Search This Blog

Monday, 6 October 2014

152) Currency and Coinage of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas:The Bahamian dollar and cents:



152) Currency and Coinage of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas:
Bahamian dollar and cents:

The currency of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar which is valued at par with the US dollar. As such US dollars are accepted freely all over the Bahamas.

The word “Bahamas” has its origins in the Spanish language and it means “Shallow Water”. The Commonwealth of The Bahamas or The Bahama Islands Archipelago consists of many islands. There are about 3000 islands which include the cays (small islands formed on the coral reefs) located in the Atlantic Ocean. The population of The Bahamas is around 350000. The major languages spoken are English and Creole (by the indigenous people).

The Bahamas Archipelago is in fact the tops of banks that were formed around 90000 to 120 years ago from coral reef formation. The hugely popular pink sand beaches of the Bahamas get their vibrant appearance from the fractured pieces of seashell combined with sand. The highest point in the Bahamas is Mount Alvernia on Cat Island, which is 63 metres or 200 feet high. Grand Bahama Island features breathtakingly white sandy beaches, beautifully clear turquoise blue waters and plenty of lush, tropical foliage.

Historically, “Arawak Indians” lived in these Islands when Christopher Columbus reached the so called “New World” on San Salvador Island in 1492. (There is a school of thought that believes that when Christopher Columbus first arrived in the West Indies in 1492, he landed on a Bahamian Island which he named San Salvador (formerly called Watling Island named after George Watling, who was a noted Buccaneer) and was greeted by the friendly Lucayan Arawaks. The inlets of San Salvador were used by pirates and buccaneers around the time of his arrival, so technically Columbus was not the first to “discover” these Islands.

However, there is no unanimity on his actual landing site. The probable location of his first landing is now either San Salvador or Samana Cay which is about 80 miles South East. (Perhaps, if  Columbus had maintained a proper daily “Captain’s log”, it would have settled this controversy once and for all, but then he had no idea that his first place of landing in the Islands would result in this kind of a controversy several centuries later, since his focus was on visiting new lands in the Caribbean etc.).

By 1647, the British had established a settlement in these Islands. Around this time, Spanish "Pieces of Eight" (named after the coin's easy physical division into eight pieces of silver, minted in the New World were the commonly circulating coinage.

In 1783, the Islands were proclaimed a British Colony.

In 1806, a 1 penny coin was struck in Birmingham with the portrait of George III and The Colony’s badge which was the only coin struck for  The Bahamas during this period.

In 1825, an Imperial Order-in-Council was passed for introducing British coinage in all British colonies which was not implemented effectively. The Bahamian Pound or Pound sterling was proposed to be introduced in The Bahamas, Bermuda and Jamaica. During this time, parallel currencies began to circulate.

In 1838, another Order-in-Council was passed to implement the earlier order in the British colonies in its entirety and do away with parallel currencies except for the British Pound.

By mid-19th century, British coinage replaced the Spanish dollar throughout all of the British West Indies.

In 1905, the Bank of Nassau issued Banknotes in the denominations of 5 and 10 shillings and 1 pound.

In 1906, 4 shilling banknotes were introduced.

In 1917, when the Bank of Nassau failed, The Bahamas government took over issuance of Banknotes on the Islands.

In 1919, a new Series of 4 and 10 shillings and 1 pound Banknotes were issued.

In 1936, 5 pound Banknotes were circulated.

Till 1966, the Pound Sterling was the coinage of The Bahamas and British currency circulated here.

In 1973, The Bahamas became Independent from British Rule and a constitutional Parliamentary democracy was established.

Today, The Bahamas are a major tourist attraction/destination. The Bahamas are a popular port of call for cruise ships plying the Caribbean. The capital Nassau on New Providence Island is one of the World’s busiest cruise ship ports. Freeport on the Grand Bahama Island is a huge tourist attraction as well.

The following 18 Islands Group together form The Bahamas:

Acklins, Abaco, Andros, Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera/Harbour Island, Exuma, Grand Bahama (which is an ecological playground featuring an underground limestone cave system), Inagua , Long Island, Mayaguana, New Providence, Ragged Island, Rum Cay  and San Salvador  Island.

 Each of these islands upon attaining Independence from the British has been granted Regional island shields to be displayed during Independence Day celebrations. These shields reflect each island’s individual cultural heritage.

Several varieties of wildlife are found in the Bahamas. Different types of crabs, including the Hermit and Cardisoma guanhumi, are the most also found.

The wild horses of Abaco, Bahamas Hutia, numerous frogs, rocky racoon, snails such as Cerion, Cicada, blind Cave fish, ants, reptiles etc are also found in the Bahamas.

