Links to Micro-national and Fantasy coins: Listings B

Links To Micro-National and Fantasy Coins: Listings B




SOVEREIGN STATE OF BARBE ISLAND: In 1963, this small islet on the Saône River was incorporated into the 9th arrondissement/district of Lyon, France. Many citizens were dissatisfied with this decision. Then, in 1977, 4 gentlemen (Félix Benoît, Jean-Luis Ansanay-Alex, Septime André, and Auguste Bourdi, who was the owner of the island) declared the island independent. Benoit was proclaimed Governor of this new country. He even pursued its right to self-determination by petitioning the United Nations Security Council. He appointed consuls in various parts of Europe and dispensed visas to visitors.
L'Île Barbe, circa 1978-84, issued a 10 Poils (“hairs”) coin (barbe, by the way, means “beard”). The obverse of this piece shows a panoramic view of the island. The reverse bears an image of Charlemagne accompanied by the cryptic phrase LA BARBE MEURT MAIS NE SE RASE PAS (“the beard dies but it doesn't shave itself”). Curiously, the coin also features small, crisscrossed forks and knives at the fore and aft of the enigmatic slogan. I was initially puzzled by this gastronomical X-shaped motif, but I later learned that Barbe Island enjoys a strong link to cuisine and to the culinary arts: the tranquil isle is home to the Auberge de l'Île, a classy 3-star restaurant. Though I have actually gotten in touch with 2 sons of two of the “founding fathers” of the Etat Souverain (one of whom is the chef of the eatery I mentioned), my coin did not come from either of them (nor from any other source in France). I purchased it from a fellow collector, Mr. William R. Harmon. There are also numerous postage stamps, produced from 1976-1980, from L'Île Barbe. These were the brainchild of the late Monsieur Bourdi, a noted Lyonnais philatelist/writer and one-time president of the French Cinderella Stamp Club (a “cinderella” stamp is a label similar in appearance to a postage stamp but which does not normally pay a fee associated with sending mail beyond a purely local service. In other words, a cinderella may look like a stamp, but it won't carry the mail. The term typically covers a variety of non-postage stamps, including local stamps, telegraph stamps, railway stamps, revenues/fiscals, forgeries, bogus and phantom issues, Christmas/Red Cross/TB and other charity seals, registration labels, and purely decorative items created for advertisement, exhibition, and/or amusement).
According to the Web-site of the Auberge de l'Île (http://www.aubergedelile.com/), “Ile Barbe, an enchanted and magic site, listed as a French historical monument. The Romans were pioneers, and they called it ‘Hoya’ as a reference to the animal which symbolises the messenger from the after-life. It is during the 3rd century that two hermits trying to escape religious persecution, chose the island as their residence. The island’s small Church became soon one of Lyon’s most powerful Abbeys. Charlemagne decided it would be a place of pilgrimage, where religious works brought back from his many battles were housed in a crypt…Legend says that Durandal, Roland de Ronceveaux’s famous sword was buried somewhere on the island. So after lunching in our refined restaurant, if you want to dig, we will lend you some shovels…” The site merely makes brief mention of the island’s autonomous status: “Since 1977, a famous author Félix Benoît liberated the place and declared it the ‘Independent and Sovereign State of Ile Barbe’. They edited [struck] their own currency and a Barony was formed with the providential [heaven-sent] Auberge de L’Ile as its headquarters.” Though the current chef of the establishment is named Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex, I do not understand why the paragraph does not mention his father. Elsewhere on the Internet (http://www.theworldwidegourmet.com/?action=etablissement_show&id=164&lg=en), I learned a little more about Jean-Christophe: “With a Savoyard hotel-keeper for a grandfather and a Lyon restaurateur for a father, fate seemed to destine him to be a chef. With a life-long love and talent for cooking, he entered the profession as one would holy orders, being consecrated into what he calls ‘a profession of faith.’” During his eclectic career, he even served as Cristina Onassis' personal chef for a year. “In 1990, he returned to his father's struggling restaurant. Purchased in 1967, this magical place…was not attracting the hoped-for clientele.” In 1993, “he was awarded his first Michelin star, giving the restaurant a major boost. In 1996, Jean-Christophe bought the restaurant from his parents and began renovations in order to raise the decor to the level of his cooking.”

KINGDOM OF BERMANIA: This tiny fantasy fiefdom, created circa 1974 (“way before the plethora of internet micronations”), was the idea of Mr. Allen G. Berman (based in Fairfield, CT), who is now a veteran coin-dealer as well as a writer/editor of numismatics-related articles, books, and guides. According to a “Numismatic Profile” authored by Kelly Putter entitled “Numismatics National Pastime of Bermania” (found in April 28, 2009 edition of Canadian Coin News), Mr. Berman “dreamed up Bermania while a teenager in the heady days of the 1970s. Berman, 49 now, still enjoys the pomp and ceremony associated with imagining his very own kingdom. ‘In junior high school I made up a kingdom for fun,’ Berman says. ‘But unlike inside jokes, it didn’t die and it kept growing and growing until the point where hundreds of people address me as “your majesty.” It’s a very strange environment where friends visit me in my home and address me as “your majesty” instead of Allen.’” The author later informs us that “Berman’s mother introduced him to numismatics at the age of 10 by presenting him with coins collected during a great aunt’s trip around the world. ‘It instantly improved my history grades,’ he recalls. ‘I went from a C student to eventually getting a master of history degree.’ Berman would work for Village Coin, a local coin dealer in Fairfield and then go on to become an independent coin dealer, working mainly at coin shows and through mail order.” Overall, “Berman is a dedicated and steadfast ruler. Most of the nobles are friends, he admits. It’s a way of honouring people that he likes.”
According to its official Web-site (http://www.bermania.org/index.htm), “Bermania is a small kingdom located in the East Balkans near the Danube River. Founded in the days of the Byzantine Empire, it has always been small, is likely to never be anything but small and as far as we are concerned that's just ducky.” Quite simply, Bermania thoroughly enjoys being small. “This foreign policy has worked very well for San Marino and we suspect it will work well for us. Except for the period 1945 to 1997, Bermania has always been governed by a popular hereditary monarchy under the Royal House of Ursusvir, its original and only dynasty. Under the Communist Occupation, when a Soviet-style forced ‘democracy’ was imposed, elections were generally eschewed by the people, who habitually presented doctors' notes to avoid compulsary voting. Fond of their traditional monarchy, voting for a ruler was seen as beneath the dignity of the Noble Peasants of Bermania. They had over the centuries come to believe, frequently by happy experience, that it was the ruler's responsibility to conduct himself properly, and he ought not have to be told. Participation in the government was all but refused by the Bermanian Peasantry. When seats in the Supreme Soviet went unfilled Nikita Kruschev unsuccessfully attempted to remedy the situation by placing want ads in Bermanian newspapers. Eventually he managed to fill several dozen seats through want ads placed in the Vladivostok edition of Pravda. Nobody wants to live in Vladivostok.” His Majesty, King Alanus I (Mr. Berman) — he “was born in exile in Brooklyn, N.Y.” — was restored to direct rule after the peaceful overthrow of the Communists in 1996. Unfortunately, he still does not reside in his own Kingdom because “there are still no connecting flights to Bermania. Thus, despite the impassioned pleas of Bermanians in the old country,” His Majesty’s “exile continues.” The King of Bermania isn’t alone in being forced to live outside his beloved homeland. There exists a huge number of “Bermanians-in-Exile”. This “influential group” of “subjects-in-exile…has been growing in number since Stalin's 1945 invasion forced many Bermanians to flee their homes for the Mountainous Uplands and foreign lands. Most hold dual citizenship and a large number hold foreign noble titles, granted by His Majesty in his capacity as Orbis Terrae Nostri Imperator, in accordance with the 1544 accord between the Holy Roman and Ottoman Emperors.” The Kingdom’s precise location in the world is kept secret: “Bermania's first line of defense is the Society of Secret Cartographers. After all, you cannot attack a country if you don't know where it is. Sneaking into the offices of cartographic institutions (map makers) the world over, the brave members of the Bermanian Society of Secret Cartographers bribe night watchmen with Bermanian wine in order to gain access to maps before their publication, erasing dear little Bermania before anyone can notice.”
