Links to Micro-national and Fantasy coins: Listings J, K

Links To Micro-National and Fantasy Coins: Listings J, K




JAMES W. CURTIS: From the little bit of information I have been able to glean from the Internet, this gentleman was a retired military officer and exonumia collector. He was Life Member #4 of the Central States Numismatic Society and also served as its President from 1952-54. A published numismatist (Coinage of Roman Egypt: A Survey and Tetradrachms of Roman Egypt are 2 examples), Curtis began counterstamping various cheap tokens during the late 1960s with his own special die. He then produced a delightful variety of “personality” pieces on a wide range of metals (even on chunks of copper). The first one seems to have been a square “Col. James W. Curtis” piece (pewter) dated 1968 (http://users.pullman.com/fjstevens/tokens/tokens/5134.html). According to Mr. Forrest Stevens, “It looks like he just cut out a piece of sheet metal and then stamped the text into it.” I was later informed, thanks to Mr. Oded Paz — founder of the Unrecognised States Numismatic Society (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UnrecognisedStatesNumismaticSociety/ and http://www.usns.info/) — and Mr. Edwin Johnston (a member of the USNS), that the Curtis series is much more expansive and diverse than I previously had thought: there is a 1971 “Col. James W. Curtis & Kay Curtis” piece (in brass, as well as in silver-plated brass) bearing the ultra-large multi-national denomination “Good for 1 Dollar/6.6 Colones/12.5 Pesos/1 Quetzal/1 Balboa In Friendship”; a 1972 “Col. James W. Curtis/Kay F. Curtis” piece (silver-plated brass) bearing the denomination “Good For $4 Dollars In Friendship/Valor de $50 Pesos En Amistad”; a 1973 “Col. James W. Curtis/Kay F. Curtis Friendship Token” (silver-plated brass, tin-plated brass) bearing the denomination “Legal Tender, World-Wide/$1¼ On Feb. 29, and Nov. 31, 1973 Only”; a 1976 “Jim & Kay Curtis” piece (copper) bearing the denomination “1/10 Ducat” (surprisingly, this token bears the exact same Patrick Mint “United States Bicentennial/1776-1976” reverse, featuring an eagle atop a shield, as does the Confederation of Antarctica token — please refer to my previous listing about this coin-issuing entity); a 1977 “Col. James W. Curtis” piece (pewter) bearing the denomination “1000 Mils” (this is the first piece thus far to feature a likeness of its issuer: the reverse has a very precise incuse/etched rendering of Mr. Curtis); a 1983 “James W. Curtis” piece (aluminum, brass, nickel, copper) bearing the denomination “500 Mils” (this piece features a rather folksy rendering of Curtis’ profile). Furthermore, in terms of text, the 1968 piece says “Sp’fld. Ill.” (his hometown); the 1971 piece says “Springfield, Ill.”; the 1972 and 1973 pieces say “Springfield, Illinois” (the ’72 token includes his full street address); the 1976 piece says “San Antonio”, while the 1977 piece says “San Antonio, Texas”. The 1983 piece has no mention of a city. After a protracted and intricate trade (which included one of my 2007 Zilchstadt medallions), I obtained 4 Curtis pieces (1971, 1973, 1976, 1983) from Mr. Paz, to whom I shall remain eternally grateful. Somewhere up in heaven, Mr. Curtis (if he has even passed away, that is) was surely smiling down upon us during our amicable exchange! Here’s to numismatic brotherhood and to Friendship Tokens of all sorts!
