United Kingdom Proposes New £1 Coin

In March 2014, the Royal Mint (UK) announced plans to release a redesigned 1 pound coin in 2017. The Mint’s prototype design is pictured here, and differs from the current UK 1 pound coin in 2 very visible ways:

  • The coin would probably be bi-metallic, having a silver-colored center surrounded by a gold-colored edge (like the 2 pound coin)
  • The current prototype coin is a 12-edged polygon (a dodecagon), reminiscent of the 12-edged 3-pence coin minted between 1937 and 1970

The obverse (front) will of course feature a picture of the Queen. A competition (open to the public) will be held to pick a new design for the reverse (back). Presumably the new coin would have a diameter and thickness similar to the current coin (22mm and 3mm, respectively) in order to ease conversion of machinery (e.g. vending machines).

Prototype for new UK £1 coin.
Image courtesy of the Royal Mint

 

1967 UK 3 pence coin

The pound coin was introduced in 1983 in order to transition away from 1 pound banknotes (since coins have a much longer usable life than paper money). The reverse at first featured a rotation of symbolic emblems for the 4 members of the United Kingdom (Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), one per year. In 2008, with the UK’s coin redesign, the reverse was changed to the Royal Shield which has a quadrant for each member country.

One of the main goals of the new coin is to reduce counterfeiting. The Royal Mint’s counterfeit £1 coins page reports that in 2013, an estimated 3% of circulating £1 coins were fake. With an annual mintage between 20 and 50 million new coins, a 3% counterfeit rate is significant. Changing to a bi-metallic coin is a common anti-counterfeiting tactic that has been used by many other currencies (and can already bee seen on the 2£ coin). The 12-sided shape may also help a little, though it isn’t any more difficult to make a clay mold of a dodecagon than a circle.

Current UK £1 coin

However, the Royal Mint’s big gun is its iSIS technology, which they say adds banknote-level security to coins and allows automated coin authentication and counterfeit detection. The Royal Mint is understandably tight-lipped on what exactly iSIS is – the longer that they can keep it a secret, the longer it will take for forgers to copy it – but thinking about the types of security measures that you find in modern banknotes around the world should give you some ideas of what it might entail. While a system like iSIS may be able to quickly identify fakes once they reach, say, a bank that has the equipment to validate coins, it is the more visible security measures which will help individuals and merchants avoid taking counterfeits in the first place. To that end, I’m surprised that the new coin doesn’t include any micro/laser engraving, like the new Canada $1 and $2 coins.

One of the other advantages being mentioned about the new design is that it will make the pound coins more easily identifiable for the blind. The unique 12-sided shape (since 3 pence coins are no longer in circulation) does seem like it would be easier to pick out of a handful of change. It is great that the Royal Mint is considering the needs of those without sight when designing the new coin.

The pound is one of my favorite coins of all time. It is a coin that feels like money when you hold it in your hand. Its weight and its thickness (nearly twice as thick as a US quarter) impart its value without even needing to look at it. Even its color, a light gold thanks to its nickel and brass composition, gives it a sense of understated importance that you don’t find with many other coins. I only hope that the new £1 can fill the shoes of its predecessor.

Russia-25-rouble-sochi

Coins with Web Addresses

Russia 2011 25 rouble coin with Sochi
reverse.  Image courtesy of the Central
Bank of Russia.

In February 2014, Russia will host the Winter Olympic Games for the first time. To honor the Winter Olympics and the host city Sochi, Russia began issuing commemorative coins in 2011 with Olympic themes on the reverse. Canada, the previous Winter Olympics host country, started the trend by issuing Winter Olympic Sport-themed circulating quarters (as well as a commemorative dollar coin) in the years leading up to the Games. (A trend which Great Britain continued in 2012 by minting a series of 50 pence coins depicting the sporting events in the Summer Olympic Games.)

What makes Russia’s Olympic coins interesting is that they are, I believe, the first coins to have a Web address on them – Sochi.ru.

