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What is a Coin of Hawaii?

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And why does Heritage Auctions put them in their own category?

Before they became a US territory in 1900, the islands of Hawaii had been unified into a kingdom that existed for nearly a century. The Kingdom of Hawaii issued their own coinage, cents in 1847 and a series of silver coins in 1883. The cents were struck by a private firm in Massachusetts and the silver dimes, quarters, halves and dollars were designed by Charles Barber and were produced at the San Francisco Mint. These issues are what I consider to be the coins of Hawaii. 

Even though Hawaii is now a US state, I think of the coins of Hawaii as "world" coins and would expect to see them in world coin auctions just as I expect to see the coins of Puerto Rico and the coins of the Philippines (although I admit the argument for including the US produced coins of the Philippines in US coin auctions is compelling). However, if you browse a Heritage world coin auction you will typically see the top categories as Ancient coins, World coins and Coins of Hawaii. I don't have an answer for why they have their own category but I imagine it has to do with bidding action.

I have gotten used to seeing the coins of Hawaii in their own Heritage category but lately I have observed a trend that I personally do not care for. Within the Coins of Hawaii category, Heritage has started to include bullion "medals", with Hawaiian themes issued by a company calling themselves the Royal Hawaiian Mint. Some of these may have a connection to a State of Hawaii government office but I believe the majority are strictly private issues. Now there's nothing wrong with collecting exonumia; I just find their placement in the same category to be potentially confusing. 

Now that you know a bit of the history of the official coins of the Kingdom of Hawaii, please understand the difference when you come across a Hawaiian themed medal, regardless how "royal" it seems.

Here's my example of the silver dollar (akahi dala).


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Just to clarify, akahi dala is not a direct translation of silver dollar.  It means one dollar.

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From my website :

Hawaiiana numismatics, it is the study and/or collecting of coins, tokens, medals, paper money, scrip, and objects that have a relationship with Hawaii. Most items that are collected have a design or text related to Hawaii. The Hawaiian relationship may be in a form of its landscape; its cultures, its people, its industry, its events, its language, its customs, its celebrities, etc…

Hawaiiana numismatics is very diverse. As some collectors call it an esoteric area.  Others call it back of the book collecting. As I can attest to it, diversity is the spice of life. How diverse? Hawaiiana numismatics has several cross-over areas that touch other collecting specialties:  SCD,  SC50C,  Alaska, WWII, Kingdom of Hawaii coins, US commemorative half dollars, Liberty Dollars (i.e. NORFED), saloon tokens, railroad tokens, plantation tokens, amusement tokens,  bakery tokens, commercial tokens,  dairy tokens,  military tokens, school tokens,  transportation tokens,  elongated tokens, encased tokens, commemorative medals,  ingot, royal medals, etc..

Presidential artifact can now be added to this list....


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Hawaii was independent until its annexation by the USA in 1898 around the time of the Spanish American War. So coinage dated before that time would be from when it was not part of the US.

Maybe that is why it has its own category.

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