World coins struck in various metals / elements

 

A collection of coins struck in various metals / elements. I've not included coins that were struck in ceramic / porcelain / paper as I am not able to determine the chemical composition. Also not included are "coins" or more specifically tokens struck by private mints to illustrate the uses of various exotic metals.

 

This collection is missing just three different elements: manganese,  titanium, niobium.

 

  Metals used in circulation (more than 80% of element)
  Metals used for NCLT (coins not struck for public)
  Metals used for alloys (5-50%)
Metal that can potentially be used for coinage / alloy / plating
  Not suitable for coinage

 

Group
Period
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
1 1
H
                                2
He
2 3
Li
4
Be
                    5
V
6
C
7
N
8
O
9
F
10
Ne
3 11
Na
12
Mg
                    13
Al
14
Si
15
P
16
S
17
Cl
18
Ar
4 19
K
20
Ca
21
Sc
22
Ti
23
V
24
Cr
25
Mn
26
Fe
27
Co
28
Ni
29
Cu
30
Zn
31
Ga
32
Ge
33
As
34
Se
35
Br
36
Kr
5 37
Rb
38
Sr
39
Y
40
Zr
41
Nb
42
Mo
43
Tc
44
Ru
45
Rh
46
Pd
47
Ag
48
Cd
49
In
50
Sn
51
Sb
52
Te
53
I
54
Xe
6 55
Cs
56
Ba
  72
Hf
73
Ta
74
W
75
Re
76
Os
77
Ir
78
Pt
79
Au
80
Hg
81
Tl
82
Pb
83
Bi
84
Po
85
At
86
Rn
7 87
Fr
88
Ra
104
Rf
105
Db
106
Sg
107
Bh
108
Hs
109
Mt
110
Ds
111
Rg
112
Cn
113
Uut
114
Fl
115
Uup
116
Lv
117
Uus
118
Uuo

 

6 C - Carbon

There are stories saying that during the German inflationary period during 1920s that tokens / medals were pressed from coal. I suppose you can use them but wouldn't they break apart when they circulate? Not only that, wouldn't they end up blacking people's pockets and hands? Mostly used in the production of stainless steel, which in turn is used to strike coins. Coins are rarely struck in pure form iron as it would rust.

 

12 Mg - Magnesium

Cu 77%, Zn 12%, Mg 7%, Ni 4% 

Struck with copper-zinc-magnesium-nickel alloy. Quite neat - not aware if other world coins use magnesium in their coinage. Maybe the public should be a bit more proud of using their dollar coins?

 

13 Al - Aluminium

Al 100%. At it's early days, prices of aluminium were higher than gold until ways of extracting aluminium from bauxite have become more economical.

 

22 Ti - Titanium

Pobjoy has first struck coins in 1999 for Gibraltar in Titanium.     

 

24 Cr - Chromium

 

Outer ring - stainless steel with 16-18% chromium, traces elements + iron. Usually used with the production of stainless steel.

 

25 Mn - Manganese

India has issued regular coinage in aluminium-manganese alloy, about the ratio of 92% Al, 8% Mn. 

 

26 Fe - Iron

 

Early cash coins from China to Japan have casted coins in copper and iron. However in Japan, because copper was rather scarce and iron was plentiful, coins were casted in iron. Iron was replaced by copper in the longer run as copper is a more durable material and will not rust as shown above. Made a come back when copper became expensive and is used more for stainless steel coins.

 

28 Ni - Nickel

Ni 100%

Nickel coins have been started to creep in the late 1800s for general circulation. By 1920s when countries could no longer afford to have silver in circulation after WWI, nickel is the choice of metal to replace with as it looked similar to silver, does not rust and is resistant to wear. Nickel in pure form is magnetic. As prices of nickel rose, nickel is alloyed with copper. In recent times, Europe pulled nickel out of circulation due to concerns of nickel allergies.

 

29 Cu - Copper

 

Cu 95%, Sn 4%, Zn 1% 

Early Chinese cash coins were casted in copper in the forms of bronze or brass. In modern times, copper was used for low denomination coins such as 1 cent. Not many world circulating coins have high copper content due to the metal prices. Shown is a Japanese 10 yen copper coin which still circulates up to today.

 

30 Zn - Zinc

Zinc coins were produced worldwide during WWII as other metals were used for military related purposes. Zinc oxidizes and is not suitable for coinage. Note: US cent coins are copper plated zinc.

 

41 Nb - Niobium

Austrian Mint has produced silver coins with niobium core.  Niobium can be anodized to produced different colours.

