Links to Micro-national and Fantasy coins: Listings M

Links To Micro-National and Fantasy Coins: Listings M




MATTOLE FREE STATE: This geographical designation is more of a concept than a political statement, and it exemplifies the spirit of the people living in the Mattole River watershed, commonly known as “The Mattole”. Beginning in 2004, the united and industrious folks residing in that area have embarked on a special endeavor known as the Mattole Self-Sufficiency Project. According to the Web-site (http://mattoleselfhelp.org/), of the MSSP, “The Mattole Valley is located in northwestern California, southwest of Eureka, in a region known as the ‘Lost Coast,’ so named because the terrain is very rugged and the California coastal highway turns inland, by-passing about 80 miles of coastline. As a geographically isolated region, the people living in the Mattole have developed a strong sense of community and a culture of independence and self-sufficiency. As modern society becomes more homogenized and regimented, we feel it is important to preserve and enhance such relatively free and unregimented societies. There are three aspects of a society that we address. These are (1) the economy, (2) the environment, and (3) the culture. Each of these three aspects needs to be in balance in order for a society to thrive. A society that is balanced in each of these aspects is a sustainable society, based on a sustainable economy, a sustainable environment, and a sustainable culture. The Mattole Self-Sufficiency Project initiates, promotes, and/or encourages projects designed to promote a sustainable society here in the Mattole Valley. We compete with nobody, we cooperate for everybody. Diversity of thought is encouraged.” Anyone can join the MSSP, and they encourage conscientious people from all walks of life to be “part of the solution rather than part of the problem.” After all, “We live in a bountiful place. The ocean, the river, the forests, and the fields can provide our sustenance and shelter. In return, we all have an obligation to live in harmony with the ocean, the river, the forests, and the fields so that our children, our children's children, and their children, can enjoy the bounty that we enjoy.” Upon perusing the Web-site, I learned that Mr. Ken Young is the main representative and/or person to contact for the MSSP. When I asked him about the origins of the Free State, he replied: “The Mattole isn't exactly the type of place that was ‘founded.’ Founding sort of implies there is some organization and structure. The people that live here, for the most part, came here to get away from all that stuff. There are two towns in the lower Mattole and a few more in the upper Mattole but none of them are incorporated. There are no police (the sheriff's deputy passes thru once a week or so), no McDonalds or other franchises, no billboards or advertising, etc etc and we get along just fine. As is typical in the Mattole, a group was formed, talked about some ideas, and then the people that started the group found other interests after I joined. Since I was pretty much the only one committed to actually DO something, people seem content to let me do ‘my thing’ and others join in or contribute their efforts as they have the interest and willingness to devote some time to it. You need to realize that people that live here DON'T want other people telling them what to do and are (rightly) suspicious of formal structures, people ‘in charge’ of things, and so forth. For example, the Mattole Valley Community Center board does not have a president. I am the secretary and I run the meetings and we have a treasurer who takes care of finances but there is no one person who is in charge. Most decisions are made by consensus and people contribute what and when they feel like doing.” The Mattole, safely nestled in its isolated mountain valley (“This is a VERY rural area.”), is now a small rural community of several hundred people.
In terms of economics, the leaders of the MSSP are not proponents of the “Federal Reserve note that you use today. It does not have a payee, a due date, or an amount that is to be paid in money. Hence, it is NOT a note. It contains the words ‘This note is legal tender for all debts public and private.’ This means that Federal Reserve notes have value only by government edict and, by our definition of money, cannot be considered as proper money. Federal Reserve notes serve as a medium of exchange thru a dictate of the US government and are commonly referred to as money.” As a consequence, they feel that “The present banking system under the Federal Reserve is termed a ‘debt-money’ system since all money is created thru borrowing (debt). Such a debt-money system is inherently unstable as the following exercise demonstrates.” These convictions led the MSSP to plan for the implementation of a community currency to be used in their own commercial/financial transactions. After all, “Part of being self-sufficient is having a medium of exchange to facillitate barter that is relatively independent of national and world influences. Of course, this raises the question as to why a medium of exchange (money) is even needed.” Some of the MSSP’s original musings (dated March 2005) about how a local currency could work can still be found at their Web-site: “It is rather unlikely that a national treasury money system could ever be implemented in the United States. The major stockholders in the big banks would have too much to lose and they pretty much control the US government. Hence, it is up to us, at the local level, to declare our independence from the debt-money system and adopt a local money system that is consistent with the principles of a sustainable society. Since there is no government in the Mattole, laws, edicts, and taxes are not options. However, a properly designed money system can generate revenue from interest bearing loans and, as noted above, this can be sufficient to not only operate the money system (printing currency, minting coins, and maintaining banking hours) but to fund other needed projects in the community as well. The introduction of a local currency would require that it be backed by something of value. A good candidate would be silver since it has traditional acceptance (world-wide) and is readily converted to Federal Reserve notes. The local currency would consist of both of paper (made from hemp) money and silver coins. The unit of currency would be the ‘petol’ after the native tribe that inhabited the Mattole Valley before settlement by white pioneers. The petol initially would be set to have a value close to one Federal Reserve dollar. The paper money would be readily convertible to silver coins or Federal Reserve notes at exchange rates determined by the current price of silver. Since silver is on an up trend, this means that the number of US dollars that could be obtained for one petol would increase over time, i.e., the value of the US dollar would decrease compared to the petol. This would be an advantage to Mattole residents holding petols.” The text goes on to describe how, after the local currency becomes established and accepted, it would be feasible to make loans (strictly in Petols) to permanent Mattole residents wishing to initiate projects that would benefit the community (like starting a new business). “To keep the loan process ‘legal, ’ a private organization, the Mattole River Bank would be formed...The MRB would assume the functions of printing paper money and minting coins, as well as exchanging dollars for petols and vice versa.”