Numismatically, the Royal Bermanian Treasury has issued a medieval-style 1 Denar Plumbum. Dating from approximately 1993-98, it was “The first Bermanian coin of the modern era” and was hand-hammered “with hand engraved dies set into a tree stump! Struck by none other than Archmoneyer Frederick King of the Belgians.” Bermania’s follow-up piece was a modern-style 5 Denari Plumbi, struck to commemorate the real-life November 1998 “Royal Wedding of Alanus I & Barbara of Ulster”. The coin’s “Obverse depicts crowned Royal arms. Reverse portrays dancing bear and wolf (for Bermania and Ulster-in-America.)” There is also a transportation token from Bermania. It was issued by a man named Schmuel as passage for one person on his horsecart, which was pulled by a gentle chestnut mare (“One of the most respected and beloved horses in Bermania”) named Gretta. These tokens, “good for one free ride — anywhere in the Kingdom.”, were struck in 1940 to commemorate Gretta's bat mitzvah. As a team, Schmuel and Gretta operated their horsecart-for-hire in the late 1930s and early 1940s. All of the pieces had been buried in the family’s barn during the Stalinist invasion of 1945; apparently, the Communist government threatened to confiscate the tokens and ship them to the Soviet Union, where they would be melted down in order to make 15 kopek coins. Fortunately for us, Gretta’s historic tokens have been recovered. In September of 2007, Schmuel's grandson, Lyle Ferdenelenbogen, found the old hidden keg of Schmuel’s Horsecart tokens while installing modern plumbing. Because the keg had been sealed so tightly, the tokens were still as shiny as they were on day they were made. He generously donated the entire hoard to the Kingdom in order to memorialize his burly ancestor and the pious horse he loved. Today, examples of these precious remembrances are distributed as “Royal New Year’s Largesse” to every Bermanian subject living in exile, in order “to help them maintain a tangible connection with the old country.” This, a bilingually brilliant “Una Vectura” (One Fare) piece, features text in Latin and Yiddish (Hebrew script). According to a write-up in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger newspaper, “Bermania is a small Jewish kingdom in Eastern Europe populated by cynical talking horses & courteous fire-breathing dragons who always remember to smoke outside. And its people would all remind you of your grandparents! Hidden during the Communist occupation, these tokens for Schmuel's Horsecart were recently ‘uncovered.’ Of course they're in Yiddish, it's a national language! Give them & share the Yiddish in your heart.”
I obtained my Bermanian coins directly from Mr. Berman (a.k.a. Alanus Rex), whose non-Bermanian numismatic Web-site is http://www.bermania.com/.
King Alanus I also heads BeGON (the Bermanian Guild of Numismatists) — “An association of hobbyists, scholars and dealers, getting together in the spirit of Bermania.” There is, of course, plenty of humor to be found here: “All Bermanian subjects as of 7 November 1998 who are also numismatists are, barring reason to the contrary, ipso facto granted membership in BeGON. One or two new members may be accepted per year. Memberships are free; and mailings and are subsidized by Royal Largesse. Membership in BeGON does not automatically confer citizenship or the status as subject of the Kingdom of Bermania. Naturally, all these terms are subject to change at the whim of His Majesty with the consultation of one or both of the Founders. The Bermanian Guild of Numismatists is an equal opportunity organization, open to humans, canines, equines, felines, dragines, and ursines. BeGON meetings are designated porcupine free environments.” In 1999, “the American Numismatic Association…officially recognized the Kingdom of Bermania, designating the Royal Couple as ANA Region 10 Country Ambassadors to Bermania.”

KINGDOM OF BIFFECHE: According its official Web-site (http://www.kingdomofbiffeche.net/), this tiny Royaume is located on the border between Senegal and Mauritania, on the lower Sénégal River in the “Sahel” region of West Africa. A “place of pristine semi-desert beauty,” it is a short distance (about 25 kilometers) from the picturesque coastal city of Saint-Louis, Sénégal. Though Biffeche “has been a Kingdom from time immemorial,” its origins “are obscure”. It was “first mentioned by the French in early XVII Century documents. An unusual feature of this fundamentally African Kingdom is that” for the last four decades, Biffeche has had foreign/non-African, Caucasian kings. According to other Internet sources, Biffeche (or Bifeche) was the early name for a medium-sized island in the delta of the Senegal River, approximately 2 miles upstream from the island of N'Dar (the site of Saint-Louis). In the 1600s, a chief known as the “Petit Brak” (Little King) ruled over the loosely organized polity of the Biffeche (also referred to as Gangueul); at times, he was subordinate to the “Grand Brak” of the former kingdom of Waalo.