 

46 Pd - Palladium

 

First palladium coin in the world was struck for Sierra Leone. The greyish coloring in UNC condition makes it quite different from other elements. Palladium coins in general were struck at rough times - palladium prices could be as low as 400 dollars up to 1000 dollars. Because of the highly volatile prices, mints struggled to make money on it. This includes the Russian, Canadian, Chinese and Australian Mint. US mint has seek a study to use palladium to strike Eagle bullion coinage but we'll see how that goes...

 

47 Ag - Silver

 

Very popular metal for thousands of years since the Roman era and still somewhat affordable. Have been struck for more than thousands of years. World government mints usually strike bullion coins in one ounce. Silver remained in circulation until 1960s when silver prices rose drastically and silver disappeared from circulation. Mexico tried to reissue coins in silver around 1990s but this failed as well. Europe has also issued commemorative silver coins but circulation remains limited.

 

50 Sn - Tin

 

Sn - 93%, Zn 7%  

Struck in high level of tin at the last couple of years of WWII. Tin is notorious for tin pest - will show signs of "rust" if it's stored in cold temperature.

 

51 Sb - Antimony

World's only antimony coin, cast in antimony. China - Guizhou Province (Kweichow) 1931 10 cash.  Most likely antimony-lead alloy. Was not a popular coin and most people did not take it kindly. At the time of release, it was already two years behind schedule, worth less than what it was supposed to be worth and needless to say, did not last long in circulation. Nowadays, the value of the coin is worth thousand fold more than its face value. Oh the irony...

 

73 Ta - Tantalum

Bimetal coin of silver and Tantalum coin. First world coin to be struck in tantalum in 2006. While the color is not shown correctly, the color of tantalum is black-purplish. Quite difficult to photograph.

 

78 Pt - Platinum

Half ounce platinum.

Platinum was used for counterfeiting gold coins during the early 1800s. The Spanish brought platinum from South America. Counterfeit coins have spread from Spain to France. Russia is the first country and only country to have circulated platinum coins since 1828 which ended in 1845 because it just looked too similar to silver.

 

79 Au - Gold

Au - 90%. 

A precious metal that the Egyptians, Roman Empire have understood the value of for more than thousand of years together with silver. Usually alloyed with silver or copper when gold coins were used for commerce. Gold in pure form is normally too soft but are often as bullion coins.

 

82 Pb - Lead

One of the most abundant metals on earth - yet poisonous (if swallowed down). A popular choice for mints to trial patterns on lead as lead is soft, shows good details and is cheap.

Also a popular metal of choice for counterfeiters to use due to its heavy density as it is slightly heavier than gold.


A coin that deserves it's own story using the most exotic combination of various elements:

Mexico stainless steel coin

Ring: 16 - 18% chromium, 0.75% nickel maximum, 0.12% carbon maximum, 1% silicon maximum, 1% manganese maximum, 0.03% sulfur maximum, 0.04% phosphorus maximum, the rest iron

Inner core: Aluminium bronze


 

14 Si - Silicon

Potential to alloy with copper-nickel-silicon but not aware of this being used in circulation other than in Mexican stainless steel coins.

 

27 Co - Cobalt

Supposedly a Cameroon NCLT coin - cobalt plated steel coin. It does have a weird bluish hue to the coin - difficult to show. Whether it is cobalt or not, I am not sure but it sure is different from what I have seen!

 

42 Mo - Molybdenum

No reason why it can't be used for coinage but again the hardness of the coin just makes it unpractical to work with.

 

44 Ru - Ruthenium

First used in Tonga's 1967 palladium coin with 2% ruthenium but the price makes it impractical.

 

45 Rh - Rhodium

Cohen has struck bullion issue rounds in this form but price of this precious metal has made it exorbitant - at one stage it was over US$10,000/oz.

 

72 Hf - Hafnium

No idea why coins were never struck in this metal but it's often used in nuclear applications. Hm.

 

74 W - Tungsten

Extremely tough metal - most people would know tungsten carbide which is used in drill bits or ammunition. In pure form, it may be malleable but so far, it's shown to be not practically for coinage. Rumors are that when trials were used to strike medals, the die broke after the 6th strike. Note, gold plated tungsten bar has been known to fool people due to its heavy density.

 

 

Some notable coin collectors or element collectors

 

Theodore Gray http://www.periodictable.com/index.html

Tony Clayton - Metals used in coins and medals http://www.coins-of-the-uk.co.uk/pics/metal.html

Metallum - Element sales http://www.elementsales.com/

 

Special thanks to Jim Rugh - one of the toughest rivals I've met doing a similar set.

 

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10 March, 2013