Jump to content
CoinPeople.com

Royal Mint and Franklin Mint - An Unholy Alliance 1980s Style


Recommended Posts

Been looking to post this and wonder if any others have feedback:

 

The Franklin Mint struck coins, mainly NCLTs, for countries around the world but especially the Caribbean in the era 1970-1985. Heretofore some of the last struck coins I could find were the 1985 Bahamas proof set, the 1985 BVI silver and non-silver sets, and the 1985 Panama proof set and proof 20 Balboa.

 

Now comes by chance that I saw, and have one other report of 1986 Cayman Islands proof sets with FM minmark in the form of their customary FM monogram on the reverse of the 50c, $1 and $5 dollar coins. These have reverses begun by the Franklin mint in 1984 for sets of that year. Now it appears that the 50c and $1 reverses were the same up until 1988 and very likely, at least on the 1987s to have the FM monogram as well.

 

Again what is interesting is that these sets from 1986-88 of the Cayman Islands were sold as struck by the Royal Mint but have Franklin Mint mintmarks!

My theory is that either reverse dies were sent by Franklin to the Royal Mint, or else the master hub was and the RM simply used the Franklin mint derived reverse without bothering to get rid of the monogram. Or are these possibly struck by the Franklin Mint? Email to Royal Mint yielded from them nothing as it is not their interest.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to confirm that the 1987 Cayman Island proof set coins of 50c and $1 do indeed have the Franklin Mint monogram mintmark. As the reverses remained unchanged into 1988 I would guess that this would be true of that year's denominations as well. Oh well, guess nobody cares a whole lot & so just reporting....

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not too sure what the drama is so please kindly explain to me in more details.

 

When you mean by mint sets - are these specifically packed by the Royal Mint or it's just packed under "Cayman Island Monetary Authority" (somewhere along those words). This makes a huge difference.

 

From what I understand, it's the monetary authorities that decide to award the contract to who can strike coins at the best price or best suited to their contracts. Best example is New Zealand. Contrary to what you may know, New Zealand mint is NOT government owned and DOES NOT strike regular coins for New Zealand. Instead, they have awarded several contracts to a few countries, namely South Africa, Australia, Canada and I think England is in it as well.

 

Coming back to the point, if these coins are not packed by the Royal Mint, I don't see why all Cayman Island coins must be struck in the Royal Mint.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, these are proof sets in Royal Mint packaging with certificate, etc.and originally meant to be runs of 500, though these two sets of 86 and 87 ended up with only 330 and 317 being struck. Royal Mint insignias, etc. all over the box. The other denominations are lacking the FM monogram and are of the type utilised by the Canadian mint on earlier proof sets, or are a newer RM addition. These would definately fit the definition of Royal Mint proof sets, but have coins with the monogram at a time the FM was not apparently striking coins anymore.

 

Franklin Mint operations evidently ceased with regards to striking coins for other governments during the 1984-85 year, and none are known from later dates. The 1985 "Birds of Belize" silver proof set struck by the Royal Mint has coins with what appear to be Franklin Mint Reverses but had reverted to Royal Mint obverses and as the FM monograms were on the obverse have no FM monogram. Jamaica 1985 sets reverted to RM types and have no Franklin Mint residua even though FM struck Jamaica proof sets through 1984, this perhaps because of the liquid Jamaican ecnonomy with inflation taking a toll on the coins & therefor forcing changed in diameter which in turn afforded opportunity to change designs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooops, forgot to answer the first part of your post. The Franklin Mint secured beginning about 1969-70, contracts with various Central Banks around the world contracts for striking coins that mostly were NCLT (non-circulating legal tender)that in some cases were supported by currency issues actually released to circulation. Many of these were Caribbean countries such as Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Trinidad & T., etc. and then Papua New Guinea, Malta, even Malaysia & Philippines.

Generally FM did a lead in with a proof set that had one or two silvers and was very high priced for the time, supported by mint/currency sets that had coins with prooflike strikes without precious metal after 1974.They also struck gold coins, again in proof and proof like as well as occasionally the "matte" presentation.These sets were marketed in the US through the Sunday paper, magazines, even TV and were touted for beauty, rarity and exclusivity (!?) even though some of the earlier sets were minted to the tune of tens of thousands.

 

The coins are quite attractive with appearance certainly more appealing than UK or US issues of the time, or even modern times with many birds, fish, etc. depicted....

 

Anyway, the FM basically killed the goose that layed the golden egg as there were exposes on such shows as 60 Minutes in the US exposing them as unequivocal ripoffs. In addition they "created", and still do even under new ownership other collectibles, including model cars and airplanes, crystal balls, silver spoons, etc. that also were marketed as exclusive and implied good investments - they were not. Many of these other collectibles as well as the coins plummeted in value.

