A Coin That Was Not Meant to Be

The denomination side of the modern Jordanian 1/4 Dinar coin features an elaborate design with a circle that encloses the fractional denomination 1/4. This coin was first designed in 1995, but minted and released into circulation in 1996 as well as 1997. Around that time, a question was raised regarding whether the inner circle and denomination were too small and difficult to read. Consequently, in 1998, a trial design was made and coin was redesigned with a larger inner circle and denomination. For unknown reasons, however, the design was never approved and the next time the 1/4 coin was minted, in 2004, it was with the same old 1996-1997 design, but now featuring King Abdullah II instead of King Hussein. The 1998 design is the last circulating coin prepared featuring the late King Hussein, and in my opinion much more attractive than the currently used design. Only two such pieces were minted.

Below are illustrations of the 1997 circulating coin, 1998 unadopted pattern, and finally the 2004 circulating coin.

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4 comments on “A Coin That Was Not Meant to Be

  1. Mounib says:

    I agree with you, I like the 1998 design better. I have a general question about “unadopted designs” or pattern coins. How do such coins end up in collectors’ hands? What are the possible scenarios for that? Can the issuing agency claim their ownership at some point?

  2. arabiancoins says:

    Thank you Mounib. Well, this is a good question and the answers can be many. Unadopted designs have found their way through mint employees, sales representatives of mints, monetary authority staff, VIPs to whom the designs were presented in the first place, and an array of other venues. I have bought numerous trials and patterns from auction houses and reputable dealers. While issuing agencies can try and claim ownership, I have not personally encountered such incidents nor do I hope to. I do try as much as possible to ensure the pedigree of items that I procure and validate that the origin of that material is not questionable.

  3. Pablo says:

    Perhaps the most famous (or notorious) case of this nature is the fate of ten 1933 US double eagle $20 gold pieces. The heirs of an entrepreneur named Israel Switt trustingly, perhaps naively, submitted the ten coins to the Secret Service for authentication, surely in hopeful anticipation, since the only other specimen of this coin in private hands was the most valuable coin ever sold up to that time, realizing US$7.59 million at auction. The government impounded the coins, claiming they were never officially released to circulation and therefore could not legally be privately owned. On July 20, 2011, after a ten-day trial in United States District Court, a jury decided unanimously in favor of the United States government; they concluded that the circumstantial evidence proved that Switt illegally obtained the coins, and they therefore were still government property. The plaintiffs (the heirs) plan to appeal.

  4. arabiancoins says:

    Thank you Pablo for sharing this story, which, indeed, is notorious. I followed the story as it was unfolding a few months ago. The “collector” in me had always secretly hoped these 1933 pieces would end up in private hands, but I suppose that too was not meant to be. I just want to add that the US$7.59 million coin is none other than the double eagle that once belonged to King Farouk of Egypt, who was an avid collector of a variety of things, particularly coins and stamps.

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