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Sunday, 28 September 2014

150) Financial Institution for issuing uniform currency/coinage for French Overseas Territories in the Pacific & French Southern Territories of Antarctica: The Institut d’emission d’outre-Mer (IEOM) for French Polynesia (Tahiti), New Caledonia, Wallis-et-Futuna and the erstwhile New Hebrides (present day Vanuatu):

150) Financial Institution for issuing uniform currency/coinage for French Overseas Territories in the Pacific & French Southern Territories of Antarctica: The Institut d’emission d’outre-Mer (IEOM) for French Polynesia (Tahiti), New Caledonia, Wallis-et-Futuna and the erstwhile New Hebrides (present day Vanuatu):

The Institute d’emission d’outre-Mer:

The Institute d’emission d’Outre-Mer (IEOM) is a Paris based National Public Institution, founded and chartered by France in December 1966, which is tasked with issuing a uniform currency in the French territories of the Pacific.

French Pacific Territories include New Caledonia, French Polynesia (Tahiti), Wallis-et-Fortuna and the erstwhile New Hebrides (present day Vanuatu).

In addition to its headquarters in mainland France, IEOM’s presence is there in New Caledonia, French Polynesia (Tahiti) and Wallis–et–Futuna. Its mandate also covers French Southern Territories of Antarctica.

 Since 1967, the IEOM has been issuing the CFP Franc currency and FCFP coinage. IEOM issues the Franc CFP which is legal tender in the French Overseas collectivities (or Collectivities d’outre-Mer or COM) of French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis-et-Futuna. The Central Bank controls the volume and quality of Banknotes and coins in circulation in these territories.

The initials CFP originally stood for “Colonies Francaises du Pacifique” (meaning “French Colonies of the Pacific”), but it was later changed to “Communaute Financiere du Pacifique” (or “Pacific Financial Community”).

The currency was initially used in 3 distinct forms for French Polynesia, New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. The New Caledonia Franc also circulates in Wallis-et-Futuna. The Banknotes of the New Hebrides (present day Vanuatu) bore the name of the territory, but the Banknotes of French Polynesia and New Caledonia are distinguished by the names of the capitals of these colonies – PAPEETE and NOUMEA respectively being overprinted on the Back of the Banknotes in the initial phase. Common design Banknotes designated in Franc CFP are currently in use.

One side of the Banknotes shows landscapes or historical figures of French Polynesia, while the other side shows landscapes or historical figures of Ne Caledonia.

The Banknotes have a face value of 500, 1000, 5000, and 10000 Franc CFP. The coins have a face value of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Franc CFP.

The “Franc CFP” or the “CFP Franc” is denoted by the International Code “XFP” and the convertibility of the Franc CFP is guaranteed by the French Republic.  The convertibility of the Franc CFP is based upon a fixed parity with the EURO and is placed at 1000 Franc CFP to 8.38 EUROS or 1 Franc CFP at 0.00838 EURO.

In 1969, the New Hebrides Franc was separated from the CFP Franc and in 1982, it was replaced by the Vanuatu "vatu".

On 01.10.1986, the 10000 CFP Franc was not overprinted with a city name for the first time.

In 1992, the 500 CFP Franc Banknote was printed after omitting the overprinting of the city name.

The Front of a CFP 500 Franc Banknote. On the top centre is the name of the issuing Bank “Institut d’emission d’Outre-Mer”. The denomination of the Banknote is mentioned in numerals “500” and the denominational value in words “CINQ CENTS FRANCS”. This face shows a Polynesian Fisherman at Marquesas Islands.

The Back of the 500 CFP Banknote. This Face shows Rocks at Hienghene, New Caledonia.On this face of the  Banknote is mentioned “LA CONTREFACON OU LA FALSIFICATION DES BILLETS DE BANQUE ET LA MISE EN CIRCULATION DES BILLETS CONTREFAITS OU FALSIFIES SONT PUNIES PAR LES ARTICLES 442-1 ET 442-2 DU CODE PENAL”, (which specifies the counterfeiting or falsification of  the Banknotes in any way is punishable by Law). 

In 1995, the 1000 and 5000 CFP Franc Banknotes were printed without the overprinting of the city name for all French Pacific Territories. Nevertheless, the overall designs of the 500, 1000 and 5000 Franc Banknotes were not changed since 1969. Presently, all CFP Franc Banknotes are identical in every way for every colony from New Caledonia to French Polynesia.

In January 2014, the IEOM has brought out a new Series of Banknotes replacing the earlier issues which were being demonetized after September 2014, but could be exchanged indefinitely at the Institut d’Emission d’Outre-Mer offices.

The coinage, however, is minted in two separate sets:

In 1949, New Caledonia and French Oceania (previous name of French Polynesia) began to issue coins with identical obverses while the reverses carried different inscriptions. All three types circulated in the three French territories.

The above practice is still continued and the obverse of the coins is identical, while the reverse carries the inscription “Nouvelle-Caledonie” for circulating coins minted for New Caledonia and Wallis-et-Futuna and are inscribed with the name “Polynesie Francaise” for coins meant for circulation in French Polynesia. Interestingly, both varieties of coins can still be used in all French territories much like the Euros which circulate all over the Euro zone. These coins are issued in the denominations of 100, 50, 20, 5 2 and 1.

The 1, 2 and 5 CFP Franc coins issued are made of Aluminium and Magnesium, while the 10, 20 and 50 Franc coins are made of nickel. The 100 CFP Francs is minted in Nickel, Copper and Aluminium.

