It was 2004. On a rainy Sunday afternoon I pulled out a few of the coins and banknotes I had collected back in high school. For fun I searched for them on eBay and I was shocked to see how much they had increased in value.
I had received a notice of the interest paid on my IRA and figured coins and banknotes would do much, much better. Thus, I started collecting again.
Under a watchful eye, I followed trends and bought as the market became saturated with certain bills and coins. I was lucky. Some nations were giving up their currency for the Euro. Other nations were just joining the internet age. I scooped up several great deals.
I had not been collecting long when I discovered a coin minted by Erik McCrea. I bought it in a heartbeat. Curious, I asked Erik for more information. I really had no idea you could mint your own coins. I just felt you had to be a government to do that. The question of how car washes and other businesses minted their tokens never entered my mind. All I knew at this point was I wanted to mint a coin.
Researching the idea greatly discouraged me. The costs were so far beyond my financial ability at that time. I just couldn’t shake the idea, though, so I knew I had to create a way to realize this.
My plan was fantasy banknotes. I pulled some of my true emergency German Notgeld notes. Lots of Notgeld was commissioned by an artist and professionally printed to raise cash in foreign currencies but the real stuff was made because of a coin shortage. It was this Notgeld that was really used in everyday circulation that I began to model banknotes after. The designs were minimal, simple and did not require artistic abilities. In fact, most notes could be made as Microsoft Word Documents and printed as needed. A hand signature and control number plus a custom made rubber stamp seal was all I needed except the paper. I thought handmade paper would be a good idea and an internet search brought me to a company where I made my purchase. I was in about $100 at this point.
I wasn’t sure there were buyers there. Nobody ever did such a note to my knowledge. I had to give it a shot. Indeed it worked.
I had noticed fantasy coins and banknotes were always secretive and I wondered why. When my best friend’s wife suggested I offer a few details of the imaginary place, I thought of the tourist brochures I had received from little known places from folks like Brian Orme, Faama Viliamu, Luke Paeniu, Holland Panapa and many others back in the days when I wrote a travel newsletter about the tropical islands the guidebooks miss. I figured I’d write a short ‘brochure’ with a few details.
YOU NEED TO FIND A GOOD SHRINK!
If you said I’d be doing this years ago, that’s what I would have told you. After all I am a radio guy. I live and breathe radio and have all my life. There’s no way I’d make coins and for fictional places. What a boneheaded idea! My Dad says he is amazed and wondered how I thought of it.
Truly it was the fact I thought it would be so cool to have a coin made for some place. There was no business plan. It was more like being 15 and tasting the desire to have a drivers license and a car. I knew I just had to do it. I never thought ‘business’ and I never thought about what would be next.
Simply put, I started loving it and collectors started buying so I say I could mint more coins if I added a bit of my own cash.
Later, I thought if I could turn this into a nice little business I could survive life with a social security check in about 15 years. If I can get it to throw off about $1,800 a month, I’d be thrilled. Since I could pull about 15-20% profit, I sure would need to be much, much bigger than I am now…about 4 times bigger!
THE EXCELSIOR QUART
I chose in 2004 to begin with a paper note denominated in Quarts and Mills for The Most Serene Republic of Excelsior even before there was a story to go with the banknote. Actually, I had created one note and wanted to test the waters. It worked and sold for around $40.00. I was impressed and made about 4 additional notes.
About this time I started on a story. I had pulled a book from my bookshelf that allowed a bit of detail on the world’s uninhabited islands. In one section the book said thousands of islands were just off the southern portion of South America and most were uninhabited and had never been charted except for aerial photography. I presumed this a good hiding place for an ‘unknown until now’ country hiding in the great wide open.
To build my story, I utilized current events. You see, I was selling broadcast time for a radio station with a Christian format. We were the ‘new kid’ among five stations in the Houston market and our signal was not the best, so sales were not really brisk. I decided reading up on smaller denominations and trying to get their radio ministries on the station was a good idea. Obviously the major players had good airtimes on other local stations.
I met a couple of folks I really liked: an Evangelical Friends pastor and a pastor and missionary worker for the Apostolic Lutheran Church. In my study, I had learned the Evangelical Friends were part of the Quaker faith. If you lived in England a few centuries back, being in a faith that was not the Church of England, the Church of the King or Queen of England, you were not only an outcast but you were, bluntly, against your government. Practitioners of other faiths would find themselves in court and Quakers did. Their name came from a judge that remarked the fellow was ‘quaking’ while on the stand. Thus, the term Quaker became the name of this faith. Getting out of England would be a good idea as it would mean you could practice your belief.
Over in nearby Finland, the Apostolic Lutherans were meeting in homes and retaining their active membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. In Finland, like many countries, the Evangelical Lutheran Church was the official religion and the King or Queen of Finland attended. It was not legal for you to belong to another religion at the time, so to practice your religion, you had to do so in private or leave Finland.
As you might suspect, the stage is set. Excelsior will be in South America’s offshore Southern islands and be populated by Quakers and Apostolic Lutherans who hired a ship to take them elsewhere. A storm as they rounded the southern tip of South America forced the ship into the rocks and survivors managed to come up at the island known as Excelsior. On this basis, I began my story.
I introduced several more banknotes over the coming months and within two years I had the cash to get my first coin done.
Banknotes for many places were created during those first two years. Adua Suri, Agua Azul, Aute Motu, Gaferut, Ile Crescent, Klef Raraha, Maragi Motumotu, Maravilla, Mayz, Pratarhla Ziyau, the Territory of Rural Herders and Farmers and Viinamarisaar were among these many paper releases.
Generally speaking, these places were inspired by locating tiny islands around the world where little was written. I looked at obscure languages and would translate English words to that language knowing the name may not be linguistically correct. Viinamarisaar is such a place. Viinamarjasaar would be the correct spelling for the use of Grape Island in Estonia. At that time one had to translate word by word with dictionaries.
Another thing I did was try some wood coins. I bought wood rounds, squares and other shapes at Hobby Lobby and Michaels along with some paint and purchased some custom rubber stamps to make the coins. Since the ink was water based, I’d stray them with an acrylic spray to make sure the ink didn’t run if they got wet.
In general I made just a few at a time. Sometimes I’d get one or two, sometimes 5 or 6 good ones or on a rare event, perhaps 10. In general the idea was I’d make them as they were sold.
The wood tokens were never really good sellers so I went with what I really wanted, metal coins.
