Editor's note: This is the first part of a multi-part series
prepared by Rita Laws for Coin World's February 2015 monthly
issue about the world's first mint-colored coin.
coin is the world’s first mint-colored coin?
are critical to this question.
be considered a “mint-colored coin,” a coin must first of all be a
coin, meaning it is legal tender in the nation of issue. And if a coin
is vying for a title like “World’s First Colored Coin,” the nation
that the coin represents had better be recognized. This means that it
has been acknowledged by an international body such as the United
Nations, or by mutual agreement of the nation itself and the
recognized government that was in control before independence.
a coin must have had its color added or applied at the mint where it
was made or by another entity that was authorized by the government of
the issuing nation.
mint-colored medal does not meet the definition of a mint-colored
coin, nor does a coin colored by an after-market company.
which nation issued the first one? Some point to the Pacific island of
Palau, and Palau is well known for both colored coins and mermaid coins.
Invest Trust, or CIT, a private mint in Liechtenstein, developed an
early process for coloring coins and applied this for the first time
in 1992 to the first-ever issues of Palau. Several different Palau
dollar denominations were colorized. Some of these were even sold
accompanied by a printed certificate of authenticity by Preferred
Customer Service, a company out of Minneapolis that is no longer in
business. The certificate of authenticity declared the 1992 Palau
dollar to be the “World’s First Full-Color Coin.” And the certificate
of authenticity was wrong.
was a trust territory of the United States of America in 1992, and had
been since 1947. A trust territory is a United Nations term for a
territory that will receive eventual independence. In fact, Palau did
not gain its independence from America until 1994.
Compact of Free Association with the United States was ratified in
1993 and went into effect on Oct. 1, 1994, making Palau independent de
jure (in law) in that year.
was independent de facto (in fact) on May 25, 1994, when the
trusteeship was canceled, but either way, actual independence occurred
itself issued a special dollar in 1994 proclaiming its independence as
occurring that year. Therefore, the 1992 and 1993 Palau issues are
definitely not legal tender (or are technically “illegal” tender)
because Palau, as part of the United States, had no authority to mint
its own coins. To this day, the U.S. dollar remains the currency of
this nation, but only since 1994 has Palau had the right to mint its
own collector coinage.
what are the 1992 and 1993 colored dollars of Palau, if not coins?
They are something between a fantasy and a pattern. A fantasy is a
coin-like item with no legal value and created without government
sanction. Patterns are the officially produced test coins of a nation.
there was a numismatic term defining a “pre-nationhood pattern,” then
the 1992 and 1993 Palau coins might qualify. Failing that, these are
technically the fantasy coins of a U.S. territory.
Palau coins dated 1994 and beyond are legal tender. In 1994, Palau
also issued a colored 5-ounce silver coin. By any definition, this is
the world’s first colored 5-ounce silver coin. But this leaves us with
the question of which coin weighing something other than 5 ounces is
the world’s first.
nation issued a mint-colored coin prior to or during 1992. That brings
us to 1993. In this year, two nations issued colored commemorative
coins, both as parts of series, and both minted at the same place, an
undetermined mint in South Africa (the South African Mint in Pretoria
did not respond to an inquiry about whether they were involved with
the production of these coins).
title of “World’s First Mint-Colored Coin” goes to both Uganda and
Equatorial Guinea. It’s a tie.
is no surprise that they were struck by the same mint. The 1993 to
1994 Equatorial Guinea colored Dinosaur series and the 1993 to 1994
Uganda Famous Places program comprise coins with very different
themes, but the overall appearance of the applied color is very
similar with both series.
Keep reading this series:
Colorful fantasy coins pave way for official coins
Three main methods exist for adding color to
is the future for colorful world coins?
More from CoinWorld.com:
allows U.S. Mint customers to order and receive Proof 2015-S U.S.
Marshals Service half dollars early
King interviews GreatCollections' Ian Russell about coins
2015 Kennedy half dollars to bear 1964 obverse design sculpt
employed on 2014 50th Anniversary coins
Ben silver £100-for-£100 coin sells out from Royal Mint
Mint sells nearly 3 million silver American Eagle bullion coins on
Keep up with all of CoinWorld.com's news and insights by signing
up for our free eNewsletters, liking
us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter. We're also on Instagram!