Thanks to Mr. Johnston, I also learned that the 1983 Curtis piece was made by a noted numismatist named Del Romines (his initials, DR, are engraved on the collar of Curtis’ shirt), who self-minted many different storecards/medals (for schools, events, coin clubs, colleagues) circa 1981-1983. Some of these hobo-nickel-style tokens were made to advertise his first book (the legend on their obverse reads “HOBO NICKEL & TOKEN BOOK 1982”) and to hopefully raise a little money towards promoting his publication. The ones with his name on the reverse, he used as calling cards. Hoping to learn more about the token in question, I sent a letter to Mr. Romines in early 2007. He was very kind to send me a reply. Sadly, however, he seems to have suffered a stroke which resulted in a significant loss of memory: “I have searched my…mind and can come up with nothing about the Curtis 500 Mils tokens. Even the tokens I remember were not dated”. Clearly, Mr. Romines has played an important role in the field of exonumia and has acquired a tremendous amount of numismatic expertise over his lifetime. For these reasons and many others, his neurological ailment — with all of its devastating aftereffects — was a tragic occurrence which I pray will never befall him again. One of the nicest benefits pertaining to numismatics is that it allows us to become acquainted with a cast of countless fascinating people. I am thankful that, on account of a small collectible piece of metal, I have had the opportunity to meet Mr. Romines (if only via old fashioned snail-mail). He is certainly someone I never would have known otherwise, if it had not been for the hobby of coin-collecting. I have been thinking about Mr. Romines a great deal, ever since reading his letter. I find it very unsettling that he no longer remembers the charming Mils tokens that he once made with his own hands. He is one of two people (James Curtis is the other) who would have been able to tell us everything there is to know about them. I say this only because I happen to value information tremendously (that is why I started this Links to Micro-national and Fantasy coins Web-site in the first place). I probably enjoy acquiring knowledge about coinage (and the hugely engaging people who generate them) more than I like actually owning the coins themselves. So for us numismatists to not know some of the details about even a single Curtis tokens is tantamount to having a page or two ripped out of the final existing copy of an ultra-nice book. I just don't know what to say. Memory loss — the erosion of one's entire identity, history, experiences — is the most heartbreaking of conditions imaginable. I can think of nothing more horrific.
From what I could tell, Mr. Curtis began issuing his own tokens around 1968. The initial piece, at least, was a self-made item that had more of a “primitive” feel to it. At some point (‘69, ‘70, or ‘71), he decided to employ a private mint to have his tokens professionally struck. I had assumed (because of the ‘76 piece) that the outfit in question was the Patrick Mint. In pursuit of more information, I therefore decided to contact them directly. Thus, I was able to begin a rewarding e-mail correspondence with the gentleman who operates the company, Mr. Jesse Patrick: “It is nice that you are investigating this man. I believe he also wrote a pamphlet on U.S. Pattern coins and a number of articles on the same subject…I believe he had quite a range numismatically.” One of the books authored by Mr. Patrick himself, Patrick Mint Tokens: 1976-1979, “shows that I did 5 different tokens for Col. Curtis.” Apart from the previously described ‘76 piece, these include an additional (nearly identical) “1/10 Ducat” token: it is a “Jim & Jay Curtis” piece which upon closer inspection turned out to simply be an error type due to the subtle misspelling of Mrs. Curtis’ first name. The other 3 tokens (also copper) are: an undated “Col. James W. Curtis” piece bearing the denomination “Not One Cent” (with a different “United States Bicentennial/1776-1976” reverse, this time featuring an Indian chief), an undated “Col. James W. Curtis and Kay Curtis” piece bearing the denomination “Inflation Dollar” (with yet another “United States Bicentennial/1776-1976” reverse, featuring Philadelphia’s Independence Hall), and a 1977 “Col. James W. Curtis & Kay Curtis” piece bearing the denomination “C(u)arter Dollar” (featuring a large eagle on the reverse, no legend). All of these pieces say “San Antonio” on them. I received specimens of all 5 types (it was my pleasure to provide duplicates to Mr. Paz) directly from Mr. Patrick. I also e-mailed him images of the ‘71, ‘72, and ‘73 tokens from Mr. Paz’s collection. He replied: “None of the ones pictured look familiar and none were made by me.” Therefore, I am still stumped as to the identity of the mint which made the remaining tokens. It remains a missing piece in this fascinating numismatic puzzle.
In regards to the “C(u)arter Dollar” piece, I have seen a typewritten letter (dated Nov. 7, 1977) that Mr. Curtis sent to a numismatist named D.O. Joplin; Mr. Curtis tells him that the “C(u)arter Dollar” bears “an atrocious pun on Pres. Carter’s name — he seemed amused by this, and sent me thanks for two that he received.”