Several varieties of birds, the most common being parrots and pigeons are also found in the Bahamas. Aquatic life includes sharks, manatees, dolphins, frogfish, angelfish, starfish and turtles.

The Central Bank of The Bahamas:

In 1919, the Currency Board was set up whose functions were restricted to issue and control of currency.

During the 1960s the Currency Board played an important role in formulating Banking policy. Based on strong trade linkages with the US, the Government delinked the Bahamian dollar (formerly the Pound) from its peg with the Pound Sterling and established the currency at par with the US dollar. This action led to massive exchange rate losses for Banks which had held their investments/assets in the sterling balances.

In 1968, these Exchange rate losses led to the dissolution of the Currency Board and the Bahamas Monetary Authority (BMA) was set up in its place.

The BMA suffered from a serious shortcoming which was the absence of the legal authority to employ active monetary policy measures which led to the weakening of the BMA’s authority.

In the 1970s the BMA was replaced with the Central Bank of The Bahamas which had wide-ranging supervisory & control functions including over Currency issue and circulation.

On 01.06.1974, the Central Bank of The Bahamas was established to carry out independent monetary policy and financial sector supervisory functions.

The Security paper and printing major De La Rue has been printing currency note on behalf of the Central Bank of The Bahamas in Bassingstoke, Hampshire, England. The Coins are minted in Ottawa Mint, Ontario, Canada for The Bahamas.

Historical development of the Bahamian Currency/Coinage after Independence:

In 1966, the dollar replaced the Pound at an exchange rate of 1 dollar to 7 shillings as the value of 1 Pound was equivalent to $2.80 (approx.).

The three-dollar bill and the 15 cents coin which were circulated to ease the 1966 transition from British Pounds to dollars ( three-dollars being roughly equivalent to one Pound and 15 cents being equal to a shilling approx.) are now Collector’s favourites and much sought after denominations.

The denominations of coins circulated in this year were 1 (nickel-brass), 5, 10, 15 (all three denominations were minted in cupro-nickel), 25 (nickel), 50 cents and 1 dollar (both denominations were minted in silver and not issued for circulation after 1966). The 10 cents coin was scalloped while the 15 cents coin was square.

The 1 cent coin was minted bronze in 1970, then in brass in 1974 and then in copper-plated zinc in 1985.

In 1989, cupro-nickel 50 cent and 1 dollar coins were issued for circulation which circulated with the corresponding denominations of Banknotes.

Present day issues of circulating Coins:

The presently circulating denominations of Coins include 1, 5, 10, 15 and 25 cents. The 15 cent coin although still minted by the Central Bank but is not commonly used.


The above image contains the Obverse and Reverse of coins in the denominations of 1, 10 and 25 cents.

On the Obverse of all coins presently in circulation, the Bahamian Coat of Arms is depicted. On the upper periphery is mentioned the country name “COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS”, which forms a crown around the Coat of Arms and the year of issue.


                             An image of a 1 Cent coin (obverse) issued in 2009.
                           An image of the1 cent coin (reverse) issued in 2009.


On the Reverse of the 1 cent coin are depicted Starfish and the denomination of the coin “1 Cent”.

The specifications of the coin are:

Shape: Round; Diameter: 17mm; Thickness: 1.58 mm; Edge: Plain.




On the Reverse of the 5 cents coin is depicted a Pineapple and the denomination of the coin “Five Cents”.

The specifications of the coin are:

Shape: Round; Diameter: 21mm; Edge: Plain.



                 An image of a 10 Cents coin (obverse) issued in 2000.



                 An image of the10 cents coin (reverse) issued in 2009.

On the Reverse of the 10 cents coin are depicted two Bonefish and the denomination of the coin “10 cents”.

The specifications of the coin are:

Shape: Scalloped; Diameter: 23.50 mm; Thickness: 1.80 mm.




On the Reverse of the 15 cents coin is depicted a Hibiscus and the denomination of the coin “fifteen cents”.

The specifications of the coin are:

Shape: Square; Diameter: 21.50 mm; Edge: Smooth.



               An image of a 25 Cents coin (obverse) issued in 2005.



            An image of the10 cents coin (reverse) issued in 2005.
On the Reverse of the 25 cents coin is depicted a Bahamian sloop and the denomination of the coin “twenty five cents”.

The specifications of the coin are:

Shape: Round; Diameter: 24.26 mm; Edge: Serrated.