The Mattole Self-Sufficiency Project has indeed begun issuing its own local currency. “We are the first community in this country to have our own REAL money (silver coins).” It was initially proposed that these pieces “would be Mattole Sesquicentenial commemorative coins.” By this particular anniversary, I think Mr. Young had the town of Petrolia — a part of the Mattole Valley — in mind. “Petrolia (where I live) is considered to have been settled around 1854 (we had a sesquicentennial celebration in 2004) but that could be off by a year or two. The first white folk to settle in the Mattole came a few years earlier.” The first medallion issued by the Mattole Free State is a silver 10 Petols piece, dated 2007, which became available on July 9th of that year. The images (Pacific salmon, river, cascading waterfall, redwood tree) depicted on the coin’s obverse “are obvious Mattole symbols. The sun rising represents the rise of a new paradigm of sustainability.” The theme on its reverse is alimentation: “where does a sustainable society obtain its food? A sustainable society produces the great majority of its own food thru gardening, ranching, and gathering. The culture, ecology, and economy represent the three pillars of a sustainable society with the culture being the way people think about how they live. If people do not consider how their actions may affect the environment and the economy within which they live and modify their actions to maintain sustainable balances in the environment and economy, then their society will not be sustainable.” Fittingly, the reverse shows a farmer/rancher (he’s tending to his garden with one of his sheep standing in the background) along with the words “ECOLOGY — ECONOMY — CULTURE” and “For a Sustainable Society”.
Inquisitive people often make inquiries as to the true monetary value of the 10 Petols medallion. “The answer is that they are worth one ounce of silver. Since silver is REAL money and Federal Reserve Notes are NOT (they are fiat money), the proper question is how many Federal Reserve dollars can I buy with my 10 petol piece, i.e., what is the cost of a Federal Reserve dollar in terms of petols. The exchange rate will depend on the current exchange rate between Federal Reserve dollars and silver metal…Altho one ounce of silver can be sold pretty much anywhere in the world for its silver value, Mattole money is bought and sold by the Mattole Coin Shop which will be at the MSSP Farmer's Market and at other times/places during the year…What you do with Mattole money is a matter of personal preference. You can make them into pendants or simply put them away as a good investment. You can trade them back and forth as with bartering. Just don't take them into a bank and try to exchange them for US Federal Reserve notes. If you want to exchange them for Federal Reserve notes, contact the Mattole Coin Shop which will be at the Farmer's Markets on third Sunday of each month from February thru September. Mattole money is intended to commemorate life in the Mattole and the concepts of sustainability. Note that the US Federal government has claimed exclusive use of the word ‘coin’ to refer to the metal money that it circulates in denominations from one cent to one dollar. Only the one cent piece actually has an intrinsic value close to its exchange value. None of the coins that the US government has in circulation are legal money according to the US Constitution. Rather than refer to the pieces of Mattole money as ‘small round pieces of metal that serve as money but cannot be called coins because the US government harasses people who do so’ or ‘SRPMTSAMBCBCCBUSGHPWDS’ for short, perhaps we should refer to them ‘lromps’ (pronounced el-romps) for little round metal pieces. Meanwhile, WE know what they are.” The money that is being raised from the sale of the initial 10 Petols medallion is “being used to ‘lock in’ the price of silver for” future coins. The MSSP planned on issuing several additional coins for the Free State. From the outset, they envisioned a wide range of additional denominations, including fractionals: ¼, ½, 1, 2, 5, 20 Petols. The silver coins will “be used primarily for making change, i.e., being used as a medium of exchange [should the necessity arise]”, and they “will also be primarily used as a store of value” (their worth “should appreciate over time as the value of the US dollar declines and the price of silver [in terms of dollars] continues to rise”). The base metal coins will “give us a fairly full range of petols for use in everyday transactions…The plan is to use the same obverse design for all the different denominations (with different year dates) but have different themes for the reverse of each different denomination.” These themes would “reflect some significant aspect of life in the Mattole.” Other possible themes include agriculture, fishing, ranching, timber, energy, transportation, and clothes/fabrics. “The design of these coins is open to Mattole residents with the winning design receiving ten petols and the honor of having their initials as part of the design of the coin.” Eventually, after all the other Mattole coins were minted (the piecemeal process took over a year), it became clear that they do indeed have the same obverse as the 10 Petols, as well as the same wording from its reverse. The ½ Petol piece (brass), dated 2008, features two musicians (a female fiddler and a male guitarist). The 1 Petol piece (0.1 oz. silver), dated 2008, features a pair of plants (one of them is a marijuana leaf). The 2 Petols piece (0.2 oz. silver), dated 2008, features transportation as a theme (a horse-drawn wagon and a tandem bicycle). The 5 Petols piece (0.5 oz. silver), dated 2008, features a woman weaving on a loom (an old spinning wheel is also depicted). The 20 Petols piece (2 oz. silver), dated 2008, features items pertaining to sustainable energy (a waterwheel, a windmill, and a solar energy panel). These 6 coins (half, one, two, five, ten, twenty) constitute the entire series (a quarter piece was never minted).
