|10 chhertum / chetrums|
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The 10 chhertum or 10 chetrum coin is a former circulation piece of the Kingdom of Bhutan. It was issued in three types during the reign of Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuck (1955–; r. 1972–2006). Lacking a mint of its own, the Royal Government of Bhutan contracted foreign minting facilities to strike all three pieces. The first was produced solely in 1974 at the facilities of the India Government Mint. It was followed in 1975 by a commemorative type celebrating International Women's Year, which was also coined in India. The third and most recent type was then manufactured in 1979 at the Royal Mint. A fourth type was also produced by the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation in Daejeon, South Korea, but was never put into circulation.
All three issued pieces currently hold legal tender status in their country of origin, each carrying a face value equivalent to 0.10 ngultrum. Despite this, none of the types circulate frequently due to their low purchasing power and the Bhutanese public's disinterest in coins. Also, only a limited number of examples of the first type are reportedly available in Bhutan, further lessening their use in the small Himalayan country.
First circulation coin (1974)Edit
For much of the 20th century, Bhutan used its own rupee in conjunction with the Indian rupee. However, coinciding with the coronation of Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Himalayan country introduced the ngultrum as its primary currency in 1974, replacing the Bhutanese rupee at a rate of 1:1. Despite this change, the Indian rupee remains an official currency in Bhutan, and is pegged by the ngultrum at par.
In 1974, the Royal Government of Bhutan commissioned the India Government Mint to strike the first series of coins for the ngultrum in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 25 chhertum, and 1 ngultrum. According to British numismatic author Nicholas Rhodes (1946–2011), most of these coins were "ordered by outside agencies and marketed internationally", and hence, "very few have circulated to any significant extent". Because of this, examples are common in higher grades, although circulation grade pieces also exist.
The 10 chhertum coin of the series, which was produced solely in 1974, is composed of aluminum and measures 2.3 grams in mass, 26 millimeters in diameter, and 2.4 millimeters in thickness. It has medallic alignment; raised, undecorated rims; and a plain edge, and is scalloped in shape, having 12 rounded notches.
Displayed in the center of the obverse is a bust of Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck. In the illustration, the monarch, a young adult at the time of the coin's introduction, is shown facing left and wearing a gho, a traditional Bhutanese robe for men, and the Raven Crown, the official headdress of the Druk Gyalpo (king). The Dzongkha word "འབྲུག" (Wylie: 'brug) is printed above, curved in a clockwise direction along the rim. Such an inscription, which translates as "dragon" in Dzongkha and Tibetan, makes up the first part of the local name of Bhutan, "འབྲུག་ཡུལ" (Wylie: 'brug yul), meaning "Land of the Dragon". The English "BHUTAN" is curved in the same direction to the right of Jigme Singye's likeness, while the Gregorian date of minting, "1974", is arched in the opposite direction to the left.
Featured in the middle of the reverse is an endless knot (shrivatsa), a symbol frequently used in Vajrayana Buddhism, the state religion of Bhutan, to represent Samsara, the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth. The numeral "10" is engraved horizontally below the illustration in a large font, the Dzongkha word "ཕྱེད་ཀྲམ" (Wylie: phyed kram) printed counterclockwise to the left and its English equivalent, "CHETRUMS", written in the same direction to the right.
The total mintage of the first 10 chhertum coin is currently unknown. A large number of examples were struck with a standard finish, and 1,000 were minted as proofs. Of these, an undisclosed number of uncirculated pieces were sold in mint sets and all of the proofs were distributed in proof sets.
International Women's Year coin (1975)Edit
In an effort to raise awareness of continuing gender discrimination against women worldwide, the United Nations declared 1975 International Women's Year. Bhutan, in observance of this event, contracted the India Government Mint to produce two commemorative coins, one denominated at 10 chhertum and the other at 30 ngultrum. The lower valued of the two pieces reportedly circulated in small quantities but not to a significant extent. As a result, examples in higher grades are more available to collectors, even though lower grade pieces also exist.
Having been struck on an aluminum planchet measuring 2.3 grams in mass, 26 millimeters in diameter, and 2.4 millimeters in thickness, the piece has the same composition and dimensions as the 10 chhertum coin of 1974. The commemorative, also like the previous coin, has medallic alignment; raised, undecorated rims; and a plain edge, and is scalloped in shape, having 12 rounded notches.
A pregnant Bhutanese woman is shown facing left in the center of the obverse, with the Gyelyong Tshokhang, the meeting place of the Bhutanese Parliament, and some hills depicted in the background. Extending along the left boundary of this illustration is an ear of grain, the most common crop type cultivated in Bhutan. The legend "INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S YEAR" is inscribed to the left of the grain, traveling clockwise from the coin's lower right to upper peripheries. Its Dzongkha equivalent, "སྤྱིའེ་བཏང་ཟ་མ་མོ་ཡི་ལོ་སྟོན།" (Wylie: spyi'e btang za ma mo yi lo ston), is printed to the right of the illustration, extending in the same direction from the piece's upper right to lower boundaries. The remainder of the coin's rim is occupied the Gregorian date of minting, "1975", which is engraved counterclockwise at the bottom of the piece, separating the beginning of the English and the end of the Dzongkha legends.
