FANTASY COINS

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ILE CRESCENT WEBSITE:

http://ilecrescent.webs.com/ 

 

 

ILE CRESCENT COIN DATA

500 Poa X#1 2006 Blue Acrylic 38 mm.  Mintage 511

1,000 Poa X#2 2006 Green Acrylic 38 mm. Mintage 503

5,000 Poa X#3 2006 Yellow Acrylic 38 mm. Mintage 434

* KM# from page 171 “Unusual World Coins”, Colin R. Bruce II, published by Krause Publications

The above coins are available for sale. Please click WEB STORE at right.

ILE CRESCENT BANKNOTE DATA

Amount Year

1 Poa 1967 not pictured

100 Poa 1967

1,000 Poa 1966

1,000 Poa 1978

5,000 Poa 1967

Above are Sold Out

5,000 Poa  1993

10,000 Poa  1993

50,000 Poa  1993

100,000 Poa  1993

500,000 Poa  1993

1,000,000 Poa  1993

Available in WEB STORE.

CURRENCY IMAGES

0028 crescent 1_00028 crescent 2_00028 crescent 3_00028 crescent 4_0FANTAST COINS 052

(click image for larger view)

QUICK FACTS

LOCATION: Crescent is about 9 kilometers outside the western boundary of the French Polynesia 200 mile economic zone, located in international waters between the Kiribati and Pitcairn Island Economic Zones.

AREA: Crescent is made up of 2 small islets connected by a small strip of sand at low tide. The total land area is about 200 acres.

POPULATION is 40

ECONOMY: Pearl farming and the sale of crafts

PER CAPITA INCOME: 796 Euros per annum

LANGUAGE is English and Crescentese.

ABOUT ILE CRESCENT

QUICK FACTS

LOCATION: Crescent is about 9 kilometers outside the western boundary of the French Polynesia 200 mile economic zone, located in international waters between the Kiribati and Pitcairn Island Economic Zones.

AREA: Crescent is made up of 2 small islets connected by a small strip of sand at low tide. The total land area is about 200 acres.

POPULATION is 40

ECONOMY: Pearl farming and the sale of crafts

PER CAPITA INCOME: 796 Euros per annum

LANGUAGE is English and Crescentese

The history of Crescent Island, told by the Islanders, passed down to each generation by the elders, tells much but leaves much to question.

Prior to the 1760s, it is known the inhabitants of Crescent Island were residing on Mangareva, in the Gambier Islands, now part of French Polynesia. With the exception of two men, all the males were former crew members from a British merchant ship that stopped at Mangareva. These crew members decided to reside on the island, abandoning their jobs on the ship. The women were all from Mangareva.

As you might imagine, the new inhabitants of Mangareva brought turmoil to the local population. The men brought bad habits to the island. The men 'had their way' with many of the young women and typically refused to help the islanders in the daily work, choosing to consume alcohol instead. The Chief held little power of persuasion over the sailors.

For the quality of life to be maintained in such a small and fragile population, the authority of the rulers could not be challenged. A rigid social structure set up with the wisdom of the rulers insured a population explosion would not put an end to life on Mangareva. A structure for work was essential to insure the resources of the island would be managed properly to lead to a life of abundance. While Mangareva had thousands of people, it's resources had to be managed well and size of the population carefully controlled.

As the rulers lost patience, action was to be taken to preserve the way of life. The men, their women and those few who 'fell away' from the social structure were rounded up. These few were to be purged from Mangareva. Forced on a raft, they were sent to sea. Their future was bleak. Most people forced to sea were to become food for the fishes. It was purely a death sentence. The odds of landing on a piece of land and beginning life anew was remote. The dozen or so sent to sea were the ones to beat the odds.

The book Polynesia Voyagers. The Maori as a Deep Sea Navigator, Explorer, and Colonizer by Elsdon Best, Dominion Museum, 1923, Wellington states: “In this manner was Crescent Island settled by a party of refugees from Mangareva. Not possessing any canoes, these folks constructed rafts, whereon they trusted themselves to ocean currents. This occurred about one hundred and fifty years ago, and the traditions of Mangareva state that other such parties had left that isle in former times—left it in order to escape death, possibly to find it on the great water wastes of the Pacific.”

After several days at sea, the group, near death for sure, found their raft being torn by a reef with a small sand bank in the distance. Making an attempt at land, the group managed to swim to shore and set up housekeeping on what is now known as an islet of Temoe Atoll. Feeling fortunate at beating certain death, the group was pleased with their plight although Temoe offered little.

