SWAZILAND (1 of 2)

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Swaziland’s Coinage - An Introduction and Some Examples

    Swaziland gained independence from Great Britain in 1968. A central bank, the “Monetary Authority of Swaziland”, came into being on the 1st April 1974. The issue of various coins and notes for circulation in Swaziland followed later that year. The
coins designs for that original series were by Michael Rizzello. An amendment to the relevant government order saw the original central banker replaced by the “Central Bank of Swaziland”, effective 20th July 1979 and they have issued all Swazi coins
and notes since then. All money of Swaziland bears the portrait of the monarch. The coins also bear the country’s name, the notes instead bear the name of the issuing authority. The name of the central bank only appears on one coin type - the
commemorative 5 Emalangeni of 1999. This type, apparently intended for circulation, has a design commemorating “CENTRAL BANK OF SWAZILAND   25th ANNIVERSARY”, those 25 years evidently including the time whilst the central bank was the “Monetary Authority of Swaziland”. The name of the monetary authority appeared as “THE MONETARY AUTHORITY OF SWAZILAND” on the earlier series of the tokens of The Royal Swazi Casino - see the Swaziland Tokens Page on this site.

Swaziland 1 Lilangeni 1986
Swaziland’s 1 Lilangeni 1986 - King Mswati III is portrayed on the obverse and his mother Queen Ntombi on the reverse. Ntombi had been Regent to the king for most of his time as heir apparent Prince Makhosetive. Scale - 200dpi.

    I can remember from many years ago that these 1 Lilangeni coins of 1986 pass as 1 Pound coins in British vending machines. These Swazi coins are made using the same planchets as British 1 Pound coins, with the same Nickel-Brass, the same mass (9.50 grams) and the same diameter (22.50mm). The differences are limited to the design on each face (obviously) and that the edge of the Swazi type has slightly coarser edge reeding and no edge lettering.
    This over similarity of the 1 Lilangeni to the more valuable 1 Pound coin will be why the next issue of 1 Lilangeni coins, dated 1992, saw a change of material from Nickel-Brass to Brass-plated-Steel - similar colour, similar density, but now attracted to a magnet. Magnetic properties are just as important to coin-acceptor mechanisms as basics mass, thickness and diameter dimensions.
    A new portrait, showing an older King Mswati III was introduced to Swaziland’s coinage in 1995 (see 2 Emalangeni image below). The 1 Lilangeni coins with this newer portrait see a return to the Nickel-Brass and seem to keep the same dimensions - though I won’t be testing to see if any of mine work as a 1 Pound coin ! A British newspaper (Daily Mail, November 13th 2002, page 38, headline “Swazi swizz”) reported the fears of the British police around their belief that hundreds of 1 Lilangeni coins were being brought into the country as part of an organised operation. It was said that the coins, by then worth only about 5 Pence each, had turned up in railway ticket machines in their hundreds. The report was illustrated with obverses of a 1986 1 Lilangeni and a 1997 1 Pound which were shown side by side. (No clues were included of the look-a-like properties of the new portrait Nickel-Brass 1 Lilangeni coins.).
    Also from Africa, the Kenya 5 Shillings dated 1985 used to work in British vending machines, as a 50 Pence piece. This particular phenomenon came to an end in 1997 when a significantly smaller 50 Pence was introduced, the larger ones demonetised and vending machines adjusted accordingly.

Swaziland 2 Lilangeni 2003
Swaziland’s 2 Lilangeni 2003. The obverse portrays King Mswati III. Scale - 200dpi.

    The series of coins introduced in 1995 with the new portrait of Mswati III show the king at the age of approximately 27 years, about 9 years older than on the previous coins. The introduction of this new series of coins also included the circulation debut of the 2 Emalangeni denomination and, a year later, that of the 5 Emalangeni denomination. (Actual launch and first issue dates unknown).
    The 2 Emalangeni KM-46 dated 2003 is one of many date/type combinations still missing from the listings of Swaziland’s circulation coinage in the “Standard Catalog of World Coins” (Krause Publications). Here is a summary of such pieces, those followed by a * I have been reliably informed of, the others I have.

     5 Cents, KM-49  2002*
     10 Cents, KM-49  2000*, 2001, 2002
     20 Cents, KM-50  2000, 2001, 2002, 2003*
     50 Cents, KM-52  2001, 2003*
     1 Lilangeni, KM-45  2002, 2003*
     2 Emalangeni, KM-46  1998, 2003
     5 Emalangeni, KM-47  1999

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Swaziland Tokens Page

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