Mr. Young, from whom I purchased one of the gorgeous 10 Petols pieces, states that “The Mattole coins are strictly my idea. It took a while (months) for others associated with the MSSP to see how they would fit in and become supportive of the concept. After a year of talking about designs and reaching no consensus, I simply decided that since I was funding the project, that I would take what we had and make the final decision, and get it done. No one has had a problem with that and the coins are VERY popular here in the Valley.” Over the years, Mr. Young has read a lot about the Liberty Dollar (see my separate listing for NORFED) and many of the community/local currencies that exist in the United States. He has also collected coins since he was in high school (1950s). “These gave me ideas as to what should and should not be done in creating a system of money. Reading about what happened to Bernard [von NotHaus] has also influenced the direction I am taking with the Mattole money. First, don't issue paper currency backed by silver/gold because the metal backing the paper can be confiscated by the feds and then your paper currency is worthless. Second, don't call them dollars (not that we wanted to anyway). Third, disperse the coins as quickly and widely as possible. Once they are out there, they will do ‘their own thing’ and it will be exceedingly difficult for the feds to confiscate very many of them. I am hoping that other communities will decide to produce similar coins for their own communities. With the same size coins and same exchange rate with US dollars, the coins would be completely interchangeable between the various communities and we would have a completely decentralized money system. That would be even harder for the feds to stop. One of the major businesses in Eureka (not part of the Mattole) is considering accepting petols. The owner of the business is quite community-minded and I plan to talk to him about setting up a system of Humboldt (county) coins, patterned after the Mattole coins. I've tried to devise a conversion system that is simple for the merchants. If the system is too complex and takes too much effort, they won't try it and I can't blame them. It is the KISS principle [‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’]. The exchange rate can remain the same for several weeks on occasion which is nice and the exchange rate is in simple multiples of the US dollar. I am contemplating printing up tables showing the dollar equivalents for each of the coins in the series, for each ‘setting’ of the exchange rate. That way, the merchant would simply change the table when the exchange rate changes and it would be easy to see the dollar equivalent of say a 2 petol coin. I am not set up to ‘market’ the coins and there never was any intent to sell them to collectors. They really are intended to be used as money. It got to the point where taking care of the mail order stuff was taking more time than I could afford.” The coins “are available in the Mattole Valley and pretty much nowhere else. They are intended to be used as a medium of exchange and a store of value, as all proper money should be. Hence, there is no marketing, sales, etc etc.” So, as a functional alternative currency, most of these coins are in the hands of the men and women of the Mattole. For the most part, specimens could be obtained no place else except by personally visiting the small rural community of several hundred people and making friends with the locals. Fortunately, Mr. Young has allowed a limited number of the coins to be available from Mr. Oded Paz (usns2003@sbcglobal.net), founder of the Unrecognised States Numismatic Society (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UnrecognisedStatesNumismaticSociety/ and http://www.usns.info/). Mr. Paz “is part of a small but growing group of collectors of coins from non-recognized ‘nations’ and they are pooling their orders so I only have one order to deal with each month. He (or his group) will be the ones to obtain coins from, unless of course, you come to Humboldt county.”
According to an article (Sept. 27, 2007) by Jenoa Briar-Bonpane in The North Coast Journal of Politics, People and Art, Mr. Young — a farmer, salt maker and physicist — “is a fixture at the monthly farmers’ market at the historic Mattole Grange Hall.” This “maverick Petrolia resident” can often be found “Sitting behind a table displaying juicy red tomatoes, homemade salt and Petols”. As the mastermind behind this new coinage, “Young felt compelled to create the Petol in response to what he believes is a wildly out-of-balance money system in the United States”. He is a “humble, lean man” who “describes the Petol as his legacy to a community he clearly cares deeply about. His own nest egg covered the bill for the first 2,000 Petol coins”. His alternative currency is “already accepted as payment at the monthly farmers’ market, and Young is certain that practice will expand to other commerce in time.” And it actually has. “Rick Moorehead, a holistic health practitioner, is already accepting Petols as payment for his services. He has set a price in Petols for his treatments and even offers a discount to clients using them for payment. ‘I’d rather be paid in silver or gold than in U.S. dollars, because it’s real money,’ Moorehead says. ‘Federal Reserve Notes are just IOU’s, they’re basically debt-notes.’” Unfortunately, several local businesses were still unsure whether or not to accept the Petols: “As for whether Petol holders can use their shiny new silver for supplies at the good old Petrolia General Store, owner Denise Goforth says she has made no decision about whether or how the Petol will be used: ‘I don’t know anything about it. I’ve heard of the Petols, but no one has approached me about taking them here’.” Furthermore, “Jackie Roscoe, Petrolia postmaster, says she’ll never take Petols at the Post Office because, as she explains, ‘I don’t own the Post Office and it’s not real money.’ Like many people just learning about the Petol, Roscoe struggles to imagine how it would really work as actual money. Even though local residents could use it for individual transactions. ‘We have to pay rent and pay the gas man and they aren’t going to take Petols,’ she reasons. But she adds that she has bought some of the coins for herself, because she considers them beautiful.” No argument there! “In the local race for sustainability, Young maintains that Petols are a ‘little step toward freedom…it’s revolutionary.’ And with his disarming smile and glimmer in his eye, he adds, ‘I’m a troublemaker.’”

McMURDO (STATION): This is the name of an Antarctic research center located on the southwestern corner of Ross Island — near the tip of Hut Point Peninsula — on the shore of McMurdo Sound. Though Ross Island is part of the Ross Dependency — New Zealand's sector of Antarctica — McMurdo Station is operated by the United States. In preparation for Antarctic research to be conducted during the International Geophysical Year (IGY), U.S. Naval Construction Battalion personnel (Seabees) began building McMurdo Station during the 1955-1956 austral summer. The United States officially opened its first station at McMurdo on February 16, 1956. Founders initially called the station Naval Air Facility McMurdo. It became the center of scientific and logistical operations during the IGY. The facility was renamed McMurdo Station in 1961. The station is now the largest community in Antarctica, capable of supporting hundreds of residents (its winter population is approximately 200-250; the summer population reaches 1,000). The primary focus of the work done at McMurdo Station is science, but most of these residents are not scientists, but station personnel who are there to provide support for operations, logistics, information technology, construction, and maintenance. The station serves as the central staging facility for the U.S. Antarctic Program and the logistics base for half the continent. All personnel and cargo going to or coming from Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station first pass through McMurdo. The station has grown from an outpost of a few structures in the mid-1950s to a complex logistics staging facility with more than 100 buildings. McMurdo includes a “downtown” area, science and support facilities, an outlying airport (Williams Field) — not to mention a blue ice (glacial ice) runway and a summer landing strip on the sea ice — a harbor, and a heliport. There is even a bowling alley and a 9-hole disc golf (sometimes called frisbee golf) course on site. McMurdo looks like a small Alaskan mining town, with above-ground heating, water, sewer, telephone and power lines.