An account of the Captain, James Wilson, of the London Missionary Society’s S. S. Duff on May 25, 1797 details the island. He found an island he named Crescent Island in 1797. There seems to be some odd reason the name stuck. When Pastor Nobbs was heading from Pitcairn to Mangareva, he found Crescent Island and the islanders said that was the name of the island according to his diary. Even so, Wilson never communicated with the 25 people found living there, but 4 decades later the inhabitants called their island Crescent. I have to wonder if Nobbs was aware of Wilson and his naming of the islands. Could it be Nobbs figured they must have landed on Crescent and called it such?

At daylight on the 24th of May 1797 the S. S. Duff approached an island never before known, low in elevation and formed like a crescent. There was a lagoon in the center with several openings. Within a mile of the northeast shore they put four men in a jolly-boat to head ashore, intending to land if the natives were friendly. They took beads, looking glasses and a few English coins to leave as a testimony of the visit. On the approach a body of natives collected on the shore, with the women showing spears, the only weapon seen. They shook in a threatening manner making signs for us to be gone. “Tom” stood in the boat showing his skin, his cloth and tattoos, even speaking to them in his language that they seemed not to understand. Making no progress, they returned to the ship.

Describing the island: There were many wharra trees upon it and some others of a useless kind. The shore is grey coral sand and stones thrown up by the violence of the sea, forming a wall at the South-East point about twenty or thirty feet above the surface. On this point were piles of coral stones; two build round and small and one square, the sides of which might be twelve feet and fix in height, with a hole at one side seemingly to creep in at.

The natives whom we saw were 25 in number, including 3 or 4 women carrying children on their backs. These were probably all that were on the island. They were of light copper color of middling stature. Their language sounded familiar to other islanders we had become acquainted with. The sea prevented Tom from hearing distinctly enough to understand them.

Some were quite naked except a cloth around their middle. Others had a cloth thrown over their shoulders reaching halfway down the leg. One, possibly a chief, wore a piece of white cloth as a turban. They wore no ornaments.

Upon what they subsisted was difficult to imagine for they have neither breadfruit nor coconuts or any fruit tree. We, being able to see the whole island saw none in sight. There was not one canoe with which to fish. If they be not transient visitors from a high island, they, in any degree sensitive of their situation, would be miserably wretched indeed.

At Mangareva we found the natives appearing to be of the same stock as the Crescent Islanders. The terrain had the worthless trees found on Crescent and no canoes were seen. Inland coconuts and other foods were available leading us to believe the Crescent Islanders must be transients sent out from Mangareva. So ends the account of James Wilson.

The Crescent Islanders found only pandanus trees growing on their island. With no boat, the best the inhabitants could do is navigate the sharp coral to pluck small fish from holes on the reef. With no wood for fire to cook food, fish was consumed raw.

The islanders realized they must make do without clothing or housing as the only vegetation on the island was needed to sustain life. Mangareva's social structure was nothing compared to the food rationing and hardships endured on Crescent Island. With no leader the group bickered and fought for some time until one islander became known for wise decisions.

Although never formally 'elected' as leader, a young man from Mangareva earned the respect of all. His suggestions were followed and life became easier.

Life was threatened no less than 5 times over the first 70 years. The biggest threat were the ships from South America. They had a reputation for storming an island, taking all the men, women and children prisoner. They would be taken to South America to be sold as slaves. There were tales of islands found abandoned with no trace of what happened to the people. As such ships approached Crescent three different times, the defenseless population hid amid the brush in the interior of the island, hoping not to be taken. Two times during the first 70 years the island was awash. Once this was due to a cyclone passing over the island. The second time was from high seas from a nearby cyclone. In both instances, life and property was lost.

It was in 1838 that a ship carrying Pastor Nobbs from Pitcairn Island, discovered the island. Pastor Nobbs had been forced from Pitcairn an was in exile. He was on his way to Mangareva.

In his diary, Nobbs noted in 1838: a small lagoon sand bank called Crescent Island…we learned their ancestors had been forced from Mangareva on a raft some 50 or 60 years previous. “They seemed quite satisfied with their lot, although the only articles of food they could obtain were squid, and small fish taken in the holes of the coral reef, and the kernels of the nut of the pandanus or screw-palm, which is the only tree or vegetable growing on their sand bank.” Note: Nobbs indicates the islanders named their island “Crescent”.

Pastor Nobbs told the rulers of Mangareva of the plight of the Crescent Islanders. The Chief asked that the Crescent Islanders be rescued and brought to Mangareva where a 'welcome home' feast would be held. He noted the islanders were taken to Mangareva where a feast was held. He noted one died from over consumption and several others would have suffered the same fate if he had not forced them to be purged of the problem.