Present day issues of Bahamian Banknotes:




On the Front of the Fifty Cents/Half Dollar Banknote is an engraved border design surrounding a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II . On the top is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. A watermark of a Spanish Galleon appears on the right. There is an outline Map of The Bahamas in the centre, basketwork from the straw market, Freeport and the Central Bank’s logo on the left.


On the Back of the Fifty Cents/Half Dollar Banknote is a picture of Sister Sarah in the Nassau Market. The picture is surrounded by a border and on the right is shown the Coat of Arms of The Bahamas, the Central Bank’s logo and the denomination of the Banknote “$ ½”  and on the bottom left is a picture of bananas.

Sister Sarah: It is not clear who Sarah is. She has been variously described as Sister Sarah Johnson of Harbour Island who is one of the several local Artisans engaged in the art of straw work weaving on Harbour Island. These artisans have mastered the art of weaving baskets, dolls, hats and mats etc. which are sold in the local shops and straw markets of Nassau, Freeport etc. and are continuing a centuries old tradition. Sister Sarah was a prominent figure at the straw market in the 1970s, when the market was located along the dock, before it was shifted to its present day location on Bay Street.

To create weavable strips, the straw is taken from the top of the palm frond. The frond top is cut and stripped, then hung from trees for three/four days. These are then laid flat to dry for another four days. The fully dried strips of frond top are cut into thinner strips. Before the strips can be used, they are soaked in salt water for an hour and then wrapped in cloth for another hour. This makes the straw pliable and useful for weaving. The straw is wrapped around the stalk from the frond top and woven into various household items such as hampers, picnic baskets, cake tops, place mats, napkin holders and baby carriers etc.

 The colour of this Banknote is moss-green, charcoal grey and dark turquoise, with blue and silver highlights in the central picture and right panel respectively on the Back. The dimensions of this Banknote are 156 mm x 67 mm.  
 On the Front of the One Dollar Banknote is an elliptical border design surrounding a portrait of Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling. On the top is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. A watermark of Sir Lynden O. Pindling and the numeral 1 appears on the left and there is a Map of The Bahamas in the centre.

Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling (22.03.1930-26.08.2000): He is regarded as the “Father of the Nation” of The Bahamas, having led it to majority Rule on 10.01.1967 and to Independence on 10.07.1973. He served as the first black Premier of the Colony of The Bahamas Islands from 1969 to 1992. He was leader of the Progressive Liberal Party from 1965 to 1997, when he resigned from public life under a scandal. He won an unbroken string of general elections until 1992, when the PLP lost to the Free National Movement. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1983. He passed away on 26 August 2000. Nassau International Airport was renamed after him as Lynden Pindling International Airport in his honour. 
 On the Back of the One Dollar Banknote is a picture of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band. The picture is surrounded by various images which include on the left, a partial rainbow arc flanked by the numeral “$1” and the denomination of the Banknote in words “One Dollar” above, the words ‘The Central Bank of The Bahamas” and on the right the Yellow Elder flower (the National Flower of The Bahamas) and on the bottom centre is the Coat of Arms of The Bahamas.

The colour of this Banknote is dark green, mint green and brown in colour. The dimensions of this Banknote are 156 mm x 67 mm.
 On the Front of the Three Dollar Banknote is an engraved border design surrounding a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II . On the top is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. A watermark of a Spanish Galleon appears on the right, an outline Map of The Bahamas in the centre, a miniature picture of holiday makers on Paradise Beach and the Central Bank’s logo on the left.
 On the Back of the Three Dollar Banknote there is a picture of a Family Island Regatta. The picture is surrounded by a border, which depicts on the right the Coat of Arms of The Bahamas and the Bank’s logo and the denomination of the Banknote in numerals “$3”. On the bottom left is the picture of a Bahamian sloop. In the bottom centre is the Coat of Arms of the Bahamas.

The colour of this Banknote is carmine. The dimensions of this Banknote are 156 mm x 67 mm.

On the Front of the Five  Dollar Banknote is an elliptical border design surrounding a portrait of Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield. On the top is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. A watermark of a Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield and the numeral 5 appear on the left and a Map of The Bahamas in the centre.

Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield: He was the first leader of the free National Movement. In 1967, the Progressive Liberal Party came to power under his Chairmanship and he was appointed to the Cabinet. But he became disillusioned with the Party and in 1970 resigned his post. A few months later a group that he headed was expelled from the Party and he along with the dispelled members formed another Party which became known as the Free National Movement, which remained in the opposition during his lifetime. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for service to the Bahamian people as a member of the Parliament, Government minister and Opposition leader. He passed away in May 1990.