Numismatically speaking, McMurdo has inspired the minting of a $10 coin. The piece is dated 1957-1987 in order to commemorate the anniversary of the onset of International Geophysical Year (in 1952, the International Council of Scientific Unions proposed a comprehensive series of global geophysical activities to span the period July 1957-December 1958; the International Geophysical Year, as it was called, was timed to coincide with the high point of the eleven-year cycle of sunspot activity; furthermore, it was modeled on the International Polar Years of 1882-1883 and 1932-1933; the intent of the IGY was to allow scientists from around the world to take part in a series of coordinated observations of various geophysical phenomena; although representatives of 46 countries originally agreed to participate in this international scientific effort, by the close of the activity, 67 countries had become involved). The legend on the reverse reads “Where All Dominions and Directions Meet Through Wind and Ice Umbrage”. The McMurdo piece was truly a groundbreaking coin. There had never been anything quite like it before on the numismatic scene. Though it was made in 1987, most collectors wouldn’t even know it existed until about 16 years later with the aide of the World-Wide Web (I began composing these micro-national/fantasy listings and write-ups in 2003). Personally, I learned about the highly original and inventive piece not too long after the start of the new millennium, when a tiny clue appeared on the Internet: an odd coin from Antarctica was included on a price-list from Aspen Coins (http://www.aspencoins.com). It was the unprecedented McMurdo piece. Upon acquiring it, I desperately wanted to learn more about this mysterious work of art. I scoured the Internet, but time and time again I kept striking out. My hunt for details repeatedly turned up blank; everyone seemed absolutely baffled by it, which was not surprising in those days. I even discovered, to my disappointment, that the Web-site of the McMurdo Historical Society was no longer in operation. After more than a year had elapsed, I encountered a listing on eBay which contained a sampling of coins made from unconventional metals, including an Enderbyland piece (see below) and one of the original Kerguelen pieces (see below). I surmised that there was probably a direct connection between both of those Antarctica coins and the McMurdo coin, even though the auction made no mention of this. Fortunately, the text did divulge the name of the person who had designed those 2 hardy specimens; so at long last, a breakthrough! I finally had something tangible to go by. Armed with this information, I found myself in front of the computer once more, but it only led me to one dead-end after another. Months passed by, but I was still determined; I sent scores of queries to an array of people, all to no avail. Eventually, I thought of another spontaneous tactic: there was someone at the Tokens and Medal Society with whom I'd had some pleasant numismatic dealings. I decided to e-mail him and plead for his assistance. Sure enough, I ascertained that the influential Mr. Fred R. Zinkann was indeed a member of TAMS; my perseverance had finally paid off and yielded a positive result — his mailing address. I immediately began writing him a letter. Thus, contact was made, and my protracted, convoluted quest came to a satisfying conclusion! Although it is true that if only I'd been more patient, I would've eventually been able to find out his identity anyway (now that Mr. Zinkann frequents eBay), and without all the effort. But that wouldn't have been nearly as fun and challenging! I consider Mr. Zinkann to be an outstanding mentor, one who played a major role in providing me with enough inspiration to mint my own coins. He sells many of his creations, including the Vatican fantasy pieces (Pope Matthew I 1989 3 Ducats, Pope Joseph 2007 10 Euro) and the Islas Malvinas 2006 5 Australes fantasy piece, on eBay (his user ID is equillink).
Images of the McMurdo coin can be viewed at the Coin Library of the USNS:
http://www.usns.info/coin-mcmurdo.html
Images of the above-mentioned Vatican coin can be viewed at the site of Mr. Chaim Dov Shiboleth’s private collection:
http://www.taedivm.org/coin-papalfantasy1.html
ENDERBYLAND: A region of East Antarctica under Australian jurisdiction. Enderby Land, as its name is more commonly written, was the site of the Molodezhnaya Station, which was operated by the Russians from 1962 until its closing in 1998-99. It is important to provide some information about East Antarctica. Also called Greater Antarctica, this is one of the two major regions of the Antarctic continent, lying on the Indian Ocean side — the east side — of the Transantarctic Mountains and comprising Coats Land, Queen Maud Land, Enderby Land, Mac Robertson Land, Wilkes Land and Victoria Land. All but a small portion of this region lies within the Eastern Hemisphere, a fact that has suggested the name. The name has been in existence since circa 1902/05, but its greatest use followed the International Geophysical Year and explorations disclosing that the Transantarctic Mountains provide a useful regional separation of East Antarctica and West Antarctica (see my listing for the Grand Duchy of Westarctica). East Antarctica is also referred to as the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) — the center of which is called the Polar Plateau because its average height is almost a mile above sea level; its surface is relatively smooth with a slight slope. The EAIS is the largest ice sheet in the entire world and it rests upon a large land mass — contrary to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which rests on frozen water. The EAIS is home to the South Pole (also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole), the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth.
I obtained the Enderbyland 1990 copper 1 Sovereign directly from its creator, in a swap for one of my 2003 Zilchstadt coins. I was also lucky enough to obtain one of the molybdenum pieces from him. More recently, I traded a couple of my 2005 Zilchstadt medallions for the aluminum and brass versions (2004 restrikes) of this piece, as well as one of my 2006 Héliopolis coins for the interesting version struck (in 2003) onto a U.S. quarter.
Images of the Enderbyland coin can be viewed at the Coin Library of the USNS:
http://www.usns.info/coin-enderbyland.html
ÎLES KERGUELEN: An archipelago, in the South Indian Ocean, which is one of the of the 4 districts comprising the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises, a “territoire d’outre-mer” — an overseas territory — that was formed in 1955. The “capital town” of the Archipel des Kerguelen is known as Port-Aux-Français; this base was established in 1949 and is located at the eastern end of the Golfe du Morbihan on the main island. Originally called Desolation Island, this tract is the largest of the area's 300 land formations, islets, and reefs.
In 1981, Mr. Zinkann struck an undated 25 Francs Kerguelen Islands coin (the granddaddy of them all, Antarctically speaking, especially now that Westarctica — see one of my subsequent listings — has entered the picture), but both dies and the rim collar broke after only 3 had been made. This was due to the extreme hardness of the experimental tungsten planchets (a true pioneer, he has struck his coins in several other non-traditional, dense and scarce metals, such as chromium, cobalt, hafnium, iridium, niobium, palladium, rhenium, tantalum, titanium, and zirconium). Kerguelen redux! I don’t know whether or not my urgings played a small role (I'd be equally exhilarated either way), but in 2003, Mr. Zinkann produced a marvelous 20 Francs piece for the Îles Kerguelen. I obtained it in exchange for my 2004 Héliopolis coin.
