When is a coin not a coin? It’s a question we often see opinions on as minting technology has allowed ever more ambitious designs to appear for sale. There are the hardcore collectors who believe that a coin should be round and cleanly struck. In our opinion that’s too narrow a definition given that throughout history coins have often been different shapes. In addition, all things evolve, so why shouldn’t numismatics?
That doesn’t mean the design of coins should be unrestrained, but each collector will have their own view on where the point comes that a coin stops being collectable for them. There’s a relatively new format that looks like it will be getting some attention this year and that’s the note-coin. Looking like a banknote in size and style, these are struck in silver and usually coloured on at least one face. German dealer MDM debuted a couple of series last year, one with a US theme and one Chinese, although neither carried a denomination, so not strictly coins. We know of at least two other producers looking to launch in this format, but it’s industry stars Coin Invest Trust that are kicking off with Skyline Dollars.
Weighing in at just five grams, about a sixth of an ounce, they measure an expansive 150 x 70 mm. Because a little metal is being spread a long way, they’re barely 0.045 mm thick, the lack of any kind of relief is a given. Designs then rely on fine etching and the application of colour, we guess potentially gilding or plating as well. As such, there are few constraints on the artwork.
CIT launched Skyline Dollars in early 2017, essentially a range of note-coins issued for the Cook Islands and depicting the skylines of some of the world’s most iconic cities. Five debuted in Berlin at the World Money Fair, two more at the Singapore Coin Show and a single one at the Tokyo International Coin Convention. Colour on one side, the look is completely that of a banknote, but in silver. Each comes with a certificate and is laminated for protection. Will they be a success or just a passing fad? There’s a good potential to bring banknote collectors into mainstream coin collecting certainly. Site sponsors Minted-UK and PowerCoin are selling them.