 

But the final story is that quality of many of the pieces was quite high and so they in some cases became much better value after depreciation. The coins similarly were caught up in the cloud of near-scandal. The irony with them is that now some of the later 1980s bits sell on ebay for multiples of issue price, so a partial happy ending for the sets themselves...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

New and interesting information in this thread. I do have a plenty of NCLT including many of those minted by FM, but almost none of the late 1984-85, need to look them up. As mentioned both the high quality of strike - well packaged some of them survive until today in great presentation form and are simply terrific to look at - and in their "exclusivity". It is good to know that you have sometihng that was minted in like 300 copied, not very different from having a French Colonial essai, Portuguese prova or even much closer to me 1959 South Africa 5 shillings. The main difference - Caribbean countries do not have millions of population that will have thousands or tens of thousands of coin collectors to drive the prices up as happens with scarcer mintage coins of all other major countries.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sandy, my thoughts as well. At least they are relatively affordable - for the moment. I do think they do generate demand outside of their countries of "origin" however. Franklin Mint also had some interesting mules, like the Belize unc. 1982 ten dollar with wrong reverse that I think the mintage, if believed was all of THREE and yet cataloged at something like 25-35 USD in Krause!

 

I have a sl. hairlined Solomon $5 Unc. 1978 coronation FM that is not even listed in Krause, bought for 100 USD and might have gone for less in the right circumstances...Can you imagine looking at row upon row of Indian Head cents or Barber coins and then glancing over and seeing a silver proof Belize dollar with the two macaws; the first coins being in the thousands with seeming stacks available at every coin show, the later at maybe 12-15 dollars and possibly only one at the whole show?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the mintages of the one cent FM were up to 26k and above released through Central of Belize to best of my knowledge. At first they were of matte type and then following from 1975 of the prooflike type (this in addition to the Royal Mint types that were also released to circulation but did not have birds motif).

Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes, but I thought it interesting in that the Franklin Mint was villified in the Numismatic and regular press and that of interest that the Royal Mint would deal with them.

 

The problem -- if it was one -- was their "collectibles" series were by subscription. Once enrolled, you bought and bought and bought... FM was not keen to buy back its material, thus the charges, as if you could sell a car back to the dealer or General Motors even if it was never driven. Anyway, buyers fell for the lure of instant investments that others would beg from their hands. I am not sure how FM baited the hook, and it does not matter to me.

 

No one ever faulted their workmanship. As in the 18th century when the private firms of Birmingham left the Royal Mint becalmed in the doldrums, the government mints had to play "catch up." And at some level, it is not always fair to expect the public agencies to be on the leading edge. Tangentially, in 1800 and 1802, Republicans in the US Senate proposed closing our Mint as a deadweight loss on the public treasury. So, small countries in our time find it more advantageous to have the USA, Royal Canadian Mint, and others take their work for a price.

 

As for the FM logo on products packaged by the British Royal Mint, we had a similar "scandal" here in the 1990s when someone discovered Chevrolet engines in Oldsmobile bodies, though, of course, both are GM operations. (CPC=Cheverolet-Pontiac-Canada) and BOC (Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac). The perception being that Chevrolets were not as "quality" a product as a senior lines.

 

Be all that as it may, I grant that your discovery is an interesting footnote. I recommend that you write it up as an article for a numismatic periodical. You will get paid for your work and it will reach a wider audience. The papers like bleeding headlines, but myself, I fail to see the "unholy alliance."

 

(BTW, a play on the "Holy Alliance" of Russia, Austria, and Prussia against France 1815. In 1793, France did have a ship of the line called the Atheist. But by 1815, Napoleon was crowned in 1804, by the Pope whom he refused to dislodge from Rome in 1797 and for whom he agreed to a Concordat to assuage French Catholics in 1801. Hence, the question of what made the Triple Alliance especially "holy".)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, quite, but the "unholy alliance" stems from the fact that controversy was swirling about the Franklin Mint for some of the reasons you mentioned as well as a few more, and this included an exposee on the enormously popular (at the time) 60 Minutes show. In general, I would think this might have dissuaded the Royal Mint from associating themselves with Franklin or at least made it less obvious by removing the FM logo.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Innocent until proved guilty.

Accusations are not evidences.

 

I encourage you to make it into a feature, say 1500 words give or take, based on what you wrote here. You might as well get paid for it. One of the comforts of journalism is that you don't have to prove anything.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...
  • 3 years later...

Addendum: I have just noticed that the so-called "Treasure Coins" of Br. Virgin Islands struck in 1992 and 1993 have the Franklin Mint monogram on them. No idea if they struck them however - 7 years after they had supposedly ceased coin striking operations.

 

Is it possible that they did not strike the coins but did the designs and/or dies?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 5 years later...
  • 2 months later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...