Editor's note: this is the final part of a series by Jeff Starck
exploring "coins" of unrecognized states. The feature
appears in the August monthly issue of Coin World.
The Kurds are a very real ethnic group, most living in an area
divided between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. Kurds have long been
promised an independent homeland but realization of this dream has
been thwarted several times. After World War I, land promised to Kurds
was divided between Turkey and Iraq, not given to the Kurds.
After the Gulf War in 1991, Kurds in Iraq received a large degree of
autonomy under United Nations provisions, even using a different Iraqi
currency (the so-called Swiss dinar, so named in the mistaken belief
the notes were printed in Switzerland) from what was used in the rest
With the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Kurdish groups in
exile authorized the issuance of pieces for what they expected would
be a new independent nation.
However, Turkey objected to an independent Kurdistan in Iraq,
fearing Kurds in Turkey would also call for more autonomy, and even
threatened invasion. Plans for an independent Kurdistan failed as a
result, but circulation and error coins for the nation of Kurdistan
were released anyway in 2004, with the intervention of American Joe
Lang, a prolific issuer of fantasy pieces.
Read more about "coins" of unrecognized states:
In 2014, a Kurdish coin was issued to mark a referendum that was
canceled due to the rise in power of the terror group known as the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, according to Anderson.
This 5,000-dinar coin sports multiple colors.
Many issues exist from unrecognized states, too many to even glance
One book that includes some of these issues is
Unusual World Coins, by Colin R. Bruce II,
now available in its sixth edition (2011).
The USNS website provides more information about issues from
unrecognized states, and Anderson’s website is also
a place to learn more about the states’ history.
The area is not necessarily popular with serious students of coinage
history, but being serious isn’t the point — in most cases, it’s all
about having fun with the hobby.
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