|25 chhertum / chetrums|
|1979 plated coin|
|Measurements and composition|
|v · d · e|
The 25 chhertum or 25 chetrum coin is a current circulation piece of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Introduced during the reign of Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Singye Wangchuck (1955–; r. 1972–2006), the piece was issued in two types from 1974 to 1979 by the Royal Government of Bhutan and in a third type until 2003 by the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan. Lacking their own coining facilities, the Royal Government and Royal Monetary Authority contracted foreign mints to strike all three types. The first was produced at the facilities of the India Government Mint, while the last two were manufactured at the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales, United Kingdom.
The first type was struck in 1974 to coincide with Jigme Singye's coronation as Druk Gyalpo, and was later minted again in 1975. It was followed by the second 25 chhertum piece in 1979 and eventually the third from around 1998 to 2003 (which used the dies of the 1979 coin with frozen dates). An unissued pattern of the denomination was also produced in 1991 by the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation in Daejeon, South Korea.
All three types currently hold legal tender status in their country of origin, each carrying a face value equivalent to 0.25 ngultrum. Despite this, they no longer circulate frequently due to their low purchasing power and the Bhutanese public's disinterest in using coins.
First coin (1974–1975)
During much of the 20th century, Bhutan used its own rupee in conjunction with the Indian rupee. However, coinciding with the coronation of Jigme Singye Wangchuck as Druk Gyalpo, the small Himalayan country introduced the ngultrum as its primary currency in 1974, replacing the Bhutanese rupee at par. Despite the change, the Indian rupee remains an official currency in Bhutan, and is pegged by the ngultrum at a rate of 1:1.
In 1974, the Royal Government of Bhutan contracted 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, most of the coins in this initial series 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 specimens also exist.
The 25 chhertum piece of the series, which was also struck into 1975, is composed of a cupronickel alloy of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel and measures 2.6 grams in mass, 18.9 millimeters in diameter, and 1.4 millimeters in thickness. It has medallic alignment; raised, undecorated rims; and a plain or reeded edge, and like most coins, is round in shape.
A bust of Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck appears in the center of the obverse. In the illustration the Bhutanese monarch, a young adult at the time of the coin's introduction, is portrayed facing left and wearing a gho, a traditional Bhutanese robe for men, and the Raven Crown, the official headdress of the Druk Gyalpo. On most coins, including some 1974 and all 1975 specimens, about 0.8 millimeters separate the bottom of the bust from the obverse's lower rim. This space is noticeably larger on earlier 1974 coins, measuring about 1.25 millimeters across. The Dzongkha word "འབྲུག" (Wylie: 'brug) is printed above the king's likeness, curved in a clockwise direction at the coin's upper left rim. Such an inscription, meaning "dragon" in Dzongkha and Tibetan, makes up the first part of the local name of Bhutan, "འབྲུག་ཡུལ" (Wylie: 'brug yul), which translates as "Land of the Dragon". On pieces with a 1.25 millimeter gap between the king's bust and the lower rim, the "tail" of the letter "འ" (-a) in the word is longer than on coins with a 0.8 millimeter gap. Written clockwise at the coin's right rim is the English name "BHUTAN", and engraved in the opposite direction at the left periphery is the Gregorian date of minting, either "1974" or "1975".
Featured at the top center of the reverse are the two golden fish (gaurmatsya), a symbol used in Vajrayana Buddhism, the state religion of Bhutan, to represent the auspiciousness of all sentient beings. The numeral "25" is engraved horizontally below the depiction in a large font, the Dzongkha word "ཕྱེད་ཀྲམ" (Wylie: phyed kram) inscribed counterclockwise to the left and its English equivalent, "CHETRUMS", written in the same direction to the right.
The total mintage of the first 25 chhertum piece is currently unknown. A large number of examples with a standard finish and a handful of proofs were struck during both years of production. Of these, an undisclosed number of uncirculated 1974 pieces were sold in mint sets and all 1,000 of the 1974 and an unknown number of the 1975 proofs were distributed in proof sets.
|1974||1.25 mm gap, འ (-a) with long tail, plain edge|
|0.8 mm gap, འ (-a) with short tail, reeded edge|
|1974 Proof||0.8 mm gap, འ (-a) with short tail, reeded edge|
|1975||0.8 mm gap, འ (-a) with short tail, reeded edge|
|1975 Proof||0.8 mm gap, འ (-a) with short tail, reeded edge|
Unissued pattern (1991)
According to Günter and Gerhard Schön's Weltmünzkatalog, an unissued 25 chhertum piece, along with similar 5, 10, and 50 chhertum, and 1 and 5 ngultrum coins, was struck in 1991 at the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation in Daejeon, South Korea. None of the coins ever saw any circulation, and all six were produced in extremely low mintages.