The obverse on each coin depicts Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, or Marianne or Goddess of Liberty or Lady Liberty, which is a national emblem of the French Republic who symbolizes the “Triumph of the Republic”, the initials of the Bank issuing the coins, “IEOM”, the year of issue and the words “French Republic”.

The reverses depict landscapes, birds, fruits, animals or a sculpture or architectural depiction typical of the colony.

Thus, on the obverse the 1, 2 and 5 CFP Franc coins depict Minerva and on the reverse of these coins, there is a depiction of the Coast of French Polynesia and the Kagu or Cagou Bird (– Rhynochetos jubatus). The Kagu Bird is an almost flightless bird, bluish-grey in colour and is endemic to the dense mountain forests of New Caledonia. The Kagu is also the National Bird of New Caledonia.

On the 10 CFP Francs coin depicts Marianne and on the reverse there is Tiki (the first man created by Tumatauenga or Tane in Maori mythology, usually depicted as a large wooden carving in humanoid form. Similar carvings are found in most Polynesian cultures) and a Seascape.

On the obverse the 20 CFP Franc coin depicts Marianne and on the reverse, it depicts the Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) and Zebu (Bos primigenius indicus -which is also known as Brahman or humped cattle and is a variety of domestic cattle originating in South Asia. They are used as draught oxen, dairy cattle and as beef cattle).

On the obverse the 50 and 100 CFP Franc coins depicts Marianne and on the reverse is depicted a Coastal Scenery with a house and a hut with Pine.

In 1982, the New Hebrides Franc was replaced by the Vanuatu vatu.

Before the French currency in Tahiti and French Polynesia, the dollar was the circulating currency and called the “tara” or “tala” (Interestingly, the currency in circulation in Samoa is also called “tala”, on which I have written a separate article on this blog).

About French Polynesia:

French Polynesia (or Polynesie francaise in French) or Porinetia Farani in the local language is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic (collectivite d’outre-Mer de la Republique francaise in French). It is composed of 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls stretching over an expanse of more than 2000 sq. kms or 1245 miles in the South Pacific Ocean, of which, the 118 islands and 67 atolls are inhabited.

It is divided into 5 groups of islands – the Society Islands Archipelago composed of the Windward Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands and the Austral Islands. The most famous island Tahiti is the most populated and the seat of the capital of the collectivity – Papeete. The main source of revenue is tourism and the cultivation of noni fruit for the pharmaceutical industry.

Captain Cook visited Tahiti in 1769, naming the Archipelago the Society Islands and Captain Bligh of the Bounty spent some time there in 1788 gathering breadfruit plants which were taken to the West Indies to provide food for plantation slave labour.

In 1842, the French took over the islands and established a French protectorate called “Etablissements des francais en Oceanie (EFO), meaning “French Establishments/Settlements in Oceania”. In 1957, the EFOs were renamed French Polynesia.

Since 28.03.2003, French Polynesia has been an overseas collectivity of the French Republic.

French Polynesian Franc coins:

The CFP Franc is the currency of French Polynesia subdivided into 100 centimes.

Until 1914, the French Franc circulated in French Polynesia.

In 1945, the CFP Franc was introduced.

In 1949, coins in the denominations of 50 centimes, 1 and 2 Francs (both Aluminium) were circulated were issued for French Oceania (Etablisements Francais de l’Oceanie as the colony was known then).

In 1952, 5 Franc aluminium coins were introduced.

From 1965, the name French Polynesia (Polynesie francaise) has been used.

In 1967, 10, 20 and 50 Franc nickel coins were circulated.

In 1976, 100 Francs nickel-bronze coins were introduced.

The overall design of the coins has remained the same since introduction and the obverse has always been identical to that of the coins of the New Caledonia Franc. The only notable changes were the removal of the text “Union Francaise” and  the change of name from “Etablisements Francaise de I’Oceanie” to “Polynesie Francaise” after 1952 and the addition of the initials “IEOM” (Institut d’emission d”Outre-Mer) to the obverse in 1972.

Banknotes of the French Polynesian Franc:

In 1914, the Banque de l’Indochine in Papeete (the Capital of French Polynesia on Tahiti) introduced Banknotes for 5, 20 and 100 French francs.

In 1919, the Chamber of Commerce introduced Banknotes for 25 and 50 centimes, 1 and 2 Francs.

In 1920, the Banque Andre Krajewski also issued Banknotes for these denominations.

In 1923, the Banque de l’Indochine circulated 500 Franc Banknotes in French Polynesia.

In 1940, the Banque de l’Indochine introduced 1000 Franc Banknotes in Polynesia.

In 1969, the Institut d’Emission d’Outre-Mer, Papeete took over the issuance of CFP Franc Banknotes in the denominations of 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 Francs.

In 1976, the 100 Franc Banknotes were replaced with coins.

In 1985, 10000 Franc Banknotes common to all French Pacific Territories were introduced.

Between 1992 and 1996, 500, 1000 and 5000 Franc Banknotes common to all the French Pacific Territories were introduced.

The overall design has not changed since 1969.

About New Caledonia (or Nouvelle-Caledonie in French):

New Caledonia (or Nouvelle-Caledonie) is a special collectivity of France located in Southwest Pacific Ocean, about 1210 kms or 750 miles East of Australia. The total land area is about 18576 sq kms

The Archipelago is a part of the Melanesia sub region, and includes the main island of Grande Terre (or “Le Caillou”), the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep Archipelago, the Isle of Pines and some remote islets. The capital of the Territory is Noumea.

