingo’ is issued; or because the metal content (which directly relates to the value) is changed. A special high value gold coin may be struck, for example, with the design used for a lower value silver coin with the same or similar design. Here are some flamingo-based examples.
$2 undated $2 dated
$50 1973 Independence
The coins above are all based on a ‘two-flamingos-facing-above-a-rising-sun’ design. However, for the big money $100 coin the design was changed to 4 flamingos and no sun…
$100 dollar, with more flamingos for your bucks
The last bird coin is a bit of an oddity. The Bank issued this $50 in 1974 piece with the listing ‘White Crown Pigeon’. However, it may look to you more like a Common Ground (Tobacco) Dove. That’s certainly how others have listed it. Comments welcome…
White-crowned Pigeon? Or Tobacco Dove?
And just to prove that currency notes can feature wildlife effectively…
Sources include Central Bank of the Bahamas / Numismatic Coin Programme site, Numista, and random open source material to get clear pics of coins (if anyone wants to contact me to claim a specific credit / get an eBay etc image expunged, please do so before issuing death threats or suing)
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Great post, RH. The coins looks just wonderful. I love the parrot in the German colours. 🙂
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Thanks Dina. I’m not really a coin person (except in a bank sense) but I do think a tendency to have nice-looking currency is to be encouraged. And (sorry!) the parrot isn’t German colours in real life – it’s green, red and blue with a touch of white. So that might be Armenia. Or Bosnia Herz… RH