The first bimetallic coin may have been made in the ancient Axumite Empire when a small dab of gold was placed in the center of an already minted bronze coin.
That practice passed and centuries passed with coins finally being made with a flat round piece of metal placed between two dies. The whole side (obverse or reverse) is the same metal. Now that planchet may have a plating or coating of metal different from the core of the coin. But that doesn’t make it a “bimetallic” coin by the modern definition. A modern “bimetallic” coin is composed of two pieces of metal of different compositions — one is a ring, and the other, the center, is a round disc. They are shaped so that when the disc is placed inside the ring and struck between the dies of the coining press the disc is locked in the ring.
Four questions: 1) why make them? Cost and availability of materials. 2) Security? More difficult to counterfeit. 3) Who issued the first modern bimetallic? Italy in 1982. A 500 lire with an Acmonital ring and Bronzital center. 4) Who uses them now? The list is too long to include here. But countries all over the world. Other first issues: Kenya 5 shillings 1995, Mexico 1 Nuevo peso 1992. Canada 2 dollar “Toonie” on February 19, 1996.
The story goes that the Canadian mint had guaranteed 60 million coins available for that launch date. Time was growing short and the mint was still developing the minting process. To be assured that the coins would be available they purchased 10 million preassembled planchet of the required specifications from a German supplier. The system worked and they processed them and the coins were ready on the launch date.
- Giedroys, Richard World Coin News March 2014 pg 32
- Krause, Chester L. and Clifford Mishler 2005 Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901 – Present, 32nd Ed pgs Italy 1206, Kenya 1260, Mexico 1433, Canada 270
- Cross, W.K. A. Charlton Standard Catalogue Canadian Coins Volume 1, Numismatic Issues 67th Edition 2013, pg 218. The Charlton Press, P.O. Box 820 Postal Station Willowdale B North York, Ontario, Canada. M2K 2R1
This Show and Tell was created by
club memeber Herb Schmidt, and presented
at the June 2015 Muncie Coin and
Stamp club meeting.