Captain Cook visited the Archipelago in 1774 who gave the Archipelago its English name drawing from a name used by Scottish poets.

 The Archipelago is divided into three provinces – South Province or “Province Sud” (Province capital – Noumea), North Province or “Province Nod” (Province capital Kone) and Loyalty Islands Province or “Province des iles Loyaute” The population of New Caledonia is about 260000 and consists of the Kanak people (original inhabitants of New Caledonia), descendants of Europeans (Caldoches and Metropolitan French), Polynesians (mostly Wallisians) and descendants of Southeast Asia and Algeria.

On 24.09.1853, this Area became a French Dependency when under orders from Napoleon III, the French took possession of New Caledonia and Port-de-France or Noumea was made its capital. New Caledonia became a French penal colony from the 1860s to 1897.

In 1946, New Caledonia became an Overseas Territory.

By 1953, French citizenship was granted to all New Caledonians, regardless of ethnicity.

New Caledonian Franc:

The Franc is the currency of New Caledonia and Wallis-et-Futuna subdivided into 100 centimes.

Since 1945, it has been part of the CFP franc.

Until 1873, the French Franc circulated in New Caledonia. Banknotes were issued specifically for use in the Island which circulated alongside French coins.

In 1945, the CFP Franc was issued for the first time.

In 1949, CFP Franc coins were issued for New Caledonia in the denominations of 50 centimes, 1 and 2 Francs coins (metal composition for these denominations: Aluminium). The 50 centimes was only issued in this year.

 The CFP Franc is also issued in French Polynesia and was used in the New Hebrides until 1983.

From 1985, Banknotes have been issued common to both New Caledonia and French Polynesia, although separate coinages continue.

Coinage of the New Caledonia Franc:
 In 1952, 5 Francs Aluminium coins were circulated.

After 1952, the inscription “Union Francaise” was removed.

In 1967, 10, 20 and 50 Franc coins (metal composition for these denominations: nickel) were introduced.

In 1972, the initials “I.E.O.M.” (abbreviation for Institut d’emission d’Outre-Mer) were introduced to the obverses of the coinage.

In 1976, 100 Francs coins minted in Nickel-bronze were circulated.

The basic designs of all denominations of coins have remained the same ab-initio, and the obverse has always been identical to the coins of French Polynesian Franc.

With the 50 centime coins not being in circulation, the denominations in circulation are – 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 francs.

The 1, 2 and 5 Francs feature the National Bird of New Caledonia, the Kagu. The 10 franc coin depicts a Melanesian sailing pirogue or flat hulled canoe which is a boat of the indigenous tribes. The 20 Franc coin features the heads of three cattle facing left. The 50 and 100 Francs feature the same design. They have a hut of the indigenous people, with a palm tree behind it and Norfolk Island pines surrounding it.

Banknotes of the New Caledonia Franc:
Between 1873 and 1878, the “Compagnie de la Caledonie” issued 5 and 20 Franc Banknotes.

In 1875, the “Banque de la Nouvelle Caledonie” issued Banknotes in the denominations of 5, 20, 100 and 500 Francs.

From 1890s, the “Banque de l’Indochine” issued banknotes from Noumea in the denominations of 5, 20, 100 and 500 Francs.

Between 1914 and 1923, postage stamps were used to make currency.  The first issues were pieces of cardboard to which stamps were affixed in denominations of 25 and 50 centimes, 1 and 2 Francs.

Between 1918 and 1919, the Noumea Treasury issued 50 centime, 1 and 2 Franc Banknotes.

In 1942, the Treasury again issued 50 centime, 1 and 2 Franc Banknotes in the name of Free French.

In 1943, 5 and 20 franc Banknotes were issued.

In 1969, the Institut d’Emission d’Outre-Mer, Noumea started printing CFA Franc Banknotes in the denominations of 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 Francs.

In 1976, the 100 Franc Banknotes were replaced by coins.

In 1985, 10000 Franc Banknotes common to all French Pacific Territories were introduced.

Between 1992 and 1996, 500, 1000 and 5000 Franc Banknotes for all French Pacific territories were issued.

The overall design has not changed since 1969.

Wallis and Futuna (or Wallis-et-Futuna or Territoire des iles Wallis-et-Futuna in French):
This is a French Island collectivity in the South Pacific between Tuvalu to the Northwest, Rotuma of Fiji to the West, the main part of Fiji to the Southwest, Tonga to the Southeast, Samoa to the East, Tokelau to the Northeast and the Phoenix Islands or “Kiribati” to a most distant North. The land area is about 143 sq. kms or 55 sq miles and it has a population of about 12000. The capital of the Territory is Mata-Utu.

The Territory comprises 3 main volcanic tropical islands along with a number of tiny islets and is split into two Island Groups – Wallis Islands (or Uvea) in the Northeast and Hoorn Islands or Futuna Islands in the Southwest (which include Futuna Island proper and the Alofi Island). 
In the late 18th century, the Cornishman Samuel Wallis visited the Island, which is named after him.

On 05.04.1887, Wallis became a French Protectorate and the Islands of Futuna and Alofi became a French Protectorate on 16.02.1888. The Islands were put under the authority of the French colony of New Caledonia.

 Between 1961 and 2003, Wallis and Futuna had the status of a French Overseas collectivity (territoire d’outre-Mer or TOM).

Since 2003, Wallis and Futuna has been a French Overseas Collectivity (collectivite d’outre-Mer or COM).

The New Caledonia Franc also circulates in Wallis-et-Futuna.