Generally the wood coins were for Pampapana, Gaferut, Excelsior, Agua Azul, Klef Raraha and a few other places. Frequently there were a few varieties made as I experimented with these. To be very honest, these were made for fast cash as I was nearly maxed out on my credit cards and needed a few hundred dollars a month to make ends meet while my house was up for sale. I found I could put up some wood coins and paper notes and sell them quickly without investing money in metal coins.
ILE CRESCENT COINS
I think it was late 1967 when I was in 6th grade when I discovered Crescent Island. My Dad was the manager of Cokesbury Bookstore in Kansas City. I had joined him on a visit to the store. As he tended to his business I browsed the books. I saw “Pitcairn Island” by David Silverman. I asked if I could get it and was told I could. In the book was an entry from Pastor Nobb’s diary about Crescent Island. I wanted to know more but never learned anything new.
Once the internet happened, I would look up Crescent Island and finally saw it was thought to be Temoe Atoll in the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia. It would take a couple of years before I could piece the facts together.
I knew Pastor Nobbs was in exile from Pitcairn Island because he didn’t like what was happening on the island. On the way to Mangareva he finds Crescent Island. Once at Mangareva, the chiefs ask the Crescent Island population be returned to Mangareva. Indeed they had been thrown off Mangareva about 70 years prior and were presumed dead. Enter the French Catholic Missionaries who showed up at Mangareva and took over the island intent on making the island a showplace for Christianity, bringing in populations from every island near and far to see to this transformation. Simply put, the islanders became somewhat slaves, working 16 hours a day. In short time, disease took its toll and became so alarming, a ship asked the Queen of Tahiti to intervene once they got to Tahiti. The Queen knew some the French navy was in the region and went to them for help, which is why it is known today as French Polynesia.
Likely the Crescent Islanders really died like all the other Mangarevans but my story has them escaping Mangareva. I intentionally put them on an uncharted island outside the 200 mile economic limit claimed by Kiribati, French Polynesia and the British.
With this background information, I had to make the first coin I did for Ile Crescent. That travel newsletter I mentioned earlier that I wrote had a logo. Seeing how I still had some letterhead I decided the coin should use the “Tropical Frontiers” newsletter logo.
I was going to make the coins from metal but I had found a cool acrylic coin from the Congo I had bought from Joel Anderson. I thought it was great but wondered if I could use colored acrylic. I certainly wanted the design within the acrylic, not etched on one side.
Looking for someone to do the work, I found Texas Laser Products in Houston and contacted them. I met with the owner. Colored acrylic, sure, but the cost of an image in the middle of the acrylic was not a good idea costs would be amazing. Etching one side was the way to go. I really wanted 5 denominations, but I was told they had some scraps and if I used the scraps I could have the acrylic free if I used it all. Having the design on paper meant it was easy to put in the computer program that would guide the etching. Now it was the ‘machine time’ to etch the coins, not to mention punch out the blanks from the acrylic sheets. I became a back burner job, meaning they worked on my coins when there were other jobs. It would take nearly 5 months for the job to be completed.
Putting the coins up for sale, I let a few people set the price. I asked what they’d pay for the coin. I offered them on eBay and sales were phenomenal. In four months I had the cash for my first metal coins.
It is January 2007. My first metal coin will be made by a company called Direct Mint, then known as Personal Geocoins. I selected them because Jaime Sheffield of Northern Forest Archipelago had used this company for his coins. I had bought his coins and thought they did a great job. Within hours of emailing them I had a design and a price.
I made a huge mistake. I paid the PayPal invoice without looking. PayPal has an option to avoid fees. If you choose this option and pay via credit card, the credit card considers it a cash advance and charges a whopping 24.99% interest. The mistake was not looking and having about a $10,000 balance on the card already. Back then a payment went to the balance, not the cash advance. It would take 3 years of interest to pay off the card to the point the cash advance was getting paid off. All in all, I likely paid double the price the mint received. It was my fault for not looking before paying.
I got a nice wholesale order of about 8% of the mintage. I was thrilled. I ran down to an office supply, bought some padded envelopes and mailed the coins off. The coins weighed so much they broke through the paper and all the coins were lost. I was out hundreds of dollars in replacing them. That taught me to tape up the ends, something I still do as a precaution.
For pricing, I used the Northern Forest Archipelago formula for their coins. It would be 2009 before the last coin sold. I didn’t even get to keep a set for myself.
After the Klef Raraha coins were ordered and before they arrived I had phoned Tom Maringer at the suggestion of Erik McCrea. I really liked Tom’s niobium coins. Tom suggested a visit, so I drove to Springdale, Arkansas and spent a Saturday evening in Shire Post.
During this visit we firmed up the Viinamarisaar release. I told him I wanted them to be the size of the Shire Haypenny and I wanted some to be niobium but I didn’t know how many to have made. I had gone with 100 on the Klef Raraha and did 5 metal versions to reach the 500 coin price break but I didn’t know on the Viinamarisaar. So, Tom suggested 250 in copper, 150 in brass and 100 in niobium. I wanted a blue niobium, but Tom’s creative mind was at work and he suggested a grape purple and then said he had an unusual metal mix that made a nice rose colored coin. He sent samples and I thought it was a good idea. Tom had the lettering done by a guy named Greg Franck-Weiby in Oregon. He said it was his die guy.
In a few weeks the Viinamarisaar coins were in. Jorge Fernandez Vidal in Spain with JFV Coins, Joel Anderson of Joel’s Coins and Oded Paz, founder of the USNS, the group that promotes such coins, all bought from me at wholesale prices. I was thrilled and planned the Excelsior coins.
The final Viinamarisaar coin from this release sold in 2011.
THE RURAL TERRITORY OF HERDERS AND FARMERS
I read an article about a whistled language on one of the Canary Islands and that led to a story someone had written about a people who had settled just such an island. I was inspired. I had always liked the Cape Verde Islands, so I figured a place much like one of those islands.
Actually it is much more of a hodge-podge of ideas that made up this place. I read a science fiction book that mentioned two rules: a summer and a winter queen. Thus, I formulated a primitive people like those in the story about the first settlers. I had found a site with all these supposed nations in an online game. One was the Rural Territory of Rural Farmers and Herders. I switched the order.
More of an afterthought while visiting Tom about the Viinamarisaar coins, I had been looking though hubs and Tom showed me chunks of copper, an oval and smaller square. A spark of an idea was for coins for this place with no denomination or lettering, just the hub images punched in the copper. Two would be for the farmers and two for the herders since there was a queen for the farmers and a queen for the herders. The farmer’s queen ruled in the growing season and the herder queen ruled in the non-growing months. This made sense as the people had no written language.
