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augur

World War I Coins

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Japan had been an ally of the British since the beginning of the century. On the 23. August Japan opened the Pacific Theatre quickly seizing German Territories including Tsingtao in China or the Marianna Islands in the Philippines. Japan had long had high ambitions as a regional power and only contained them (during and after the war) on the request of its creditors: the British Empire and the United States of America.

 

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T3 (1914) 20 Yen (MS63) – alongside with the Canadian 10$, this is one of the largest circulation gold coins of the wartime weighing nearly 1/2 oz. 

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Next to join on the side of the Entente was the Union of South Africa on the 8th of September 1914. Despite the fact that the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister had fought the British Empire vehemently during the Boer Wars [during which ten thousands of black and white civilians perished in the British Concentration Camps] and strong reservations of the general public, the South African Union fought German Forces on the European and African continent. Troops of white, black and coloureds (mixed race) as well as asian (from the indian subcontinent) were deployed and losses were high as for any participating nation. 

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1898 South African Republic 1 Pond (AU55) [to me more AU58-MS60]

This coin was not the last one to be struck prior to WW I but is a financial compromise: very few coins were struck during the Second Boer War in 1899-1902 and are way above my target budget of £500 per coin ($650). The rarest is the 1898 "Single 9" followed by the 1898 " Double 99" coins: the British had intercepted the 1899 dies from Germany and in order to be able to demonstrate their independence and ability to issue coinage, the South African Republic countermarked the obverse with a single/double 9 (mintage 1/130 respectively). After this came the Feldpont (either just blanks or a crude ZAR on the obverse), equally curious but less artistic. 

 

Another side story: the creator of the obverse of the Kruger Pond/Kruger Rand is the same as the one of the Imperial Eagle on the German coinage, Otto Schultz. 

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Unfortunately for him his initials O.S. mean ox in Afrikaans and had to be omitted from the portrait of Paul Kruger so that many have seen his work but few have ever heard of him. 

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The Ottoman Empire has just suffered 250,000 casualties fighting smaller scale wars in the Balkans and Libya. It took therefore quite a while to mobilise and decided that the German Empire was the better economic (Berlin – Baghdad Railway) and military partner (the British had just appropriated two Ottoman Navy ships, that were completed in British shipyards). Already struggling to protect its overstretched Empire, the Ottoman Navy began raiding Russian targets on the 29/10/2014. During the war millions of non-Turks were killed in genozides, while the British were getting ready to conquer Palestine and Mesopotamia.

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AH1327/6 (1914) Ottoman Empire 100 Kurush (MS62) 

The 500 Kurush piece, which contains over 1oz of gold, also exists but is usually not well preserved.

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China might seem unusual in this thread since no Chinese Troops ever saw action; this has more to do with the unwillingness of the other powers (mainly Japan) to allow the Chinese to retake Quingdao from the German Empire. Despite its initial "neutral" position China soon sent a workforce of a hundred thousands to Europe to dig trenches, repair tanks and assemble shells or haul ammunition to the front line. Casualties are hard to establish but some 500 died when the French Athos was sunk by a U-Boot. Eventually China declared officially war on Germany in 1917 but continued to send only a workforce. This should prove fatal as during the Versailles Treaty the Chinese contribution was overlooked by the European Nations and Japan was allowed to continue to occupy large parts of China. Disappointed China turned away from the West and took to communism, waiting for its moment in history to rise again. 

 

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1914 Republic of China 1 Dollar (MS63)

"Fatman Dollar"

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Italy also initially declared neutrality despite being allied in a defensive union with Austro-Hungary and Germany. While the left (Mussolini and the socialist party) and the right (Masonic networks) pushed for war against Germany, the Government negotiated with both sides and concluded that the London Treaty would leave Italy with the juicer slices of the spoils of war. The economic sacrifices were too high and the destabilised country, despite victorious in the final battles of 1918, was left with less than the political leaders had bargained for. The country drifted to the fascist regime of Mussolini and the war debt wasn't paid if until the 1970s. 

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1915 2 Lire (MS62)

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San Marino, the oldest surviving republic, declared herself neutral, much to Italy's dislike who suspected spies to be harboured in San Marino. Austria on the other side became aware that a handful of citizens from San Marino run a small military hospital and declared war.

Since this state of war never was resolved during the Treaty of Versailles, Germany and San Marino remained at war when in 1939 the Second Work War began. Notably San Marino harboured 100,000 Italian Jews during that time, probably 10 times the native population. 

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1906 San Marino 2 Lire (MS64) – no coins were minted until the entry into WW I 

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Bulgaria entered as the final ally of the Central Powers World War I on the 11/10/1915. This might be peculiar since, as a Sachsen-Coburg, he was related to King of England and Belgium *). But Czar Ferdinand Ist wanted to build up Bulgaria as a dominant power on the Balkan and recover territories lost to its neighbours during the 2nd Balkan War; entering on the side of the Central Powers seemed like a perfect opportunity to recover those territorial losses. With the defeat and surrender of AustroHungary and Germany this gamble didn't play off. 

