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Fantasy Coins Mark Fantasy Nations
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
August 22, 2011

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Money can be in the form of a coin although a coin may not necessarily be money. Non-circulating legal tender commemoratives are a great example of this. NCLTs are issued by mainstream countries, but NCLTs are sometimes issued in the name of third world countries by mints that obtain the rights to strike coins in their name, the mint making its profits from the collecting public to whom the product is sold. This is why we get such strange designs on some third world coins as dinosaurs or racing cars.

Then there are the so-called nations in whose name coins are issued, nations that may not be visible at high tide, or that may simply be a deserted oil platform somewhere in the ocean, or a farm that has declared its independence primarily so it can issue its own stamps and coins for a profit.

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Now let’s go one step further. How do you explain issues of such places as Belnheim, Palaliku, and Varhus that don’t exist at all other than through their coinage? Once again what is a coin and what is money may prove to be two different things.

Belnheim, Palaliku, and Varhus, as well as a host of other places none of us have ever heard of, actually exist not only through these numismatic artifacts, but through fantasy social, political, and economic history developed by Bill Turner of Cypress, Texas, whose privately owned Blue Waters Mint issues these coins. Talk about something that might confuse a historical researcher or archaeologist sometime into the future.

According to a commentary appearing in the latest fixed price list catalog of world coin dealer Joel Anderson in Grover Beach, Calif., “William Turner of the Blue Water’s Mint has created a series of wonderful, reasonably priced, hand-struck, low mintage coins for places which do not actually exist. Even though the island may not actually exist, he has created a social, political, and economic history for these places based on histories of nearby areas.”

According to the Blue Waters Mint website, “We produce a brochure about the place the coin represents so you can get a good feel for the land, its people and lifestyle. We provide details on the monetary system and the releases.”

“Blue Waters Mint coins are handmade,” the website proclaims. “We are very fortunate that a very respected and talented artist etches our designs by hand. We are fortunate to have talented mint masters than utilize manual screw presses to mint our coins by hand, one at a time, examining each piece for quality and specs. The result is we mint in very small numbers, usually 100 of each coin.” Since the coins are struck by hand rather than by machine the mint website acknowledges, “There are minor differences in every coin because they are minted one by one.”

Although few of us who don’t read Unusual World Coins have heard of the many Blue Waters Mint issues, the company has been around since 2004. Among its early products are coins struck in the name of Ile Crescent, Viinamarisaar, Klef Raraha, and The Most Serene Republic of Excelsior.

As long as you don’t plan to visit Ile Crescent or Varhus to spend your money, I don’t see any problems for collectors interested in these fantasy issues. The problem that may be ahead is for some historical researcher of the future who tries to identify these places.

Turner is quoted on the mint website as saying, “I am thrilled to have been called one of the most prolific fantasy coin makers in the world today.” I don’t anticipate being around to hear it, but let’s see what some future archaeologist has to say about that.

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