For the story, I had downloaded a Russian font, so I simply typed out Rural Territory of Herders and Farmers. It looked like Russian but the letters spelled nothing.
Tom minted 25 of each, a total of 4 different coins, 100 in all, then gave them a chemical bath so they were chocolate brown. These sold out in about 18 months.
THE MOST SERENE REPUBLIC OF EXCELSIOR
Even before the first metal coins came out, I had ordered a bunch of rubber stamps and organized a plan to make clay coins. The Excelsior coins were inspired somewhat by the early Damanhur clay coins. My best friend’s wife worked with clay and had a kiln.
It was Thanksgiving weekend in 2006 when I took off from work for a 4 day weekend to spend at Larry and Pam’s house.
One I got there early Wednesday afternoon we started tossing clay on the back deck and went through the struggles of getting a good impression and all the steps involved in making anything with clay. I learned about air bubbles in clay, just how the clay would stick to the stamps and how hard it was to get an even impression on both sides when the clay is stuck to the stamps like the filling of an Oreo cookie. In drying, more coins were tossed. Finally they were baked. A few more were tossed because something happened in the baking process. It would be a week before they were cooled enough and the post office could get them to me. We had filled the kiln but barely had 80 coins when we finished. I had decided clay was a bad medium to work with although I liked it.
Another glitch was ordering some nice rubber stamps with the lettering sunk in the rubber. These were nice but they didn’t offer enough relief for the clay, so about $120 wasted. I went to Ready Stamps and paid half what the first set of rubber stamps had cost for double the number of stamps. I had learned I needed thick bold letters and the whole design in one stamp. These worked nicely or as nicely as clay can allow.
These coins were painted in acrylic metallic paints, choosing a different color for each denomination.
These coins were sold out by the next summer.
By the time the clay coins sold out the metal coins arrived in the summer of 2008. There were initially 50 in Titanium (a nice gray color) for the 100 Mill, copper for the 200 Mill and brass for the ½ Quart. Within 2 days of receiving them, they were all sold but Tom had mentioned he had minted an extra 50 of each if I should ever need them. I said to rush them to me. In a mere 10 days after the coins were released I was selling my last set at a whopping $49.50 a set.
I was really encouraged now but refused to mint more figuring less meant they would rise in value.
As a side note, Tom suggested banknotes and stamps. I said yes. I already had a dater stamp and a red Excelsior seal I didn’t like as a seal but it looked much like a postmark. I had just bought a box of envelopes really cheap. I learned the envelopes were ¼ inch too small for the post office so you were surcharged for using those envelopes. I now had a good use for them to hold a banknote with each set of coins. On the envelope went a stamp, the official seal and the red seal to act as a postmark with the dater to give the postmark a date. It was really a cool package.
Meaning Mountain Sun in the Vepsa language, was the largest release Blue Waters Mint ever attempted. Influenced by the popular Shire Post Haypenny series, the idea was to release a total of 16 coins with the following formula:
1) One issue in even numbered years only
2) Each release contains
A) an anodized niobium coin in a different color each issue
B) a bronze version
C) a copper nickel version
3) The year 2000 version would include a .900 silver coin
Initially this was to be set far in the future but the incredible success of the Excelsior coins the timing seemed right. Designed to limit the number of designs to create a more affordable set, the Magi Paivaine release of 16 coins involved only 6 dies. The die, the hand etched design in steel is used to press the image into the coin on both sides. Since niobium and silver are not cheap, I felt the cost could be lowered by utilizing copper nickel and bronze versions. Initially the sets of 16 coins were to retail at $159 each.
The time required to make the designs by hand, other obligations of the mint and artist designing the coins, Greg Franck-Weiby, pushed the issue back to late October 2008 just as the world’s economy toppled. With the uncertain economy as jobs were threatened, people were losing their homes and governments were on the brink of financial crisis, the timing could not have been worse. Indeed, the largest outlay ever on a coin release coupled with the economic crisis in the autumn of 2008 meant very few could buy the set. Those who wanted the release were forced to pick and choose from the 16 coins. What I had hoped would be $159 orders became $10 and $20 orders. In fact, over 3½ years later, almost half of the coins are still looking for collectors to add them to their coin portfolio. Simply put, I lost money. Quite frankly, to many eggs put in one basket.
And they didn’t move. I was still looking for the elusive point of break-even. A year had passed and the funds were still in the red. I knew I had to do something. After all, everyone would think I’d released my last coin if I didn’t keep going.
Losing money, I knew I’d get a tax refund, so I ordered a new coin release. I could throw it on the credit card and pay it off quickly, I hope, as soon as the tax refund arrives.
Part of being in business is learning hard lessons the hardest way possible. Those are the best lessons because you know exactly what not to do, can analyze just where things went wrong and why. Then you can put a proverbial line in the sand and steer clear of it. Pampapana was a lesson learned hard.
Not knowing much about the minting process, I figured 300 big coins with the same dies on all 300 coins would mean the coins would be pretty cheap. I was intending on just lettering for one side anyway but Greg Franck- Weiby warned just lettering on one side would not look good. I needed an image, so I knew that would likely raise my price from about $100 on the backside of the coin to maybe $500 maximum. After all, what might it cost for two designs, $1,000 maximum? And surely not more than a dollar or two to strike. I’d use tin, brass and copper so the metal would not cost much. A 1.75 inch coin would look big, beautiful and seem more valuable. Yes, yes, this will work! This will put me back on the map, produce a nice profit and help me recover from the Magi Paivaine release.
I should have known better, but I didn’t. A red flag never was seen when I was asked what I wanted to spend on the die. Instead I said, work on it until you’re happy with it! Tom Maringer said he didn’t have a part needed to do a 1.75 inch coin. Where did that red flag go? I never saw it! I eagerly bought the part.
Finally the die was done. It took 200 hours of labor. Really? Yes! A large coin requires more detail and a more 3-D look in order for the design to look right on a big piece of metal. Hmm, that sounds logical to me so why did my logical mind not grasp that or even make me wonder about it?
Feeling my anxiety and knowing the price of the design was divided by only 300 coins we settled on $2,000 for the dies (remember I thought $1,000 maximum but planned on $600). I was now $1,400 over what I thought, but this was just the start. That goodness Greg had mercy on me, charging much less than his usual fee which was really cheap in the first place.