It should come as no surprise for a Web address to show up on a coin. There isn’t much left that doesn’t show a Web link to allow you to find out more information about what you’re looking at. Here in the United States,  I was most recently surprised to see them popping up on license plates (MyFlorida.com, www.IN.gov). Perhaps it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing “www.usa.gov” or “brazil.gov.br” on coins and currency.

However, I can’t help but consider the contrast between a Web site (which, like an address or a phone number, can be impermanent or even short-lived), and a coin (which are specifically made for their durability and longevity). What happens in 4 years, or 10, or 50, when someone finds one of these Russian coins featuring the “sochi.ru” address? Will the address still work? What will it display, so many years after the 2014 Winter Olympic Games? Will someone else get ownership of the address and use it to serve ads, or worse, to unlucky visitors?

It also makes me think about what our Internet trends are now, compared to 10 years ago. If a mint had gotten the idea to put a Web address on their coins in 2004, would we now be laughing (or scratching our heads) at coins that read “myspace.com/germany” or “india.geocities.com”? Today, would it be better to put a Web address, a Facebook address, or a Twitter identity on a coin (or perhaps all 3)?

While putting the Sochi.ru address on these Russian coins is primarily a marketing tool, I think it is inevitable that we’ll see more of this in the future. If you’ve seen Web addresses on other coins (circulating or collectible), let us know in a comment below – The Sochi coins are the first I’ve seen, but that doesn’t mean that they were the first.

In the meantime, I’ll be waiting to see who will be the first to stick a QR code on their coins.

mauritius

What are KM Numbers?

Mauritius 1992 5 rupees, KM# 56

Once you start to explore the world of foreign coin collecting, you’ll inevitably run across KM numbers (frequently abbreviated “KM#”). Collecting sites like Numista and World Coin Gallery list them prominently in their search results. eBay auctions for individual foreign coins frequently contain them. NGC’s World Coin Price Guide includes them in its results. And if you ever tried to trade coins with someone with more collecting experience, they probably asked for, or gave, a KM number when describing a coin.

KM numbers are a numbering system for world coins created by the authors of the Standard Catalog of World Coins – Chester Krause (“K”) and Clifford Mishler (“M”) – which was first printed in 1972. The authors very astutely realized that it would make it easier for collectors to use their reference guide, and to be able to discuss specific coins, if there was a shorthand way of identifying a specific coin (instead of saying “The second type of the India 25 paise coin from 1967”).

In the Standard Catalog, each country’s coins are given a number (starting at 1 and counting up). KM numbers are generally assigned from oldest to newest, then from smallest to largest denomination. For example, in Mauritania the KM numbers look like this (ordered by KM number):

  • 1/5 Ouguiya (1973): KM# 1
  • 1 Ouguiya (1973): KM# 2
  • 5 Ouguiya (1973-): KM# 3
  • 10 Ouguiya (1973-): KM# 4
  • 20 Ouguiya (1973-): KM# 5
  • 1 Ouguiya (1974-): KM# 6

Notice that for the coins starting in 1973, the KM numbers follow the denominations – 1/5, 1, 5, 10, 20. Then in 1974, the 1 Ouguiya changed its design slightly and was given a new number (#6).

When a coin gets a new design (even a slight change), it usually is given a new number. In Great Britain, the pound coin cycles through different reverse designs to signify the 4 members of the United Kingdom (Great Britain, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales). Each of these reverse designs is given its own KM number. Sometimes, a small design change receives a decimal-point number (“214.2”) instead of an entirely new number.

When a coin’s composition (the metal that it is made of) changes, however, it usually does not get a whole new KM number (as long as the design stays the same). Instead, a letter is added to the KM number to signify the change in materials. For example, Singapore’s KM#1 is the 1 cent coin made of bronze; the copper-clad steel version is KM#1a.

