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Marshall Islands Restrict Legal Tender
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
June 19, 2013

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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What is the legal tender status of coins of the Marshall Islands?

The Marshall Islands contracted with privately owned mints to strike coins in the name of the islands with whatever subjects the mints might choose. The coins were to be legal tender, the islands benefiting from a seigniorage profit. The Marshall Islands made the mistake of allowing the face value to be significant, while the coins were of base metal composition. The local government failed to consider that someone might try to redeem the coins at some later date, which eventually happened. Enterprising German coin dealers bought up many of the coins at deeply discounted prices, then traveled to the Marshall Islands to redeem them. When the Marshall Islands refused, the case landed in court. The Marshall Islands eventually passed laws forbidding large quantities of these coins from being imported, while allowing a single coin to be redeemed daily, less a handling fee.

How can I tell if a countermark on a coin is contemporary or was faked at some later date?

Many times a countermarked coin may need to be certified by a reliable third-party certification service for this reason. Type faces are all unique. If you are familiar with the type faces of a specific time and place you can often tell if the countermark numerals or letters are consistent to the appropriate period or not.

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Primitive or odd and curious money of Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas occasionally appear in coin markets. What served as primitive money in Europe?

Barter items representing value are typically the forerunners of coins in any society. In Europe Celtic gold rings and Roman cast bronze aes ingots are two of these items. Some of these early aes ingots depict something they represented, such as a cow. Less tangible barter items recognized as primitive money include bundles of salt referred to as salarium (the root word for salary), animal pelts complete with claws, amber, and more. There is no such thing as a complete list since virtually anything can be used when bartering, however, these are items that make sense as intermediaries in a period when a society was transitioning to something that represented two cows in value rather than physically trading the two cows.

When did the English first introduce the £1 coin?

The “round pound” as the modern £1 coin was called was introduced in 1983 as the bank note was being withdrawn. The first appearance of the pound denominated English coin was the half pound or 10 shilling issued during the hammered coinage period 1559-1578 under Queen Elizabeth I. The first pound or 20 shilling appeared between 1583 and 1600 in her reign.

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