Sunday, April 3, 2016

Vacation Swag!

Our good friend Donna recently came back from a solar eclipse trip down in the south Pacific near Malaysia. Before she left she asked about any requests for souvenirs she could bring back for us. While not a coin collector, I asked her that instead of spending her pocket change before leaving a country, to bring it back for me - and she obliged! I wasn't much interested in coins till a couple months ago when Dick and I had our microscope comparison and coins seemed to be the thing to look at - especially in 3D.

She had flown into Australia, spent some time there, then on to Darwin to catch an ocean-going vessel for the trip to Malaysia. So upon her return had a handful of coins from each country. Of the pair of countries, Australia's was my favorite, though the "heads" of all the coins are a bit dull - all featuring the profile of Queen Elizabeth II, as shown at right. The denomination has little to do with size, at least for the "gold" coins. The $2 coin is smallest at lower left and $1 at upper right. The "silver" coins do go by size, 5 cents upper left to 50 cents lower right.

The reverse sides are much more interesting, featuring native Aussie creatures, as shown at right. On the 50 cent piece at upper left, the Aussie coat of arms is flanked by the kangaroo and emu. The 20 cent piece has an amazing depiction of a swimming platypus. The 10 cent coin has a lyrebird, and the 5 center has an echidna, a spiny anteater. The gold dollar coin at lower right is a commemorative coin from the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting in 2007...

My favorite Australian coin has got to be the $2 coin. Not only does the reverse side feature a portrait of an aboriginal elder, but also features the Southern Cross, only visible from the southern hemisphere - at least from Central America southward...

By comparison, the Malaysian coins are a little more Spartan, but still pretty. The Hibiscus blossom is the national flower and is featured on the front of all the coins, along with the denomination. The reverse sides were a little more obscure, so had to look up what I was seeing on the coins, shown at right. The 5 sen coin at upper right shows 14 dots, 5 stripes, pea tendrils and a cloth pattern of an indigenous tribe. The 10 sen coin shows a Congkak game board. The 20 shows jasmine flowers with the 5 lines, 14 dots and another printing motif in the background. The older "silver" 20 sen coin below right shows a sirih and kapur container that holds betel leaves and other items used in ceremonial and social gatherings. Finally the 50 sen "gold" coin at lower left contains the 14 dots, pea tendril motif and fine lines as a security measure.

Anyway, cool stuff! U.S. coinage was so boring until they started the 50 state quarter series, and continue it into the "America the Beautiful", but seeing what other countries are doing with their coinage is impressive too, so thanks to Donna for scratching that lil' itch! Oh, and interestingly enough, shooting these coins with macro lens at an oblique angle, I couldn't keep the front/back of the coins in focus, so all the group shots above are 3-frame focus stacks to assure they are all in focus!

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