Tom Maringer had to special order brass and copper to get the right thickness. Nobody had sheets of copper and brass as thick as I wanted and he suggested we don’t ask for a custom thickness because of the excessive cost. When you get custom thicknesses made you better order a lot because they are essentially shutting down normal operations to adjust their machinery to make you custom order. I’d need tens of thousands of coins to make it an affordable venture, so I opted for the thickness they had in stock. The tin was another subject. I needed to buy the tin so Tom could smelt it and roll it out the proper thickness. That tin version is the thickness I initially wanted.
So striking the coins is no big deal, right? I could never be so wrong. Tom spent two weeks making it work. If the metal didn’t expand, it didn’t strike evenly and the troubles continued day after day. Tom was gracious. He didn’t make me pay for all that time and hassle. He offered $5 a coin for the strike charge, easily 1/3rd the price he should have charged. Remember, I had thought $1 a coin for the strike charge.
So, with the 300 coins on hand by the end of 2009, $3,500 had walked out the door. My tax refund would certainly not cover that…not even close. But maybe they’d sell fast. After all, they are breathtakingly lovely and expensive looking.
I had already researched things and knew I couldn’t get more than $20 each for these. That meant I had to wholesale these for about $10. So, I’d lose $2 for each coin I wholesaled. I really couldn’t ask more as a wholesale price.
Right then I decided the Pampapana release would have to be an advertising tool that demonstrated I was still around. The money I lost wholesaling coins meant I was paying for a little promotion as more people would see my coins.
I was way off on my thinking the big coin would sell quickly. Indeed the 1.75 inch coin was simply too large. You see, when you get bigger than 39 millimeters or 1.5 inches, it is too large to fit most coin flips and storage notebooks or coin boxes. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t sell very quickly. So, in early 2012 I am just now breaking even on this release and have almost 15 of each version remaining more than 2 years later.
Now what? I lost money on Magi Paivaine and even more money on Pampapana. How can I keep going. Maybe I should stop all of this. I just couldn’t stop. I had to try something new, risky and either make it or go broke trying.
ANAN MUNAN YLHA/ANAN TANTAIMON/ANAN YLHATUOLI
I was truly fearful people would want to pay the market price for silver, not my asking price. That fear proved unfounded.
Before even giving silver a shot, I rationalized that in uncertain economic times buying a silver coin at a price well above it’s true silver value was a good risk to the buyer because the silver did have a real world value. Anyway at $4 or $5 anybody could afford to buy it. My goodness, lunch costs me that much!
So we were off. The 1 Suota in silver would be minted. It would be tiny. My thought was I was always attracted by the novelty of a tiny coin so it might work. At .36 gram and 8.5 millimeters it was tiny. 3 could fit across a US Quarter!
I was thinking a round coin, but when Greg went to cut the blanks a stroke of genius and ease of manufacturing the coins took place: it was easier to cut into squares since it was so small. In fact, being so small, Greg could mint the coin too.
We planned a 3 Suota at 1.05 grams of silver as well. There would be a 7 Suota in .900 silver and I’d buy silver 1/10 ounce blanks for a 10 Suota.
My plan was for 100 of each to be minted but Greg thought I meant 200 on the 1 and 3 Suota. That was fine with me. I had an instinctive feel they would be popular.
Finally with the 1 Suota in hand, I started selling it. After a few days I was asking Greg to make 300 more. In a few months the 3 Suota was gone, all 200 of them.
It would take some time before the dies were ready for the 7 and 10 Suota. We got 108 of each making the grade. They went off the shelf in a blur…gone in months.
I was recovering. 2010 was certainly turning out nicely. I could keep this going. This risky, go for broke idea worked. I’m thrilled. I’m getting some recognition for reasonably priced handcrafted coins. I was right where I needed to be.
It had been a couple of years since I found these half gram silver blanks advertised. I didn’t know what to do with them so I mailed them to Greg Franck-Weiby with the 12 grain Varhus blanks. I asked Greg for ideas. We decided on Blenheim Reef. It would be a half gram pure silver coin. I already had the silver, so why not give it a shot?
Greg suggested a design and I decided 1 Hana to be the denomination. In a few weeks Greg suggested an affordable amount for the dies and said he could mint them on his table top screw press. I sent him the cash and he got 108 good strikes! I put them up for sale.
I was sold out in about 45 days and Spring was showing signs of beating back winter at this point in 2011. I had hit on something here and it worked again. Well, its not broken so I won’t fix it. Time for the Varhus coin!
Fast on the heels was the 12 grain Varhus silver coin.
Is there a story to tell on this one. You see, I wanted to do a theoretical Half Penny. If a British Pound really is a Troy Pound of silver, on paper at least, then a Half Penny is 12 grains of pure silver. I wanted silver blanks at a certain thickness Tom Maringer said I needed and I wanted a precise 12 grain weight or 1/40th of an ounce.
I started calling places here in the USA. Once I told them I wanted about 250 or so, I was told no, we can’t do that. Flustered, I emailed a fellow in England. After all, if I wanted a supposed Half Penny at 12 grains maybe I should jump the pond. Sure enough, he graciously responded with ‘contact Cookson Gold in London’. I did and they said it was no problem, Figuring some errors, I went for 265 blanks.
Cookson Gold offered a good price and I was thrilled. A long distance call to London with my credit card and we were in business. Then the thrill was gone!
Cookson Gold would only ship via FedEx and it was to be overnight, by 10am the next day! Price that one for a shock to your system! Oh yes, there’s Customs Duty taxes to pay. All in all, I added almost $1 to each coin in shipping and taxes. I would have to wait a few years to use this silver in hopes silver prices would double so I could afford to turn these into coins. I had already figured about $400 for the dies and $1 for a strike charge. If my figures had been correct I would have been selling the coin at about five times the value of silver and I believed that price would not lead to sales.
Two and a half years later silver had doubled and the silver was made into coins with 252 coins making the cut. I priced them at $6.50 each. Only about 30 remain. That puts me selling an average of almost 5 per week. I call that very much a success.
It was about this time Shire Post owner, Tom Maringer got a great gig. You see Tom is a man of many talents. His personality drives him to think out of the box and create ways to make things work. He had applied this creativity to geological work resulting in a job in Nevada helping folks find precious metals under the earth. It would be late September of 2011 before he got back home. By then, the shop needed work and it would take a while.
Greg Franck-Weiby had me on the list to create the Guavapuava dies for me and Tom had the design down for the 70 Euro Cent Viinamarisaar coin before he headed off to Nevada.
