Somalia’s “Commemorative” Coins

    During the past 40 years there have been very few circulation coin issues for Somalia. Those few were issues of 1967, 1976 and 1984, from the time when the country comprised of the regions that had once been Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland. Details of those coins, particularly those of 1 Shilling are detailed on the SOMALILAND page of this site. In 1991, the regions again became two entities, Somalia was now just where Italian Somaliland had once been and the region once British Somaliland became known as Somaliland. Ever since 1991 Somalia has had nothing more than transitional governments, the current leadership resides in neighbouring Kenya for security reasons.
    In addition to those few Somali circulation coins there has been a broad range of commemorative/collector coins issued in the name of Somalia over the past 40 years. There were several series of Gold coins to mark the 5th and 10th anniversaries of Independence in 1965 and 1970 repsectively and also in 1970 the first anniversary of the revolution. Then there were a number of pieces by the British Royal Mint as part of various multi-national series, FAO in 1970, FAO in 1984 and International Year of the Disabled in 1983. Also from the same mint a 1979 set of 5 types marking the 10th anniversary of the revolution in Somalia.
    Nothing else appeared until various 1998 dated commemorative series. The main examples of these are various series of crown-sized types in denominations 25 Shillings and 250 Shillings, known to be made by the Tower Mint, a private mint in Great Britain. Different themes covered include “A History of World Shipping”, “Wildlife of Somalia and East Africa”, “Significant Events of Modern Times”, “Millenium Icons” and even “World’s Most Popular Cats”. Most of these series used some sort of multi-colour techique to apply a design to the central area of the reverses - some may find the results less than attractive.
    Also from this period there are a few slightly differently styled series. These include a further shipping series and a series of “Fauna of Africa”. These types include an Arabic inscription immediately above the coat of arms and title “Somali Republic” as opposed to “Republic of Somalia”. Some of these pieces are in a smaller silver size and apparently all of them have higher denominations of 5000 Shillings and 10000 Shillings. According to Weltmünzkatalog (G. Schön, 33nd edition, 2005) these series were made by the Cuban Mint.
    More recently, around September 2004, another pair of Somali commemoratives appeared on the market. This pair of octagonal, Silver proof, multi-colour, 4000 Shilling types commemorates Zheng-he and are dated 2005. Zheng-he was a great Chinese navigator during the 15th century. These are evidently for the Chinese market.
    This multitude of themes covered and the size and look of the coins themselves, is mainly the result of what foreign minting and marketing companies thought would gain them the most profit. The same is true for the commemorative series of quite a number of other places around the world. Ever since the 1979 series, the themes have had little connection with Somalia.
    However, over recent years, coins in the name of Somalia have been amongst those leading the way in what it is still quite a new marketing trick - collector coins in the form of a small sized coins in base alloys and with very low denominations.

5 Shillings 2000 FAO
5 Shillings 2000 FAO. Scale 200 dpi.

    The first very low denomination collector coins of the Republic of Somalia, I saw appear on the market, were a 5 Shillings coin and a 10 Shillings coin dated 2000. First appearing around July 2002, these were part of a multi-national series of such coins all bearing the legend “XXI CENTURY FOOD SECURITY”. The other pieces in the series were just one type each from Andorra, Cook Islands, Namibia, Panama, Samoa, Tunisia and Turkey. The total face value equivalent per set was less than 10 U.S. Cents. (Namibian and Tunisian pieces can be seen on the following pages of this site NAMIBIA and TUNISIA .)

10 Shillings 2000 FAO
10 Shillings 1999 FAO. Scale 200 dpi.

    In August 2004 a regular contact of mine got some 1999 dated examples of the Namibian, Samoan, Somali and Tunisian types of the XXI Century Food Security series. Until that time I had only known those types to be dated 2000. He had to visit the maker of the coins (the Kremnica Mint in Slovakia) to be able to buy them, as the mint was not allowed to ship them to foreign customers. So these 5 types, 2 of them Somali, exist in both dates 1999 and 2000.
    Around the same time that the first of the XXI Century Food Security coins arrived on the market, a set of twelve Chinese Zodiac coins appeared in the name of Republic of Somalia. Also products of the Kremnica Mint, these have a diameter of approximately 25mm, were dated 2000 and each has a face value of 10 Shillings - that is much less than 1 U.S. Cent each !

25 Shillings 2001 Football
25 Shillings 2001 Football - actual size approximately 22mm.

    This same mint has since made numerous very low denomination collector coins of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somaliland, the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea and a few other countries. One of the pieces for D.R. Congo had a similar footballer design to that on the Somali 25 Shillings shown above. This type is one of several miscellaneous types produced i.e. one that doesn’t fall into a particular series as such. The mint has since produced a few other such pieces for Somalia. From what I can gather, the people involved as worldwide marketers for all of the above very low denomination coins, are the U.S. based numismatic wholesaler The Educational Coin Company.
    Finally, an even stranger series of coins of the Republic of Somalia came to my attention a few months ago. It is a five type set, one of each of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 Shillings. Contrary to what might be expected of such a set of coins, these very low denomination coins are all of quite similar diameters, one is octagonal not whilst the others are round, the font used for the legends around the coat of arms varies from one type to the next, some types have the denomination on the obverse whilst others have it on the reverse, three or possibly four alloys have been used. Well that makes them a bit strange as a set - but most novel of all is the fact that all five pieces have multi-coloured wildlife related reverse designs. Until now sets of coins with multi-coloured designs had always seemed to be sets of coins that had a common shape, size and material - but this set does not follow those rules. These coins are sold relatively cheaply and seem to come from the direction of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

Somalia Tokens Page

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