New Hebrides (present day Vanuatu) Franc:

New Hebrides was a colonial name given by Captain Cook, in 1774, to an Island Group in the South Pacific that is now called Vanuatu. Cook named the Islands New Hebrides because the Islands reminded him of islands located off the West coast of Scotland. The Islands were colonized by both the British and French in the 18th century shortly after Captain James Cook landed on these islands. Prior to Cook’s visit to the Island Group, the Portuguese maritime explorer Pedro de Queiros (1606) and French explorer Louis de Bougainville (1768) had visited the Islands.

Ultimately, with several sandalwood traders from Britain and France set up trading posts here. As a consequence, Britain and France came to a settlement among themselves which made the Islands an Anglo-French Condominium, which divided the New Hebrides into two separate communities, one British and the other French. This condominium held good from 1906 to 1980.

The language, political & cultural divide continued even after Vanuatu gained Independence in 1980.

Since 1982, (i.e. two years after gaining Independence) the Vatu became the currency of Vanuatu replacing the New Hebrides Franc at par. The Vatu has no sub-units.

Interestingly, many communities in Vanuatu carry out traditional business such as paying fines and bride-prices/dowry using traditional items of value, such as pigs, curved boar’s tusks and long dyed mats. Vatu is sometimes used as a substitute for traditional valuables on such occasions, although the National Council of Chiefs discourages such transactions.

New Hebrides franc:
The Franc, subdivided into 100 centimes, was the currency of the Anglo-French Condominium of New Hebrides which circulated alongside British and Australian currency.

In 1941, the Free French forces introduced paper money for circulation in New Hebrides.

Between 1945 and 1969 it was a part of the CFP Franc. New Hebrides had a combination of New Caledonian Franc coins & locally issued Banknotes.

From 1966, coins were minted bearing the name of the New Hebrides.

In 1969, the New Hebrides Franc delinked itself from the CFP Franc and linked itself to the Australian dollar until 1973.

In 1982, the Franc was replaced at par by the Vatu after Vanuatu became Independent.

Coinage of the New Hebrides Franc:
In 1966, silver 100 Franc coins were introduced.

In 1967, 10 and 20 franc coins minted in nickel were circulated.

In 1970, 1, 2 and 5 Franc coins were minted in nickel-brass.

In 1972, 50 Franc coins were minted in nickel.

Only the 10, 20 and 50 Franc coins were the same size, composition and obverse were identical to the French Polynesian and New Caledonian coins of the same denominations.

In 1973, the letters “I.E.O.M.” (denoting “Institut d’emission d’Outre-Mer) were added.

The overall designs did not change since the introduction of the New Hebrides Franc Coins till the coins were replaced by the Vanuatu vatu.

Banknotes of the New Hebrides Franc:
In 1921 the first New Hebrides Banknotes in the denomination of 25 franc Banknote were issued by the Comptoirs Francais des Nouvelles Hebrides (French Trading Posts of the New Hebrides).
In 1941, Banknotes for New Hebrides were issued again which were essentially overprints on New Caledonian Banknotes issued by Bank de l’Indochine in the denominations of 5, 20, 100, 500 and 1000 Francs.
In 1943, the same denominations were issued by the Free French Services Nationaux Francais des Nouvelles Hebrides.

In 1965, the Institut d’emission d”Outre-Mer took over issuing of paper money for the New Hebrides and introduced Banknotes in the denominations of 100, 500 and 1000 Francs between 1965 and 1972.
Unlike French Polynesia and New Caledonia, New Hebrides did not have a 5000 Franc Banknote at any point of time till the time the CFP Franc was replaced by the Vanuatu Vatu.

Other Banks set up by France for Overseas French territories/colonies at various point of times: for printing & supervising currency circulation in various French territories:

1)   In 1903, the Banque de l’Afrique Occidentale (BAO) was set up as a successor to the Banque du Senegal, to function as the Central Bank for French West Africa. In 1955, the BAO ceased to function as such when this role was taken over by the Institut de l’Afrique Occidentale F. et du Togo.

2)   In 1875, the Banque de l’Indochine (BI) was set up initially with branches in Paris, Saigon, French India, French Indo-China and French Somaliland. Over the years the Bank expanded over the years to include Tonkin, Haiphong, Phnom Penh and Cambodia, Tahiti, New Caledonia and Singapore. The Banknotes issued by the Bank were issued mostly in Francs and Piastres. The Bank later opened a branch in Djibouti. The Banque de l’Indochine finally closed in 1952.

3)   From 1941 to 1958, the Caisse Centrale de la France d’Outre – Mer (CCFOM) was responsible for issuing banknotes in CFA for French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa, Cameroon, Guadeloupe, Madagascar, Martinique the French Overseas Departments (DOM) and Saint Pierre-et-Miquelon.

In 1959, the Bank’s functions were transferred to the Institut d’Emission des Departments d’Outre-Mer and the role of the Caisse Centrale was changed into an Organization, overseeing the economic development for these Regions.

4)   In 1959, the Institut d’Emission des Departments d’Outre-Mer (IEDOM) was set up and replaced the Caisse Centrale de la France d’Outre-Mer (CCFOM).

From 1959 to 2002, the IEDOM was issuing currency for the French Overseas Departments (DOM) of Guadeloupe, Guiana (South America), Martinique, Mayotte, French Antilles, Reunion and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon which had a common design in French and CFA Francs. Since 2002, the Bank is issuing Euros for these territories.

5)   In 1962, the BANQUE Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO)  was set up to provide a monetary policy and issuance of Banknotes in CFA for countries in West African States of Benin, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Niger and Guinea Bissau. The BCEAO presently issues Banknotes in CFA which are interchangeable with the EURO.

