A Country With an Often Changing Monetary System.

Since before the start of the twentieth century until December 1963 this region was known as Spanish Guinea. For that time the Spanish ruled and continued to do so until Equatorial Guinea attained independence in October 1968. The first coins ever issued specifically for this region were issued by Equatorial Guinea in 1969. These first coins followed the Spanish coins of the time in general size and content. Just as the Spanish coins of the time, these coins were in denominations 1, 5, 25 and 50 Guinean Pesetas (worded “PESETAS GUINEANAS” on the coins). Also in addition to the date that can clearly be seen, these coins had dates in six-pointed stars as the Spanish coins did. The star before the date has the number “19” incuse on it and the star after the date has the number “69” incuse on it. Had these designs been utilised for subsequent years then likely the Spanish way of doing things would have been followed and the date changed only in the star after the date to “70” or whatever was suitable. The dates in six-pointed stars like this are known to be a feature used problably exclusively by the Spain’s national mint in Madrid.

1970 saw the issue of various gold and silver non-circulating commemorative coins by Equatorial Guinea. They commemorated whatever events could be thought of and somehow no more series of such coins were “needed” for about the next 8 years.

Equatorial Guinea 1969 circulation coins were followed in 1975 by a new series of three types. These were denominated 1, 5 and 10 Ekuele and were without dates in stars hence not the product of the Madrid mint (Spain’s coins still had dates in stars at this time). The Ekuele was a “new” name for the Peseta.

A number of gold and silver non-circulating commemorative coins were issued in the years 1978 to 1980 in denominations up to 10,000 Ekuele then a new monetary system was introduced in 1980.

Equatorial 50 Bipkwele 1980(80)
The 1980(80) 50 Bipkwele of Equatoirial Guinea.

These coins were 1 Ekwele and 5, 25 and 50 Bipkwele (this is the plural for Ekwele). These coins had obverse designs rather similar to the 1969 coins, were physically similar and had “19” incuse on star before the date and had “80” incuse on star before the date (six-pointed stars of course).

Close-up of the dating on the 50 Bipkwele 1980(80)
*19*      1980     *80*
to be seen on pieces such as the 1980(80) 50 Bipkwele of Equatorial Guinea

The SCWC omits to point out that this is the case for these four coins. These coins are hard to find and the SCWC values reflects this, it would seem that perhaps these coins were soon withdrawn from circulation. During the life of this monetary system just one gold commemorative coins was issued.

The Ekwele system’s life came to an end on 1st January 1985 when Equatorial Guinea joined Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo and Gabon in the Central Africa Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), whose common central bank is the Bank of Central African States (BEAC). These six nations all continue to this day as members of CEMAC.

Amongst these countries Equatorial Guinea is the odd one out having Spanish. All circulation coins for CFA Franc users had up to 1985 been made by the Paris mint and no exception was made in this instance even though there were few historical links with France. Interestly though “Francos” the Spanish word for “Francs” was used on the circulation coins produced for Equatorial Guinea. The coins were 5, 25, 50 and 100 Francos with all denominations existing dated 1985 and additional quantities dated 1985 for the 50 and 100 Francos denominations. The 100 Francos coins were rather similar to those of each of the other CEMAC countries and so included the full name (in French) of the BEAC. Spanish and French on the same coin. Furthermore the lower denominations of this series followed very closely the style of the 100 Francos coins. No other countries had coins other than 100 Francs that followed this style. Going by the relatively high catalogue values of this series, one can only imagine that they were low in number (the country being the smallest CEMAC member in terms of population) and were well used. Since 1986 there have been no other circulation coins struck specifically for Equatorial Guinea, so the Central Afrcian States coins must get plenty use there these days. The 1990’s saw the issue of many commemorative coins by Equatorial Africa, almost all of these having been produced by the Cape Mint Pty. of South Africa.


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Words and image here at March 2001, words perhaps from a little before then.
Words revised - but not updated at May 2013.