It was early November 2011. Greg said he was almost finished on the Guavapuava dies and told me what I owed him. I had taken off work the weekend nearest my Dad’s 82nd birthday. I arrived that evening, checked my email and there was an email from Dave Peters telling me Greg Franck-Weiby had died. I would learn a blood vessel burst in his brain and he was ‘out’ by time he fell to the floor. That was on Wednesday. He passed the next afternoon. I hadn’t had the time to get his payment in the mail.
I’m sort of funny with death. When my Mom died I saw it as a blessing. Her body was beginning to be ravaged by diabetes. I knew she was not happy not being able to do all she wanted. I thought, now all that hassle is gone. For Greg’s passing, I immediately thought what a great way to go. He likely had no clue what happened to him. What a blessing he went as quickly as he did. No pain, suffering or misery.
Do I miss Greg? You bet I do. Greg was incredible. We knew each other so well I could send him my story and what coin influenced me. His knowledge corrected any misinformation I had and created a perfect fit with real history on my coins. He could toss an idea out from the story alone. He knew me well enough to travel the same path of thinking I did. Simply put, he didn’t just design the coin, he checked my research so it would be accurate and he filled in the blanks and connected the dots to make everything fit.
I knew Greg created coins for the love of doing so. To get the same level of workmanship from another mint would cost me 3 to 5 times as much money. I knew I couldn’t make those numbers work. Who would pay $30 for a $6 coin? Maybe I was done. I saw no path ahead of me.
To make things worse, everybody said they needed an exact drawing. I thought that was a tough one. I never took art class in school because I could have easily failed the class. I would have to hire an artist and hope they had the insight to gather my ideas and be creative.
Luckily Edwin Johnston, the former President of the Houston Coin Club offered his talent. On top of that, I met Anatoli Shishkevich in Tallinn, Estonia. He suggested a joint release for a Viinamarisaar coin. We would each pay 50% of the cost and each get 50% of the mintage. The fantasy Estonian island would have coins produced in Estonia. That is just too good to pass up.
VIINAMARISAAR / VIINAMARJASAAR
It is now late 2011. Tom is finishing the Viinamarisaar 70 Euro cents coins. They arrive New Years Eve.
On top of this, the first batch of Estonian made coins arrives.
Calling Tom Maringer he talks about doing a 4.90 Euro thick copper coin for Viinamarisaar. I said sure and ordered 100. When the first batch came in the mail, I suggested he increase the mintage to 250.
The pricing was good enough to set us up nicely for 2012. Sure, the coins made in Estonia were above my price threshold but they are nice coins and compared to the typical American mint, I sure would pay a lot more.
In short, I was very happy with both. With plenty of cash in the account after the months without a coin release, I was ready to keep Tom busy in case he had to leave for Nevada this summer.
It just took days for the Guavapuava coins to be minted by Tom. He was pretty much working fulltime on Blue Waters Mint coins. 100 of the 1 Reales and 100 of the 3 Reales were in my hands in lightning speed.
As we enter March of 2012, a month after the February 1 release, about 65 of these have been sold.
These were actually supposed to be 1 and 2 Real coins made in a rectangular shape just like the rare Oaxaca 1 and 3 Centavo coins made during the Mexican revolution. They were to be copper.
When the dies arrived, they appeared unfinished. A little embellishment was lacking in the design…those final few minutes of final touches Greg never got the chance to add. I thought the unfinished design should stay on the 1 Real and Tom could finish it off for the 2 Real.
I told Tom I thought it fitting that the coins be in silver as this was Greg’s final work. I told him my plan was a 1/10th ounce for the 1 Real and 2/10ths of an ounce for the 2 Real. Both were to be rectangles. You might be wondering why the coins did not turn out this way. The answer is simple. It is all about costs.
Tom had silver rolled out already and if we used it to punch the 1 Real blanks we would end up at 2.17 grams, not 1/10th ounce. Tom had more silver ready and it could be used but we’d need the second coin to be a 3 Real because the coin would be 5.5 grams. We made the changes. That was a wise idea because if I insisted, Tom would have had to start from scratch on making blanks for these. By using what he had on hand, we modified the plan, saved hundreds of dollars and ended up with exceptional coins anyway.
These coins suffered unexpected expenses. Greg’s friends and his widow intend to honor Greg with a museum of his work. The last design Greg made needed to be there. Thus, Tom had to create some ‘clone’ dies of the original so it could be returned. This made the design costs exceed what they were originally, but that made no difference to me as I wanted the final dies to go to the museum.
I really wanted to try a gold coin. Dick Hanscom at Alaska Rare Coins in Fairbanks, Alaska had been producing small gold coins in his basement from gold miners had brought in to the store. He used the unrefined gold to make the coins, each release labeled with where the gold was found. I figured Blue Waters Mint needed a gold coin.
I wanted a tiny gold coin. Looking on eBay some years prior, I bought a 1.6 grain little square coin about ¼ inch square. It was called a “50 Gulch” coin. This inspired my coin.
I set off on a difficult trail of research. I decided to use the Vinar as the denomination. Just what was a Vinar? It was a denomination used only on stamps known as a chain breaker release around 1920 in what would be Yugoslavia, now several nations. I found two Notgeld notes denominated in Vinars issued by a couple of the largest cities in what is now Slovenia.
I quickly learned the Vinar was another name for the Para. I related this to the ‘Penny’ for the one cent coin in the USA. I’m a stickler for authenticity, however, and I wanted a truly accurate conversion. That was no easy feat. You see, the Dinar and Krone of the time were suffering from inflation after World War I and there was the political turmoil of this area becoming Yugoslavia. To complicate things the coins had been silver but had become brass or bronze. It was obvious the monetary exchange rate was in turmoil.
I kept digging. Over a few months, as I got inspired, I discovered some conversion rates for the times the postage stamps were released and when the Notgeld notes were released. In theory the silver coins had the same value as the newer common metal version although I think people were too smart to use the silver coins for purchases. It would be about like paying with a silver dollar today in the USA in lieu of a paper dollar note. Still, I have my conversions and the weight in pure silver for the respective coins.
You see, I use real exchange rates and convert to silver and gold when I do my research because gold and silver are constant values. I can take an old Roman Empire coin and tell you what the value would be if you used it for a purchase today by using my formula. It’s all based on the amount in silver or gold the coin would contain. This really helps me imagine a ‘real life’ feel for my fantasy coins.
As it turned out, the 50 Vinar coin worked out to about 2 grains of gold. It was not a perfect conversion and I don’t recall precisely but it was more along the lines of 1.92 grains, so 2 grains of gold was pretty much perfect.