The modern history of Biffeche begins circa 1960, when “life became too hard” and Roman Catholic members of the Sérér-Ndut tribe (it is uncertain as to how long prior to this event their conversion had taken place) were transported to Biffeche from Mont-Roland in central Sénégal. In ancient times, their ancestors inhabited Biffeche and the rest of the Sénégal Valley, but were driven out centuries before by invaders from the north. Tillers of the soil, they settled as part of the Sérér cultures in central Sénégal, especially in the environs known as Mont-Roland west of the city of Thies. The Sérér are the country's oldest native group, “one with a vivid history of Kingdoms and Empires.” As such, it is the Sérér-Ndut who “founded” the royal capital of Biffeche-Ville. Besides them, the other main ethnic groups in this low-lying and largely flat terrain include the Pulaar (also called Fulfulde, Peulh, Peul, Fula); they — the only nomadic pastoralists in all of West Africa — are the largest group in Biffeche), the Wolof (although they are just one of the major indigenous groups in Biffeche, they are the dominant group in Sénégal; their language is gradually becoming the lingua franca of the whole area), the Naar (Moors, who have cultural affinities to the Arabic-speaking groups to the north and east in places like Mauritanie and Mali). These “proud, industrious, fun-loving people with unique cultural practices” all live together harmoniously and are all “truly called ‘the Biffeche’.” After being “resettled”, the Sérér-Ndut “were in desperate straits at first, and nearly starved. They were promised various kinds of support that they didn't get. Their new fields were arid and became salty and barren. The story is that in 1963 they could not settle upon a new King at the time; instead of choosing one of their own people they asked their priest, Father VAST, for guidance. He advised them to choose the person who had helped them the most during their plight.” That individual happened to be American-born Edward Charles Schafer, an active businessman who owned various radio and television stations in St. Louis, Missouri (is the connection between Saint-Loius and St. Louis purely coincidental?). He, a devout Catholic (and “a cousin to both of the Hohenzollern ruling family of Germany and the Hapsburg ruling family of the Austro-Hungarian empire”) was then asked by the “Cardinal of St. Louis to form a committee to aid the needy people of Biffeche.” Schafer, assisted by a Senegalese-Lebanese woman who had immigrated to St. Louis, was indeed able to raise money and send it to the people of Biffeche. At some point, the grateful recipients petitioned Guné Ko Ka Weex Tené, the childless 99th King of Biffeche, to grant them “the boon of requesting that Edward Schafer be proclaimed King of Biffeche.” He agreed. After the Biffeche elders received his permission, they mailed Schafer “some symbolic skins, a packet of holy grains, sacred seeds and a notification in French that he was the King.” Schafer then journeyed to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with G. Mennen Williams, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. The U.S. Department of State, through Williams, apparently presented no objections to Biffeche's new royal arrangement. It was the Sérér-Ndut who arranged for the anointing of King Edward I: in 1963 (“1393 ah in the Islamic calendar”), Schafer was enthroned as the 100th King of Biffeche. Afterwards, “The Americans appeared in Biffeche life”. In addition to the Royal Family, Schafer established a very small, European-style aristocracy in the Kingdom, consisting of local members in Biffeche as well as members in the USA, Great Britain, and Europe (mostly well-to-do patrons who helped the people financially). For instance, “The late Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary addressed” Schafer “royally as ‘Cousin,’ and Prince Charles (of the U.K.) once told him he was envious because it was so much simpler to become King of Biffeche than to wait decades for the throne as Prince of Wales. The Pope gave his Apostolic Blessing to ‘H. M., Edward I.’” Every year, Schafer would hold a Ceremonial Christmas Party at his home, designated by everyone that night as “The Royal Palace”. There, His Majesty would dress regally and receive his court. The American press was purportedly aware of Edward I, and even Esquire Magazine purportedly ran an article about his Kingdom. “For more than 30 years, he diligently helped the people in various ways” (this included seeking the advice of agricultural experts in regards to the Biffeches' farming woes). But Schafer “never visited his Kingdom.” Instead, he issued Royal directives by mail. “He ruled...simply by making his wishes known through correspondence with Pierre Claver Faye, the local native Chef de Village (and later Baron Savoigne) of Biffeche. Edward was completely accepted as King by all the Biffeche people. They were very poor, even by West African standards, and they were proud of having a King so important that he lives in America.”
By the 1980s, at Biffeche-Ville, “the fields for rice-growing were unsuccessful; they became salty due to various causes. The water for irrigation came from the nearby Marigot de Djeuss, which itself contained some sea-water.” Eventually, the Christian families moved to a town farther upstream called Savoigne. The Muslim Peulh took their place at “Old Biffeche City” (renamed Al Madinatoul Islamiah M'Boubene Peulh), but they did not have better luck with their crops. Though many administrative functions and festivals are held in Savoigne, the holy village of M'Boubene (Mboulene and Emboulan are variants) remained the official capital.
Shortly after his reign began, Schafer had come to rely upon another American-born person named Ronald of Inneryne. “Related on his mother's side to the old Swedish Royal family, putative heir to Germany's Duchy of Orlemundë, and destined to be Scotland's Baron of Inneryne upon the death of his father, Ronald was one of the few people in America who believed in and understood the problems of monarchy. Over the more than three decades of his rule, Edward I had placed Ronald in more and more areas of trust.” Schafer had no children, and before he died in 1997, “he executed an Act of Succession abdicating the throne and designating Ronald as his successor. Ronald became the 101st King of Biffeche. Unlike Edward, King Ronald immediately visited the Kingdom, along with his 30-year-old son Crown Prince Christopher and a team of interpreters.” But the populace had no idea that Schafer had died until Ronald gave them the sad news; afterwards, he “was apparently welcomed by all...He was accepted as the new King not only by the Christians, but also by the Muslim majority in Savoigne, the Muslim Peulhs in M'Boubene, the Muslim Wolofs, Naar (Moors) and Peulhs of the countryside,” and the traditionalists/animists who still adhere to their age-old spiritual beliefs. After his initial stay, Ronald returned to America. While he was away, the Biffeche people built a monument to receive Schafer's ashes.
Biffeche's Web-site contains some interesting photographic images. One of them shows a seated Ronald, surrounded by a group of his followers, all of them wearing T-shirts printed with the slogans “RONALD IS MY KING” on the front and “BIFFECHE IS MY COUNTRY” on the back. Ronald seems to take his role (whether his dedication is part-time or full-time) somewhat seriously. He has donated many thousands of dollars to improve the primitive infrastructure of Biffeche (the completion of an electric power line, the purchase of a “motopump”, a new drainage ditch, bridge repairs). One of his priorities is to combat the tragic salinity problem of the soil in Biffeche. He has visited officials at all levels of the Senegalese government to discuss this “ecological disaster”. One of the obstacles he still faces is “the skepticism that Westerners exhibit about his ‘Kingship’ whenever he contacts them.”
Biffeche is clearly a genuine historical kingdom (according to Mr. Aswan Mamolian, from whom I received an e-mail, “As I have been there many times and personally know several hundred of the more than 40,000 inhabitants of the country I can assure you that it is a real...if very poor...country”), and it truly doesn't appear as if its name has been appropriated by a modern micro-nation of dubious provenance. Currently, the Royaume maintains an American Office in Seminole, Florida and an European Office in Madrid, Spain. Interestingly, there is legally a “personal union” between Biffeche and the Kingdom of Axim in that they share the same King. The King of Biffeche is automatically the King of Axim on the Ghana coast (“This is similar to the current Queen of the U.K. being also Queen of Canada”). “Although the late Bishop Essuah of Sekondi-Tekoradi, Ghana, declared Axim to be ‘a part of Biffeche’ in the 1970's, Axim is not technically administered as a ‘part’ of Biffeche any more than Biffeche is ‘part’ of Axim, and of course neither is a colony of the other. The respective peoples of Axim and Biffeche have always had harmonious relations.”