6)   In 1972, the Banque des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale (BEAC) was set up to regulate monetary policy and issue and supervision of a common Banknote series for countries of the Union Douaniere et Economique de l’Afrique Centrale (UDEAC)  which included Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. In 1999, the UDEAC’s role of monetary policy regulation was taken over by Communaute Economique et Monetaire de l’Afrique Centrale (CEMAC). The BEAC still issues Banknotes in CFA which are convertible to EURO.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

149) America the Beautiful Quarters (6) – 2015 Sixth annual quarters set being issued by the US Mint:

149) America the Beautiful Quarters  (6) – 2015 Sixth annual quarters set being issued by the US Mint:
This is the sixth year in the “America the Beautiful Quarters programme” which was launched in 2010. Every year five quarters are issued featuring five different National Parks or National sites. The Series is expected to run through 2021 with a total of 56 different coins featuring a site for each US State, US Territory and the District of Columbia, presented in the order in which these Parks/sites were federally designated. I have put up posts on each of the previous year issues i.e. 2010, 2011, 2012, 21013 and 2014, the links of which are given at the bottom of this Post.
The above is a scanned image of the Obverse faces of the America The Beautiful Quarters coins issued during 2015. This is from the US Mint  Proof Coin Set - 2015.
 The Reverse designs of the Five quarters issued in 2015 from the above mentioned US Mint Proof coin set - 2015.
           The Front cover of US Mint Proof set 2015 coin album
An Artist's impression of the five designs on the Quarters issued in 2015.
The Front covers of the US Mint Uncirculated Coin sets issued by the Denver and Philadelphia Mints in 2015, also containing the five Quarters issued in 2015.
The Obverse faces of the above Uncirculated coin sets (28 coins in all) also containing the Five Quarters issued in 2015.
 The reverse faces of the above Uncirculated coin sets also  showing the designs of the  Five Quarters issued in 2015

The details of the five designs of the quarters selected for 2015, representing the 26th to 30th overall coin releases are as under:

26) Homestead National Monument of America, Nebraska:

The Homestead National Monument of America is a unit of the National Park System and is located in Southeast Nebraska. The Monument commemorates the passage of the 1862 Act and the far reaching effects that the Act had upon the landscape and the people. Located four miles west of Beatrice, Gage County, Nebraska, the Monument includes some of the first acres successfully claimed under the Homestead Act. The National Monument was first included in the National Register of historic Places on 15.10.1966.

On 04.07.1861, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed “It is the purpose of our Government to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial burdens from all shoulders and to give everyone an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life”.

To this end, the Homestead Act of 1862 brought about long lasting changes in the USA. This Law allowed Government land to be given to individuals with a ceiling of 160 acres or 0.65 sq km. of federally owned land in exchange for five years of residence and the cultivation and improvement of the property in 30 States and allowed any man or woman a chance to live the “American Dream”. An interesting feature was that women were also allowed to claim 160 acres of land under the Homestead Act 1862, some 60 years before they were given the right to vote.

Under this Act, over 4.00 million people claimed about 270 million acres of land. The Homestead Act, Emancipation Proclamation and the Railroad Act were passed almost at the same time and were instrumental in moving emigrants to the west for settlement. These Acts supplemented the Thomas Jefferson Land Ordinance of 1785.

African Americans travelled from far and wide to claim their land under the Act and begin a new life. They were known as the “Exodusters”.

The credit of being the first Homesteader went to Daniel Freeman, who was a Farmer, Doctor, Coroner and Sheriff who claimed his land on the day the Homestead Act went into effect. The last Homesteader was Ken Deardorff, who filed his claim on land on the Stony River in southwestern Alaska in 1974.

Early Homesteaders and other settlers of the west did not have any electricity and remained without it, while urban areas had the luxury of electricity. Ultimately, the Rural Electrification Act provided this benefit to rural areas.

The Monument contains a Homestead Heritage Centre which showcases the effect of the Homestead Act on agriculture, immigration, native tribes, the tallgrass prairie ecosystem and federal land policy. There is also a separate Education Centre which features information on science and social science. Some highlights of the Monument are – the Palmer-Epard Cabin (having a 14 x 16 foot earth – floored room downstairs and an attic upstairs, built in 1867) and Freeman School (a one-room school which functioned from 1872-1967, which also functioned as a Lutheran Church, a community centre for debates, clubs, socials and a polling place).

The Park includes 100 acres of tallgrass prairie restored to the ecosystem that once covered the central plains of America which was nearly plowed into extinction by the homesteaders. For hikers and trekkers, the Park has 4.3 km or 2.7 miles of hiking trails through the prairie and woodland.

The coin:


This coin is the 26th in the “America the Beautiful Quarters Programme”.

The Reverse design shows two corn stalks on the left & right sides, a log home/cabin and an outdoor hand operated water pump with a pail of water. This is a classic representation of three basic needs fundamental to a homesteader’s survival/existence i.e. Food, shelter and water.

 On the upper periphery is mentioned the inscription “HOMESTEAD”. On the lower Periphery are mentioned “NEBRASKA” “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning “One among Many”) and the year of issue “2015”.

The Reverse has been designed by Ronald D. Sanders and engraved by Jim Licaretz, whose initials will appear on the actual coins.

27) Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana:

The Kisatchie National Forest is spread over more than 604000 acres across seven parishes in Louisiana. The Headquarters of the Forest are in Pineville with the Forest Range being divided into five managed units called Ranger Districts – Calcasieu, Caney, Catahoula, Kisatchie and Winn. The Forest was designated as a National Forest in 1930.