KALININGRAD: Known as Königsberg until July 1946, when Stalin seized this East Prussian capital city after WWII and deported the remaining German citizenry. It is the westernmost oblast (administrative unit/district) of the Russian Federation. This region is actually an exclave — an area without common borders and with no land connection to the rest of the country — as opposed to an enclave. It sits on the Baltic Sea coast, surrounded by Poland and Lithuania (EU members, and probable future NATO inductees), and is entirely separated from the body of Russia. Since 1992, it has also been referred to as the Free/Special Economic Zone “Yantar” (Amber), upon which were heaped the optimistic expectation of its blossoming into a booming “European Hong Kong”, brimming with foreign investors. Its strategic, ice-free port has long been the headquarters of the Soviet/Russian Federation Baltic Navy/fleet. Though still a heavily militarized site, the Baltiysk naval base is no longer the secretively ominous, off-limits stronghold it used to be during the height of the Cold War era. Even after the collapse of Communist rule, its inhabitants are loyally attached to Moscow, and do not want to split from their adoptive Motherland.
There are several types in this “Glory of Russian Arms” series, ranging in dates from 2002-04. They were produced by the St. Petersburg Mint, allegedly by official order from a Kaliningrad Council of some sort. Instead of the more conventional indigenous wildlife or historical landmarks, each one of these coins illustrates a different military weapon (Kalashnikov AK-47 rifle, Kamov K-50 “Black Shark” assault helicopter, T-34 tank, MIG-29 “Fulcrum” jet, Katyusha truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher, S-13 submarine, BTR-80 armored personnel carrier/armed transport vehicle, Sukhoi SU-37 “Terminator” fighter jet, 45mm anti-tank gun, Varyag armored cruiser). Pretty radical! I purchased a tombac (copper/zinc alloy) 2002 Kalashnikov 1 Marka from Joel Anderson. Each of the base metal coins has a counterpart in silver (3 Marki) and gold (20 Marok). An ample selection of Kaliningrad coins can be found at:
http://www.chervonets.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi?w=1024
Images of one of the Kaliningrad coins can be viewed at the site of Mr. Haseeb Naz’s private collection:
http://chiefacoins.com/Database/Micro-Nations/Kaliningrad.htm

KINGDOM OF KAMBERRA: They are “a small constitutional monarchy located in the Pacific Ocean, accounting for approximately 23,800 inhabitants.” The invention of Mr. Franck Medina (of Dijon, France), it was originally named the Principality of Camberra, which existed from August 6, 1988 until August 23 of that year. It then became, on August 24th, the Kingdom of Camberra. The spelling of “Camberra” was changed to “Kamberra” in 1990, with the creation of its Constitution. Kamberra (http://www.kamberra.com/) is “an island of peace, well-being, tolerance and sharing…Spanish and Kamberri are its two official languages and Victoria-Libertad, its capital. The name Kamberra comes from the Kamberri word: ‘kamba'area’ which means ‘meeting place’.” Incidentally, the name of Australia's capital, Canberra, is truly based on a Ngunnawal Aboriginal word with the same meaning. “Kamberri is the dialect spoken by the Zahori people living on part of the island and cohabiting in harmony with the rest of the population, established mostly in the large towns of the island.” Today, “with the initiative of its sovereign, the little island of Kamberra continues to develop and to progress.” The first Numisma bill, which would eventually become its unit of currency, was designed by Mr. Medina on March 26, 1988, when he was 14 years of age; this preceded the birth of Kamberra itself by over 4 months! By popular demand, H.M. King Franck I (contact@kamberra.com) was eventually compelled to issue an original Kamberian coin to go along with its many banknotes and stamps: a 2004 1 Numisma piece, which I purchased directly from His Majesty. The heart of this bi-metallic issue “is in Alpaca 12% (Cu — Zn — Ni). Its color is grey. The crown of the coin is in Niclal 725 (Cu — Sn — Ni). Its color is silver-pink.” From Mr. Medina, to whom I sent one of my 2004 Héliopolis coins, I also obtained a limited-edition “trial” set of this coin (pre-series/test series), each piece struck in a different metal: one in brass, one in copper-nickel, and one in copper.
About Kamberra's first coin, a Dutch coin-dealer commented that he did not care very much for fancy coins that were not “official”; so to those of you who have not yet fully embraced the world of “fantasy” coins, here is what Mr. Medina has to offer: “Dear friends, what is official and what is not, in this life?” In his eyes, there is no qualitative difference between the “authorized” coins of familiar world nations and the Kamberian “unofficial” issue. I fully concur. “A coin remains a coin! A coin remains just poor metal and for us, it doesn't have any value. Art has value to our eyes. Not metal.”