Monetarily, “The local Biffeche Dinar-Haut (BDH), used only ceremonially, is rarely seen.” This currency, which is actually “not necessary for transacting the commerce within the Kingdom”, has never been “available to the general public”. But recently, three coins have been minted by the Royaume de Biffeche: a copper 1 Dinar-Haut, a brass 5 Dinar-Haut, and a copper-nickel 10 Dinar-Haut. All are dated 2006. These pieces were produced by Mr. Jorge Fernández Vidal (for more information about this ambitious numismatist, please see my listings for HADEF and Westarctica). He considers this undertaking to be the most important one he has been involved with, “Especially, because this coins will be legal tender and will be used in the actual territory of Biffeche.” Ideally, the plan is to have the Dinar-Haut pegged to the Euro on a one-to-one basis. Mr. Vidal hopes that the coins become popular with collectors around the world, thereby making it possible for him to help Biffeche's people by sharing some of the project's profits with them: “This is more than a business, let say that it's a dream coming true.”
Images of the coinage of Biffeche can be viewed at the Web-site of Mr. Vidal:
http://www.jfvcoins.com/Productos/micronations_english=catAC.html
They can also be seen at the site of Mr. Haseeb Naz’s private collection:
http://chiefacoins.com/Database/Micro-Nations/Biffeche.htm

BOYS' REPUBLIC OF CIVITAVECCHIA,
BOYS' TOWN OF ROME:

These self-governing, democratic communities had their origins in the work of Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing, who in 1944 was sent to Italy for humanitarian reasons by the Vatican. There, for the remainder of World War II, he risked his own life by organizing a campaign of assistance both within the city of Rome and along the battle areas. “Eventually, even German officers, initially suspicious of his activities, placed no obstacles in his way.” With the liberation came an end to the fighting, but not to the Monsignor's efforts on behalf of homeless children, which grew as a response to what he encountered day after day on the streets of postwar Rome. He continued his mission by founding “L'Opera per il Ragazzo della Strada” in January of 1945. By this time, it had become abundantly clear to him that “As younger children were gradually placed in homes and institutions,...a different kind of remedy was needed to help the older boys,” who “lived where and how they could, begging, stealing, shining shoes. That's how they came to be called ‘sciuscià.’ And how Monsignor Carroll-Abbing became ‘the Monsignor of the Shoeshine Boys’ when he...opened a refuge, dubbed the ‘Shoeshine Hotel,’ in a cellar near the Rome railroad station.” Soon, together with Don Antonio Rivolta (of the Compagnia di San Paolo), he established a community for at-risk youngsters called “Repubblica dei Ragazzi di Civitavecchia”, located between S. Marinella and Civitavecchia. Its story, according to the Boys' Towns of Italy, Inc. Web-site (http://www.boystown.it/), reads thusly: “He found an intact cellar in a bombed out building in the city, collected pots and pans left behind by the German troops, and obtained beds from US army war surplus. With help recruited from a few volunteers, he sent out the word that there was a place for the ‘shoe-shine boys’ to find a meal and to spend the night. Within a few months, he had won the confidence of these boys,” who on August 13, 1945, were willing to move with him by army truck to a war-damaged villa near the seacoast town of Civitavecchia (the ancient port, 45 miles north of Rome). This was to become the first of the Boys' Towns of Italy, which the group of lads and the Monsignor founded together. “Over the course of the next decade, other communities would follow — in Palermo, Lucca, Pozzuoli, Chieti, Montenero, Rome, and elsewhere. As in Civitavecchia, they all continue today”. These quickly emerged as places where young people learn to become responsible citizens.
In Civitavecchia, community life within what would become its 3 villages (Seafaring, Agricultural, and Industrial) was improved upon by the introduction of a specific monetary system, the Meriti, which each boy received as a reward for carrying out all of his duties in accordance with the particular office/position of his choosing. Each worker accrued monetary Merits (metaphoric Worthiness) by performing, with loyal and honest commitment, an indispensable service for their adoptive brotherhood. However, the Repubblica has not practiced economic self-governance since 1990, and they no longer use any type of money, not even the Meriti. Directly from the Repubblica's Director, Don Marcello Bolzonello, I received an engagingly counterbalanced, mix-and-match set of coins comprised of pieces from two entirely different series: 1955 (5 Meriti, 100 Meriti) and 1971 (5 Meriti, 100 Meriti, 200 Meriti). The former are the handiwork of Ettore Calvelli, a leading Italian medalist; the latter are by the Vatican sculptor-designer Enrico Manfrini. For these coins, I must also express my gratitude to Bro. Anthony E. D'Adamo, the Executive Vice President of Boys' Towns of Italy, Inc.). The official Web-site of the Boys' Republic of Civitavecchia is:
http://web.tiscali.it/RepubblicadeiRagazzi/
Eventually, the Monsignor decided to launch another community for underprivileged, streetwise youths, this time nearer to Rome. After obtaining a suitable plot of land (the small, old “Colonacce” farmhouse), the maiden stone was laid on October 6, 1953 for the future “Città dei Ragazzi di Roma”, where Msgr. Carroll-Abbing would spend the rest of his life (he passed away on July 9, 2001). Its construction began with support from numerous friends and benefactors (including Italian-Americans). The Monsignor and the home's inaugural occupants (“minors, deprived of a normal familial atmosphere”) began to live there in 1954. This newer Boys' Town “is an Educational Residential Community” which welcomes needy adolescents, and it is run by the “Opera Nazionale per le Città dei Ragazzi” (the same “Opera” endowed by the Monsignor, but its name was changed in December of 1962). It consists of various apartments (“small modular living quarters”), and “is organized in two structures: Garden City, where the younger boys live, and Industrial City for the older ones.” Boys' Town “covers a vast hilly area south-west of Rome of which a good part is destined to urbanization. On its avenues, plazas and gardens, are the residential villas, the schools, the laboratories, the church, the theatre, the restaurant, the bank, the bazaar and various sport facilities. There are also structures destined to the administration of the Community and to promote the psycho-physical wellbeing of the ‘citizens’. On the non urbanized area there is a flourishing Farm which was created keeping in mind the aim of environmental education.” Boys' Town, which is based on an innovative pedagogical system of Self-government (l'Autogoverno; a method which was transferred from the first Boys' Town in Civitavecchia, and which was introduced by the Monsignor upon its foundation), “wants to educate the youngsters to a civic sense of democratic participation and of responsible solidarity.”
