World Coins

Rare silver crown from Biafra highlights Album June sale

A rare 1969 silver crown from the breakaway Biafra region of Nigeria highlights the Steve Album Rare Coins June 13 to 16 auction.

Images courtesy of Stephen Album Rare Coins.

When Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, a devastating war raged for nearly three years before the region rejoined the nation of Nigeria.

The short-lived Republic of Biafra issued a series of coins, which are mostly scarce, and sometimes rare. The rarest issue is a silver crown from 1969, an example of which highlights Stephen Album Rare Coins’ Auction No. 49, scheduled June 13 to 16.

Following Nigerian coups in 1966, the Republic of Biafra was established on May 30, 1967, by Igbo military officer and former Eastern Region governor Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who then served as Biafra’s president. The Nigerian civil war raged for 31 months, with an estimated two million casualties.

Ojukwu appears on the obverse of the coin, which is cataloged as KM-5 in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901 to 2000, by Chester Krause and Clifford Mishler, with no price indicated because of rarity and limited market activity.

The reverse shows a palm tree at center, motto INDEPENDENCE AND LIBERTY at the top and value ONE CROWN at the bottom in the outer margin.

Secretive issue

Little is known about this seldom encountered commemorative, probably intended to mark two years of independence,  the auction house suggests.

“No specimen has appeared in any other auction outside of ours to our knowledge,” the firm said. “It has been suggested that it was produced by an Italian operation known as Istituto Numismatico Europeo, but there is no evidence to confirm this assumption.”

The style and arrangement of this coin design is totally different from any of the other issues struck for Biafra during its ephemeral existence, the firm said.

“One of the rarest of modern crown coins,” this is the finest graded by Professional Coin Grading Service, graded Mint State 63.

It has a pre-sale estimate of $6,000 to $8,000 U.S.

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