World Coins

What would an indepedent Scotland's coins look like?

Common reverse designs are used for the pattern Scottish ryal pieces from the International Numismatic Agency Ltd.

Image courtesy of the International Numismatic Agency.

If a majority of Scots had voted “yes” for independence, a new currency would not have been instituted overnight.

If the fracture occurred, however, one company had already developed pattern designs for consideration.

The International Numismatic Agency Ltd., which operates the Scottish Mint's website, earlier in 2014 began selling sets of pattern Scottish ryal “coins” in the event that Scotland becomes independent. These are not coins and there was no government involvement in their issue.

The private patterns in the nine-piece set are "denominated" from 1 Scots pence to 5 ryals, made of various metals, some of ringed-bimetallic composition.

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Though currently Scotland uses coins and paper money of the British pound, three banks in Scotland are allowed to issue their own paper money.

In the event of a "Yes" vote on Scottish independence, a completely new currency would ensure that Scotland is wholly independent, according to some. 

“The adoption of a new coinage system would be a logical step,” according to the International Numismatic Agency, which said it produced the first (and private) British prototype Euro coins in 2002.

The company said that one argument from pro-separatists is that a new Scottish currency would “give a new Scottish nation the power to set its own interest rates, and to allow its currency value to fluctuate — a factor which is considered important in an economy which could be dependent on the price of oil.”

Oil drilling is a major driver of the Scottish economy.

Even if Scotland were to join the European Union and eventually adopt the euro, there would be a need for Scottish coinage in the interim if Scotland opts out of continuing to use British coinage. 

When it had its own coins, Scotland used the ryal and many other denominations through the years, including the groat, penny, unicorn, merk, bawbee, rider, lion and plack, to name a few. 

The first independent Scottish coin was a penny, issued by King David I of Scotland, who reigned from 1124 to 1153. The production of Scottish coins continued until the Act of Union in 1707, a period of nearly 600 years.

The INA has proposed the ryal, a decimal-based system with 100 Scots pence equal to 1 ryal, for use by the citizens of a future, independent Scotland.

The ryal was actually the Scottish unit of currency in use when James VI of Scotland acceded to the English throne in 1603 and Scotland ceased to be a separate kingdom. 

The private patterns are denominated 1-, 2-, 5-, 10-, 20- and 50-Scots pence, with 1-, 2- and 5-ryal pieces also issued. 

The specifications of the Scottish patterns are similar to those of the current euro coins, though not identical. 

What would the coins look like and who would be on them?

The three higher denomination pieces are all ringed-bimetallic issues, and feature the famous statue of Sir William Wallace (the Scottish knight who was an early figure in the Scottish wars of independence) that is located outside Edinburgh Castle. 

The 5-ryal piece is gold-plated, with the center of the 2-ryal piece composed of a gold-colored alloy and a nickel ring. A nickel core and a ring made of a gold-colored alloy are used for the 2-ryal pattern.

The 10-, 20- and 50-Scots pence are minted in Nordic gold and feature an obverse portrait of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet and a founder of the Romantic Movement. Nordic gold is an alloy made from copper, aluminum, zinc and tin (and is the metal used for the 10-, 20- and 50-cent coins in the euro monetary system).

The three smallest denomination private patterns, "denominated" 1-, 2- and 5-Scots pence, are minted in copper and have an obverse showing the famous Cutty Sark, built on the Clyde River in 1869.

The reverse of each pattern features a Scottish lion rampant on a coat-of-arms and the denomination. 

British dealer Coincraft offers the private pattern sets (which do not have a stated mintage limit) for £28.50  each, plus shipping. 

To order from Coincraft, telephone the firm at (011)  44 20 7636 1188, email it or visit its website.

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