To regulate their activities, its young residents use a particular coin called the Scudo, which they “earn by showing that they seriously and responsably apply themselves in all their activities both at school and outside of school. This money is used to buy little things in the bazaar and deposited in the citizens' bank.” It can also be converted to the currency of the European Union according to a fixed rate of exchange. I obtained the Città's 1972 10, 20, 30, 50, and 100 Scudi coins (they showcase the talent of artist Giorgio Luzzietti, and each one “shows the life of the boys in their self-government”) from Nicoletta Romoli, Secretary to the President of Boys' Town. She adds that the “bazaar” is “a little shop inside the Città that sells sweets and other small things”. There, the boys can use their Scudi, which are received as payment for the services they've rendered according to their individual responsibilities, or these earnings can changed into € to be spent outside the Città. The coins themselves “are not used nowadays as they are too heavy, but they were used in the past.” Paper money is now used exclusively (incidentally, the Repubblica dei Ragazzi of Trieste, founded in 1950, uses banknotes as well: the “Lira Lavoro”, which was later changed to the “Euro Lavoro”). The official Web-site of Boys' Town of Rome is:
http://www.mclink.it/n/citrag/
CHILDREN’S PLAYTOWN: The concept of the Kinderspielstadt, which originated in Germany, seems to have become fairly popular in recent years. Many (or most) Playtowns in Deutschland are sponsored by Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (Children’s Charity of Germany, German Children’s Fund; http://dkhw.de/index.html?a=/english/). According to Sylvia Mertsching (DKHW’s Head of the Information Office), the organization “supports children's play towns in Germany financially from the means of the promoting fund because it holds participation for the key to a democratic society and because we are of the opinion that children represent her interests themselves because they can do this.” She also provided an amazing overview of the Kinderspielstadt: “Children's play towns already have a long tradition in Germany, there is some already for many years such as mini-Munich [it has existed since 1994 and is one of the first Playtowns in Germany] and FEZitty. But there also are children's play towns which exist only for a summer time. The sense of the children's play towns is to give children the possibility of actively playing a part at the construction of a town, getting to know the connections and deciding independently about all aspects of the play town. They assume all important offices, as mayors and city government and so they learn how politics and participation of citizens work. There is everything in the children's play towns there is also in a ‘normal’ town: the city hall, the office of mayor, the employment office, the refuse collection, cultural facilities, business and restaurants, registry office and much more. When the children have arrived in the play town, then they go to the employment office and they get a job there. Sometimes one gets the job which one would like to do. But sometimes one also must take on a job which one enjoys less because there is no other work. As in real life! For this job, of course the children also get a wage. This is the money which distributes every play town by itself. The money is for example called Wuhletaler, as in FEZitty in Berlin or MiMüs, as in Mini-Munich. The names of the money are usually fancy names. The Wuhletaler is called that way because the play city of FEZitty lies nearby the Wuhle, a small rivulet, and because the area there is called Wuhletal. The money can be used for paying in all business and restaurants of the game town. Sometimes they can use the money for several years, sometimes they can use it only in the actual year. And if you need a joiner so you can use the money to pay for his work. Council elections also take place in the play towns. Who would like to become mayors must conduct an election campaign. And then the inhabitants of the play town vote for their mayor. If he does not lead the official duties properly, then he also can be removed and there are new elections. The mayor voted for chooses his employees from the interested inhabitants and forms the city government together with them. As a rule, the children's play towns exist for some weeks in the summer holidays. And most of the children, who were in a play town once, come back next year. Children cannot learn better what democracy means. Participation is the key for the success here. Participation of children is a central value in the democratic society. To learn democracy requires to experience democracy. Children's play towns are an excellent model for this. In a playful way children learn the operation of the social living together here. Of course every play town has its own rules but what I described applies to all play towns, in principle. The children who come into the play town are mostly between seven and twelve years old. Some are also older. It depends on the size of the play town how many children come into the play town. It also depends on whether the game town is in a city or in a little place at home. The number is in most cases between 100 and 300 children per day. Up to 2000 children even are in Mini-Munich there on the day. 30000 children went around to Mini-Munich in 2007.”
Children’s Playtowns have already been created in other countries (Austria, Italy, Japan) besides Germany. Clearly, the German model has generated much international interest. In fact, the first ever “World Conference of Children’s Playtowns” was held on August 13-15, 2008 at FEZ-Berlin (the largest non-profit children, youth and family center in Europe). According to the flyer (it can be viewed at http://www.dkhw.de/index.html?a=/kinderspielstadt/), “Children’s participation is a core value in democratic society. Children’s playtowns are an excellent way to achieve this. Through play, children can experience the functioning of society…The concept of ‘children’s playtowns’ [kinderspielstadt] or ‘children’s towns’ [kinderstadt] is based on the idea of bringing together educational, cultural and political learning goals. Children’s playtowns are ‘mini towns’ with all the important facilities and structures of a real town. Children take on the shaping of their town and they decide what is important. [To the greatest possible extent, the children at the children’s town are allowed to organise themselves.] The educational staff members who are there to watch over the playing and to safeguard the project, only give the structures.” In the words of Sylvia Mertsching, “Children take the design of her town into their hand and decide what is important. Only the structures which are required for the play process of and the protection against the project are provided by the educational employees.” According to the flyer, the conference — “aimed at those who are organizing or planning children’s playtowns” — provided “an international forum to discuss current issues surrounding children’s playtowns.” It allowed “for experiences to be exchanged using the ‘Open Space’ method. The children’s playtown ‘FEZitty’, running parallel to the Conference with hundreds of children taking part daily, will provide a clear picture.” Sylvia Mertsching states that thanks to the conference, “more and more countries and towns surely be interested in [the idea] and the number of the children's play towns will get bigger and bigger worldwide.”
I also found some useful details (http://www.vimex.org.mx/Alemania_ibg.html) about a few typical Kinderspielstadt projects. One of them is located in Saarbrücken: “Up to 1000 children aged 8-15 are invited to create their own town”, which is known as “Mini-Saarland”. Because a wide range of occupations are required in order to bring the town to life, a child can become a hairdresser, postman, cameraman, detective, policeman, cook, photographer, mayor, fireman — all similar to the adult world. For parents, admission is forbidden! “Adults are not allowed to enter the area as ‘Mini-Saarland’ belongs [completely] to the children. The play scheme takes place at the usual exhibition area [fairgrounds] and there is lots of space.” Basically, the adult volunteers help supervise the Playtown. Well-oriented and well-prepared, they support the children in all of their enterprises. The day lasts from 9:30 in the morning to approximately 5:30 at night and the work can be arduous sometimes. Volunteers usually work from Tuesday to Saturday. “In the beginning there will be an introduction in tasks and responsibilities of all volunteers. All volunteers should be very motivated to work with kids and bring German language skills.” It helps if they have artistic and/or crafts-related abilities. At the same Web-site, there is info about another project: every two years, during the children’s summer vacation, the Jugendzentrum (Youth Center) of Bietigheim organizes the Kinderspielstadt “Sun Bibisco”. There, more than 200 kids between the ages of 6-12 set up their own town, which functions from early morning until evening. Everything there is run by the children. Just like a real town, there is a parliament, a bakery, a hairdresser/barbershop, restaurant, bank, a fire-brigade and much more. “Of course they have their own currency and have to earn their money by ‘working’ in one of the institutions.” Naturally, the adults “will help to run this big playground.” During the first week, they assist with all the preparations for the Playtown. During the second and third weeks, they lend their support to the children and all of their enterprises. Because of the presence of so many children, the environment can be loud at times and the work can be quite hard. Work “lasts longer than just six hours per day. Volunteers must have a keen interest in working with children. It will be an advantage if volunteers have creative or technical skills. Camp language will be German. IBG [a German non-profit group which organizes workcamps in Germany and Liechtenstein; there are usually 10-20 volunteers taking part in each camp] asks for a motivation letter which shows the interest of the volunteer in the camp and which kind of skills they can offer to enrich the camp.” The Web-site also describes a Playtown called “Mini-Wangen” that took place for two weeks in the municipality of Wangen. “Children at the age of 7-10 years are invited to participate. Around 120 children are expected to attend the activities.” What are the duties of the grown-ups? The volunteers/staff “will help and support to take care of the kids at several different activities…They are generally helping the children enjoy their summer holiday.” The activities run “from 8 am until 3 pm each day so the group should be prepared to work long hours, but it is very rewarding.”
