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Coins in aluminum - what countries issued them for circulation?


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Aluminum is a relatively cheap metal as well as a rather soft metal. However due to it's softness, it's rarely used for high denomination coins. This made me think, what countries actually mints or minted coins in aluminum? I know there are trial strikes minted in aluminum but let's see what people can come up with.


I know that China, Japan, Korea (previously) mints coins in aluminum.

China used to mint them (not too sure) for fen, Japan for 1 yen, South Korea previously for 1 won but currently copper plated aluminum.

Vietnam previously minted some during the Vietnamese war if I am not mistaken. Indonesia too at one stage.


Some other countries that come to mind is France, Italy, Israel, Finland, Romania, Hungry etc. I'm sure there are plenty of African coins too but I can never remember them off the top of my head.


Thought pictures would be nice too:





Proof aluminum looks pretty "cold"












And of course, who can forget this :ninja:



North Korean coins - obviously shows their economy status.


Post your picture if you have any


The good news about aluminum coins is that they are VERY cheap! ;)

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This made me think, what countries actually mints or minted coins in aluminum?


Chile's currently circulating 1 peso coin is made of aluminum. I'm there atm; I'll see if I can get one in change and post a picture. 1 peso is approximately 1/5 of a u.s. Cent.


Other coins I've seen that are made of aluminum:








The Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire) the 1 cent coins.


Pictures to follow next week when I return to Los Estados Unidos.

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This made me think, what countries actually mints or minted coins in aluminum?


With a bit of thinking I remember that these countries have made aluminium coins:














Pictures? Arr...


I'd have hundreds of coins from the commie states and the USSR and CIS-countries to scan and upload to omnicoin. I'm just waiting to get some energy to do that :ninja:

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Cannot really list all that I have or know about ;) so I'll just mention two "oddities" here. First, while pretty much all circulation coins in the GDR were aluminum pieces, there were two exceptions: The 5 Mark coin (well, OK, that was the highest denomination circ coin) but also the 20 Pfennig piece.


So they had 1 to 10 Pf (all aluminum), then 20 Pf (brass), and then 50 Pf to 2 M (alu again). Why that brass piece? Apparently because aluminum pieces would not work well in public payphones ...


Another interesting issue is the Romanian 500 lei coin commemorating the 1999 total solar eclipse - one of the few aluminum commems I have (hello banivechi :ninja: ). Those 500 lei pieces are fairly thick and feel heavier than one would expect from an alu coin. Higher denominations of those pre-reform pieces (1000, 5000 lei) were not "pure" aluminum but Al97Mg3 coins.



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A few more than i can remember (other than the already mentioned)...:




Cape Verde




St. Thomas & Prince















Vietnam (and French Indochina)






Costa Rica




Jose :ninja:

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I don't see Austria mentioned yet.



I like aluminum more all the time from a numismatic standpoint. The coins tend

to be very light and "throwaway". They are more like a consumer product than

a coin. Aluminum can take a very good strike and is easily stored if you're care-

ful but finding nice examples of most of these is very difficult. The coins virtually

evaporate in circulation and any that remain are often recalled and melted. They

don't survive in the ground or under bad storage conditions so attrition is very high.

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One early example is Greenland (okay its technically a token, but its was used for exchange in the Danish outpost as they had no coins):




Two other early examples (don't have my photos at easy hand at work) are British West (?) Africa and Durango (Mexico). I'll try to post these images in the next day or two.


Other examples that I already have on Omnicoin include:


French Polynesia:




German Democratic Republic (East Germany):




Italy (as mentioned):




Weimar Republic (Germany):




and a host of African nations of which West Africa is only one (and the following is an Essai, but it is the released design):



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A few more in date order.


Germany, 1 Pfennig, 1917




Poland, Lodz Ghetto, 5 Marks, 1943 (Jews were forced to convert their Polish currency to Lodz currency when moved into the Lodz Ghetto)




North Vietnam, 1 Dong, 1946 (the bust is that of Ho Chi Minh)




French Equitorial Africa, 1 Franc, 1948



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Until 31'th december 2006 were in circulation here in Romania 500, 1000 and 5000 lei made from that metal.

