This week we will go through some curiosities regarding the coin used by more than 337 million people every day, the Euro. It was born not long ago, to be precise it started circulating last 1st of January 2002, fact that has been already remembered in one of the three 2 euro commemorative coins that are every year minted by all euro countries, sharing a common design.
So let’s just start with the curiosities we have promised:
1.- The € symbol comes from the Epsilon greek letter.
The € symbol was elected among 10 proposals presented to the European Commission on the 12th of December 1996. The design was created by a group of four experts that came up with a symbol by fusioning the Epsilon greek letter, a very important sign in the european culture, and similar to the European E sign, with two parallel lines crossing the vertical line as an indicative of stability.
2.-Did you know that the Euro had its 10th anniversary TWICE?
As we already said, the coin started circulation 1st of January 2002 replacing the national currency of the 12 states that adopted it at the beginning: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Greece. This fact is the one that the commemorative coin tries to remember. However, the coin appeared the 1st of January of 1999, and that day the Euro started as an official coin only existing as a virtual currency. Because of that, the correct popular celebration of the 10th EURO anniversary is 2012. This first anniversary was also remembered with the common mint of a 2 euro commemorative coin. The countries of: Chipre, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta also took part on this commemoration along with the 12 originary states which makes a total of 16 states.
3.- The euro not only circulates on the Eurozone!
Some countries use the EURO as an official currency, even though they are neither part of the Eurozone nor part of the European Union. Basically they are small states, like Monaco, San Marino, Andorra and the Vatican, which also have the right to mint their own coins, being Andorra the last one joining, precisely at the beginning of this year. The EURO is also the official Montenegro and the Serbian region of Kosovo coin.
4.- Each European should have around 290 coins
In the whole world there are a total of 97000 EURO coins currently circulating, with a total value of around 23000 million. If we divide this between the approximated 337 million Europeans that use them, each European should have 290 coins which correspond to 68 Euro approximately.
However, we should take into account that coin collectors usually have a larger amount of them, getting part of the amount that should correspond to other citizens following our maths.
5.- Did you know that not everyone calls them EURO?
The greek euro coins are the only ones using a different alphabet from the latin one. The EURO cent in greek is called ΛΕΠΤΟ (“leptó”), in plural ΛΕΠΤΑ (“leptá”), the other languages on the contrary adopted the word "cent". The "EURO" word in greek is written ΕΥΡΩ.
6.- Did you know that Greece asked for help in order to mint its coins?
Because Greece adopted the euro as a coin in 2001 and not in 1999 like the rest of the original 11 eurozone members, the 2002 serie of greek euro coins was minted also in different countries of the Union in order to get on time and have the coins ready on the 1st of January of 2002. A letter in one of the stars on the coin will allow you to identify the country where the coin was made:
- No letter: Greek
- E: Spain (España in spanish)
- F: France
- S: Finland (Suomi in finish)
7.- Not all the countries use all the coins
Netherlands, Belgium and Finland stopped using and minting circulating 1 and 2 euro cent coins, leaving only the 5 euro cent coin as the smallest coin. The 1 and 2 euro cent coins are still minted but only for the collection editions of these coins. This does not mean that the prices are now all rounded in those countries. I. e. in the supermarket, the prices are still showing values like 2.97 euro and is when you get to the cashier when the whole purchase is rounded up or down in order to get adjust to the change. In the end, since the rounding is usually done both ways (up and down) you mostly end up paying a fair price as a result.
This could end up happening in all Euro countries. The European Union itself is encouraging countries to adopt this solution due to the high cost of fabrication and distribution of these small coins. Therefore, you might want to buy this cent coins as soon as you can, they might be difficult to find in a near future!
8.- They almost made 1 and 2 Euro banknotes
Some countries, Italy, Greece, Austria, and Slovenia among them asked several times to introduce smaller Euro banknotes than the ones that currently exist. The European Central Bank answered to this proposal saying that "printing a 1 EURO banknote is more expensive and less durable than minting a 1 EURO coin". The final decision on this topic took on the 18th of November 2004, when the ECB finally declared that the Eurozone had not enough demand of this low value bills.
9.- The common face was changed in 2007
The reverse of the coins valued from 10 cents to 2 Euros is the same for all countries. However the original design from Luc Luycx had problem: all the countries that composed the European Union in 1997 (known as the 15th Europe) where there, but the Union had some expansions after that date. None of the new incoming countries were using the Euro, so at the beginning the fact that they were not on the coin was not very important. However in year 2007 Slovenia, not shown in the European map from Luc Luycx, was added to the Eurozone. Because of that from 1st of January 2007, a new design for the coins from 10 cents up to 2 €, was introduced. In this design all the european continent appears without any frontiers, including the Malta and Chipre islands.
10.- Apart from the official Euro coins there are some other ones
Apart from the official coins that are valid in the whole eurozone (values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1 and 2 Euros) the states can mint Euro coins designated for collectors. These coins have a different facial value from the official ones and are only valid in the country where they are issued. Because they are not official coins they don’t have a common design or format. An example of these type of coins are the spanish 12 Euro coins emulating the previous spanish 2000 pesetas commemorative coin editions.
11.- Do you know there are 3 Euro coins?!
Another curious edition of these collection coins are the three euro coins, yes, three euro coins, that Slovenia has been minting since 2009.
12- And Spain, What coins does it offer for collectors?
Spain as the rest of the countries makes use of this right and has been emitting collecting coins since 2002. Minting them in gold, silver and bimetallic. The ones in gold have values of 20, 100, 200 and 400 euro. The ones made of silver have values of 5, 10, 12, 20, 30 and 50 euro. The bimetallic ones have values of 5, 10, 100 and 300 euro. You can see the whole list here.