KENYA (1 of 2)

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Kenya's recent coins - their bi-metallic coins and much more

Kenya 10 Shillings 1994
Kenya's 1994 dated 10 Shillings, Kenya’s first bi-metallic coin type - the design
features the former President Daniel Arap Moi and the Kenyan coat of arms.

    Notable of Kenya’s current coins is the fact the four highest denominations in circulation are all bi-metallics. The first of these types to appear was the 10 Shillings in 1994, with further dates of 1995 and 1997 known. August 1995 saw the debut of the 1995 dated bi-metallic 5 Shillings, with further pieces known dated 1997. This type has a similar designs to the 10 Shillings and it has a 19.5mm diameter; rather small for a bi-metallic piece.

    The year 1999 saw the introduction of a bi-metallic 20 Shillings coin, also with designs similar to those of the 10 Shillings. An “Africa Online” news item I found a few years ago, told how this new coin was introduced on February 8th 1999 (this does not make the date on the coin an error !), with the coin first “launched” to the public by the governor of Kenya’s central bank on 5th February 1998. The WBCC membership first heard of this coin when it was mentioned in WBCC Newsmail 140 on April 16th 1999 by a member in the People’s Republic of China. He had got his piece from a dealer in Beijing, who had got it from a sailor, who of course got it from Kenya. I got my piece from this WBCC member.

Kenya 40 Shillings 2003
Kenya's latest circulation coin - the 40 Shillings 2003.

    Kenya’s most recent circulation coin, a 40 Shillings type, is the newest of the four Kenyan bi-metallic types. It is a circulating commemorative type with its denomination reflecting the anniversary it commemorates - the 40th Anniversary of Kenyan independence. According to reports such as those in “Daily Nation” (Kenyan press) the new coin was launched on 10th December 2003 and first issued the following day. The actual 40th anniversary was on 12th December 2003.

Kenya 1000 Shillings 2003
Kenya's 1000 Shillings 2003, scaled to 100dpi. (Image thanks to Wolfgang Schuster.)

    In all, three new coins were launched at the same ceremony - the other two were a Silver type of 1000 Shillings (shown above) and a Gold type of 5000 Shillings (Kenya’s highest ever coinage denomination). Numbers of these two types will be very limited - I get the impression that these will not have been sold directly to the public, but will instead have been given to selected government workers, officials, politicians etc. Of the three types I have only ever seen the bi-metallic type offered - I expect it will be some time before I see an aimeg of the Gold type. I can only assume that the Gold type has a design rather similar to that of the Silver 1000 Shillings type.

    President Kibaki’s facing portrait surrounded by the legend “THIRD PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA H.E. MWAI KIBAKI CGH, MP.” can be seen on the obverse of the 40 Shillings coin. Kibaki, president since 30 December 2002, had indicated, shortly before taking office, that he would not have his name and image on such public things as coins. That he contradicted this so soon caused some controversy in Kenya. The word “THIRD” in this obverse legend seems a little out of place, but it had been carefully chosen - it is there to avoid any chance of confusion in the future. Kibaki will not be the “President” forever, but he will always be or have been the “Third President”. Lack of the word “Second” before the word “President” on coins of President Moi, Kibaki’s predecessor, has caused some ill feeling in Kenya recently.

    Centrally, the reverse of the coin features the Kenyan coat of arms above “40”, all surrounded by the legends “COMMEMORATING 40 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE 1963-2003” (above) and “FORTY SHILLINGS” (below). The surrounding legends on both sides are on the apparently Nickel-Brass ring part of the bi-metallic coin, the rest of the design on each side being on the Copper-Nickel core part. The edge inscription, incuse on a milled edge, reads “40 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE”. These 40 Shilling coins are 27.5mm in diameter and have a mass of 11 grams.

    Kenya’s most recent smaller coins are 10 Cents (KM-31) - dated 1995, 50 Cents (KM-28) - dates 1995, 1997 and 1 Shilling (KM-29) - dates 1995, 1997, 1998. I have each of these six date/type combinations, most of them having been acquired from bulk mixed world coins. However, since the time it was first issued, I have never seen the 10 Cents in the bulk lots. Likely they were never much use to tourists. A December 2003 report in “Daily Nation” confirmed that the 10 Cent coins are no longer used. According to that and other news reports the 50 Cents and the 1 Shilling as well as the bi-metallic 5 Shillings and were launched by Central Bank of Kenya in August 1995. In a further move, the CBK launched the 10 Cents coin and a new 50 Shilling banknote in April 1996.

    The background image shows the Kenyan coat of arms. Kenya’s circulation coins all have on their obverse the President’s portrait and on their reverse the Kenyan coat of arms. The word “HARAMBEE” appears on the ribbon of the coat of arms. This one word is Kenya’s national motto. It's the Kiswahili word for “unity”, a unity that extends to every aspect of life in Kenya.

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The original text of February 2001 was replaced with a much revised and extended version at January 2005.
Image of the 1000 Shillings 2003 and suitable slight text changes made at May 2005.