It is imporant to note that KM numbers are only unique within a country – most countries have their own “KM# 1”. They also usually aren’t specific to a year – Switzerland’s KM# 29 (20 rappen) starts in 1881 and continues to this day. In order to properly refer to a coin you should include:

  • KM number
  • Country
  • Year
  • Denomination

For example: Netherlands 1 Gulden 1973 KM# 184

As you can see from this example, in many cases the KM number is actually unnecessary to identify a specific coin. The country, denomination, and year are sufficient to pinpoint the coin being discussed. The most crucial use of KM numbers occurs when there are multiple designs for a single year. For example, the India 10 paise coins between 1988 and 1993 were issued in 2 different styles – a scalloped coin (KM# 39) and a plain round coin (KM#40). In this case, using the KM number would help communicate which coin you are referring to.

Because of the way the numbers have to be assigned, KM numbers are not very useful for organizing coins in a collection. Numbers that are close to each other could represent different designs of the same coin, or completely different coins. If you stored your collection in KM# order, it would probably look a little funny. And it is very difficult to find a coin in one of the Standard Catalog of World Coin books by KM number and country alone, because the catalog is organized by denomination and year. However, it is common to write KM numbers on the coins in your collection (usually on the back of your protective coin flips) so that, should you need to know them, you don’t have to repeatedly look up the coins in a catalog.

Other Catalog Numbers

The Standard Catalog of World Coins was not the first to assign numbers to coins. Even within the Catalog there are references to coin numbering systems that were introduced by other catalogs and are in common use. While KM numbers are probably the most familiar for world coin collectors, you may also run across:

  • Y#: Modern World Coins and Current Coins of the World – Richard S. Yeoman
  • C#: Coins of the World, 1750-1850 – William D. Craig
  • K#: Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Coins – Eduard Kann
thai_1962_1_baht

Reading Thai Numbers and Dates

Thailand 1962 1 baht

Thailand, located in southeast Asia a little south of China, is another country that does not use Western Arabic (European) numerals (0, 1, 2, 3…) to represent numbers. In order for coin collectors in the United States, Europe, and similar locations to properly identify both the denomination and year of a Thai coin, it is useful to know how to translate Thai numbers and dates to their European equivalents.

The Thai Numerals

The symbols that the Thai language uses to represent the numbers 0 through 9 are known as Thai numerals and are based on older symbols known as Khmer numerals. Below is a chart showing the Thai numerals that represent the Western Arabic numerals 0 through 9:

The Thai numeral system is a positional number system, so numbers larger than 9 are constructed as they would be using Western Arabic numbers:

  • 10 = ๑๐
  • 23 = ๒๓
  • 496 = ๔๙๖

On coins, the denomination (value) of a coin is usually followed by the Thai word บาท (“baht”, the name of the Thai currency).

Here are some examples from actual Thai coins:

Left to right: 1, 25, and 10

To translate Thai numbers, you just replace the Thai symbols with their Western Arabic equivalents (there is no calculation involved, unlike Japanese numbers). Some more recent Thai coins include the denomination in Arabic numerals (note the “10” on the right-most coin).

Thai Dates

Once you can translate the Thai numbers, converting the date on Thai coins to the Common Era (e.g. 2013) is done by subtracting 543 from the Thai year. (Wikipedia has more information about the Thai Solar Calendar for those that are interested.)  The coin’s year usually follows the initials พ.ศ. (“B.E.”, which stands for Buddhist Era).

Here are date examples from actual Thai coins:

Left to right: 2551 (2008), 2543 (2000), and 2552 (2009)

 

canada_dinosaur_glowing

Collectible Coins Versus Circulating Coins

If you browse the coins available for sale at a large world mint like the Royal Canadian Mint, alongside uncirculated and proof sets of the country’s regular coins you’ll probably see some fancy coins. Very fancy coins. Coins with color pictures on them, or crystals embedded in them, or coins made of silver and gold (or both at the same time), or coins in special shapes. And you may ask yourself, “Do people in that country walk around with such spectacular coins in their pockets all the time? That would be awesome!”