On the Back of the Five Dollar Banknote is depicted a picture showing Junkanooers. The picture is surrounded with images including various rainbow-arcs flanked by the numeral “$5” and the words “Five Dollars” above. Also printed on this face is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. In the bottom centre is the Coat of Arms of the Bahamas.

Junkanoo: This is a street parade with music, dance and costumes in many towns across The Bahamas every Boxing Day (i.e.26th December), New Year’s Day and, more recently, in the summer on the island of Grand Bahama. The largest Junkanoo parade takes place in Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas. The dances are choreographed to the beat of goatskin drums and cowbells.

The colour of this Banknote is orange, brown and blue. The dimensions of this Banknote are 156 mm x 67 mm.

On the Front of the Ten Dollar Banknote is an elliptical border design surrounding a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. On the top is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. A watermark of Queen Elizabeth II and the numeral 10 appear on the left and a Map of The Bahamas in the centre.

On the Back of the Ten Dollar Banknote is depicted a picture depicting Hope town, Abaco. The picture is surrounded with images including a rainbow-arc flanked by the numeral “$10” and the words “Ten Dollars” above. Also printed on this face is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. In the bottom centre is the Coat of Arms of the Bahamas.

Hope Town: this is one of the districts of The Bahamas on the Abaco Islands as well as a small village on Elbow Cay located in Abaco. Golf carts are the main source of transportation and most supplies for the area are brought in by barge every week. In Hope Town, neither cars nor golf carts are permitted in the main part of the town and only bicycles and walking is permitted. Cars & golf carts are permitted only on  the outskirts of the town.

The colour of this Banknote is dark blue, dark green and maroon. The dimensions of this Banknote are 156 mm x 67 mm.

On the Front of the Twenty Dollar Banknote is an elliptical border design surrounding a portrait of Sir Milo B. Butler. On the top is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. A watermark of Sir Milo B. Butler and the numeral 20 appear on the left and a Map of The Bahamas in the centre.

Sir Milo Butler: (11.08.1906-22.01.1979): He was a Bahamian Administrator. He was appointed as the first Bahamian Governor-General and served in that position till he passed away in 1979.

On the Back of the Twenty Dollar Banknote is depicted a picture depicting the Nassau Harbour, New Providence. The picture is surrounded with images including a rainbow-arc flanked by the numeral “$20” and the words “Twenty Dollars” above. Also printed on this face is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. In the bottom centre is the Coat of Arms of the Bahamas.

The colour of this Banknote is charcoal, red and green. The dimensions of this Banknote are 156 mm x 67 mm.

On the Front of the Fifty Dollar Banknote is an elliptical border design surrounding a portrait of Sir Roland T. Symonette. On the top is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. A watermark of Sir Roland T. Symonette and the numeral 50 appear on the left and a Map of The Bahamas in the centre.

Sir Roland Theodore Symonette (16.12.1898 – 13.03.1980): He served as the Head of Government of The Bahama Islands from 1955 to 1964. In 1964, when the country achieved internal self-government he was the first Premier of The Bahamas from 07.01.1964 to 16.01.1967. He was knighted in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth II. He passed away on 13.03.1980. A Community Park in the settlement of Current, Eleuthera, Bahamas near his birthplace is named after him.

On the Back of the Fifty Dollar Banknote is depicted a picture depicting the Central Bank’s building in Nassau. The picture is surrounded with images including a rainbow-arc flanked by the numeral “$50” and the words “Fifty Dollars” above. Also printed on this face is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. In the bottom centre is the Coat of Arms of the Bahamas.

The colour of this Banknote is orange, brown and green. The dimensions of this Banknote are 156 mm x 67 mm.

On the Front of the Hundred Dollar Banknote is an elliptical border design surrounding a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. On the top is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. A watermark of Queen Elizabeth II and the numeral 100 appear on the left and a Map of The Bahamas in the centre.

On the Back of the Hundred Dollar Banknote is depicted a picture depicting a blue Marlin jumping out of the water. The picture is surrounded with images including a rainbow-arc flanked by the numeral “$100” and the words “One Hundred Dollars” above. Also printed on this face is mentioned “The Central Bank of The Bahamas”. In the bottom centre is the Coat of Arms of the Bahamas.

The colour of this Banknote is purple, blue and mauve. The dimensions of this Banknote are 156 mm x 67 mm.

Coat of Arms/Emblem of The Bahamas:




The Coat of Arms of the Bahamas has a shield with the National symbols as its focal point.

The Crest: On a golden helmet affront, lambrequins Argent and Azure a conch of the Giant Wingsnail and five palm leaves proper, argent, Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria in full sail proper, on a base barry wavy of four Azure and Argent; and a chief Azure, a rising sun radiant Or.