Images of the Kerguelen coins can be viewed at the Coin Library of the USNS:
http://www.usns.info/coin-kerguelen.html
ÎLES CROZET: A sub-antarctic archipelago of small islands situated in the Southern Indian Ocean; also incorporated as an integral part of the autonomous Territoire des Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises. The Crozet Islands — also known as the Archipel Crozet — are quite uninhabited, except for the scientific station Alfred-Faure, on the east side of Île de la Possession, which has been continuously manned since 1963.
I purchased the resplendent 2005 Îles Crozet 20 Francs directly from Mr. Zinkann, who has brilliantly imbued the piece with an enchanting playfulness that is a pure pleasure to behold.
Images of the Îles Crozet coin can be viewed at the site of Mr. Shiboleth's private collection:
http://www.taedivm.org/coin-crozet1.html
TERRE ADÉLIE: This thin slice of the Antarctic continent is the third district belonging to the TAAF. Since 1956, the French have maintained the Dumont d'Urville Station, a permanently staffed research base on Île des Pétrels, which is part of Adélie Land. Several countries — as well as the United Nations — do not recognize the French claim to Terre Adélie, and France's territorial claim is suspended in accordance with the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty.
With this additional 2005 offering from Mr. Zinkann, a delightful 25 Francs piece, it is incontestably clear that the incomparable designer has attained a full-blown aesthetic zenith and that he'll surely occupy these rarefied heights for many years to come. Artistically, he keeps topping himself and his supply of creative inspiration now seems totally unstoppable. Each new coin, mandatorily preceded by months of immense anticipation, distinctly reflects the joyful confidence of a true numismatic master. Mr. Zinkann later issued a similar 25 Francs piece, dated 2007.
Images of the Terre Adélie coin can be viewed at the site of Mr. Shiboleth's private collection:
http://www.taedivm.org/coin-adelie.html
ÎLES AMSTERDAM ET ST. PAUL: These neighboring Peri-Antarctic islands, located in the southern Indian Ocean, constitute the fourth/final district pertaining to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands; in 1955, the territory was fully incorporated, together with Îles Kerguelen, Îles Crozet and Terre Adélie — the French-claimed sector of Antarctica proper — as the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises. Both are unglacierized islands of volcanic origin. Île Saint-Paul is a tiny, oblong island — an unglaciated volcanic cone — with one “offlier”. Île Amsterdam — also known as Nouvelle-Amsterdam — is another inactive/extinct volcano, also with its own “offlier”. It is situated about 85 kilometers north of — and on the same meridian as — St. Paul. Île Amsterdam is one of few sub-Antarctic islands to have any sort of tree covering. The district’s main base, established in 1949, is Martin-de-Viviès. Located on the north coast of Amsterdam Island, it is also the “capital” of the entire territoire d’outre-mer.
First, Mr. Zinkann issued a 5€ coin, dated 2005, for “Îles de St. Paul”. This piece was followed by a second 5€ piece, dated 2007, for “Îles Amsterdam & St. Paul”.
Images of the Îles de St. Paul and the Îles Amsterdam & St. Paul coins can be viewed at the Web-site of Mr. Jorge Fernández Vidal:
http://www.jfvcoins.com/Productos/micronations_english=catOS.html
http://www.jfvcoins.com/Productos/micronations_english=catAC.html
VOSTOK (STATION): This is the name of a Russian (formerly Soviet) research facility located near the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility (the point on the Antarctic continent most distant from the Southern Ocean), at the center of the East Antarctica Ice Sheet on the Polar Plateau. Vostok Station is located within the Australian Antarctic Territory (although as a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty System, Australia does not exercise sovereignty over the territory). It was established on December 16, 1957 (during the IGY) by the 2nd Soviet Antarctic Expedition and has operated year-round for decades. The research station was temporarily closed in January 1994. It is now cooperatively operated by Russian, U.S., and French scientists. Vostok Station has an average summer population (scientists and engineers) of 25 and average winter population of 13. It has five main buildings. It is the most isolated of all of the established research stations or bases on the Antarctic continent, located about 1,300 km from the Geographic South Pole. It is also known as the coldest place on the planet: the lowest reliably recorded temperature on earth of –89.2 °C (–128.6 °F) was measured in Vostok on July 21, 1983; though unconfirmed, it has been reported that the station reached the temperature of –91 °C (–132 °F) during the winter of 1997. In 1996, Russian and British scientists from the station discovered Lake Vostok, the largest known subglacial lake in the world, underneath Vostok Station. The lake lies some 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) below the surface of the central Antarctic ice sheet and covers an area of 14,000 km² (5,400 square miles).
The ravishing Vostok 5 Ruble piece is dated 1958-2008 in order to commemorate the anniversary of the conclusion of the IGY (making it a perfect companion-piece to the McMurdo coin). The legend — all in Cyrillic — reads “among cathedrals of ice” (on the obverse) and “on the continent of friends” (on the reverse).
Images of the Vostok coin can be viewed at the Web-site of Mr. Jorge Fernández Vidal:
http://www.jfvcoins.com/Productos/micronations_english=catTZ.html

CITY OF MICRONA: This undertaking was the brainchild of Albert C. Zeller II, President of the Republic of Veshault. The project was started in December of 2001; the city name was incorporated on January 1st 2002, and the owner of the property approved the land purchase on January 3rd. Microna was to have been an actual city in Elko County, Nevada (on State Highway 233, 12 miles south of Montello and 4 miles north of Cobre). It had even been announced that someone named Mary Ambyre Jorgensen was even scheduled to take office as mayor on January 21st. At one point, Mr. Zeller stated that “we want all nations to have a shot at owning real property they can come and live on or just visit yearly for their meetings. Microna was named because of MICRONATIONS.” For a while, the land was going to be split between 6 possible “nations”. Though a few “countries” eventually expressed an interest in taking part of the sextet, all but one ultimately backed out of the enterprise. It then became a joint partnership between Veshault and the Kingdom of TorHavn. Mr. Zeller was also in the process of applying for Microna's own unique Zip Code, and the city had a temporary mailbox in Pahrump, NV. But in the end, “due to a fallen economic structure between micro-nations we were un-able to continue in its venture.” Microna “had faltered by relying on others to succeed and admittedly purchasing 40 acres without being able to afford the whole property on our own was our downfall.” After TorHavn withdrew, Veshault made 2 additional payments but was forced to follow suit and terminate the project because they could not foot the entire monthly bill solo. Apparently, Veshault vanished for nearly two years, but TorHavn remained somewhat reachable as one of the upstanding micronations.