It would be awesome to have such a variety of coins in use, but these coins are not meant to ever be spent. Mints have the technology and expertise to make coin-like objects, so many branch out and use this power to create collectible coins (also known as collector coins) – special, limited-run coins that usually both commemorate some important person, place, thing, or event, and which frequently make use of technology, design, or materials that would be too expensive in an every-day coin. In recent years, it’s not uncommon to also find tie-ins to movies (The Hobbit, Transformers) or well-known characters (Scooby-Doo, Dr. Who).

Canada’s 2012 Prehistoric Animals dinosaur
collectible coin with glow-in-the-dark skeleton

One such coin is pictured here. This is the Royal Canadian Mint’s first coin in their “prehistoric animals” series, issued in 2012. It has 2 special features that you wouldn’t find on pocket change. First, the full-color picture of a Pachyrhinosaurus Lakustai on the back, which is common for collectible coins (it helps them really stand out compared to regular coins). Second, a glow-in-the-dark skeleton of the animal will appear if you shine a light on the picture and then take it into the dark. (This glowing feature is one of the major selling points of this series, and it generated quite an Internet buzz when it was first announced.)

Collectible coins have a denomination (value) on them so that they can be considered a coin instead of a medal or token. This technically makes them legal tender (able to be spent), but the cost of acquiring the coin makes it impractical to actually spend. For example, the Pachyrhinosaurus coin pictured above has a denomination of 25 cents (Canadian), but it will cost $30 to get one – 120 times the value printed on the coin itself.

In contrast, circulating coins are the coins that you use on a daily basis – you get them as change, you find them on the ground, or you spend them in vending machines. These coins are made of inexpensive metal, the design doesn’t change very often, and the mints produce thousands if not millions of them each year. You usually don’t buy these coins directly from the mint – banks trade in old, worn-out coins for new coins from the mint so that the number of coins in use stays around the same. To get a circulating coin, you either get it as change from a sales transaction, or you can go directly to a bank and “buy” one by trading in an equal amount of money (for example, trading 1 dollar for 4 25-cent coins). (One exception to this are mints, like the US Mint, that sell bags or rolls of uncirculated coins.)

Because of their higher cost, you need to protect collectible coins differently than you would protect regular circulating coins. A folded paper flip isn’t going to be enough. Many collectible coins sold today come in their own protective hard-plastic container. This protects them from dust, scratches, water, fingerprints, and other wear (and should never be opened). If you get a collectible coin that doesn’t have such a container, visit your local coin shop and get something that will fit the coin securely and tightly – you don’t want it to slide around in its protective case.

As a world coin collector, you can specialize in either collectible coins, circulating coins, or of course both. Because collectible coins are so much more expensive, it is more common to start out collecting circulating coins (especially for kids). However, collectible coins make great gifts, especially if you find one with a subject that the recipient will find interesting.

Small_World_Coins

Small World Coins

In the United States, our smallest circulating coin is the dime (10 cents). Its diameter is 18mm (a little less than 3/4 of an inch), which is only 1mm smaller than the penny (1 cent). The size difference is not easily noticed, which is why the dime is a different color (silver) and has a reeded edge to make the 2 coins more distinguishable.

While the dime seems pretty small, there have been plenty of modern world coins which are even smaller. The main reason to mint a small coin is, of course, to use less metal (which makes the coins less expensive to make). But from a practical sense, a country probably can’t make all of its coins small because it would be more difficult to tell them apart. And smaller coins are easier to lose, which is why typically only the lowest denomination (value) coins which are made small.

There is also a practical limit to how small a coin can be. It has to be big enough to be able to read the information on it (year, country, value) and heavy enough to not blow away in a light breeze.