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Bulgaria 1913 (MS62+) – last issue before entering the war

*) error removed 

Edited by augur
Error redacted

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Portugal tried to remain neutral at the outbreak of World War I despite the German incursions in Africa, since their colonies were bordering each other. But the greatest source of conflict was the German U-Boot blockade of Great Britain, the largest export market for the Portugal economy. Portugal eventually seized German merchant ships on British request and Germany in turn declared war on Portugal in March 1916. While only committing 12,000 troops to the Western Front the largest commitments were in Africa to get the revolting colonies back under control. 

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Portugal 1916 Escudo (MS 63+)

Edited by augur

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The young Kingdom of Hejaz (Kingdom of Arabia) officially opened the the Middle Eastern war theatre with its entry into war on the 5/6/1916. Initially part of the Ottoman Empire, it was endangering British shipping routes due to its location along the eastern shores of the Red Sea. The British Empire implied that she would support a Pan Arabian state and using the momentum of the Arabian Revolt, the British liaison officer T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) successfully coordinated the defeat of Ottoman Forces in this region and the capture of Damascus. In the end Syria was given to the French and Arabia remained split amongst several kingdoms. The King of Hejaz considered this as a betrayal by the British and this resentment lives on to the present day.

 

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Hejaz 1916-20 20 Piastre (1780 Maria Theresia Thaler restrike countermarked)

The Austrian 1780 Maria Theresia Thaler (restrikes) were the most popular "trade dollar" in Arabia, next to Ottoman countermarked currency. In absence of an own mint the Kingdom of Hejaz repurposed foreign silver as national currency. This piece is not in my collection and it proves extremely difficult to get anything a) recognised as authentic by graders and b) past a details grade. In order to progress this thread I decided to cheat here and catch up with my own piece at some later point. 

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Romnia was split as to whom to side with during the war. With a Hohenzollern King (same House as the King of Prussia/German Emperor) the monarchy sided with the Central Powers while the people favoured the Entente Cordiale; to avoid a rupture Romania therefore remained neutral. Only after great promises (which mostly remained that) of war loans, supplies and troops did Romania finally enter the war on the side of the Entente on the 31/8/1916. The Romanian Army suffered heavy losses and Russia had to divert a third of her troops just to secure her own flank. As feared by Russian strategists, bringing Romania into the war was more of a burden than a relief and Romania had to sign a peace treaty with Germany only a year later. Germany on the other hand benefited from wool, grain and oil from occupied  Romania which kept the German war efforts going until the end. Only a day before the German capitulation did Romania re-enter the war and was able to secure large territories of Romanian ethnic majority. 

 

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1914 Romania 2 Lei (MS64) featuring king Carol I, who died the same year. He was succeeded by Ferdinand I. No currency was issued until the point of entry into the war. 

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Greece was in a similar situation as Romania with a German King and the Princess Consort a younger sister of the German Emperor one one side and a Parliament that favoured to side with the might of the naval powerhouse Britain. King Constantine I and prime minister Venizelos were trying to outmanoeuvre each other during the stage of (compromised) neutrality until Greece entered on the side of the Allied Forces in November 1916/June 1917. The King had to flee the country and was replaced with his second son, who was considered less "germanophile" by the British. Despite limited military involvement Greece was able to secure large territories, which it sub sequentially lost a few years later. 

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1912 Greece 20 Lepta (MS64) (no circulation coins were issued until after the war)

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On 18/04/2019 at 11:40, augur said:

Bulgaria entered as the final ally of the Central Powers World War I on the 11/10/1915. This might be peculiar since, as a Sachsen-Coburg, he was related to King of England and Belgium and by marriage to the King of France.

King of France in the 20th century?

Unless your going back to great grandparents or similar but then most of the royal families are related to some extent.

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1 hour ago, Murph said:

King of France in the 20th century?

Unless your going back to great grandparents or similar but then most of the royal families are related to some extent.

You are absolutely correct, the House of Saxe-Coburg only issued the British, Bulgarian and Portuguese Monarch but the latter kingdom was already dissolved in 1910. I think it was the Bourbon in House of Bourbon-Parma of his first wife, that threw me off (and here the Spanish Branch of the House of Bourbon). Apologies for this inaccuracy – I'll see if I can still redact this wrong statement. 

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2 hours ago, Murph said:

King of France in the 20th century?