As of November 2004, it appears that Mr. Zeller is once more actively pursuing this venture because “the Republic Of Veshault has awoke from a slumber.” Now that his nation's been revived, Mr. Zeller originally announced that he had located 32 acres of decent, buildable land 7 miles north of Montello, NV (less than a mile west of Dake Reservoir). He was not seeking partners this time around, but was planning to offer rental space and property leases to interested parties. He intended to “build at least 1 building in the ‘City’ to say ‘it can be done’. I would then build a house on Veshaults' piece to live in and call it a day. If other nations want to have me build a fence or small shed/building on their property I would do it for them...” Microna itself would be the main city street (600ft x 200ft in the original project), and other smaller roads would lead to the other tenants' subdivisions/plots. Shorthly thereafter, there was a change in location; by March of '05 he had proclaimed the purchase of 10 acres in West Texas (near Valentine), and did indeed begin to seek other micro-nations who'd be willing to lease/rent sections (100ft x 100ft, 200ft x 200ft) of this property. TorHavn was “back on board the project.” On August 3rd, 2008, Mr. Zeller posted a message in an online micro-national forum: “We still have our 10 acres (fully owned) that we bought in December of 2004 in the State Of Texas and someday when monetarily things go properly I will setup a homestead and invite all micronation leaders out for a ‘spot of tea’ and a possible summit.” Mr. Zeller's Web-site is:
http://veshault.hollosite.com
To help get the city set up and running, “We had minted coins and were disbursing them in hopes of ‘pre-building’ an economy”. After the city was built, the coins were meant to be used by its citizens to purchase items within the city limits. All the monies from the sale of the coins were to have gone into the City Of Microna bank account “to help build the city property and buildings (and possibly pay the land payments).” In January of 2002, it was reported that Microna planned on issuing approximately 150 coins to the United Homeless Organization of New York City; the coins would then be used by destitute men and women to purchase coffee and a doughnut/roll from a few selected street vendors/carts around the area of Penn Station. The coinage in question is the 2002 1 Microna, which was minted by the Hoffman Mint. According to Mr. Zeller, these coins were “minted…to simulate the Ithaca Dollars scheme of money”. I purchased a specimen from HM Kasimir Diana Skyhunter, Regina (the Co-Monarch of TorHavn). Microna's site, which includes an image of the piece, is: http://www.cityofmicrona.com/
Images of the Microna coin can also be viewed at the Coin Library of the USNS:
http://www.usns.info/coin-microna.html
In 2003, as a Constitution Party candidate, Mr. Zeller sought New Jersey's District 17 Senate seat. In a strategy officially called “Giving Back to the People”, he pledged to offer cash to registered voters and to help entice some unregistered ones. He hoped to boost the morale of the general public by handing out $1 to each person who would attend his campaign rallies ($200 maximum per rally), provided that he or she lived in his legislative district and signed his nomination petition. Though advised that his idea would present little or no problem, he retracted this proposal the same day he announced it, after a concerned citizen informed him via e-mail that the giving of moneys would be a violation of a certain legal statute. One of the press releases at http://www.politicsnj.com/ reports that “He also will be giving away special coins via the internet worth $1 each...The $1 offer via the internet is also for a limited time to the first 100 takers.” Could this coin have been the Microna?

REPUBLIC OF MIRAGE ISLANDS: This is a micronation, established in 2003, when its President (the Honourable Mr. Alphonse E. Diaz) declared independence. The Gouvernement de la République des Îles de Mirage has “claimed a few islands near Australia, and is in the process of obtaining a small private island. Complete independence from this new island may be difficult, as it will be under the jurisdiction of the country in which it is located. Negotiations will have to follow — one possibility would be a autonomyous rule of the island.” Unfortunately, “The Mirage Islands is not accessible at this time. There is currently no visa needed, although in the next 5-10 years we anticipate that travel and visas etc will be needed.” Nevertheless, “For charts of the islands, they can be ordered through us, but the ocean charts are quite expensive.” The “High Commision of the Republic of Mirage Islands” is situated in Werrington Downs (New South Wales), Australia. All foreign nationals are invited to apply for citizenship (ID card or passport). For a higher fee, diplomatic passports and diplomatic positions are also available. Shrewdly, the Republic is careful to state that “We do NOT SELL passport, we only process the applications, and thus the way to obtain a passport is by completing the application process. It would be against the law to sell passports.” According to the Honourable Reverend Croft, the Republic’s diplomatic officer (“Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary”) representing the Nordic Region (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark), “All I know about the island(s) is that they are indeed completely private, and fly the Mirage Islands flags on them. I don't know the exact location...All I know on the politically is that the passports have been accepted and used within the European Union by normal citizens (whom have the normal passport) — I've sometimes used the diplomatic passport — and it's all gone without any trouble — in fact one gets VERY RESPECTFUL treatment by officials, hotels etc…So for me it was worth the pay for the application, although it took 2 months before I got my passport. They do seem to check one's records quite well after all — so not just anyone can get a passport. Applicant's must provide certified, attested, notarized and sometimes apostilled copies of their normal national ID/passport before the application can even start properly. That's all I know at this time to tell you about my relationship to the Republic.” Mr. Croft chose to become a citizen/diplomat of the Mirage Islands because he feels that, unlike most other micro-nations, “it actually has some real possibilites of becoming a REAL country, as it owns some islands somewhere…And as the ‘population’ and citizens grow all the time, who knows when the country will have a seat at the UN? There are some requirements for countries to become official. They must have land, citizens, rule of law, and a government — this is something that the Mirage Islands actually has — but before making any big steps, the land must be developed, infrastructure, banking, etc must be developed. From what I at this point think is, that the Islands will at first begin with a private vacation resort, and thereby build up sufficient capital.” The Mirage Islands has minted “a special commemoration coin”. This is a uniface piece. Not only is it undated, but it also bears no specific denomination. It does, however, feature the bust of a man, accompanied by the phrase “sic transit gloria mundi” (thus passes the glory of the world). I purchased several of these pieces directly from Mr. Anthony Croft, who assured me that “We expect to mint new coins in the near future.” The official Web-site of the Gouvernement de la République des Îles de Mirage (http://www.mirage-islands.org/) also has a Gift Shop which sells other official memorabilia/merchandise (shirts, a cap, a cup, even a “string thong for women”).