It was about this time two French Catholic Missionaries arrived on Mangareva. They were thought to be Gods because a lady known to be capable of seeing in to the future had spoken of a dream where Gods appearing as white skinned men would come to the island. The rulers threatened the visitors with death but they appeared unafraid and quoted from the Bible all the while. This was the proof the rulers needed that indeed these were the Gods the now deceased woman had seen in her dreams.

With the acceptance and respect of the islanders, the missionaries set out on a plan to create a showplace in the Pacific. The idea was that such a paradise could be imaged as the greatest among the Pacific isles due to a strong Christian faith. The need for workers was great. Ships were sent to every nearby island to collect the population and bring them to Mangareva to work.

The missionaries believed a six day, sixteen hour a day work week would be needed to complete the restoration of the island and serve as a way to keep the islanders set on principals of Christianity. Idle time was considered evil. Sundays was for a day of Church. The work was enforced by cruel punishment. One six year old boy had been jailed for laughing during a Church service.

With all the construction and congested population came more visiting ships. Now the islanders were not used to such a long and hard day of work and they had no resistance to common illnesses in other parts of the work. People became ill. People died. The soul of the Mangarevan people had been stomped out. All was lost. The old life of relative ease, compared to their current life was gone and was not to return. The Crescent Islanders were among the group.

Pastor Nobbs noted in his journal that the Crescent Islanders 'pined' for their home but states he never heard of their fate. Nobbs was in exile for 6 years before returning to Pitcairn.

The oral history of Crescent says that the islanders longed for their home and began planning for an escape from Mangareva. Supplies were stockpiled in hiding places. Late night meetings were carried out. When the time was right, most of the 23 remaining Crescent Islanders set out when the weather and the tide were right for their home. With 16 men and women, the dangerous journey began, but the journey would not remain without peril.

Only a day in to the journey, clouds rolled in and a strong wind followed. Three days of stiff winds and squally weather threatened the crew. For sure they were off course for Crescent Island. But once skies cleared, optimism prevailed and after seven days at sea, the group spotted a set of islands in the distance. Late in the day, they made it to one of the two small dots of land.

The group set forth planting coconuts and planting gardens. The choices for food greatly increased over the coming years and the hardships of the earliest days were quickly forgotten.

The group was sure this was the original Crescent Island. The vegetation was identical. The group was overjoyed. The original islanders lived out their days believing that somehow they had returned to Crescent Island. It was not until the 1880s that the truth was known.

A passing ship called on the island. Their story was told. Then the Captain explained they were over 200 miles from Mangareva. The new Crescent Island was not an islet of Temoe, but a little known reef with two small sandbanks covering just 200 some acres. By this time, overpopulation was taking it's toll.

Crescent Islanders had survived about 50 years with no so called leader to guide the use of resources and control population. The Islanders were still Christian, but mixed their lifestyle with the old. Like other Polynesian cultures, especially Marquesasean, children, from an early age, simulated sexual acts and a young woman was encouraged to have many partners. The older men were expected to 'teach' the young women. Young men were frequently with each young girl on the island. As a result, the population of the island went from it's beginning population of 16 to 73, it's peak.

By the 1880s, food was rationed. No person could consume more than a certain amount each day. This was required to preserve resources and insure there would be enough to eat in the future. By this time, the older men from each family had chosen to meet each day to determine the jobs to be performed and dictate when sexual relations could occur, all dependent on the resources. This was the first island-wide form of government on Crescent.

Over the years, Crescent was discovered by a few passing ships. Most carried merchandise from exotic ports. Islanders began to work an active trade with some of the passing vessels. Seeing two ships a year was typical by the 1950s. It should be noted, the Crescent Islanders never learned of World War I or World War II until the 1950s.

In the 1960s Crescent was less isolated. On average, 5 vessels called on Crescent each year. One or two were ships but the others were private vessels with a small crew exploring the Pacific. Friendships were made. By the 1970s, Crescent had become a well kept secret among the Pacific bound yachts. Even so, only the most adventurous would set out for the tiny isolated island, but those that did, became friends of the islanders, typically making it possible for Crescent Islanders to get items and supplies they needed to make life easier.

It was the late 1960s when Crescent issued it's own currency. On being told of money, the islanders decided to give it a go. Notes were exchanged for rice and flour. The currency was backed up with pearls harvested in the lagoon.

In recent years, Crescent has become less isolated. Textbooks for schooling, basic food supplies and even a solar powered radio station have taken a place on the island. Western clothes are worn. Houses were built and roofed with tin. The isolated spit of land is far removed from its humble start.