From Mr. Medina, I also received his next couple of coins: the 2005 2 Numismas (2 versions, also bi-metallic, similar in design to the '04 pieces: one in niclal/alpaca and one in niclal/brass), and the 2005 “Albert Einstein” 2 Numismas.
In a related footnote, I encountered Mr. Medina's Web-site several years ago while searching the Internet for micro-national coins. I sent him an e-mail, asking if he intended to produce a coin any time in the future. He said that he'd like to, but that there were no immediate plans for doing so. Naturally, I kept Kamberra in the back of my mind. Then, in 2003, as I was attempting to finalize the designs for my first Isle of Heliopolis coin, I felt I needed a French-speaking person to properly translate this fictional place-name. So, I asked this favor of Mr. Medina and he kindly obliged. Afterwards, I felt extremely grateful to him, especially since the best I could come up with, on my own, was “L'ile du Heliopolis” (without the necessary accent marks and the additional apostrophe). Thancks, Franck! Je vous en serai éternellement reconnaissant. Merci encore pour votre gentillesse et votre aide!
Images of Kamberra's coinage can also be viewed at the Coin Library of the USNS:
http://www.usns.info/coin-kamberra.html

UNITED FEDERATION OF KORONIS: In 1966, The Outer Space Treaty (a.k.a. the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies) was considered by the Legal Subcommittee of UNOOSA (United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs; they are responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space) and it was adopted by the UN General Assembly that same year, in resolution 2222 (XXI). The Outer Space Treaty, which provides the basic framework on international space law, entered into force on October 10, 1967. It has been ratified by 98 States, and an additional 27 have signed it (as of 1 January 2007). According to the Koronis Federation's official Web-site (http://www.koronisfederation.org/), “Article II of the Outer Space Treaty governs the appropriation of space resources. Article II provides that ‘Outer Space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.’ International lawyers differ in their interpretation of the term ‘national appropriation.’ Most interpret Article II narrowly to prohibit only national appropriation while others interpret the clause broadly to prohibit all forms of appropriation, including private and international appropriation.” Favoring the narrow interpretation of Article II over the broad one, “the Koronis family of asteroids were appropriated by the now Monarch” — King Aramar — “on 22/4/06 to form the United Federation of Koronis.” Though this collective constitutes many hundreds of small asteroids orbiting between the planets Mars and Jupiter, the principal activities of Koronis are related to the 8 larger bodies: 243 Ida (the nominal capital of the Federation), 158 Koronis, 167 Urda, 208 Lacrimosa, 263 Dresda, 277 Elvira, 311 Claudia, and 321 Florintina. “The UFK is primarily a land-based federation,” but because “the asteroids are currently uninhabitable,” they've “established government offices on Earth for the purposes of conducting its activities and relationships. The government of The Federation is a constitutional monarchy with the appointed members of cabinet (representing each of the 8 main asteroids) responsible ongoing government business.” In summation, Koronis is literally the most far-out micro-nation to come down the pike since Celestia (see my separate listing for this coin-issuing entity).
The UFK representative with whom I entered into contact is Mr. Surjit S. Wadhwa. He is an amateur astronomer (even a semi-professional — he has published some material in the field of contact binary stars) who is also a member of state and national associations. His interest in micronations started after a chance encounter with some individuals who belonged to a regional amateur astronomy group based in New South Wales. Mr. Wadhwa accidentally came across this local band of astronomers in 2005 while visiting friends, and he was accepted as a new member. This humble coterie of nonprofessional stargazers has chosen to remain relatively private. They have requested, “for reasons I am not clear about”, that their identity not be revealed, and Mr. Wadhwa has respected their wishes. Since becoming associated with Koronis, his understanding of its early history is that a few (2 or 3) members of the group thought about forming a micronation project (“space based — what else would you expect”) in 1988, but had kept this plan of action among themselves. “They made a few notes but did not really formalise a structure as such.” Like all amateur groups, theirs contained people “from various vocations including a number of solicitors/lawyers with an interest in international law.” Their legal experience led them to believe that there seemed to be a solid legal basis for the existence of a stellar micro-nation. Though the idea behind the proposal initially stemmed from a fireside chat, “one of the members looked into the ‘law’ behind the ‘claiming’ of celestial bodies. This went on for a number years with some very ‘legal’ discussions at astronomy club meetings. Unfortunately