Wed, 20 Oct 2010
WHEN DOES a circulating coin become a non-circulating, legal-tender (NCLT) issue? Answer: When it is chosen as the host coin for a new thematic release.
Such is the case with “The Golden Age of Piracy,” a new series of 10 coins issued by Gavia GmbH, a major supplier of coinage to European collectors. An enamel finish was applied to the obverse of the host coin, the East Caribbean States 25 cents. The East Caribbean dollar is the monetary unit of eight members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS): Antigua and Barbuda; Dominica; Grenada; Montserrat; St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and Anguilla. The British Virgin Islands is the sole exception.
Each coin in the series pictures a famous pirate who roamed the Caribbean. William “Captain” Kidd (c. 1645-1701) was a Scottish sailor tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Welsh rover Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts (1682-1722), born John Roberts, raided shipping off the Americas and West Africa between 1719 and 1722. Teach, “Blackbeard” (c. 1680-1718) was a feared English pirate in the West Indies and along the east coast of the American colonies.
French pirate Francois L’Olonnais
(c. 1635-68), born Jean-David Nau, was active in the Caribbean during the
1660s. Francis Drake (1540-96) was knighted in 1581 and was second-in-command
of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Anne Bonny (1702-82) was an Irish pirate who plied her trade in the Caribbean. She was married to a poor sailor, James Bonny, who took her to the Bahamas. While there, Anne had an affair with the pirate John “Calico Jack” Rackham (1682-1720). She left her husband and accompanied her lover on many of his exploits. Although Bonny is one of the best-known rovers in history, she never commanded a ship of her own. Her renown derives from the fact that, as a female pirate, she was a rarity. “Calico Jack” acquired his nickname from the clothing he wore. Active toward the end of the era known as the “Golden Age of Piracy,” he was noted for having female crew members. Calico Jack was among the first pirates to fly the Jolly Roger, the black flag with white skull-and-crossbones insignia.
Though his career as a pirate captain lasted little more than a year, Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy (c. 1689-1717) and his crew captured more than 50 ships before his death at age 28. Black Sam became known for the mercy and generosity he showed toward his captives, hence he was called “Prince of Pirates.”
Mary Read, who died in 1721, was an English pirate. Along with Anne Bonny, she is remembered primarily as one of only two women known to have been convicted of piracy and sentenced to hang during the early 18th century. She became pregnant and won a stay of execution, but she died in prison.
Sir Henry Morgan (c. 1635-88) became famous for his exploits in the Caribbean. He was a notorious and successful privateer from Wales and one of the most dangerous rovers who sailed the Spanish Main. At age 45, he was named acting governor of Jamaica, and he is portrayed on the country’s 1974 $10 coin.
The beautiful, 10-coin “Golden Age of Piracy” set can be purchased from multiple sources online for less than $75. It is a unique numismatic reminder of days gone by.
Creating NCLT issues from host coins in this manner has become more popular with several mints over the past few years. The mints have found they can select circulating coins with a direct correlation to the subject being applied. The cost to produce these pieces is relatively low, and royalties to the country that produced the host coin are eliminated.