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New Issues for the Fortieth Anniversary of the Bank of Sierra Leone

    In early August 2004 the Bank of Sierra Leone was commemorating its 40th anniversary. As part of those commemorations some new coins were launched. A page all about the launch ceremony could be found on the website "The Republic of Sierra Leone State House Online" ( at ) . The ceremony had been a very high profile event. Those present included the country's president His Excellency President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The main speech/address had been given by Dr. James D. Rogers, the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone. Further information was to be found on the website of the Bank of Sierra Leone ( at ) and it included the whole transcript of the Governor's speech and an image of the design of the new circulation Le500 coin.

 From those sources I learnt that the Le500 coin is Sierra Leone’s new highest denominated circulation coin and the Le10,000 banknote is their new highest denominated circulation banknote. The Le500 coin is a ringed bi-metallic. Furthermore it is a regular decagon and minted by the (British) Royal Mint. The Royal Mint is known to be amongst very few mints able to produce such multi-sided ringed bi-metallic coins. The inner of the Le500 coin is Nickel-plated-Steel. The ring is likely Cu76/Zn20/Ni4, one report stated the alloy to be "4% Nickel-Brass" and this is the Nickel-Brass composition that the Royal Mint uses for the ring of the British 2 Pounds coin.

The new circulation bi-metallic 500 Leones coin
Here is the new circulation bi-metallic 500 Leones coin, actual size 24mm across flats.

    The Le500 coin has on its obverse, centrally, the portrait of the former Kissy King "Kai Londo" with the inscription "KAI LONDO 1845-1896" above and "FIVE HUNDRED LEONES" below. The coin has on its reverse, centrally, an image of State House including date "2004" and denomination "500 LEONES". Around all of this, on the ring part of the coin, there are the legends "REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE" above and "UNITY FREEDOM JUSTICE" below. Kai Londo and the State House each also appear on Sierra Leone's Le500 banknote. Kai Londo is one of the great people of Sierra Leone's past. Other such people appear on the 1996 series of Le10, Le50 and Le100 coins, these can be seen with further information on my page Sierra Leone - Page 1 of 2  . Coins and notes of Le500, will circulate together for a while - presumably for a few months or so.

    The speech transcript (and no other source) went further, saying that Le100 coins, commemorating the bank's 40th anniversary would also be issued. Minted by the Pobjoy Mint Limited, the coins would be made available from commercial banks in Sierra Leone. A mintage of 10,000 pieces and an issue price of Le25,000 each were detailed for the Bronze version. A mintage of 5,000 pieces and an issue price of Le20,000 each were detailed for the Copper-Nickel version.

    Information and images received from Pobjoy Mint a few months after the launch of these coins confirmed that these two commemorative coins are actually a Le500 in Bronze and a Le100 in Copper-Nickel, both of diameter 38.60mm.

The 100 Leones commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Bank of Sierra Leone
Here is the 100 Leones commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Bank of Sierra Leone. Image thanks to Pobjoy Mint Ltd.

    The common obverse comprises a portrait of the President, with the motto "UNITY FREEDOM JUSTICE" below, all surrounded by the title "H.E. PRESIDENT ALHAJI DR. AHMAD TEJAN KABBAH". This is the first instance of the current President being portrayed on a coin. The main central design on the reverse of both coins is the bank's logo, it comprises a lion guarding a casket with mountains in the background and also includes the "PM" mint mark. This is all surrounded above by "BANK OF SIERRA LEONE 40th ANNIVERSARY 1964-2004" and below the respective denomination "Le 100" or "Le 500". The design on this side is very similar to one side of the 1974 1 Leone coin type struck to mark the bank's 10th anniversary in 1974, obviously the bank must have specifically requested the re-use of that design.

    Other coins of Sierra Leone made by the Pobjoy Mint have been denominated in "Dollars" and marketed primarily outside of Sierra Leone. Bronze has never been used for those series. Of these new "Leones" denominated commemoratives, a small quantity was made available through Pobjoy Mint at the time of issue, most though are being sold by banks in Sierra Leone packaged in special colour packs. So these commemorative coins are a bit of a new thing for Sierra Leone and to collectors in Europe they would seem to make for quite a challenging acquisition.

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This page on New Issues for the Fortieth Anniversary of the Bank of Sierra Leone was added here in August 2005 and had been previously published in the July 2005 edition of "Coin News" (Token Publishing Ltd.)