The Mirage Islands has also purportedly struck a high-relief pure gold (986/1000) Ducat. The obverse displays the Republic’s logo, and the reverse features a Wyvern. Unlike the earlier, one-sided coin, this piece does indeed bear the name of its ocean-based issuer. It also features the year in which it was made — 2005 — accompanied by the Latin motto “Quo fas et gloria docunt” (where right and glory lead). Quite unconventionally, none of this text can be found on the front or the back of the coin. All of it (“with a very light engraving”) appears along what numismatists refer to as the “third side” of the coin — the edge. Mr. Croft states that “there are now only 100 of these coins minted, and no more will be done of this special coin, which was meant for our first 100 citizens”. At least 96 of them have already been purchased by the folks for whom they were originally intended. I attempted to buy one of the remaining pieces and — to make a long story short — I must confess that it was absolutely one of the worst numismatic experiences of my life. If I never hear mention of the Mirage Islands again, that’d be perfectly fine with me.

REPUBLIC OF MOLOSSIA: According to their Web-site (http://www.molossia.org/countryeng.html), which is stylistically modeled after those of Togo and Equatorial Guinea, Molossia “is a sovereign, independent nation, located in and completely surrounded by territory of the United States.” With a total area of 2.5 hectares (6.3 acres), “Molossia is one of the smallest nations on earth, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in spirit. A sense of humor characterizes most Molossian people, which, coupled with the casual and comfortable western lifestyle, makes Molossia an enjoyable place to visit. Molossia is located in the western United States, a tiny enclave in the State of Nevada [the Province of Harmony] and a second enclave in Southern California [the Province of Desert Homestead].” The governmental heart of the Republic of Molossia — it is headquartered near the town of Dayton — is the Province of Harmony, a .5 hectare (1.3 acres) site which lies in the high-desert Great Basin, east of Carson City and south-east of Reno. “Situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Molossian Home Territory is just 45 kilometers from beautiful Lake Tahoe, and minutes away from Virginia City, a famous Nevada mining town and tourist attraction.” This micronation “has its own Navy, Naval Academy, Space Program, Railroad, Postal Service, Bank, tourist attractions, measurement system, holidays, online movie theater, online radio station, and even its own time zone.”
Molossian history goes back to the Grand Republic of Vuldstein, which was founded on May 26th, 1977 (year I) and headed by James Spielman (King James I) and Kevin Baugh (Prime Minister). Baugh has written that “The Grand Republic of Vuldstein was the father of the nation that is now known as Molossia. I do not consider that nation to be different than Molossia in any way, except in name. Thus, the lineage of Molossia extends back through the years all the way back to Vuldstein, much as many European nations trace their lineage back centuries through various names, to a time before they even had a national identity.” In effect, Vuldstein/Edelstein/Zaria “are all names that pertained to the same political entity”, and Baugh is unflinching in his affirmation that Molossia proper was founded in 1977. He admits that “events were quite fluid at the time”, but he has nevertheless recorded some important milestones. “After a short period of sporadic activity the nation entered into a period of dormancy.” Baugh alone continued with the monarch-less Kingdom. “King James I, though still monarch, ceased to be active in the kingdom at that time. The Kingdom continued on, without the direct participation of the King, and continued to be developed by the Prime Minister. In 1980 III it was renamed the Kingdom of Edelstein, and in 1988 XI it was renamed again, this time as the Kingdom of Zaria. The Kingdom existed as a nomadic government, without a home. Carried on by the Prime Minister, the Government traveled to Europe. While in Europe, and after its return from Europe in 1992 XV, the Kingdom prospered and grew culturally.” In 1995 (year XVIII), Baugh transplanted his entire undertaking to Nevada. In May of 1998 (year XXI), “land was purchased that our nation could call home, and upon which the government was formally and officially established.” At this point, “The Kingdom is renamed Molossia and proclaimed upon our new land.” In June of that year, “the Kingdom was renounced in favor of a provisional Communist government. In September 1998 XXI, Molossia sacrificed its sovereignty and joined the United Provinces of Utopia as a province of that nation. In January 1999 XXII the UPOU ceased to exist as a nation, and bereft of a national government, the People's Democratic Republic of Molossia was declared, on February 21st, 1999 XXII, with Kevin Baugh serving as Premier.” Starting in the spring of 1999, “Molossia began a serious path of developing itself as an emerging small nation, rather than a micronation project. Our possession of physical territory makes this a course a tangible one, rather than a fantasy.” On September 3rd of that same year, “the Communist government was renounced, the People's Democratic Republic ceased to exist, and the Republic of Molossia was declared. The former Premier, Kevin Baugh, became the President of the new government.” In August of 2003 (year XXVI), “Molossia expanded its frontiers for the first time and purchased land in Northern California, creating our first colony, Farfalla. This colony was surrendered in late 2005, only to be supplanted almost simultaneously by a new territory, Desert Homestead Province, located in Southern California.”