The first numismatic item I found (eBay) from a Children’s Playtown is from the “Kinderspielstadt Okolino”. It is a “1 Zeiss Taler” piece dated 2002. The obverse bears the name “Kinderspielstadt” (along the top) and “Okolino” (along the bottom), as well as the silhouette of a little girl riding a wooden stick horse/stick pony (a type of hobby-horse). I’m not sure what “Okolino” signifies, but I did find mention on the Internet of it being a variant spelling — along with Ocolino, Okolyeniecz, Okolynyecz, and Okolienecz — for a village in Poland named Okoleniec. I only found a small bit of information about this Playtown on the Internet (http://www.kindergipfel.net/view_tablecont.php?table=projekte&id=98): the Kinderspielstadt “Okolino” is like a real town, where everything exists except adults. It is populated and governed by children aged 8-13. They have jobs, earn their money, save it or spend it, just like in an actual city. What is the objective? By playing, the children gain insights into the world of adults and they learn about interactions/connections (public/professional) that would otherwise remain closed to them. Key elements of the Playtown include a functioning employment agency, money flow, communal/local political structures — such as a citizens’ assembly (Bürgerversammlung), a municipal/local council (Gemeinderat) and mayor (Bürgermeister) — as well as structures pertaining to a production/manufacturing branch (Produktionsbereich) and a services sector (Dienstleistungsbereich). The Kinderspielstadt “Okolino” was located in Oberkochen (a town in the Ostalbkreis district of Baden-Württemberg, Germany). The lifespan of this Playtown was supposed to have lasted for 9 days every 2 years. But based on two other Internet sources, it definitely existed at least in 2002 and 2003, without skipping a year. I was unsure whether the project was still in existence, until Sylvia Mertsching confirmed that “The Children's play town Okolino worked only in 2002 and 2003. It isn't active any longer.” Besides Oberkochen itself, another partner that helped this Playtown come to life was the Zeiss Oberkochen company. The word “Zeiss”, as it appears on the token, refers to Carl Zeiss AG — a German manufacturer of optical systems, industrial measurements, and medical devices originally founded in Jena in 1846 by Carl Zeiss, Ernst Abbe, and Otto Schott. They are one of the oldest existing optics manufacturers in the world. After WWII the allied troops moved parts of the Carl Zeiss Company in Jena to Oberkochen. Nowadays, there are currently two parts, the Carl Zeiss AG headquartered in Oberkochen and Carl Zeiss GmbH located in the foundation city Jena.

ISLE OF BRECHOU: Also spelled Brecqhou, this rocky, 160-acre islet is politically part of Sark, which in turn is part of Guernsey. Brecqhou is one of the Channel Islands; not only are they a part of the United Kingdom, they are also very closely associated with the French/Bretton language and culture. Previous owners/tenants have included John Thomson Donaldson (1949-66) and Leonard Joseph Matchan (1966-87). After Matchan’s death there was legal wrangling between his company (Solaria Investments), which owned the island, and his son. In 1993 it was purchased for £2.33 million by the billionaire businessmen David and Frederick Barclay. These identical twins (who were knighted in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth II for their enormous donations to charity) are the co-owners of a group of hotels and several newspapers, including The Scotsman, The Business, The Daily Telegraph, and The Spectator; the media magnates also hold a minority interest in the American firm that controls The National Enquirer. The brothers guard their privacy to such an extent that they even erected a grand Gothic-style castle, complete with 100-foot-high granite walls, spires, towers, gilded turrets, battlements, a moat and a helipad. No expense was spared. According to a builder on the project, the banqueting room is 80 meters long and has a gold-leaf ceiling; the library ceiling is hand-painted, inspired by the Sistine Chapel. The honey-colored, cliff-top fortress (Fort Brecqhou) was finished in 1996 after some 90,000 tons of materials were carried to Brecqhou by boat. At a cost of between 30-60 million Pounds, it is the largest one built in the 20th century.
The wealthy siblings soon began objecting to the centuries-old legal restrictions imposed on their private island, which is still considered a landholding of Sark (a tax-free haven where automobiles and divorce are banned). These strictures prevent them from selling Brecqhou to a non-citizen of Britain. And because the reclusive duo has sued for Brecqhou’s independence, their actions have resulted in several disputes with the government of Sark, which is the last remaining feudal state in the Western world (the French abandoned Sark in 1553; yet in 1565 Elizabeth I, fearing French encroachment and marauding pirates, granted a Jersey nobleman named Hélier de Carteret the right to hold Sark in perpetuity provided he settled 40 armed families on its land and paid her a twentieth of a knight’s fee annually. The unelected descendants of those 40 original colonists — known as “tenants” because they are the owners of the island’s 40 “tenements” [divisions of land] — have governed life on Sark ever since). Though it has considerable internal autonomy, the island is a personal fief held by the Seigneur (the hereditary head of government — or “lord” — who owes fealty directly to the Queen and to her alone) direct from the British Crown.