The prize for smallest circulating coin issued since 1900 probably goes to Panama’s 2 1/2 centismo, which was issued in 1904 and then again from 1975-1982. This coin was only 10mm wide (almost half the size of a US penny), and due to its tiny size received the nickname “Panama Pill“. A 10mm coin seems like it would be difficult to use and easy to lose. In 1907 a new 2 1/2 centismo was minted which measured in at a whopping 21mm (in comparison).

Here is a list of many of the small coins which have been issued around the world since 1900. If you know of anything missing from the list, let us know in a comment.

Algeria 1 centime
Argentina 1 centavo
Armemia 10 luma
Aruba 5 cents
Australia 1 cent, 3 pence
Azerbaijan 1 qepik
Bahamas 1 cent
Bahrain 25 fils
Bangladesh 1 poisha
Belgium 25 centimes
Bolivia 2 centavos
Brazil 5 centavos, 20 reis
Brunei 5 sen
Bulgaria 1 stotinki
Cambodia 50 riels
Costa Rica 5 centimos
Ceylon 1 cent
Chile 5 centavos, 1 peso
China 1 fen
Croatia 1 lipa
Cyprus 1 cent
Czech Republic 10 haleru
Finland 1, 10 penni
Denmark 1, 5 ore
Egypt 1/10 qirsh
Euro 1 cent
Guatemala 1/4 real
Iceland 10 aurar
India 10 paise
Japan 1 sen
Kazakhstan 1 tenge
Mexico 5, 10 centavos
The Netherlands 1/2, 10 cents
Netherlands Antilles 1 cent
Norway 10 ore
Pakistan 1 pie
Panama 2 1/2 centismo
Philippines 1 sentimo
Poland 1 grosz
Romania 5 bani
Russia 1 kopek
Singapore 1 cent
South Africa 1 cent
Spain 1 peseta
Thailand 25 satang
Turkey 1 kurus
United Arab Emirates 1 fil

Andorra_Euros

Andorra’s New Euro Coins In 2014

The winning designs for Andorra’s new euro coins.

Andorra is a small country (a microstate) with a population of around 85,000 located in Europe between France and Spain. Andorra is about half the size of Rhode Island, the smallest US state, to give you an idea of how small it is.

Being so small, Andorra does not have its own currency. Before the year 2000, both the Spanish (peseta) and French (franc) currencies were used for transactions within Andorra. In 2000 both Spain and France switched to the euro, and Andorra similarly changed its legal tender.

In 2011, Andorra requested, and eventually received, approval from the European Union to issue its own country-specific Euro coins. The resulting agreement between the EU and Andorra authorizes Andorra to mint and distribute coins with a face value of up to 2.5 million euros annually.

In early 2013, the Andorran government held a contest for the designs of the new coins (except for the 2-euro coin, which would display the Andorran coat-of-arms), and the results were announced in May. The 1, 2, and 5 euro cent coins will feature the image of a Pyrenean chamois (a goat-like animal native to the area); the 10, 20, and 50 euro cent coins depict the fresco of Christ in Majesty at Sant Marti de la Cortinada; and the 1 euro coin will display an image of the former Andorran Parliament building – the Valley House. The new coins are expected to be available starting in January of 2014.

For foreign coin collectors, what is exciting is that we get new euro coins without replacing an existing currency. Most European countries, when they switch to the euro, must leave their old money behind – so while the collecting world gets a new euro to collect, the country’s former coins are taken out of circulation. Since Andorra doesn’t have its own currency (though it did occasionally issue coins),  we don’t have to say good-bye to any existing coins.

Britain_1996_2_pounds_soccer

Soccer Coins

Football (or soccer, as it is known in the US) is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world, regularly played by hundreds of millions of children and adults in all corners of the globe. It should come as no surprise, then, to find out that such an important activity has found its way onto a variety of countries’ circulating coins. I don’t think that any other individual sport has been featured on as many coins as soccer has.