I had wondered about that so I googled Ferdinand and found this in something called the International Encyclopedia of the First World War

"Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria's (1861-1948) mother’s side of the family was linked to two French dynasties, the House of Bourbon and the House of Orléans, and his father’s side can be traced back to the Coburgs and the old Hungarian family of the Koháry. His father, August von Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Koháry (1818–1881), was a general in the Austrian army. Ferdinand, however, was influenced to a greater extent by his mother, Clémentine of Orléans (1817–1907), the daughter of Louis Philippe I, King of the French (1773–1850). "

I have never been quite clear on the distinction between King of France and King of the French.

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I think his first wife was perhaps the great granddaughter of Charles X 

As for the KIng of France or French I think it depends on their idea of Monarchy (supporting a constitutional monarchy) Orleanist being King of the French.

While France was what the traditional, conservative senior branch Bourbons used iirc.

At least iirc it's something along those lines.

 

How many more have you got to get Augur?  Are you going for countries that came in later and didn't take a very big role like Brazil?

 

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41 minutes ago, Murph said:

How many more have you got to get Augur?  Are you going for countries that came in later and didn't take a very big role like Brazil?

All official combatants and largest/most recent circulation issue. This gives also a quite good idea of the economic situation of the respective countries; in other words: Brazil will be part of this.

Just need a bit of time for the write up for the next nation as it is a key player/moment in his story 

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The entry of the United States of America into World War I was certainly a key moment in the history of the 20th century. It marked the rise of the American Empire and the demise of the British Empire.

Up to this point it remained open wether the Cental Powers or the Allied Powers would win the war and Germany had offered several times to return to the status quo ante. However the outbreak of the Russian Revolution was freeing more and more German Forces on the Eastern Front and Germany was beginning to get the upper hand on the Western Front.

Economically the City of London had bled out of gold and it was now New York who was loaning vast amounts to the Allied Powers to pay for US-produced weapons and equipment for the war effort. A victory of the Central Powers or even a return to the pre-war situation would have seriously risked a default on those loans.

We can add in the Balfour Declaration (promise to Lord Rothschild to support a Jewish State in Palestine) and, since the US never entered "unprovoked"a military conflict in the 20th century, events like the sinking of the Lousitania (arms transport boarded with civilian cruise passengers despite German warnings in the US press that it would be torpedoed). I leave it open to everyone to draw their own conclusions as to what finally triggered the entry of the United States of America on the 6th of April 1917, to enter the "war to end all wars". More than 4 million troops were mobilised with over 100,000 deaths; almost half of the US troops died of Spanish Influenza and 1/3 didn't even reach Europe alive.

 

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1917 Type I 25C (MS64 FH) was not the largest circulation issue (50C) but the most interesting one: This standing liberty design, released late 1916 / early 1917,  created a public outcry due to the bare breast and was quickly replaced with the Type II where chainmail covered the female part. The centennial edition shows this design again in gold, although the new version has the nipple airbrushed away – the century old conflict of US Americans and bare breasts lives on. 

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49 minutes ago, westminstrel said:

I find it silly that they ever-so-subtly airbrushed away the nipple. Art is full of men and women in the nude.

When I want full frontal, I go for the Libertad...2017 Proof was a particularly good year. 

@augur, sincerest apologies about smutting up an excellent thread...let me know if you want me to delete content and add something different.

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11 hours ago, westminstrel said:

I find it silly that they ever-so-subtly airbrushed away the nipple. Art is full of men and women in the nude. Seriously, how sensitive can people get? 😐

I agree that in the 21st century we should have moved on, even more so since on this small format you will hardly be able to make anything out without a loupe.

10 hours ago, CadmiumGreen said:

When I want full frontal, I go for the Libertad...2017 Proof was a particularly good year.

Actually in 2017 the 1kg High Relief PL was released and offers even more plasticity...

 

Discussing the perks of world war coinage, you guys thankfully reminded me to write a few words about the motive of choice: Liberty (7) might derive from the Roman goddess Libertas but actually represents Isis – the winged Libertad makes it a bit more obvious. While the number 13 (stars/stripes) represents her husband Osiris (and yes, maybe the 13 colonies). This Isis/Osiris I/O symbolism is very prominent to the present day and makes you wonder who is referred to in the phrase “in god we trust”. The Eagle is a symbol for the military might of the Roman Empire but might be seen as a reference to Horus and would complete the trinity of Egyptian Mythology. 

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Due to the “close economic relationship” with the USA, Cuba declared war on Germany the next day. Now Cuba is more known for the sweeter things in live and this was exactly their contribution to the war effort: cane sugar production at a massive scale. The CCC, the Cuban Cane Corporation, became the largest sugar producer worldwide. Most sugar production was in American hands and while Cuba never got to dispatch her small detachment, the US sent Marines to Cuba to prevent civil uprising and protect the sugar production. 

The boom and bust of the cuban sugar industry is seen as the main cause of the rise of anti-american nationalism and as one of his first actions Castro nationalised cuban sugar production.

 

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1916 Cuba 10 Peso (MS62) (no coins produced in 1917)

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