The bronze 25 chhertum piece features a vishvavajra, a symbol of Vajrayana Buddhism, in the center of its obverse. Consisting of two crossing vajras (dorjes), the vishvavajra also appears in the state emblem of Bhutan, and in context represents harmony between secular and religious power. The English name "BHUTAN" appears to the left of the symbol, where it is arched in a clockwise direction along the rim. Its Dzongkha equivalent, "འབྲུག" (Wylie: 'brug), is written in the same direction at the coin's right periphery, and the Gregorian year of minting, "1991", is engraved counterclockwise at the bottom rim.
A large numeral "25" is displayed in the middle of the reverse, the English word "CHHETRUM" written counterclockwise along the rim below. An additional rendering of the coin's face value, the Dzongkha inscription "ཕྱེད་ཀྲམ་ཉརེ་ལྔ།" (Wylie: phyed kram nyare lnga), appears at the top of the reverse, traveling clockwise along the upper periphery.
A total of 12 examples of the 1991 coin were produced. The Weltmünzkatalog contains information about the piece, but as of its 2016 edition does not include any pricing information. The Standard Catalog of World Coins does not even reference the coin as of its 2017 publication.
Second and third coins (1979–2003)
In 1979, the Royal Government of Bhutan commissioned 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 Bhutanese public's disinterest in using coins as a medium of exchange. As a result, many examples are available in higher grades, even though circulation grade pieces also exist.
Until 2003, the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan also issued modified versions of the 25 chhertum and 1 ngultrum pieces. They were struck at the Royal Mint using the same dies as the original 1979 coins, and bear frozen dates. In spite of recent efforts by the Royal Monetary Authority to popularize coins in Bhutan, these newer pieces do not see much widespread use, making examples in higher grades easily available to collectors. Because the melt value of the new 25 chhertum pieces surpasses their face value, some individuals have reportedly melted them down to make jewelry.
The original 1979 coin is composed of a cupronickel alloy and weighs 4.6 grams, while its later alternative is made of aluminum-bronze-plated steel and has a mass of approximately 4.45 grams. Both have the same dimensions, measuring 22 millimeters in diameter and 1.8 millimeters in thickness, and have medallic alignment; raised, undecorated rims; and a reeded edge. Like most coins, they are round in shape.
In its center, the obverse of both coins features the two golden fish surrounded by ribbons inside a solid circular boundary. Inscribed outside this boundary is the title "ROYAL GOVERNMENT OF BHUTAN", which extends in a clockwise direction from the lower left to lower right rims. The date "1979" is arched in the opposite direction at the bottom of the piece, and is separated from the government title by four circular points, two stacked on each side of the year.
A vishvavajra, a symbol of Vajrayana Buddhism, appears in the middle of both coins' reverses inside a solid circular border. Consisting of two crossing vajras (dorjes), the vishvavajra also appears in the state emblem of Bhutan, and in context represents harmony between secular and religious power. The Dzongkha rendering of the coin's face value, "ཕྱེད་ཀྲམ་ཉརེ་ལྔ།" (Wylie: phyed kram nyare lnga), is written outside the boundary, arched in a clockwise direction along the upper rim. Its English equivalent, "TWENTY FIVE CHHERTUM", is printed below the vishvavajra, extending counterclockwise from the reverse's left to right peripheries. The two writings are separated from one another by two circular points, one at each side of the coin.
The total mintage of the cupronickel and plated coins is currently unknown. The cupronickel variety was made in both a standard and a proof finish, and of the proofs, 20,000 were reportedly distributed in sets by the Royal Government of Bhutan. Only business strikes are known to exist for the plated variety. About 8,064,000 of the plated pieces (Nu. 2,016,000 in value) were reportedly struck in 2000, and another 5,000,000 (Nu. 1,250,000 in value) were later minted in 2003.
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation – Bhutan - 25 Chetrums, KM# 40.1 (1974) • Bhutan - 25 Chetrums, KM# 40.2 (1974–1975) • Bhutan - 25 Chhertum, KM# 47 (1979) • Bhutan - 25 Chhertum, KM# 47a (1979)
- Colnect – 25 Chhertums (1974 - small bust) • 25 Chhertums (1974–1975 - large bust) • 25 Chhertum (1979 - cupronickel) • 25 Chhertum (1979 - plated)
- Numista – 25 Chetrums (1974–1975) • 25 Chhertum (1979 - cupronickel) • 25 Chhertum (1979 - plated) (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