The Kisatchie National Forest Heritage program aims to protect archeological sites and historic structures in the Forest.

Hidden in the bayous, beneath bald cypress groves and pine is showcased a world of natural beauty and wildlife. The Park is a part of the Cenozoic uplands and has large areas of longleaf pine forests & flatwoods vegetation which support many rare plant and animal species. There are also rare habitats viz. seepage bogs and calcareous prairies.

The Forest protects habitat for a wide array of plant species including wild orchids (for example, Rose Pagonis orchid) and carnivorous plants (for example Pale Pitcher plant). There are at least 155 species of breeding or overwintering birds, 48 mammal species, 56 reptile species and 30 amphibian species. Rare animals include the Louisiana pine snake, the red-cockaded woodpecker, the Louisiana black bear and the Louisiana pearlshell mussel.

The Forest has multifarious recreational facilities including – bird-watching, backpacking, boating, canoeing, camping, cycling, fishing, hunting, photography and swimming. The Forest has over 40 developed recreational sites and over 100 miles of trails for mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking.

There are three large roadless areas – the Cunningham Brake (a large cypress-tupelo gum swamp), the Saline Bayou (having mixed forests associated with alluvial habitats, ranging from shortleaf pine to tupelo gum and the Kisatchie Hills (protected as a National Wilderness Area).

These are scattered prairies, most of the prairie land having been overtaken by farming/agriculture. The Kieffer Prairie (769 acres), the Tancock Prairie (45 acres) and the Bartram Prairie (1190 acres) are some such examples.

The coin:
This coin is the 27th in the “America the Beautiful Quarters Programme”.

The Reverse design shows a wild turkey flying just over blue stem grass. On the left hand background are long leaf pine trees.

 On the upper periphery is mentioned the inscription “KISATCHIE”. On the lower Periphery are mentioned “LOUISIANA” “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning “One among Many”) and the year of issue “2015”.

The Reverse has been designed by Susan Gamble and engraved by Joseph Menna, whose initials will appear on the actual coins.

28) Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina:

The Blue Ridge Parkway was conceived as part of the New Deal to provide jobs to the unemployed during the Great Depression.

The Parkway was planned as a link between the Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It is a National Parkway noted for its scenic beauty. The construction of the Parkway began on 11.09.1935 at Cumberland Knob near the North Carolina and Virginia State line. It was completed in 1983 after construction activity lasting for over 52 years.

In 2010, the Parkway celebrated its 75th anniversary.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Drive is a slow-paced and relaxing drive dotted with long range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. The speed limit on the Parkway is never higher than 45 mph or 72 kmph.

The Parkway has 26 tunnels, one in Virginia and 25 in North Carolina. The highest point on the Parkway is 6053 ft. or 1845 metres, south of Waynesville, near Mount Pisgah in North Carolina on Richland Balsam Mountain at Milepost 431. The Parkway crosses several streams, creeks, waterfalls, rock formations, ridges, cascades, valleys, knobs, Railway ravines, 168 bridges, six viaducts and several cross roads etc.

During winters, several portions of the Parkway are often impassable, hence the Parkway is closed from late fall through early spring.

Protecting a diversity of plants and animals, the Parkway meanders for 469 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is a part of the Appalachian Mountains, providing an enjoyable experience for the travellers on the Parkway. Not for nothing it is called “America’s Favourite Drive”.

Travellers on the Parkway are treated to flowering shrubs and wildflowers in the spring all along the Parkway, including rhododendrons and dogwoods. Smaller annuals and perennials like the daisy and aster flower through the summer.  Brilliant autumn foliage occurs later in September on mountaintops, descending to the valleys by October.

There is a pre-dominance of oak, hickory and tulip trees at lower elevations, buckeye and ash in the middle and conifers – fir and spruce at the highest elevations.

Although not a National Park in the strict sense of the term, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the most visited within the National Park System since 1946.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Centre provides information & Orientation services and has a 70-seat theatre which shows films and documentaries about the Region. There are several exhibits, including a 22 foot interactive map of the entire Blue Ridge Parkway called the “I-Wall” which provides multi-media information on places to visit around/along the Parkway.

A six- part documentary titled “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” recreated the Parkway’s fascinating history.

The coin:

This coin is the 28th in the “America the Beautiful Quarters Programme”.

The Reverse design shows a curved road hugging the side of a mountain as it enters a tunnel. The North Carolina State flower grows abundantly in the foreground.

 On the upper periphery is mentioned the inscription “BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY”. On the lower Periphery are mentioned “NORTH CAROLINA” “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning “One among Many”) and the year of issue “2015”.

The Reverse has been designed by Frank Morris and engraved by Joseph Menna, whose initials will appear on the actual coins.

29) Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware:

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge was established on 16.03.1937 as a link in the chain of refuges extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It is located along the eastern coast of Kent County, Delaware, on Delaware Bay.

It is mainly a refuge and breeding ground for migrating birds and other wildlife. Bombay Hook was called “Canaresse” (meaning “at the thicket”) by the Native Americans. Later, the Dutch named it “Boompjes” or “Boompjes Hoeck” (meaning “little tree-point”).

In 1679, Mechacksett, the Chief of Kahansink, sold Bombay Hook to Peter Bayard, a Dutch settler for a price of 1 gun, 4 handfuls of powder, 3 waistcoats, 1 anchor of liquor and 1 kettle.

