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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 36, September 6, 2009, Article 24

KAVAN RATNATUNGA ON SRI LANKA'S NEW COMMEMORATIVE COIN

Longtime E-Sylum reader and contributor Kavan Ratnatunga published an article recently in the Sunday Times of Colombo, Sri Lanka about that country's latest commemorative coin and the Bank's coin distribution practices.

Kavan and I were both regular attendees at the meetings of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society in Pittsburgh, where he worked at Carnegie Mellon University before returning to his native country. He is a life member of the Sri Lanka Numismatic Society and maintains a great web site on Sri Lankan coins at http://lakdiva.org/coins/. -Editor

A commemorative two hundred rupee, frosted proof silver coin was issued by the Central Bank (CBSL) last week, on August 25 to mark the Bicentennial of the Sri Lanka Customs Department. It is the same size of a Rs 2 coin and has 11.9 grams sterling Silverworth currently about Rs 650/-. The face value was probably selected because of 200th Anniversary.

Sri Lanka Customs Commemorative obv Sri Lanka Customs Commemorative rev

After releasing a 'Notice to the Public' on its website on Friday 21st, CBSL put few large advertisements in the Sunday newspapers stating that a limited issue of 3,000 coins will be issued into circulation and a coin will be sold at a price of Rs. 3000. What CBSL did not say in that advertisement was that most of the issue (2750 I am told) was taken by the Customs Department which requested the coins, and not available to the general public.

When I phoned the CBSL I was told that the coins will be issued after 11 am. I got to the CBSL cash counter sharp at 11 AM and was 2nd in the queue. Another collector had come early. By about 11:15 AM when they started issuing the coin a long queue formed and the 50 coins released that day was over in under half hour, although they sold only one coin to each customer. I understand from a collector friend who went on the next day that only six coins were issued on the 26th, and he was 10th in line and was very disappointed not to get one. There had been quite a uproar when one person had jumped the queue and got one.

It is a pity that the CBSL has created an artificial scarcity of this coin, and have not minted sufficient to meet the coin collector demand of the public both locally and internationally. However this current issue is slightly better than the last when CBSL minted just 100 Frosted Proof coins for the Employment Provident Fund and did not make any of them available to the Public. It is now one of the few modern Lankan coins I don't have in my Coin Collection.

The action of CBSL only aid the coin dealers in Fort. For example the one rupee Air Force coins of which only 2000 were minted and 800 released to the public in 2001 March at Rs 600 was sold out in under one month, and I have heard of a rumour of a hoard of them by an investor. They are now sold by dealers for over Rs 15,000 if available.

To read the complete article, see: The new silver frosted proof coins (http://www.sundaytimes.lk/090830/FinancialTimes/ft19.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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