With the one ounce gold bar I purchased from Dick Hanscom, Tom had the metal to work with. He pulled out the calculator and determined the size of the coin and thickness of the metal. His first punches of the gold came up just under 2 grains. These were not used because the cardinal rule is never go under weight but going a little over is okay. More calculations and the rest of the gold was punched into blanks. We got 176 good ones with the rest being scrap.
The scrap is here. I chose not to pay for it to be melted and rolled out. The labor would greatly increase the price. This gold could be used later when the next gold coin is made.
So, my pricing had to change. You see, it is always impossible to get exactly 240 two grain blanks from an ounce of gold. So, I had to take the total amount and divide by 176, not 240.
This coin has really proved popular. It’s a great little novelty. I picked these up from the mint in January when I visited Tom Maringer’s Shire Post.
If you collect any of the German States coins, you know the larger coins are much more plentiful than the small change coins. Picking up a pfennig from a German State is not that easy if the state or town was not of substantial population or prosperity. I managed to grab some including Buchhorn and other small places thanks to a dealer in Germany.
These small change German coins inspired the Valemaa coin. Instead of going with copper, I decided to go back further in time when the Pfennig was about a half gram of pure silver.
Edwin Johnston, the former President of the Houston Coin Club is quite an artist. Edwin agreed to do the Valemaa design. You might say I commissioned him to draw the design from thin air. We were going to use a school bell or church bell at a building as the design. Edwin ‘got’ how I worked. I offer the basic idea and say to make something you’re proud of. In other words, surprise me by letting the basic idea sprout legs and grow into a masterpiece. I paid Edwin to draw up the 2013 design at the same time.
These designs went to Tom Maringer at Shire Post. He added the lettering and sent them to Gary Carlisle in Oklahoma City since Gary could take a PDF drawing and transfer it to a steel die.
All this works is a bit costly once you add it up, so I decided I needed a minting of 500 coins to get the cost down to the target price I wanted for the coin. I knew I would never get it to my target price but I’d get as close as I could.
500 coins is a huge amount for a fantasy coin. Tom knew this. Anyway, the bell was so small it didn’t really pop out on the coin, so to give me a better chance of selling all the coins, Tom took half and applied a ‘wash’ for the coins that would darken the lines a bit so the design would ‘pop out’ more than in shiny silver. Thus, the 500 became two versions: shiny silver and a pure silver version given a chemical bath.
These half gram coins are an authentic model of the centuries old Pfennig in weight and silver content although the design is modern.
I will devote a few hours to researching real places looking for inspiration for my fantasy places. I believe the best fantasy is based on fact. The more plausible the place is the better, especially when I can produce a coin that is accurate to existing denominations.
I found this island named Picton off the coast in Canada. Intentionally I put my fantasy island further out in the Atlantic. Picton was the inspiration and I researched for a good while. Once I was happy with my story I needed a name.
The name is the really tough part. I try created languages and real languages, looking at words to find something I think would look attractive on a coin. The meaning of the word is important as well. It needs to jive with the place. I really prefer created languages but many of the languages have disappeared from the internet as some free website companies shut down. I was clueless as to what the name of the island should be. I decided to ask visitors to my website.
Chris LeBailly emailed suggesting Noweth Kernow. He had a back story to justify the name. His family came from Corning and the Jersey Islands. The Cornish name of New Cornwall fit well with real history. It’s funny how that happens! You see, before I made the decision on the name, I looked at all the coastal islands and what did I find? There is real history of a family from Jersey on one island and they were pretty wealthy. There was a logical reason based on real history to have a fantasy island named Noweth Kernow. Indeed it meant I could easily tie my place to a real island.
Kyle Mutcher made some silver coins I bought. Kyle has a coin shop in Canada and plays around making coins. I wanted the Noweth Kernow coin to be about 4.1 to 4.2 grams and about the size of a nickel but in pure silver.
I has no firm design in mind so I asked Tom for ideas. Tom found a lovely ship as a punch that could be used and another punch of a fish. This was perfect for Noweth Kernow. Fishing was why the island was settled. The ship represented the nautical past of Jersey and the Cornish people who settled around the world.
A punch is a design that is etched in steel by an engraver. It is done ‘reverse’ so the design is set above the rest of the surface. These punches came from a mint that had gone ‘digital’. In the recent past, engravers might spend a week creating a design that is truly a work of art. As customers come to the mint, they can select a punch for their coin, save money on the design work and get a lovely coin. You see the punch is struck right on the die of the new coin before being returned to the shelf for future use.
The ship, as we later learned was the famous ‘Old Ironsides’, a famous American vessel that survived many conflicts.
Now that the design had been determined, it was time to figure the coin. Remember I wanted a 4.1-4.2 gram pure silver coin the size of an American 5 cent coin. I had some choices to make. If I insisted on a coin that size, the dies would need to be reduced, so we’d need Gary Carlisle to reduce the dies. This would raise the price of the coin. In addition, Tom Maringer would need to do some calculating and melt silver, roll it out to the right thickness and punch the blank coins. This would raise the production costs further. Should I stay with my plan?
Tom said he had some ‘shilling’ weight silver blanks the right size for the die. I could go with a 5.5 gram pure silver coin about the size of an American Quarter and nothing more would need to be done. My cost would only rise by the price of silver at that moment. Indeed this would be the logical choice. I’d have the least production cost and a more valuable coin by more than 25%. It was a win-win for the mint since the blanks on the shelf were used. My costs were reasonable and the collected got a more valuable and substantial coin for fewer dollars spent. The mintage used all the blanks on hand: 175.
There is a little island that is in Denmark called Nyord. I was really inspired by this little island. This became the basis of the Puuviljakogursaar story.
Puuviljakogursaar was a word I came across in an Estonian dictionary looking for Grape Island which is Viinamarisaar. Puuviljakogursaar means Fruit Picker Island.
I wanted a substantial coin for Puuviljakogursaar and decided on the Rigsdaler Courant as the denomination, abbreviated to just ‘Courant’.
I try to steer clear of any problems with governments and although the Rigsdaler is a long lost currency, I thought there might be an issue if I used the Rigsdaler as the currency. After all this is a substantial coin, not something like a Skilling that appeared as a small change coin in many countries. I chose the Rigsdaler Courant.