Bombay Hook has become an important migratory bird protection and conservation area over the years, as there has been a loss of high quality habitat along the “Atlantic Flyway”. Refuge Management Programmes are aimed at developing and protecting habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds, including the threatened bald eagle. The Refuge is a focal point for waterfowl migrating between their Northern breeding grounds and southern wintering areas along the Atlantic Flyway.

In 1937, the Refuge comprising some 12000 acres (about 49 sq. kms) was purchased from local land owners with Federal duck stamp funds to establish the Bombay Hook Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.

Bombay Hook is a “Ramsar Wetland of International importance”. The Refuge is a nationally recognized birding spot which attracts birders from all over the country and is designated as a “Globally Important Bird Area”.

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge protects one of the largest remaining expanses of tidal salt marsh in the mid-Atlantic region. The refuge which is located along the coast of Delaware is mostly marsh, but also includes freshwater impoundments and uplands habitats that are managed for other wildlife.

Focussed management of the Refuge, including development of fifteen moist soil areas, agricultural lands, warm season grass fields and habitat diversity has made the Refuge an attractive destination for bird populations.

The water levels in the Refuge’s impoundments are manipulated to produce desirable emergent and underwater plants for waterfowl. When the pools are drawn down, large numbers of shore and wading birds feed on the mudflats. Upland agricultural crops are grown on about 5.0 sq kms to provide additional food for waterfowl and other migratory birds.

A large number of Migratory and wintering waterfowl flock  to Bombay Hook each fall to spend the winter or as a staging post on their southward journey. Delaware Bay is the second largest staging area for spring migratory shorebirds in North America. At low tide they can be seen feeding by the thousands on the salt marsh mudflats along the wildlife drive.

During late summer and early fall, southbound migrating shorebirds also visit the Refuge as they fly towards their wintering grounds. Common species include semipalmated sandpipers, dunlin, dowitchers, yellowlegs, semipalmated plovers, American avocets etc.

Bombay Hook has a vast expanse of tidal salt marsh, among the largest unfragmented marsh in the mid-Atlantic. Salt marshes are on the decline worldwide and are home to many species of conservation concern, such as American black ducks, salt marsh sparrows and sharp-tailed sparrows.

The Freshwater impoundments are one way that Bombay Hook provides important feeding and resting habitat for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and year-round resident specie. The Refuge has four such impoundments – Raymond Pool, Shearness Pool, Bear Swamp Pool and Finis Pool.  Water levels are managed on a seasonal basis to provide mudflats for migrating shorebirds in the spring, and then flooded in the fall to give dabbling ducks access to the seeds of the plants that germinate over the summer.

Common species include Northern pintail, American Black ducks, green-winged teal, Canada geese and snow geese. The Refuge has recorded some 350 species of birds, including “accidental” migrants.

The Refuge also had Allee House (a pre-revolutionary war farmhouse built in 1753 which is now a tourist attraction), Port Mahon Lighthouse (Port Mahon was named after the capital of the Spanish island of Minorca and set up around 1890. Its lighthouse was built in 1903 and  which was destroyed by fire in 1984), Bombay Hook Lighthouse (also called the “Smyrna River Lighthouse” was constructed by the US Government in 1829 and demolished in 1974 as it had become unstable due to several fires).

In 1986, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge represented the USA in “World Safari”, a satellite programme by National Geographic, BBC and turner broadcasting because of its high concentration of snow geese.

The Refuge has a visitor centre, auto tour route, observation towers and five nature trails. Bear Swamp Trail and visitor centre are also accessible to visitors with disabilities. Hiking, photography and wildlife observation facilities are available.

The Coin:

This coin is the 29th in the “America the Beautiful Quarters Programme”. 

The Reverse design shows a blue heron in the foreground and a great egret in the background. These birds populate the Bombay National Wildlife Refuge’s tidal salt marsh.

 On the upper periphery is mentioned the inscription “BOMBAY HOOK”. On the lower Periphery are mentioned “DELAWARE” “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning “One among Many”) and the year of issue “2015”.

The Reverse has been designed by Joel Iskowitz and engraved by Phebe Hemphill, whose initials will appear on the actual coins.

30) Saratoga National Historical Park, New York:

The Battles of Saratoga fought on 19.09.1777 and 07.10.1777 marked the climax of the Saratoga campaign giving a decisive victory to the Americans over the British in the American Revolutionary War.

The British General John Burgoyne was Commander of a large invasion force comprising over 7500 men which came into the Champlain Valley from Canada hoping to link up with another large Army marching northwards from New York City which never happened. Burgoyne’s strategy was to divide New England from the southern colonies which was going well, but slowed down due to logistical problems.

Ultimately, Burgoyne was surrounded by American forces in upstate New York.

In the First Battle of Saratoga fought on 19.09.1777, Burgoyne’s Army of some 7200 combatants came up against 9000 American combatants. Burgoyne’s troops won a small tactical victory over General Horatio Gates and the Continental Army at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, but at the cost of significant casualties.

Nevertheless, Burgoyne’s troops were unable to break free from the American encampments, as several American troop reinforcements kept bolstering up their ranks and encircling British positions.

Meanwhile, a British General Sir Henry Clinton, moving from New York City attempted to engage the Americans by capturing two forts in the Hudson  River highlands on 06.10.1777 after he realized that he would not be able to come to Burgoyne’s relief.

Burgoyne’s beleaguered British Army on realizing that no help was at hand, fought a Second battle on 07.10.1777 in which the British Army of 6600 combatants faced a huge American force of some 12000 combatants entrenched at Bemis Heights (which swelled up to some 15000 men with the arrival of militia forces, by the time of Burgoyne’s surrender).