The reverse features a vishvavajra, a symbol of Vajrayana Buddhism, in its center. Consisting of two crossing vajras (dorjes), the vishvavajra also appears on the state emblem of Bhutan, and in context represents harmony between secular and religious power. On the coin, the Dzongkha word "འབྲུག" (Wylie: 'brug) is inscribed to the upper left of the vishvavajra, arched in a clockwise direction along the coin's rim, while its English equivalent, "BHUTAN", is engraved in the same direction to the upper right of the Buddhist symbol. Written horizontally in large print at the bottom of the piece, below the vishvavajra, is the numeral "10", the word "CHETRUMS" curved counterclockwise to the left and its Dzongkha equivalent, "ཕྱེད་ཀྲམ" (Wylie: phyed kram), engraved in the same direction to the right.
A total of approximately 4,000,000 examples of the commemorative 10 chhertum coin were produced, including 4,000,000 pieces with a standard finish and a small number of proofs. An unknown number of uncirculated standard coins were distributed in mint sets with the commemorative 30 ngultrum piece, and an undisclosed amount of proofs were sold in proof sets with the 5 and 25 chhertum and 1 and 30 ngultrum coins minted during the same year.
Round coin (1979)Edit
In 1979, the Royal Government of Bhutan contracted the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales, to strike a new series of Bhutanese coins in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 chhertum, and 1 ngultrum. The pieces were first released that year, but they have been largely unpopular due to the public's disinterest in using coins as a medium of exchange. As a result, examples are often available in higher grades, although circulation grade pieces also exist.
The 10 chhertum piece of the series is composed of a bronze alloy of 70 to 90 percent copper and 10 to 30 percent tin and measures 3.6 grams in mass, 20.35 millimeters in diameter, and 1.4 millimeters in thickness. It has medallic alignment; raised, undecorated rims; and a plain edge, and like most coins, is round in shape.
A shankha, a conch shell symbolizing the "pervasive sound of dharma", is displayed inside a solid circular boundary in the middle of the obverse, surrounded by a symmetrical ribbon. Printed outside the boundary, extending in a clockwise direction from the coin's lower left to lower right rims, is the legend "ROYAL GOVERNMENT OF BHUTAN". The Gregorian date of minting, "1979", is arched in the opposite direction at the piece's lower periphery, and is separated from the legend by four circular points, two stacked on each side of the year.
The middle of the reverse consists of a three-by-three grid containing the Ashtamangala (Eight Auspicious Signs) and the local name of Bhutan. In order from the upper left, the symbols depicted are the dharmachakra, the parasol (chhatra), the two goldfish (gaurmatsya), the banner (dhvaja), the Dzongkha word "འབྲུག" (Wylie: 'brug), the shankha, the endless knot (shrivatsa), the treasure vase (bumpa), and the sacred lotus (padma). The grid is enclosed within a solid circular border, outside of which the Dzongkha rendering of the face value, "ཕྱེད་ཀྲམ་བཅུ་ཐམ།" (Wylie: phyed kram bcu tham), is arched in a clockwise direction at the coin's upper rim. Its English equivalent, "TEN CHHERTUM" is written counterclockwise at the coin's lower boundary, separated from the Dzongkha value by six circular points, three at each side of the two values.
The total mintage of the third 10 chhertum coin is currently unknown. Both business strikes and proofs are reported to have been minted during a single year of production. Of the proofs, an estimated 20,000 were sold in sets by the Royal Government of Bhutan.
Unissued pattern (1991)Edit
According to Günter and Gerhard Schön's Weltmünzkatalog, a fourth 10 chhertum piece, along with similar 5, 25, 50, and 1 and 5 ngultrum coins, was struck in 1991 at the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation in Daejeon, South Korea. They were never released for circulation in Bhutan, and only a limited number of each coin was produced.
The bronze coin features an endless knot (shrivatsa) in the middle of its obverse. The English name "BHUTAN" is inscribed next to the depiction, extending clockwise at the upper left rim, while its Dzongkha equivalent, "འབྲུག" (Wylie: 'brug), is written in the same direction at the piece's upper right periphery. Engraved counterclockwise at the rim below is the Gregorian date of minting, "1991".
Displayed in the center of the reverse is a large numeral "10", the English word "CHHETRUM" written counterclockwise along the rim below. An additional rendering of the coin's face value, the Dzongkha inscription "ཕྱེད་ཀྲམ་བཅུ་ཐམ" (Wylie: phyed kram bcu tham), appears at the top of the coin, traveling in a clockwise direction at the upper periphery.
A total of 12 examples of the 1991 coin were produced. The Weltmünzkatalog currently contains information about the piece, but as of the 2016 edition does not include any pricing information. The similar Standard Catalog of World Coins does not even reference the 1991 piece as of its 2017 publication.
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation – Bhutan - 10 Chetrums, KM# 38 (1974) • Bhutan - 10 Chetrums, KM# 43 (1975) • Bhutan - 10 Chhertum, KM# 46 (1979)
- Colnect – 10 Chhertums (1974) • 10 Chhertums (F.A.O. - International Women's Year) (1975) • 10 Chhertum (1979)
- Numista – 10 Chetrums - Jigme Singye (1974) • 10 Chetrums - Jigme Singye (FAO) (1975) • 10 Chhertum - Jigme Singye (1979) (English) (French)
- Bhutan Observer – "Origins of Bhutanese coinage" (5 December 2008) • "Where do Bhutanese coins jingle?" (20 March 2009)
- Center for Bhutan Studies & GNH Research – Coinage in Bhutan
- Schön, Günter and Gerhard, Weltmünzkatalog 20. Jahrhundert, 44. Auflage, 2016, Battenberg Gietl Verlag, ISBN 9783866461192
- Bhutanese ngultrum on the English Wikipedia