An amazing journey in research began. There were no Rigsdaler Courant coins but a Norwegian coin carried the ‘Courant’ name. You see, there were two kinds of Rigsdalers. There was the silver coin version and a second version called a ‘Courant’ that was pretty much a paper version and ‘accounting denomination’. Simply put, it took 5 Courants to make 4 Rigsdalers in silver coin. This was at a point in time before a period of economic turmoil that caused the greatly reduced value Species to appear. The historical timeline jived with the real history of Nyord when the Nyord inhabitants cut down all their trees to buy their island from the landowner, an event I used in my Puuviljakogursaar story.
The trick now was to determine the actual silver weight of the Rigsdaler at the time, convert this to .999 silver and then multiply by 80% to arrive at the true ‘Courant’ weight in silver: approximately 2/3rds of a troy ounce of pure silver. In reality you get within a grain or two going with this weight. Considering the handmade style of minting I utilize, that is certainly ‘close enough’.
Inspiration for the coin was an old Norwegian coin depicted with a very poor quality photo in the Krause catalogs, looked much like a watermelon (those with the light and dark green stripes) and was oval in shape. If I could find one, I’d have to sell my car to buy one so we worked from the photo. I envisioned a vine-like design with berries for the décor but told Tom Maringer to have fun, take artistic liberties and surprise me.
The result was a very logistically difficult coin to be fashioned by hand and minted on a screw press. Simply put, it is a showpiece of Tom’s talents. Best of all, it is made in the manner coins would have been made centuries ago when the island would have been purchased by the islanders. So, historically, in the world of coin making, it’s true to form.
I could only afford to mint 100 of these. That’s a bunch of silver to buy back when it was almost $40 an ounce after you pay spot, the premium and insured shipping.
Niki Namu is a word in a constructed language and not a person’s name. In fact, Niki Namu is a branch off from Klef Raraha. Let me explain the influences.
First we go to Anguilla where a small island is off shore by the name of Scrub Island. It had been for sale by a Virginia real estate company. I think the price was about 80 million. They wanted Disney to buy it and make it a call for their cruise line.
I envisioned the island as a fertile agricultural island and Klef Raraha came about through searching languages and selecting the Creole language of Aruba. After the Klef Raraha story and coins were out, I wanted to expand the story, so I made up an island in the Pacific called Niki Namu. If my memory is correct Niki Namu means something along the lines of fresh squeezed citrus juice (orange for example). I figured a fertile island among the thousands of undiscovered islands of the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu would be a good location since there are so many islands.
Years prior I had bought a silver round with what I thought was an exceptional design with either a flower or starfish in the center. I send the coin to Tom and said I really liked the Netherlands Antilles modern small change coins as well. Might we combine the two designs to make something new?
Meanwhile, I was researching the Cowry Shell money. I found excellent accounts from various ship captains about buying cowry shells in the Maldives. It was a trick to figure out the value of the cowry shell in the Maldives as it was compared to several archaic currencies that varied in value over the years, so lining up the accounts to the actual time with a coin circulating at that time was quite an extensive exercise. In time I figured it out, finding an average exchange over a century or two.
I determined 15,000 Cowrie Shells or Cowry Shells was equal to 5.5 grams of pure silver as an average. I applied this figure to Niki Namu.
Tom really worked hard on a very detailed design that dazzled. I told him I wanted the coin to feel thick but be about the size of a US Penny or Nickel. He came through precisely. It is a lovely coin that far exceeds my expectations.
My plan is for 5 more designs in future years. We did 200 of the first design.
I wanted Pura Palu’e to be a very backwards place compared to the rest of the world. The inspiration came from Palu’e, a small island in Indonesia, but that is where the influence ends. I moved to ‘peaceful societies’ and began researching, really becoming fond of the Batek people who have no leaders. Imagine a place with no government or community leaders! Plus, they are non-violent. While humans have emotions, it is how the Batek handle the negative that I found fascinating. Mix in a few ingredients from other little islands and you have the recipe for Pura Palu’e.
The coin, I figured, had to hold special significance but had to have a historic connection. I found the Tang, a coin that was meant to be a copper version of the Larin, likely of Ceylon and the Maldives. The coin never gained any popularity and it has been written nobody has found an existing example of the Dutch East Indies Tang. Now I really had to take a leap here. If you know the silver Larin before it was a round coin and even after it was a round coin, it was 4.8 grams of silver, eventually about 4.4 grams of pure silver. The leap was a logical one. If the Tang was to be a copper version of the Larin, it seems the coin would have to be 4.8 grams, identical in weight to the silver Larin. So my Tang would be a small round coin about the size of a round Maldives Larin and pure copper.
With the copper Tang, I had the challenge to fit the Tang into the other currencies used. What was its value compared to the Stuiver, the Chinese Cash coin, the Keping and so forth. If you gather the information on these various currencies you soon discover a gram of silver is so many grams of copper and so forth. In time you assemble the puzzle and can attach a true .999 silver value to every coin. You simply need some conversions like how many Dutch East Indies Stuivers to the Gulden and so forth. As fate would have it, give or take a grain or two of silver, 9 Tang is 1/10th of a troy ounce of ,999 silver. There are some cool conversions. For example, the 4¾ Stuiver of Ceylon was the copper version of the 2.4 gram silver ½ Larin of the Maldives and Ceylon. Once you know the weight of the 4¾ Stuiver which varied greatly in size and weight, you can figure a ratio of copper grams to a silver gram.
Before the coins were made in metal, I saw a guy offering custom Geocoins made to order. He had a listing on eBay. I contacted him. I was amazed. He took scrap wood. By hand he whittled it down to round discs. Then with his tools, he burned a design in the wood by hand, applied a finish and even wrote a coin number in ink that only can be seen under ultraviolet light. I asked if making 50 of them was too much. We had many months to complete the project and well before the August release date I have the 50 wood 1 Tang truly handmade coins. The handmade side truly reflected Pura Palu’e’s backwards stance in the modern world. It was perfect.
We didn’t stop there. The minds were buzzing and more denominations were planned. We were going to use gold leaf, silver leaf and other touches to create some really cool wood coins in 4, 6, 7 and 9 Tang. We were going to do 10 of each. I sent the money and nothing. Emails ignored but finally months later a response came saying he had been in a car accident and unable to complete the coins. He’d get to them when he was healed up. Many more months passed with no response to emails. I’m chalking it up as a loss. My issue is the invested monies make the 1 Tang wood coin cost me about $12 each. I know I can’t sell it for that kind of price…maybe $6 would work better but I’d really like to recover as much as I can. Maybe I will eventually get these but I really doubt it especially since he no longer advertises the custom Geocoins.
Talstyla means ‘lightning stick’ or ‘lightning rod’ in English. It is a word from a constructed language made up from scratch by a linguist as a hobby.