At this juncture, Major General Benedict Arnold who was as held back in the Reserves by General Gates, suddenly appeared (“betraying great agitation and wrath” at missing all the action due to internal politics in the American Command) in the American frontlines and took brilliant leadership of the American forces in this area.

Arnold anticipated the British flanking attempts on American entrenchments and placed a substantial number of American forces to counter the British attack. Skirmishing continued throughout the day.

In the heavy fighting that followed, Arnold led a spirited rally of American troops which was so ferocious that Burgoyne’s men were pushed back from the positions they had held before the First battle of Saratoga and the Americans captured several entrenched British fortifications.

Arnold personally led the American chase and attacked the most fortified British Redoubt. Seeing the British hold on valiantly at the redoubt, Arnold without any fear for his life, moved towards this position, recklessly riding between the lines and remarkably emerging unhurt. In the furious battle that followed, the British redoubt was taken and several British soldiers were killed. Arnold’s horse was hit in one of the final volleys and his leg was broken by both shot & falling horse but the British lines in the field of battle were overrun by the American forces.

 Although Arnold’s brilliant action on the field was instrumental in the Americans gaining a major victory, internal politics within the American camp led him to be stripped of his command.

Burgoyne had lost several of his officers, his attempts to capture the forward American positions came to naught and on 08.10.1777 he withdrew to his fortified reserve positions.

On 13.10.1777, Burgoyne was entirely surrounded by the American Army which outnumbered the British forces by almost 3:1.

On 17.10.1777, he surrendered his Army to General Horatio Gates. For the first time, the British had learnt that the Americans were more than capable of standing up in a regular engagement and could fight with courage and obstinacy. Till now they believed that the Americans could fight only from behind strong fortifications.

In all the British side lost 440 men killed, 695 wounded and 6222 men captured. The American losses were 150 killed and 340 wounded.

18.12.1777 has been declared as a National Day for “solemn Thanksgiving and praise”.

As a result of the action at Saratoga, France which had been largely neutral till this stage realized that the America Revolutionaries had a good chance of winning the war and negotiated a formal Franco-American alliance and proclaimed France’s entry into the War and it began to aid the colonists with men, materials and money.

The battlefield and the site of Burgoyne’s surrender have been preserved and are now administered as the Saratoga National Historical Park which has been registered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

The Park has also preserved a large number of historic buildings in the area.

 For his role in the battles at Saratoga, General Arnold’s seniority was restored. He later connived with the British and was stripped of his honours.

However, his gallantry in the Battles of Saratoga has been honoured through a “Boot Monument” which does not name him but depicts Arnold’s injured leg and depicts the stars of a Major General. This monument is dedicated to the “most brilliant soldier of the Continental army” and stands at the spot where Arnold was shot in the leg during his famous charge of the British redoubt in the action on 07.10.1777:

Also, there is the Saratoga Monument obelisk which has four niches, three of which hold statues of American generals: Horatio Gates, Schuyler and Colonel Daniel Morgan. The fourth niche which is left blank stands in the heroic action of Benedict Arnold.


This coin is the 30th in the “America the Beautiful Quarters Programme”. 

The Reverse design shows a close-up of the scene when British General John Burgoyne surrendered his sword to the American General Horatio Gates, representing a pivotal moment in the American Revolutionary War. Next to the sword are mentioned the words “British Surrender 1777”.
On the upper periphery is mentioned the inscription “SARATOGA”. On the lower Periphery are mentioned “NEW YORK” “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning “One among Many”) and the year of issue “2015”.

The Reverse has been designed by Barbara Fox and engraved by Renata Gordon, whose initials will appear on the actual coins.

The obverses of all these coins will feature the 1932 portrait of George Washington designed by John Flanagan. Also seen on the obverse are the inscriptions “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, “LIBERTY”, “IN GOD WE TRUST” and QUARTER DOLLAR. The Mint marks “P” (Philadelphia), “D” (Denver) and “S” (San Francisco) will also appear on this face depending on the mint which has minted these coins – uncirculated sets (P & D) and proof sets (S).

The specifications of this coin set are:

Composition: 8.33% nickel, balance copper.                  

Weight: 5.67 gms. 

Diameter: 24.30 mm or 0.955 inch.

Edge: reeded. 

The coin sets depicted in this post are from the collection of Jayant Biswas, who has procured them during his trip to the USA.
As the US Mint website from this year onwards is not shipping coins to India, I have stopped collecting this series, as well as any other US Mint coins. However, in case any interesting coins issued by the US Mint are reported by the various email communications I receive from several channels from across the Globe, I may put up some posts for the information of visitors to my blog.


1) America the Beautiful Quarters - 2010

2)America the Beautiful Quarters - 2011 

3) America the Beautiful Quarters - 2012  

4) America the beautiful Quarters - 2013

5) America the Beautiful Quarters - 2014

6) The Great Seal of the USA

7) State Quarter Dollar Programme

8) Susan B. Anthony dollar

9) Native Anerican themed one dollar programme

10) Westward journey Nickels 

11) New $100 Bill with additional security features

12) The strange case of me "becoming a US citizen" without even applying for it, thanks to the US Mint

13) US Bicentennial coins

14) Forever Stamps - Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War - 1861-1865  

15) Commemorating 225th Anniversary of the U.S. Marshals with coins

16) American Eagle Gold Coins  

17)  American Gold Buffalo Coins

18) America the Beautiful Quarters - 2016