From the outset, the Barclays were incensed at having to pay a transfer tax/levy known as a “treizieme” (a thirteenth of the land’s value) totalling £179,000 to Michael Beaumont, Sark’s 22nd Seigneur. Adding to their collective displeasure, it was the brothers’ goal to divide their estate equally among their 4 heirs (the twins have three sons and a daughter between them). But on Sark, unfortunately, the law of primogeniture applied. It dictates that all property is received by the firstborn male, if there is one; women can inherit only if they have no brothers. In 1998, when one of the twins’ daughters was denied any inheritance rights under the ancient tradition, the brothers complained to the Strasbourg, France-based European Court of Human Rights. The secretive tycoons claimed that Sark was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (to which the British crown dependency had signed up). In 1999, the dispute over hereditary rights ended in a draw. That’s when the law regarding the inheritance of realty was finally amended, and Sark’s quaint legislature/parliament, the Chief Pleas, agreed that proprietorship may be left to a single child of the parents’ choice, man or woman (including daughters and illegitimate and adopted children), provided that the property was not divided. In turn, the Barclays recognized Sark’s authority over Brecqhou in 2000. Nevertheless, the genie was already out of the bottle. It soon became clear that Sark was breaching the Convention in numerous other ways, not least in its feudal governance. The Barclays felt that Brecqhou should not be governed entirely by the Chief Pleas. Therefore, the Barclays were now determined to change an anachronistic system they thought oppressive and unacceptable, and they began putting pressure on Sark to change its laws. Sir David Barclay said in a letter to all members of Chief Pleas: “Our disagreements began because we want to leave Brecqhou to our children collectively. We questioned Sark's jurisdiction over Brecqhou because we believe there are historical grounds for saying that Brecqhou is not part of the fief of Sark. We believe if Sark intends to govern day-to-day activities in Brecqhou then we can insist it complies with the European Convention on Human Rights.” Two of the twins’ objectives were that Sark not to impose any new tax on Brecqhou and that the treeless slab of rock to get a seat in Chief Pleas — with perhaps the proviso that it would only vote on matters affecting it. In 2006, after reviewing the island’s archaic system of government, the hereditary ruling body of Sark agreed to an overhaul of the island’s constitution. They voted to introduce a fully democratic government (i.e., universal suffrage) to the tiny Channel Island, thereby agreeing to finally “modernize” Sark and to abolish 450 years of feudal regime. As a result, Mr. Beaumont will be stripped progressively of his ancient/hereditary powers as feudal lord. The next time Sark goes to the polls it would be one person, one vote. According to an article (10/14/2006) from The Times, “there is no jubilation because this was the most reluctant of peasants’ revolts. The ‘serfs’ were mostly content with their lot.” The Sarkees “did not hanker for democracy. It was bequeathed to them in the name of human rights, and championed by two billionaire knights — the Barclay twins — who live in a mock-Gothic castle on the next-door island. ‘Nobody wanted to change, the island as a whole was perfectly happy with the way things were going,’ said Mr Beaumont, 79, a genial, old-school gentleman who fails dismally to live up to the image of a despot. In gentle self- parody he displays letters in his lavatory addressed to ‘His Highness Sire of Sark’ and ‘King of Sark Island’. Scarcely an islander approached by The Times disagreed. ‘It’s been done in the name of human rights, but none of us ever felt our human rights were being trampled on,’ said Linda Williams, owner of a bed-and-breakfast. ‘Nobody was baying for change,’ said Adrian Guille, Mr Beaumont’s head gardener. ‘Everyone appreciated the system and the way it worked.’ Mr Guille was actually a leader of Sark’s pro-democracy movement, but backed universal suffrage only from fear that London might impose something worse — such as rule from Guernsey. Ultimately, for the same reason, even Mr. Beaumont voted for his own demise…The one real grievance amongst Sark’s ‘serfs’ is that they all have to lease their properties from the 40 ‘tenants’.” The Chief Pleas will no longer have 52 seats (40 tenants plus 12 deputies chosen by the islanders); it will now be made up entirely of 28 elected deputies. With all this, the smallest of the four main Channel Islands is certain to lose a chunk of its reputation as a medieval society.
Numismatically, I’ve managed to track down a One Brechou Knacker pertaining to the islet. Its obverse bears a coat-of-arms; it is the escutcheon (registered at the College of Arms) of Matchan, who as owner would have been officially known as Sieur de Brecqhou. The reverse (“knacker”) side has a long vertical image which not only represents the numeral “1” but which simultaneously and unmistakably appears to depict an upright portion of the male anatomy, with a single knacker tenuously linked to its base. The stylistically graphic, phallic likeness is quite purposeful, considering just how aptly it complements the racy quality of the British slang term for “testicle”, employed here as a monetary denomination. Some folks may be inclined to label the coin too vulgar a trifle to be coveted by a potential collector. I admit to having been under the discerning guidance of this flawed mindset when I once accidentally stumbled upon the piece on eBay (from what I vaguely remember of the seller’s description, the coin was perhaps minted in the ‘70s by some local fishermen). Like the Purple Shaftieuland pieces, which similarly possess a coarsely risqué element all their own, I was not immediately attracted to the idea of adding this “off-color” coin to my “oh-so-elegant” and refined lineup of fantasy coins. I therefore did not place a very high bid on that auction, and even though I may have wavered a tad, in the end I was easily outbid by a less squeamish competitor. A couple of years later, haunted by regretfulness towards my faulty judgment, I couldn’t help but remember the quirky coin that I’d idiotically let slide from my grasp. I embarked on an earnest, full-scale search for the bawdy coin, which I’d finally deemed likable. Over several evenings, I cast a very wide net into cyberspace, sending e-mails and posting messages. I eventually received a reply from Mr. Jim C. Maguire, from whom I would shortly obtain one of the coins. He didn’t know the history of the piece, but he stated that “I found a pile of these coins whilst clearing out an old building prior to demolition (William Bird, South Side, St. Sampson, Guernsey) in the late 1980’s. This building was being used by a coal merchant, and the room was originally a sail loft. I have today contacted the previous owner of the building who was fascinated to hear about the Brechou Knacker — but he does not know how they got there.” In a later e-mail, Mr. Maguire elaborated a bit more: “It was around about 1986/87. I think they were in a paper tube, as new coins used to be issued many years ago. These were in an old filing cabinet in the old sail loft, used as a store room.” He only kept 7 of the coins.
I’ve also gleaned a bit more from Mr. David Gurney, Editor of Les Iles Normandes, the quarterly Journal of the Channel Islands Specialists’ Society: “In 1998 we had an enquiry concerning this coin and subsequently learned that they were minted in bronze and used on Brecqhou in the 1970s as tokens for workers engaged in work, I think, possibly for the Barclay brothers? Equally, I believe, the token coins are much sought after and are not common.” The Barclays, however, did not enter the picture until the early ‘90s, so if indeed these coins could once (during the disco-era) be heard jingling in the pockets of hired hands, these laborers would instead have been employed by Matchan. Then, in the summer of 2007, I received a friendly e-mail from “Mr. Cheyrisson” (a self-chosen alias). He had some interesting things to share about the Knacker tokens: “I own a couple of these coins since 1985, given to me — with some explanations — by a member of the Matchan family. So I can tell you that these coins were minted in a very ‘frenchy’ way — understand in design and philosophy (that's only a personal opinion, but I think I'm very close to the truth here) — by Mr. Leonard Matchan himself, and have therefore absolutely nothing to do with the Barclays. As Mr. Matchan, with very good reasons, was considering himself as le Seigneur de l'île, it was normal for him to have his own money, flag and stamps. The Knackers were not used as a real currency though: these amazing and unforgettable coins were used to be given as souvenirs to members of the family, friends, visitors, etc...I was lucky enough to enjoy Mr. Leonard Matchan's hospitality on a very nice day (for more than weather reasons) of summer 1985, but unfortunately I never met le vieil homme in kind before he passed, in 1987.” Furthermore, so that I would have access to precise firsthand information about the tokens, Mr. Cheyrisson then attempted to put me in touch with a member of the Matchan family. Unfortunately, this did not work out. Nevertheless, hearing from Mr. Cheyrisson was tremendously exciting. I firmly believe that practically any type of numismatic information sought by a collector is definitely out there, just waiting to be accessed. It’s simply a matter of locating the right people or the precise person. My dialogue with Mr. Cheyrisson served to renew my deep-seated feeling that nowadays (due to the ease of world-wide electronic communication) we all live on a small planet, and that anything can happen, even if it potentially involves the most immense geographical distances and the most remote earthly locations.
In the end, some questions, left dangling out there, still beg to be asked: why’ve we uncovered just a one-knackered coin? Most gonads usually come in pairs, so what happened to the other nadger? Wouldn’t it be fitting for there to also be a more anatomically correct privately minted “Two Brechou Knackers” coin out there somewhere, waiting to be proudly displayed?