Today Crescent has an arrangement with a shipping company to purchase supplies for a once-per-six-month visit. An average of about 3 cruising yachts stop off at Crescent, staying at the guest houses built by the islanders. The Pearl Farm is the economy and source of quality of life for the islanders.

Crescent Island is by no means easy to reach and it is still very isolated. There are little comforts of modern life. Crescent remains one of the most unspoiled islands in the Pacific where island traditions, society and customs are a part of daily life.

Today Crescent Island is populated by 40 people sharing a Polynesian-Anglo-Caucasian mix.

The language of Crescent is English mixed with some words of Mangarevan and Tahitian origin. Some words are purely of Crescent origin with Polynesian roots. It is thought the men, primarily Anglo-Saxon, prevailed in the English language taking root. Fewer than 530 Polynesian-oriented words are tossed in to English conversations among locals. These words are typically absent from conversations with those from the outside, so the English equivalent is known and used in more formal settings. A few words of local origin have no purely English relative.

The typical day on Crescent is described:

0630 Islanders awake and prepare for the day

0700 The Crescent Island radio station broadcast the calling tone as the Weather Report is received from Mangareva. Then the day's activities schedule is broadcast. The islanders eat and prepare for their day's work.

0900 By this time the men tend to their jobs detailed in the activities schedule broadcast on the radio station. Women gather the children for school.

At 0930 the radio station sends messages to Mangareva to be dispatched to the proper recipients and receives any messages.

1130 School ends for the day and the noon meal is prepared. The men return from the morning chores.

0100 Women begin their chores while men tend to complete jobs on the island.

1630 Generally all work is complete. Messages are again sent and received from Mangareva. This is normally a time for relaxation and for socializing. Before the evening meal, the next day's schedule of activities is worked out by the families on the island.

1800 The evening meal is generally consumed, followed by family time.

1900 The evening weather report is received and broadcast over the radio station. The station broadcasts any messages received during the day from Mangareva.

During the evening socializing and time with family is enjoyed. By about 2130 or 2200, all have retired for the night to their homes.

The day is basically the same on Saturday except for school and afternoon work. The afternoon is a time for community and recreation. Sunday is void of work with quiet time for families and worship. At times a Sunday afternoon gathering, much more subdued than on Saturday occurs but is usually not an island-wide gathering.

Frequently on Saturdays, following games and a nice meal, the oral history is voiced, especially for the youth and traditional songs are sung.

Sometimes dancing and other forms of entertainment last in to the night.

Crescent Island money has traveled off the island with various visitors in the past. It was in the 1960s the elders decided to issue banknotes for collectors, but few were made.

An ambitious project of hiring a company to create the first coins for Crescent Island has been worked out. The Islanders are eager to work out channels of sales and distribution to take the coins throughout the world. It is hoped the sale of the coins will greatly stimulate the economy of Crescent .

At present, the only sources of revenue for Crescent are the sale of pearls and some curios created by the Islanders.

Crescent Islanders realize the need for money. Some of the problems that can be solved with money are:

1) Medical expertise. Medical emergencies are handled by sending a message to Mangareva and then locating a vessel close to the island to evacuate the patient.

2) Evacuation. Crescent has been hit by tropical storms and cyclones over the years. Even though they are very rare in this part of the Pacific, such a storm frequently submerges the island and destroys food sources. Injuries from flying debris, infected wounds and hunger always follow. If Crescent had the monetary resources to evacuate to a nearby island offering greater protection and a less fragile food supply, life would be much easier.

3) Better housing. Concrete walled homes and better roofs would shield the island from damage when bad weather hits. At present, thatched walls easily fall and tin roofs blow away. Better housing would greatly improve life.

4) Better water supply. At present, catchments are used. With money, a well can help to provide additional water. A storage tank to collect water during wet times to reserve for dry weather would be beneficial.

5) Electricity would improve life locally. Wind or solar could be used to generate electricity.

6) Transportation. Motors for boating and a seagoing vessel would be great improvements to life. Additionally, an arrangement of more frequent and reliable transportation is needed. With supplies coming only two times a year, Crescent is increasingly reliant on passing vessels to take care of the most basic services.

7) Mail. Currently relying on yachts to carry mail, there is no postal service available on Crescent. A source of communication to the outside world is needed.

Sources: Tropical Frontiers Newsletter (1984-1988); Pitcairn Island by David Silverman (1967); A Missionary Voyage to the Southern Pacific Ocean by the London Missionary Society (1799); various hard copy and internet sources 1968-2011

Compiled by Bill Turner. 2006-2011

 

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