As one year comes to a close and a new one begins, some people sing the line from the old Scottish ballad, “Auld Lang Syne”: “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?”
When it comes to coins, however, collectors never forget the old. When a coin type is discontinued, they collect farewell issues and coin sets.
Some reasons to say farewell to a coin denomination include: decimalization, reunification, political changes, and seigniorage issues, including inflation. World mints and third-party companies often roll out farewell coin sets when a denomination goes extinct or is renamed. The 1971 Irish farewell sets are a classic example.
Decimalization in Ireland
The original Irish Barnyard coin designs were issued in 1928 to welcome independence. The hen with chicks, and other delightful vignettes continued right up until decimalization in 1968. Two of the animals — the salmon and bull — even survived the transition.
One example of an encased third-party farewell set with old and new denominations and designs has 11 coins dated 1968 to 1971.
Denominations pre-decimalization were penny, threepence, sixpence, shilling, and
florin, and after 1968, half-, 1-, 2-, 5-, 10- and 50-penny coins.
Canada, Australia, and France are just a few of the nations that have done away with the circulating 1-cent coin, issuing some of their final cents in precious metal as a tribute.
France issued a solid gold centime. The .750 fine gold 1-centime coins, with a diameter of 15 millimeters, were minted in 2001. The circulation centime had not been minted since 1987 so the “last centime” was due more to the euro’s adoption in 2002 than to inflation.
To say farewell to its gulden in 2001, the Netherlands held a national design contest that was open only to children.
A 12-year-old named Tim van Melis won with a design of a lion standing on his hind legs, similar to the lions in the national crest. The lion is waving good-bye to the gulden and waving the flag of the Netherlands at the same time.
Coins inside coins
In 2002, the Democratic Republic of the Congo helped Germany say good-bye to its final mark, minted in 2001, by placing a duplicate of the German coin in mint-colored appliqué form in the center of its 2002 5-franc coin. This was likely designed to stir up commemorative coin sales from the many collectors residing in Germany because Congo’s history is tied to a different European nation. Congo was once called the Belgian Congo.
A mule is a rare error coin accidentally struck with designs that are not meant to be paired together. If there were such a thing as an “intentional mule,” one could point to a 1999 silver commemorative 2,000-dobra series from Saint Thomas and Prince Island as an example of a mule from two different nations.