In 1969, Matchan issued a set of 6 postage stamps for Brecqhou. The Barclays followed suit and have produced annual stamps since 1999.
Images of the Brechou coin can be viewed at the site of Mr. Chaim Dov Shiboleth's private collection:
http://www.taedivm.org/coin-brechou.html

DOMINION OF BRITISH WEST FLORIDA: This entity “is a small enclave of Her Majesty's Empire and the British Commonwealth, lying between the Gulf of Mexico on the south and 32.28 degrees north, and between the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers on the east and the Mississippi River on the west.” Their government “is striving for Dominion Status as a Commonwealth Realm, on a par with Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and The Bahamas.” But so far, Queen Elizabeth II “has not yet granted our Petition, nor authorized this web site” (http://dbwf.net/). Currently, “British West Florida is administered in the name of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, by her Acting Governor-General Robert, Duke of Florida. The Duke acts as an agent of Her Majesty, functioning for and as the Monarch in Her absence...Neither he, nor the People of British West Florida, will accept anything less than full Allegiance to Her Majesty.” Under the Duke's guidance, they remain “staunch advocates of the preservation of the country's historic customs, traditions, and symbols, especially those which link us to our British Past (prior to the Treaty of 1783).” Its “firmly Royalist” government “encourages the immigration of any of Her Majesty's Loyal Subjects, from the Kingdom, or any of Her Dominions, Commonwealths, Colonies, or Territories wherever they may be found. British West Florida is proud of its heritage, as a Colony of Great Britain, and as stronghold for Loyalists in North America. During the so-called American Revolution we provided safety to those fleeing the rebellious colonies to our north. We now offer welcome and asylum to Her Majesty's Subjects from any other localities that have deserted God and Crown.”
The beginnings of the Dominion date back to 1630, when Charles I had granted the territory to some of his followers. Since 1862, West Florida had been part of the French colony of Louisiana, but Britain received a portion of it in 1763, at the end of the French and Indian War (this was but one of many theatres of the Seven Years' War — which in turn is the European name by which the entire conflict is known). That's also when England gained control of the Spanish colony of Florida in exchange for Havana, which the British had captured from Spain during the fighting. Because the British monarchy had ambitious plans for this tract of fertile land, the Proclamation of 1763 established the provinces of East Florida and West Florida. East Florida encompassed most of the present state of Florida. West Florida was a strip along the Gulf Coast formed by parts of the present states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana; it was a region which underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. The British capital of West Florida was (and still is) in Pensacola. “As the Revolutionary War dragged on, both Floridas”, while remaining Loyal Colonies, “became problematic” for King George III. “In 1781, the Kingdom of Spain entered the war, and soon captured Pensacola. British loyalists who flocked to Florida during the Revolution were then forced to leave, and the Spanish inherited large plantations that the British had worked so hard to cultivate.” Thus ended a specific interval, which lasted until 1783, that is referred to as the First Restoration Period. “In 1808 The Spanish King (Charles IV of Spain) and his son (Ferdinand VII), under threat of French arms, were removed from power and replaced by Napoleon's brother Joseph. It was at this time our historians and legal advisors tell us that Sovereignty over Florida reverted to the King George the Third” — in other words, to their original status as belonging to the British Crown. “The actions of any other Government are deemed Null and Void with regard to the Dominion of British Florida, and the Dominion of British West Florida in particular denies the effectiveness of any Treaty or Order issued by any other Sovereign.” As a result, “In 1810, the Loyal British Settlers, in conjunction with newly arrived persons from the United States of America”, revolted against the Spanish Occupation they'd grown to resent. On September 23rd, the rebels overcame the Spanish garrison at Baton Rouge and unfurled their new banner, which would later become known as the Bonnie Blue Flag. A Free and Independent Republic of West Florida actually existed for 74 days, surviving until December 10th. According to their Constitution, the official name of the nation was the “State of Florida”. One of the men involved in the rebellion was Fulwar Skipwith, a former diplomat who had been instrumental in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Skipwith, a distant cousin of Thomas Jefferson, was also a member of the first West Florida judiciary. He served as West Florida's first and only President/Governor. Unfortunately, Skipwith could not prevent the United States from occupying his short-lived state. On October 27th, parts of West Florida were appropriated under a proclamation of President James Madison, who'd claimed the region as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Naturally, Skipwith and the West Florida government were opposed to this decision, preferring to negotiate terms to join the Union. Skipwith even vowed that he was ready to die in defense of its flag. Skipwith and the legislature eventually backed down and agreed to accept Madison's directive. The “unlawful annexation” of West Florida “was completed by force of arms in 1813 when the future United States President, Gen. Andrew Jackson took Pensacola and drove out the British, with whom the United States was at war.” This period, which ended almost as soon as it began, is referred to as the Second Restoration Effort. Skipwith later served in the Louisiana Senate. Meanwhile, Spain refused to recognize the American occupation of West Florida; and the “United States government continued to use excessive force against British Citizens in East Florida (at that time under Spanish Protection)”. Furthermore, American expansionists contemplated taking this territory. The issue was finally settled with the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819 (Florida Purchase Treaty), in which Spain renounced its claims to West Florida and also ceded East Florida to the United States. “The United States government recognized its responsibilities to Spain” by making a payment of $5,000,000 for those lands, but “No mention is ever made of the United States Recognizing its Duty to the Republic of West Florida, or the Citizens.” According to Mr. Robert J. “Bo” Register — The Lord Bo, Baron Von Servers (Lord and Governor of Fayette, the easternmost Barony) — “The Third Restoration Effort began at Christmas time 2004, but it was an informal ‘gather the facts’ effort at that point.” And on “November 29, 2005, the Third Restoration Effort began using the WWW to publicize the Dominion of British West Florida, its aims, and claims to Sovereignty.” Thus, thanks to cyberspace, they've been able to begin broadcasting their assertion that “The Dominion of British West Florida is the lawful government of the former British Colony of British West Florida.”
On May 1, 2006, The Dominion of British West Florida Reserve Bank received its first shipment of commemorative coins celebrating her Majesty's 80th Birthday. The pair, a One Pound piece and a One Farthing piece, was made possible by the Central Bank of Westarctica — namely, its numismatic wunderkind, Jorge Fernández Vidal — after the two parties signed a “coin treaty” (to learn more about Westarctican coinage, see my separate listing for this entity; my HADEF listing is also of interest to anyone interested in Mr. Vidal’s collectible creations). “The Coins feature dual dating, AD MMVI and AE LXXX.” The latter stands for Anno Elizabeth. I obtained the pair directly from Mr. Register (based in MacClenny, FL).
Images of the coinage from British West Florida can be viewed at Mr. Vidal’s Web-site:
http://www.jfvcoins.com/Productos/micronations_english=catDK.html
They can also be seen at the site of Mr. Haseeb Naz’s private collection:
http://chiefacoins.com/Database/Micro-Nations/Dominion_of_British_West_Florida.htm


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