As a republic, Molossia has “strived to unite small nations, and to extend the world of small nations into the world of large nations.” In September of 2000 (year XXIII), “Molossia hosted the first Intermicronational Olympic Games, in concert with the 2000 Sydney Games.” The event was a resounding triumph. “The second Games were hosted by the Kingdom of TorHavn in the spring of 2002. They were originally timed to coincide with the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, but circumstances necessitated that they be delayed until later in the year.” A dispute with the U.S. Olympic Committee resulted in these Games being temporarily renamed “The Intermicronational Games”. This legal debate over the copyrighted term has since been resolved. The 2004 Games were jointly hosted by the Kingdom of Mahina and the Imperial Republic of Shireroth. In 2000, Molossia also “sponsored the successful adoption of Norton Day (January 8th) as the first intermicronational holiday, and further created the Norton Awards for Intermicronational Excellence.” In 2001 (year XXIV), Molossia hosted the first Intermicronational World Exposition, which showcased micronations from around the globe. “Due to its longevity, Molossia has gained the respect of other small, unrecognized nations, and a certain amount of notoriety. Our nation has been featured in two radio interviews, a television interview, magazines around the world, internet articles, and in a book by Lonely Planet…Molossia has a proud heritage and history, one that is unique to our nation and set us apart as a special place. Today's republic looks toward a proud future for all Molossians and small nations the world over.”
All of the Molossian coins can be found at the Web-site of the Bank of Molossia (http://www.molossia.org/bank.html). “Our mission is to pursue sound monetary and financial policies aimed at price stability and create an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth…The basic unit of currency in Molossia is the Valora (plural: Valora), which is divided into 100 Futtrus (plural: Futtrus). The Valora is linked in value to Pillsbury Cookie Dough, 3 Valora having equal value to one tube of Cookie Dough.” The first coin created by the Bank of Molossia is a vibrantly colorful 2004 (actually undated) 1 Valora. This plastic-composite piece “is a standard poker chip, with labels applied”. The obverse “shows the shield from the Arms of Molossia, with our National Animal, the Wild Horse. The reverse is the National Colors and a wreath, surrounding the coin value.” I purchased a specimen directly from His Excellency (president@molossia.org). That initial piece was followed by two additional denominations made of plastic-composite: a 5 Valora and a 10 Valora, both released in 2005. The obverse of the 5 Valora coin “shows His Excellency, The President of our great Republic. The reverse is the National Colors and a wreath, surrounding the coin value, with our National Motto, ‘Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained’ on the scroll.” The obverse of the 10 Valora coin “shows Emperor Norton I, Emperor of the United States and protector of Mexico. The reverse is a compass behind the coin value, with a quote from Emperor Norton, ‘To ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity’.” The following year, this micronation released its first machine-struck metal coin, a 50 Valora piece commemorating the “Treaty of Friendship Between Westarctica and Molossia”. Depicted on the obverse are “the Lesser Arms of Molossia, the value and the National Motto, ‘Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained’.” The reverse features the flags/arms of Molossia and Westarctica, “as well as the treaty date (2005) and the coin date (2006).” In honor of the alliance between the two nations, Westarctica (see my separate listing for this entity) issued a matching 25 Dollars piece. The production of Molossia’s metal coin was made possible with the creative/financial assistance of Jorge Fernández Vidal, the Treasurer of Westarctica (he is also the founder of the Hunger Aid and Development Foundation — please refer to my listing for this coin-issuing entity). In 2007, the Bank of Molossia issued its “30th Anniversary Coin”. This plastic-composite piece “commemorates the foundation of our nation in 1977, then known as the Grand Republic of Vuldstein. Its face shows the Arms of Molossia, with the words ‘30th Anniversary’ and the anniversary date, 26 May 2007. The reverse shows the Arms of the Grand Republic of Vuldstein, along with the foundation date of our nation, 26 May 1977. This coin has no face value, as it was created as a collector's item to commemorate our nation's anniversary, not for general use.” Overall, “The symbols around the edges of our [plastic-composite] coins represent not only Molossia's location within the well-known gambling state of Nevada, but also represent Enterprise (Clubs), Strength (Spades), Prosperity (Diamonds) and Happiness (Hearts).”
Images of Molossia's coinage can also be viewed at the Coin Library of the USNS:
http://www.usns.info/coin-molossia.html
They can also be seen at the Web-site of Mr. Vidal:
http://www.jfvcoins.com/Productos/micronations_english=catLN.html

REPUBLIC OF MONTE CRISTO: Even though this island “belongs to wildlife” — its “only population are sheep and goats”— Mr. Stephen Kurt Vogelsang (of Eagle Rock, CA) has established a Provisional Revolutionary Government dedicated to the conservation of their delicate habitat. This ruminant-inhabited micro-state is in the Tyrrhenian Sea and is part of the Tuscan Archipelago (also a National Park, “a natural preserve with visitation by special authority only”), between Corsica and Porto S. Stefano on the mainland. “For most of its history (after being founded by the Bishop of Palermo, Sicily) the island belonged to the King of Italy as a private hunting reserve.” Its new status as a self-proclaimed “constitutional oligarchy” was instituted in the Spring of 2005 “by the exiled leaders of the Montecristo Federal Movement, currently living in Italy, Spain and the United States.” These men are, respectively, Secretary of Defense Count Walter Giuliani (see my Padania listing), Foreign Secretary Count Jorge Fernández Vidal (see my listings for HADEF and Westarctica), and General Secretary Count Vogelsang. These “Three Counts”, collectively known as the Great Council of the Republic, constitute the Provisional Government's ruling body. The triumvirate “officially promotes the cause of an autonomous Republic with a permanently exiled government and citizenry to prevent spoilage of the environmentally protected island state”. The three numismatists are also fellow members of the Unrecognised States Numismatic Society (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UnrecognisedStatesNumismaticSociety/ and http://www.usns.info/). The first coin issued by the Governo Provvisorio Della Repubblica Rivoluzionaria Di Monte Cristo, which I purchased directly from Mr. Vogelsang (knossos134@earthlink.net), is an enameled bi-metallic (silver & black nickel) 10 Soldi piece dated MMV. A large portion of the net proceeds from the sales of the gorgeous coin will be donated to various charities. Their second coin is a 2006 1 Soldo (silver plated CuNi), which “was manufactured for us by Alfredo Santa Cruz of Acunaciones Santa Cruz S.L. of Madrid, Spain.” Monte Cristo's official Web-site is: http://montecristorepublic.com/index.html


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