Supporters: On the dexter a Blue Marlin and on the sinister a red flamingo proper.

Compartment: Waves of the Sea on the Dexter and a grassy ground on the Siniser proper.

Motto: FORWARD, UPWARD, ONWARD TOGETHER.

Blazon:

Divided, in chief azure a rising sun irradiated Or, in base, argent a Columbus ship proper surmounts barry nebuly of two azure;

Crest: Atop a Sovereign’s helm Or a conch shell proper surrounded by five palm fronds vert on a wreath of the chief’s colours, from which issues mantling azure lined argent.

Description & Explanation: The escutcheon (shield) is supported by a Marlin and a Flamingo, both National Fish/Bird, with the Marlin present in the Ocean and the Flamingo on land indicating the geography of the Islands. The crest on top of the helm (helmet) is a conch shell, which represents the varied marine life of the Island group. Below the helm is the escutcheon itself, whose main charge is a ship, representing the Santa Maria of Christopher Columbus. It is sailing beneath a sun in the chief. The National motto “FORWARD, UPWARD, ONWARD TOGETHER” is at the bottom written on a ribbon like scroll.

The vibrant tinctures of the Coat of Arms represents the bright future of the Islands.

National symbols of The Bahamas:

The Blue Marlin: National Fish of The Bahamas:
The Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans) is the majestic fish found in both the Altlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Blue Marlin is a relative of the Saltfish and Swordfish, and is easily recognisable for its long “sword” or “spike” of its upper jaw, its high and pointed dorsal fin and pointed anal fin. The Marlin uses its “sword” to club other fish on which it feeds.

It is interesting to recall that the fish found a mention in Ernest Hemmingway’s book “Old Man and the Sea”. Hemmingway was a frequent visitor the The Bahamas, especially to the island of Bimini, where the Blue Marlin is highly prized among the strong game-fishing community.

The Flamingo: National Bird of The Bahamas:


The scarlet, long-legged Flamingoes are found in three major nesting groups in the West Indian Region – Great Inagua, Yucatan in Mexico and Bonaire Island in the Netherlands Antilles.

More than 50000 birds inhabit 287 sq. Miles of Inagua wilderness protected by wardens of the Society for the Protection of the Flamingo in The Bahamas set up by the Bahamas National Trust.

The Roseate or West Indian Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus ruber) were also bred in Abaco, Andros, Rum Cay, the Exuma Cays, Long Island, Ragged Cays, Acklins, Mayaguana and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Several Flamingoes were killed by poachers leading to an alarming reduction in their numbers a few years ago. Nevertheless, concerted conservation efforts by the Government & The Bahamas National Trust has helped increase their numbers.

The Yellow Elder: National Flower of The Bahamas:


The Yellow Elder is native to The Bahama Islands and it blooms throughout the year. It was selected as the National Flower over the bougainvilla, hibiscus and Poinciana as they had already been chosen as National flowers of other countries while the Yellow Elder had not been selected as such. Nevertheless, the Yellow Flower is now also the National Flower of the US Virgin Islands.









(The 1, 10 and 25 cents coins and the 1 dollar Banknote images are from the collection of Dr. P.V. Satyaprasad. The ½ cent Banknote image is from the collection of Jayant Biswas. Article researched and written by Rajeev Prasad).

8 comments:

  1. • Anand Varma has commented:
    "Wow. Nice The great world of coins. Interesting narration of details about coins and currency of Bahamas. Nice study n research on Coins and Currency of different countries"..


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Anand.
      It is indeed fascinating as to how much one can learn about the people, history, culture and natural resources of a country only by studying its coins/currency.

      Delete
  2. Ramchandra Lalingkar has commented:
    "Very beautiful photographs of Coins and Currency Notes".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your appreciation.

      Delete
  3. Babu Das has commented:
    "nice collections....."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your appreciation.

      Delete
  4. Was there a Christopher Columbus 1991 dollar printed, or printed in 1992 only

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Cinderella,
      Thank you for visiting my blog and your query. Yes, there was a $5 silver coin minted in 1991 depicting Christopher Columbus titled "Voyage of Columbus". This was part of the "Discovery of The New World - Bahamas Quincenntennial 1991 Five Dollar Silver Proof" coin programme. I am giving here a link to the Commemorative coins programme of the Central Bank of Bahamas from 1967 onwards, which will give you the details of this and the other coins issued till 2012: Coinhttp://www.centralbankbahamas.com/bank_numismatic.php

      Delete