Strange situation: we had very cheap coins (aluminium) and very expensive banknotes (polymer) here... About banknotes, for me is still unclear if the tehnology is imported from Australia, or the notes are made there...

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i remember the only time i visited east berlin ... travelling through friedrichstrasse, you had to change DM30 to ostmarks ... i got a handful of aluminum coins and i thought "they just can't be serious . . . "

Right; see what I wrote about the GDR coins above. :ninja: Even stranger IMO were the subway ticket machines; from Western Europe I was used to machines with many buttons where you select the ticket type first, then put coins in a slot, and finally get a ticket and the change back. All we saw at that station were strange tin (?) boxes, so we asked somebody how those worked. Got a strange look back first, as if we were nuts. Turned out you just put some money in, like in a donation box, and would then grab a ticket. Guess that "sophisticated" ticket machines would not really work well with alu coins ...



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I love the reverse on the New Caledonia 1 Franc.


Martin F. Kortjohn wrote an article, Aluminum Coins, that appeared in the 1962 Numismatist.


Not including tokens and notgeld, eight countries issued aluminum coins prior to World War II:


Nigeria and British West Africa 1907 1/10 penny


East Africa and Uganda 1907 1 Cent 1908 1/2 Cent


Mexico, State of Durango 1914 1 Centavo


Germany (Empire) 1916 1 Pfennig


Germany (Republic) 1919 50 Pfennig 1922 3 Marks 1923 200 Marks 1923 500 Marks 1935 50 Pfennigs


Romania 1921 25 bani 1921 50 bani


Greece 1922 10 lepta


Bulgaria 1923 1 leva 1923 2 leva


Paraguay 1938 50 centavos 1938 1 peso 1938 2 pesos



World War II saw countries turning to aluminum because of war needs for other metals. After the war, many others followed suit.

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Virtually all French colonies issued aluminium pieces.


Re: China - some of the current 1 jiao BoC issues are aluminium. the 1, 2, and 5 fen to my understand are slowly dissappearing from circ.

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Re: China - some of the current 1 jiao BoC issues are aluminium. the 1, 2, and 5 fen to my understand are slowly dissappearing from circ.


I wonder if any of the 1, 2, and 5 fen pieces can be found in unc. With years of heavy

searching I've found only about 25 pieces and most of them are later date.


I was never able to get a contact in China but with almost every other country in that

part of the world having a contact was no real advantage. The coins aren't available and

probably couldn't be found even if they were since there are few shops or dealers.


It's surprising any of these would circulate with their low face value.

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cladking, would the Chinese aluminum coins that you are talking are like the ones here? http://www.pomexport.com/1images/C_CHI.htm


This dealer might seem to have a fair amount of them although I have never bought anything from him before.


Yes. These are the ones.


Later dates haven't presented much of a challenge for me but the

earlier ones are very elusive.


Keep in mind that this doesn't always mean they are scarce or rare

but so far it has proven to be a very good indication. The thing with

low value coins is that vast quantities can be set aside for very little

expenditure and in a few cases they were. Generally though these

hoards just don't remain hidden for decade after decade so at some

point you just have to figure they don't exist. In all probability these

early ones simply went into circulation and gradually wore away and

disappeared. It has happened with a lot of post-WWII coinage.

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One of my favorite aluminum coins from Africa:




The Belgian Congo gained its independence in 1960 and was racked by civil war for the next five years. This aluminum 10 Franc coin was the first coin of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it rarely circulated due to continuing economic and political unrest, inflation, etc. The legend reads, Justice, Peace, Labor. Eventually, most were melted. I guess this would be considered scarce, but its not an expensive piece. It is a good example of being more than a case of bad money driving out the good, in this case bad economic times drove out aluminum coins!

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