It was about the time I was exploring the North Atlantic islands like St. Kilda when Talstyla came about. Specifically, I had found the Kalla Islets belonging to Finland and based Talstyla on these islands but with a twist, you might say.
Amid all of these I began exploring the Arctic islands mostly belonging to Russia. Some I really liked. I mixed a blend of several historical accounts and fabricated medieval story blended with a perfect storm to develop Talstyla, In fact, once I was done with the story for about 6 months, I scrapped the whole thing and started over.
The coins were a real mystery to the mints. You see, I had been studying early Maldives coins and found there were some fractional Larins along the trail. The smallest fractional was a 1/16th Larin. About the same time I had begun collecting Maldives Larins and immediately noticed they were all about the same size. The larger values were thicker but the smaller values were thinner and these were billon coins meaning the coins contained under 50% silver, usually mixed with copper. About the same time a guy on eBay was selling a 50% silver/50% copper bar. It almost looked like gold but a bit more dull versus shiny. I loved the look.
While the mints were scratching their heads saying how would a Maldives coin reach the North Atlantic, I set forth explaining it was the size, numeric denomination and metal content I liked, not the fact it was from the Maldives or had a design like a Maldives coin. I initially chose a 50% silver/50% copper mix for a 1/16, 1/8, ¼, ½, 1 and 2 something coin. I researched currencies. Nothing fit.
This was unusual since everything at the time was based on silver so most every currency was divisible by several other currencies, usually as whole currencies, not fractions. By coins being divisible by whole units, it facilitated international trade. If you could divide one unit into another whole unit from another country it was easy on the merchants who looked at silver or gold weight instead who the king or queen was on the face of the coin. You see denominations were pretty useless back then and so was the issuer. The issuer gave the coin’s content credibility as being what it was supposed to be but in reality, things were traded by weights of pure silver and gold, not a stated coin value. The exception was the small change coin that would be so tiny if it wasn’t made of a common metal.
It wasn’t until I had the ¼ coin in production that I uncovered the true silver content of the centuries old Ortug. After some trying research I was able to discover the ¼ was really 2 Ortug, give or take a couple of grains of silver. Thus, the 1.2 gram pure silver ¼ coin or 2 Ortug was the size of a Maldives ¼ Larin if it was silver. This means the 1/16 is ½ Ortug at .3 gram of pure silver; the 1/8 being a 1 Orug at .6 gram pure silver; the ¼ is 2 Ortug at 1.2 grams of pure silver; the ½ being 4 Ortug at 2.4 grams of pure silver; the 1 at 8 Ortug or 4.8 grams of pure silver and the 2 being 16 Ortug or 9.6 grams of pure silver.
I scrapped the idea of 50% silver/50% copper in order to save this metal mix for a release at some point in the future.
The coins were to wear the lightning flash with larger coins revealing the rock stack on the high point on the island, the very place the lightning struck.
We minted 250 of the ¼ and Joe Paonessa and his son did the work on these hammer struck coins.
I had ventured to the South Atlantic in discovering islands and the Falklands have a bunch of them. I also found a place called Green Patch. This came about when the Government responded to the cries of the workers being unable to achieve ownership of their own farm. Thus, the Government bought a big farm, sectioned it into 6 farms and selected workers to get loans to start their own farms.
Influenced by this, I wanted this to be its own island. I liked the word Pampas. I thought it looked nice in print. A priority in naming my places is the visual attractiveness of the printed name.
The coin would be influenced by the Lindau Pfennig from centuries prior. This would lead me to create a story around a German family from this part of Germany settling on the island and raising sheep, working the entire island as one farm. The workers wanted to buy the farm and he sold it as 6 separate farms to the six workers. Thus, the Linden tree with 6 leaves pays tribute to the first island owner and the current 6 landowners.
The coin, a 1 Penny, in .999 silver, is a ½ gram hammer struck coin with 253 minted.
Juliana Island has taken years to reach the point of a coin. I always liked the story about the Republic of Juliana, a short-lived republic that comprised the southern most state of Brazil.
I worked a couple of days on the story and think I had a good one. Next was the coin.
I was inspired by the Haypenny made by Tom Maringer of Shire Post. I envisioned a series of releases in a couple of metals loosely based on the Haypenny and priced to be very affordable.
When I saw the Dal Tun Penny in blue anodized titanium, I had found my metal. I loved how the titanium was colorized. You see the lines were dark blue and unstuck areas a lighter blue and the undertone shine was very appealing to me. Tom minted 20 of these in the first minting and 30 in the second minting.
I figured a mintage of about 250 in silver and 250 in anodized blue titanium to start. The mint said no. You see titanium is hard. It is very difficult to get a good strike (the image on the metal). It usually takes several tries meaning it had better be perfectly lined up each time. If it’s a hair off it becomes scrap. Steel dies might be hard as well but striking steel on titanium is about like slamming rocks together and sooner than later one rock will crack…usually that rock is the steel dies. Remember, if the dies break you pay for them to be made again and the dies are the most expensive part of coin making. Going for so many titanium coins would be a nightmare in costs and production frustrations.
I couldn’t scratch off that idea! I had to find a way to make titanium coins happen. After some time I decided a smaller coin would be easier. Yes it would, said the mint but a coin that small and thin just wasn’t an easy thing to do. Titanium lent itself to larger coins. Back to the drawing board.
My third try was a klippe brakteat. Might that work? Yes it would. You see, the coin blank would be large enough to easily punch blanks and the thinness of the metal would simplify striking. Now we needed the design.
The iconic Juliana was prepared for the one sided coin and several weights were chosen to test the die. Trials ranged from 4.1 to 7.4 grams of .999 silver before it was found that the perfect strike came in on a 6.66 gram silver blank.
199 of the silver 150 Reis coins were produced.
A search for the softest titanium possible was made. It was located and then sent to a shop to be rolled out and coin blanks punched because Tom’s equipment could not apply the strength needed to do this part.
On the denomination, I had determined a 4.1 gram silver coin was about 152 Reis, so I settled at 150 Reis. When the coin became heavier, the denomination did not change because the die had already been made. Being the weight the coins ended up becoming, 240 Reis would have been a better amount if scaling it to the old silver Reis of Brazil.
As of February 4, 2013, the titanium is on hand but not rolled our or coin blanks punched from the metal. There is still the issue of figuring out how to sharpen the detail on the nose of the iconic Juliana. In the titanium trial, the nose is too ‘smashed’.