Posted 4 years ago
Western Samoa, Dr. Wilhelm Solf and NCLT
Back in 1980 Western Samoa issued a series of coins honoring the man who was their German Colonial Governor from 1900-1910.
The coins are a copper-nickel 1 tala. Two silver 10 tala coin types, a .500 fine unc and a .925 fine proof and two gold 100 tala versions in proof and unc. both with the same fineness. The coins range from mildly scarce with a mintage of 5,000 to rare with a mintage of 250 pieces for the uncirculated gold coin.
The Samoans never forgot Dr. Solf and his a benevolent colonial administration . Each coin has a portrait of the good Dr. in his diplomatic uniform wearing a cocked hat plus his orders and decorations. Three crosses and a round medal are on his chest and there is an order around his neck. The neck order is the Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Order of the White Falcon, Commander. The round medal is the 1897 Wilhelm I Centennial medal and the three crosses could be the Prussian Orders of the Red Eagle 3rd Class and the Order of the Crown 3rd Class plus the Oldenburg House Order Knights Class which are all Orders that Dr. Solf had been awarded as of 1908. Dr. Solf as a liberal and a humanitarian ran into trouble with the Nazis but died before he could be made to pay the ultimate price. His family was also active in the German resistance movement and suffered greatly for it.
These coins can tell us many things if we read between the lines. To begin with they are “NCLT” or non-circulating legal tender. That means the average man on the street in Western Samoa would never have seen one but if he had one he could use it as money. Since the issue prices and the bullion values of the silver and gold versions were much higher than the denominations, the coins would likely never be used anyway. To facilitate sales every coin needs a denomination. Without a denomination it would just be a medal and medals do not sell nearly as well as coins. Metal content is purely arbitrary in order to enhance sales, the proof 10 tala coins are .925 fine silver while the uncs are only .500 fine which would help justify the pricing difference. The proof and unc 100 tala versions however have the same gold fineness of .9167. The unc version which has a mintage of only 250 pieces is much rarer than the proof with a mintage of 1000 pieces yet the more common proof had an issue price that was $25.00 higher than the rare low mintage unc version.
How did all this come to pass? Not every country has it’s own mint and not every mint is government owned. The minting business is very competitive which often results in mints proposing coinage ideas to small countries.
The Singapore Mint designed, minted and then marketed the Solf coins with an eye to the booming German numismatic market of the late 1970’s. In deals like that a share of the profits would then go to the Samoans just for saying “ok“.