Postal Money Orders

Another unusual item from Jordan is the postal money orders. Not much is known about these other than that they were likely used in Jordan in the 1950s through the 1970s. The smallest denomination printed was 50 Fils and the largest was 1 Dinar, with everything in between at 50 Fils increments. As the Jordanian Dinar consists of 1000 Fils, this means that 20 denominations exist. Further supports this the fact that each denomination has a distinct prefix letter, starting with the 50 Fils with an A, 100 Fils with a B, 150 Fils with a C, and so on all the way until the 1 Dinar with a V. The letters I and O were skipped and not used for the prefixes due to the fact that they are confusingly similar to the numbers 1 and 0, respectively. The same exception is frequently observed with banknotes.

Some of the denominations, such as the 150 Fils and the 1 Dinar, are not very hard to find, while others are rare indeed. In my collection, I am still missing the 650 Fils and am eagerly seeking to improve a couple of the pieces due to their current shape. There are several varieties that exist: font style variations both in Arabic and English, perforation differences, etc. but this is still to be researched in more detail.

When used, the sender of the money order would retain the counterfoil, which would be postmarked, while the remaining portion would be mailed to the recipient and redeemed.

Proof vs. Mint Coins

This is not a new subject by any means, but it at least a few times a month I see people incorrectly using the terms “Proof”, “Mint”, “Uncirculated” so today I will try to explain these terms.

Uncirculated simply refers to a coin that has never been used in commerce and does not exhibit any signs of wear. In other words, an uncirculated (or “unc”) coin is a new coin that is in the same condition that it was when it was first minted.

Contrastingly, the terms Proof and Mint, do not refer to condition of the coin. In a way, these terms refer to the process used to produce the coin. A proof coin is created using specially polished dies and specially polished planchets (blanks). As explained by John Lynn on his web site:

By treating the die in a special way, the coins it produces have a different appearance.  Modern technology allows the high points on the coin design to be acid treated (on the die).  The background (field) design of the coin die is polished, resulting in a mirror-like look on the coin it strikes. This gives the finished coin a frosted look (frosting) on the raise parts of the design, with a mirror like finish on the background. This contrasting finish is often called “cameo”.

Mint coins, on the other hand, use regular unpolished dies and normal planchets. Proofs are usually made for testing and demonstration purposes, as well as for sale to collectors, while mint coins are generally produced for circulation.

Following are image of a Jordanian 100 Fils 1955 (mint and proof), as well as a Jordanian gold commemorative 50 Dinars 1977 (mint and proof). Jordanian proof coins of 1955 are extremely rare and have an estimated mintage of 10 pieces, while 500,000 pieces were struck of the mint coins for use in circulation. The 50 Dinars was issued along with two other silver coins of 2½ and 3 Dinars (both exist in proof and mint, see them here) to commemorate the World Wildlife Fund. 287 proofs and 829 mint coins were made.

Jordanian Travellers Cheques

Most numismatists interested in Jordan collect coins and/or banknotes, but few get into other areas such as Travellers Cheques. While not exactly banknotes, they are of interest to me nonetheless. I have not seen any Jordanian banks apart from the Arab Bank issue these cheques, but they very well may exist. Readers are encouraged to share any information that they may have on this topic. The Arab Bank appears to have issued these in British Pounds as well as US Dollars, and other currencies might have been printed.

Illustrated are a variety of these cheques:

  1. $5, $10, $20, and $50 issued in 1960.
  2. $5, $10, $20, and $50 issued in 1963 and shortly followed by a $100 in 1967.
  3. $100 issued in 1974.
  4. £2, £5, £10, and £20 issued in 1961
  5. £2, £5, £10, and £20 issued in 1963 and shortly followed by a £50 in 1967.

Notorious Blunders

On more than one occasion, and in more than one country, a coin was minted in production quantity after passing all QC measures, only to be returned to the drawing board due to mistakes in the wording. Today, I will present three examples of this.

The first takes us back to 1949, when Jordan first issued coins. The Jordanian Dinar consisted of 1000 Fils and the coins included 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 Fils. The interesting part is that the coin designer, W. M. Gardner, must have thought that the singular was “Fil” while the plural was “Fils”. In fact, that was not the case and the correct Arabic singular was “Fils”. The coin, nonetheless, was made as a “Fil” and fixed some time later.

The second is a Saudi 25 Halala coin dating back to sometime around 1972 (1392 on the Hijra calendar). In Arabic, the word for “twenty five” changes form depending on its placement in the sentence and the gender of what it describes. Mistakenly, the wrong form of the word was used by writing خمسة وعشرون instead of خمس وعشرون. This was later corrected, naturally.

The third is an Iraqi 500 Fils coin dating back to 1982. Again, the wrong form of the word “Fils” was used and had to be corrected later upon discovery. The initial, incorrect form was “فلسا” and it was changed to “فلس”.

Millionth Notes

A couple of days ago, I posted a few examples of some first notes printed. One of the comments I received was about millionth notes. In Jordan, all banknotes are printed with a six digit serial number. For each prefix, a million notes are printed. So how is this tackled with the 6-digit limitation? Well, upon reaching the highest 6-digit number, which is 999999, a note with serial number 100000 is printed, after which a 6th zero is appended by hand to the right and thus making it a million. This is not unique to Jordanian banknotes and has been known for other countries as well. Below are a few illustrations, the first is a note numbered 999999 while the remaining three are number 1000000. Note the rightmost zero and how it shows slight variations in size, shape, and position.

First Banknotes Printed

Since my primary area of specialty is Jordan, it is only fitting that my first blog post topic relates to that. Many collectors are intrigued by banknotes with special serial numbers: low numbers, repeating fancy numbers, numbers of special significance such as birth dates, and so on. Such banknotes can be exceptionally difficult to find.

I am interested in a particular kind of special numbers, namely the first banknote printed. Not every banknote with a serial number 000001 is a “first printed”; one has to also factor in the prefix seen next to the number itself. With every new issue, prefixes in Jordanian (and several other Arab countries’) banknotes usually start with أأ which translates to AA because أ is the first letter of the Arabic alphabet. The next prefix would be أب, followed by أج (translating to AB and AC, respectively) and so on.

Below are some examples of “first printed” Jordanian banknotes from my collection.

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.