Maps on Coins

Map Coin Design

Motives
The design of map coins is most strongly influenced by the motives of the issue of those coins. The motives may be called

Geographical Regions
Another grouping principal is the categorization according to geographical regions. Most states issue coins of their own territory. But, map coins illustrating historical events or geographical discoveries may well extend beyond those territories. Outstanding examples are those of the geographical discoveries, especially the Portuguese series of map coins of many parts of the world explored during the Golden Age of Portuguese Discoveries. There exist examples of the opposite. No German coin contains a map of Germany, but a map of the divided Germany is shown on a Hungarian 100 Forint-coin for the European Soccer Championship 1988, and the united Germany is portrayed on a 5 Dollar-coin of the Marshall-Islands 1990. The last coin illustrates the fact, that recently some small territories issue map coins of historical events or other motives which have no connection with their own history or regional setting.

Hungary 100 Forint 1988
Arabic Sahara 500 Pesetas 1992
Hungary 100 Forint 1988
Arabic Sahara 500 Pesetas 1992

Map Size
Yet another grouping principle is the formation of categories according to the role of maps in coin design, especially the size or extent of the map. In rare cases maps are the dominant feature on both sides of the coin. In many cases a map covers a whole coin side supplemented by marginal lettering for names or events and/or numerals for dates or values only.

Denmark 2 Kroner (Greenland) 1953
Brazil 400 Reis (Colonisation) 1932 Philippines 25 Piso (IMF-Meeting) 1976
Denmark 2 Kroner (Greenland) 1953
Brazil 400 Reis (Colonisation) 1932
Philippines 25 Piso (IMF-Meeting) 1976

Map Combinations
In most cases, however, map coins show a combination of the map with other features like pictorial representations of people, animals, plants, flags, ships, etc. An enormous number of combinations of these features is conceivable. They range from coins on which the map is the dominant feature... to coins on which the area for maps is balanced with the area for other features... to coins on which the map covers only a small area of the coin side or simply forms an irregular background for the portraits, ships or other features.

Italy 500 Lire (Marconi) 1974
 New Zealand 1 Dollar (Cook) 1969
San Marino 5000 Lire (Da Gama) 1997
Italy 500 Lire (Marconi) 1974
New Zealand 1 Dollar (Cook) 1969
San Marino 5000 Lire (Da Gama) 1997

In a few cases the maps are embodied in the intricate pattern of a specific topical design. Then it is not easy to discriminate the shape of the country or island concealed as human figures (USA), animals (South-Africa), flag (Poland), or other features (Mauritius).

USA 1/2 Dollar (Monroe) 1923
South-Africa 1 Rand 199
Poland 100 Zlotych 1984
USA 1/2 Dollar (Monroe) 1923
South-Africa 1 Rand 1994
Poland 100 Zlotych 1984

Map Type
Finally the coins my be grouped according to the type of maps, the geographical objects in the map. Geographical grids or coordinates are rare features in map coins (Denmark 1953). More common are outline or skeleton maps of countries as expression of national independence or national integration (Morocco 1980) and also maps which show the undifferentiated area of countries, islands or the sea by granulation of hetching (Greece 1963). Many maps indicate some geographical features inside the land area like rivers (Peru 1992), state and provincial boundaries (USA, Washington-Carver Half-Dollar 1951), roads as technical achievements (Brazil 1980-86), cities (Italy 1989) or battle fields as manifestations of historical events (Hungary 1998). More and more map coins portray the relief of a country or continent (Italy 1986, Iran 1980, Brazil 1970) thus making full use of their sculptural potential as advantage over the flat printed map.

Morocco 400 Dirhams 1985
Greece 30 Drachmai 1963
Italy 500 Lire 1986
Morocco 400 Dirhams 1985
Greece 30 Drachmai 1963
Italy 500 Lire 1986


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