Great Britain 1996 2 pound coin

My favorite soccer-themed coin of all is the Great Britan 2 pound coin from 1996. This coin commemorated the 10th European Football Championship (Euro 96), which was held in England. The reverse of the coin is designed to look like a soccer ball, and the 16 small dots surrounding the year represent the 16 teams which participated. (Germany won.)

 

Spain 1980 1, 5, 25, and 50 peseta coins

In 1982 Spain hosted the World Cup, and in 1980 Spain’s coins celebrated the occasion with special soccer imagery on their reverses.

Somalia 2001 25 shillings

In 2001, Somalia’s 25 shilling coin featured a uniformed soccer player on the back.

Congo 2002 50 centimes

In 2002, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 50 centime coin had a similar idea, with a uniformed soccer player heading a ball.

Here are other circulating soccer-themed coins that I know of.  If you are aware of any that are missing, mention them in the comments.

  • Argentina 1977-1978 50 pesos
  • Belgium 2000 50 francs
  • China 1991 1 yuan
  • Ethiopia 1974 2 birr
  • Germany 2011 10 euro
  • Jamaica 1982 1 dollar
  • Mexico 1986 200 pesos
  • Netherlands 2000 5 gulden
  • Poland 2002, 2006 2 zlote
  • South Africa 2002 50 cents
  • United Arab Emirates 1991 1 dirham


Update 7/4/2013: Added Spain 1, 50 peseta coins to picture.

Singapore-first-series

New Singapore Coin Designs in 2013

Singapore is a small island city-state located in Southeast Asia, just off the southern tip of Malaysia (near Indonesia and Australia). It spent the first half of the 20th century as a British colony, but gained its independence and became the Republic of Singapore in 1965. Singapore’s current population is around 5 million people.

The 20, 10, 5, and 1 cent coins from
Singapore’s first series (1967-1984)

Singapore issued its first independent coins in 1967. These coins, known as the “first” or “marine series“, primarily featured images of marine life local to Singapore (including a lionfish, seahorse, and swordfish). Neighboring Australia and New Zealand had both started using coins with similar designs featuring important or well-known local fauna only a year prior (1966). And the Cayman Islands’ first coins, issued in 1972, are again quite similar.

The 20, 10, 5, and 1 cent coins from
Singapore’s second series (1985-2012)

In 1985, a new series of coins was released. This second, or “floral“, series (in use through 2012) included a redesign of the reverse to include the Singapore coat-of-arms and “Singapore” in the country’s 4 official languages – English, Malay, Mandarin (Chinese), and Tamil. The obverses contain images of local plant life, including the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid (Singapore’s national flower), Star Jasmine, and the Yellow Allamanda.

The coins of Singapore’s third series
starting in 2013 (Images from the
Monetary Authority of Singapore)

In 2013, Singapore will release their third series of circulating coins. The new coins feature images of important or iconic Singapore landmarks, such as the Port of Singapore (one of the 5 busiest ports in the world), the Changi Airport, and the Esplanade at the Theatres on the Bay center for performing arts. Singapore stopped minting a 1-cent coin in 2002, so this new series will only contain 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50 cent, and 1 dollar coins. The 1 dollar coin in the third series will be bi-metallic for the first time, and include laser-etching to make it more difficult to counterfeit. (It also features the image of a merlion, an important mythical figure for Singapore.)

For collectors, the new series is a welcome addition to the coins of Southeast Asia. We look forward both to adding this new set to our collections, and making sure to fill in any holes we might have from the first and second series coins.

india_5_rupee

Foreign Coin Exchange Values

India 5 rupees
Exchange value: $0.09 US

Recently we discussed ways that you can research the value of a foreign coin. We talked about the difference between book value, market value, and trade-in value for a coin. There’s another important value that you may sometimes find useful, but it only applies to recent coins – the exchange value.

