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Polymer showcased as coinage ‘metal’

Are you familiar with pork being advertised as “the other white meat?” How does it sound if a mint was to hawk polymer as “the other coinage metal?”

News about the innovative polymer coins is a highlight of the new website launched Nov. 21 by the German state mints of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria. The web site,, offers a virtual tour of the Karlsruhe and Stuttgart minting facilities, a view of the production facilities, art medal manufacturing, a catalog of the art medal series Inventors from Baden-Wuerttemberg and news of the progress of polymer as it emerges as an option to metal as a composition for coins.

 Polymer may become an optional composition for circulating coins in the future.

Polymer may become an optional composition for circulating coins in the future.

Nothing at the website indicates just how durable a polymer coin would be when compared to either a metal coin or a paper bank note. The site does state there would be a “huge potential savings for central banks, since producing polymer coins, assessed on the length of time that they remain in circulation, is significantly cheaper than printing bank notes, but with the same level of security.”

Security is explained further. “Thanks to the polymer ring inserted between the ring and the core, a coin becomes as secure as a bank note for the very first time. The colored polymer ring is not only attractive but also constitutes an overt security feature that is easily discernible for every user. At the same time it offers the possibility to equip the coin with covert security features which no counterfeiter is able to copy at the present state of the art. The new polymer coin would thus make an ideal material for raising the coin-note-boundary.” (In other words, polymer coins could replace bank notes in circulation.)

The German mints developed polymer for use in a coin with assistance from the Leibniz Institute at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule or RWTH in Aachen, the vending industry through Crane Payment Innovations in Buxtehude, coinage blank supplier Saxonia EuroCoin, and the German Bundesbank or central bank.

Polymer coins have conductivity, chemical resistance and durability when exposed to significant temperature variations, to UV radiation, or to water. The material has been certified as being resistant by the RWTH.

“The material is characterized by its high suitability for minting and retains the transparent clarity of a thermoplastic polymer even after it has been struck,” according to website information.

The mints of Baden-Wuerttemberg are state owned. The facilities produce about 40 percent of Germany’s euro coinage. Foreign circulation strike and commemorative coins as well as medals are additional mint products. Clients include foreign central banks and individuals. German coin products can only be purchased through Official Sales Agency for Collector’s Coins of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Baden-Wuerttemberg released 2 million polymer composition Climate Zones of the Earth 5-euro coins into circulation in 2016. The coins were hoarded by the public and now sell for above face value in collector markets. ( estimated there were about 7.6 million coin collectors in Germany in 2016.) Plans call for additional coins in the same series to be released at a rate of one per year through 2021.

The coin was awarded a prize as the Most Innovative Circulating Coin Worldwide at the Mint Directors Conference in May 2017.

Germany is not the first currency issuing authority to issue polymer coins. The rebellious eastern Moldova-Ukraine border region of Transnistria issued polymer coins in denominations of 1, 3, 5 and 10 rubles in 2014. Each of these coins matches a bank note of the same denomination in appearance and color.

Transnistria First Deputy Chairwoman Olga Radulova confirmed the innovative “currency units” were designed by colleagues from the Russian Federation. Russia was the only country recognizing Transnistria’s independence. Metal composition commemorative coins issued to raise funds for Transnistria were being struck at the Moscow and St. Petersburg mints in Russia at that time.

Previous Transnistria metal composition token coins were struck at the Polska Mennica, or Mint of Poland. Since 2005 Transnistria coins are produced at the Tiraspol Mint. No further polymer coins have been issued.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.

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