due to varied circumstances the project layed dormant from about 1989 until late 1994.” That year, the idea was revived “when a couple of newer members of the astronomy group suggested forming a ‘country’ and this led the older members to open their previous notes and formalise The United Federation of Koronis. Discussions took place again and on this occasion the legal consensus was that individual claiming of celestial bodies where not much exploration had taken place could/should be valid. The lawyers seem to suggest that on places where significant ‘human’ activity had taken place (e.g. moon and most of the planets) maybe difficult to justify, similarly they thought that claiming of celestial bodies where there was no human exploration and unlikely to occur (i.e. most of the known universe) would also be difficult to lay a claim. This analysis led our group to consider any celestial bodies which had had some human ‘contact’ but were relatively unexplored — i.e. similar to an unclaimed island in international waters. Many ideas were floated including comets, moons of the planets etc however legal opinion was always that there had been too much exploration to justify a claim. The idea of claiming an asteroid was only recent and when the Galileo probe visualised 243 Ida — an asteroid with a moon — the decision was taken. The group did send some letters to the UN informing them of their action with no reply.” This was repeated in April 2006, after they established a Web-site, again with no reply. “We have not heard any rejection of our claim from the Secretary General of the UN.” The Federation is “essentially a small sub-group within the larger amateur astronomy group.” The club remains isolated “and there is no mention of it in the amateur astronomy groups monthly newsletters.”
When Mr. Wadhwa, who also happens to be a numismatist, became aware of their “private” nation, he suggested the minting of coins as an additional avenue to broaden their horizons. “I had heard of small soverign ‘countries’ in Australia such as Hutt River but was fascinated by the concept of Koronis.” Thus, combined with Mr. Wadhwa's “interest in things numismatic”, the power of the internet has led the Federation's founders to a whole new arena. “I have convinced the members of Koronis to expand beyond their so far insular existence.” On 26/4/06, The UFK issued its first coins: a set of four in the denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 Kao. I obtained them directly from the Federation, via HRH Prince Ian Stewart. These pieces “were minted using a simple lithographic transfer onto light metal discs (aluminum).” The 5 and 10 Kao are silver-finished and single-sided; the 25 and 50 Kao are gold-finished and double-sided (incidentally, the 10 and 50 Kao are quite large — 50mm). They all show the Federation's coat-of-arms. I also secured one of the five double-sided 5 Kao coins, which were minted solely as a “trial striking”.
Apart from the images at Koronis Web-site, the Kao tokens can be viewed at the site of Mr. Haseeb Naz’s private collection:
http://chiefacoins.com/Database/Micro-Nations/United_Federation_of_Koronis.htm
They can also be seen at the Web-site of Mr. Vidal:
http://www.jfvcoins.com/Productos/micronations_english=catDK.html

KUMALONGOOLA: I have not been able to uncover any information about this “locale”. Because of its mysteriousness, this coin takes me back to my early days of collecting “unusual” coins — when even the Internet (still in its childhood) was devoid of clues about most micro-national and fantasy coins. I always attempt to find out everything there is to know about each numismatic discovery that falls within this category. Nowadays, it is pretty rare to come across a coin that is truly “inexplicable”. In most cases, it’s not terribly difficult to gather at least a smattering of information (sometimes it involves sending numerous e-mails, sometimes it involves translating chunks of text, sometimes it involves locating a copy of an obscure book). But in this case — nothing. And to be honest, I am perfectly content with this outcome. Once in a blue moon, it is pleasant to be utterly perplexed by a coin from a bygone era. The obverse of the coin bears the wording “KUMALONGOOLA” (the place-name, I assume) and “1000 LAZISTAS” (the denomination); it also features, in the center, an image of an anthropomorphic crescent moon and a group of stars — it eerily resembles the controversial logo of Procter & Gamble Co., which consists of a man's face on a moon surrounded by (or overlooking) thirteen stars (the formation of stars is markedly different, however). The reverse says “DIVID-EN-DAY REX” (the king of this land) and the year “1920”; it also features, in the center, a fairly unsophisticated image of the aforementioned ruler (he’s wearing a tiny crown, and it is leaning so drastically to one side that it almost seems ready to fall off his head). It is made of bronze. It is made of bronze. I purchased it from Mr. Eric Holcomb. Do I think this coin truly originated in 1920? Though I can’t rule out the possibility that this fantasy piece was produced in “modern” times, the coin does look and feel “old”.


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