If a coin is still being used in its home country (it hasn’t been devalued, or replaced with another currency such as when the French franc was replaced by the euro), then that coin has actual buying power in that country (in other words, you can spend it). These coins are called circulating coins, because in the issuing country they would be the coins that are currently in circulation – the coins that people use every day to buy things.

All active currencies have an exchange rate, which is how much that currency is worth in other nations’ money. You may have run into this before if you have done any international travel and had to exchange your money for that of the location you were visiting. For example, today $1 in US money is worth the same as 2 Brazilian reals, 12 Mexican pesos, or 98 Japanese yen.

The exchange value of a foreign coin is how much that coin is worth in your currency, based on the current exchange rate between that country’s money and your own. You can look up current exchange rates at places like CNN, CoinMill, and Yahoo (along with many others). The exchange value doesn’t care about condition, age, rarity, or anything else that affects the value of a coin as a collectible.

However, it only applies to current, active currencies which can still be spent in their home country. For example, much of Europe has changed over to the euro. The old Spanish pesetas, French francs, German marks, Italian liras, and Greek drachmas (to name a few) aren’t active currencies anymore – they can’t be exchanged, and have no exchange value at all. (If you’re unsure whether a coin that you have is a current circulating coin, you can use Web sites like Numista to find the coin and see if it is listed as demonetized – this means that it is no longer an active currency, and has been replaced with something else.)

A good example is money from the United Kingdom (Great Britain), which is consistently one of the highest-valued currencies in the world. A recent exchange rate for the Great Britain pound to the US dollar was $1.54 (1 pound = $1.54 USD). So if someone asked about the value of a 2010 1 pound coin in US dollars, you would have these “values” to choose from:

  • Book value: $3 (for a coin in uncirculated condition)
  • Market value: $1-$1.50 (approximately)
  • Trade-in value: $0.25 – 0.50
  • Exchange value: $1.54 (dependent on the current exchange rate)

In this case, the exchange value gives you the highest estimated value of the coin (unless you happen to have a coin in really great condition). This means that to get the most money for your coin, you’d need to exchange it for US dollars somewhere.

Australia 1 dollar
Exchange value: $1.02

And that is the problem with the exchange value – it is one of the hardest to capitalize on because it is not easy to exchange foreign coins for US dollars. Most large banks will exchange foreign bills (paper money) at a rate close to the daily exchange rate, but they usually don’t accept coins.

Instead, you’ll have to look for a currency exchange in your town. Currency exchanges are businesses which buy and sell foreign money. They are frequently used by people who have either returned from foreign travel (and have unused foreign money they want to get rid of), or people who will be traveling soon (and want to get some foreign money for their trip). Exchanges are sometimes found at bus stations (especially near Canada or Mexico) or airports (especially airports which have international flights). Cities which have a lot of international travelers (New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Victoria B.C.) may have exchanges located all around town to serve the many travelers who visit. Individual exchanges may or may not accept coins, so you may want to call first to ask.

At either a currency exchange or a bank, don’t expect to get an exchange rate exactly like the rate that you find online. These businesses need to be able to make some profit for the service that they provide, so they will typically buy foreign money at less than the current exchange rate, and sell it for more than the current rate.

Besides using a currency exchange, you can also try to sell your foreign currency to someone (a family member or business acquaintance) who is traveling to the country that the money is from. That way the money can be returned to its original country and spent. Or you can try selling your extra coins online through a service like eBay – people who are traveling to that country might buy your coins so that they can spend them on their trip (but you may or may not get values close to the current exchange rate).

Exchange value is one of several ways to measure the value of a coin, and it is a good value to be aware of when trading or selling coins (you wouldn’t want to sell 25 British pounds for $1.50 when the exchange value is closer to $37). But don’t let it restrict your trading, either – trading an Australian dollar ($1) for a Chinese yuan ($0.16) is a good trade if it adds something new to your collection. As with all measures of value, let it guide your trading, buying, or selling activity and help you make informed decisions.