General Question

ChocolateReigns's avatar

In the "Strange but true" section on the comics yesterday, it said that the U.S. mint had once considered making coins with holes in the middle. Can anybody tell me more about this?

Asked by ChocolateReigns (5624points) April 26th, 2010

I’m assuming it’s true, because it was in the paper, but one has to think of the possibility that they got confuzzled.
When was it?
How serious were they about doing it?
Are there any countries that have currency in a different form than bills and round coins?

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7 Answers

wonderingwhy's avatar

It’s a dollar coin, I can’t say I know much about it but I found this…

“The Mint always had engravers on staff who would come up with new designs. Sometimes the designs were at their own initiative, sometimes they were the result of a specific request. Some of the designs were experimental in nature, others raised artistic issues or had to do with format.

For example, in 1849, the United States Mint started striking one-dollar gold pieces for circulation. They had a very small diameter because there wasn’t much gold in them. People complained about the coins being difficult to handle and easy to lose, so the Mint had a couple different options. One of them was to increase the coin’s diameter by putting a hole in the middle, so it still contained a dollar’s worth of gold, but it would be easier to handle.

The option they ended up adopting was to make a much thinner coin with a larger diameter, which also had just a dollar’s worth of gold in it. Pattern collectors prefer the gold dollar from 1852 with a hole in the middle.” (source)

And here’s an image of the 1852 coin, just search on the page for “J-0140”

noodlehead710's avatar

Hmm, I tried looking into your last question, because it interested me also. Couldn’t find any countries using items that aren’t either bills or coins. Could still be true, but I only have so much energy for chasing random facts. There are of course Japanese 5 and 50 yen coins that have holes in them. Some coins in Hong Kong have wavy edges instead of smooth ones. And I like China’s bills which are not all a standard size as US bills are.

Aha, I stumbled across a website that promises answers, but don’t have the time to check it out fully! Lots of irregular shaped coins here, I like the Somalian animal coins.

njnyjobs's avatar

The silver Proof 5000 Kwacha coin issued by Zambia to commemorate the 2000 Sydney Olympics is one of the strangest shaped coins ever issued. The unusual coin was made in the shape of the conjoined maps of Australia and Zambia. Though Australia is approximately ten times the size of Zambia, the two are shown to be roughly the same area on the coin, and while northern Zambia is attached to Northern Australia, the countries are halfway around the world from each other! The large size coin is approximately 49mm x 42mm and contains approximately one troy ounce of silver.

Somali Republic’s 2004 commemorative dollar coin is shaped like a guitar to mark the 50th anniversary of rock and roll music and the Stratocaster guitar. The non-denominated side, left, is enameled. The multi-colored Guitar coins have proved unbelievably popular with coin collectors, guitar enthusiasts, Rock ‘n Roll fans and the general public. They are designed after famous electric guitars, including the classic red and white Fender Stratocaster, an American Flag Stars and Stripes Gibson Flying V, a black Gibson Flying V, a pink star Guitar used by various rock stars including Gary Glitter and Abba, a blue Gibson X-Plorer and a yellow Klein. The coins are 1 Dollar legal tender coins and they are approximately 45mm (1.75 inches) long.

Many other countries have issued diamond-shaped coins. The Bahamas’ 15-cent coins are diamond-shaped. First issued in 1966, the coins feature Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait on the obverse and a hibiscus on the reverse. Bhutan, India, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Oman and Pakistan are among other countries that have released circulating diamond-shaped coins.

The most oddly shaped coin has to be the .999 fine silver 2002 $10 issue from the Republic of Nauru, an island republic located in the western Pacific Ocean. The Proof coin celebrates the introduction of the euro with a coin shaped in the outline of the nations that comprise the European Economic Union.


stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Many Asian countries have coins with holes in the middle. People frequently keep them on a string. I have coins from Japan, Philippines and China in that configuration.

Jack79's avatar

I don’t see why they wouldn’t have. Denmark and Papua New Guinea have holes in their coins, and Greece had holes in the old lepta before the Euro. And Hong Kong had square coins (not sure if they still do though). And these are just the ones I know of personally. I think also Kenya had square ones.

Just “considering” it doesn’t mean much, I bet all countries considered it at some point or other. Why they didn’t do it is a different reason.

lilikoi's avatar

I don’t know the answer to any but the last of your questions. There are countries that use coins with holes in the middle. I think I have a Chinese coin like this, and it is pretty old, so they’ve probably been doing it for some time. Seems like a good idea to me…less weight :) Right now, Kenya has some coins (the higher value ones) that have a silvery metal ring around a bronze colored core, kinda like someone compressed a penny into a quarter.

The only other thing that comes to mind about currency is that other countries’ bills are different sizes from the US…that’s why some wallet mfgers advertise the fact that their wallets are designed to fit both.

CMaz's avatar

A coin void of a center allows for less material needed to make the coin.

Without loosing its structural integrity and shape.

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