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The 1 sente coin is a current circulation piece of the Kingdom of Lesotho. It was issued in three types from 1979 to 1992, one during the first reign of King Moshoeshoe II (1938–1996; r. 1966–1990, 1995–1996) and two during the first reign of King Letsie III (1963–; r. 1990–1995, 1996–). All three were distributed by the Central Bank of Lesotho and its precursor, the Lesotho Monetary Authority, and struck under commission at the Royal Mint of the United Kingdom.
The first coin of the denomination was introduced in 1980 (although dated 1979), during the middle of King Moshoeshoe II's reign. It was then produced intermittently until 1989, a year before Moshoeshoe was deposed and forced into exile. Two types of the same design were then issued in 1992, two years into the first reign of King Letsie III.
All three pieces are currently legal tender in their country of origin, each carrying a nominal value of 0.01 loti. In spite of this, they no longer circulate frequently because of their low purchasing power.
Coin of Moshoeshoe II (1979–1989)Edit
After becoming independent from the United Kingdom in 1966, Lesotho adopted the rand, the currency of surrounding South Africa. After using this monetary system for around 14 years, Lesotho introduced its own national currency, the loti, in 1980, which continues to circulate alongside the rand at par. The first series of coins for this currency, consisting of denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 lisente and 1 loti, was first struck in 1979 at the Royal Mint. Each was then produced intermittently until 1989, the last full year of Moshoeshoe II's first reign.
The 1 sente piece is composed of a nickel-brass alloy and measures 1.5 grams in mass and 16.5 millimeters in diameter. It has medallic alignment and a plain edge, and like most coins, is round in shape. Both of its rims are raised and decorated with a beaded border.
A ¼ left-facing illustration of a bearded King Moshoeshoe II wearing a uniform and his signature glasses appears in the middle of the obverse. Printed counterclockwise along the rim below is the caption "H.M. MOSHOESHOE II", the "H.M." abbreviated for "His Majesty", a style commonly used by monarchs. It is followed by the Gregorian date of minting, which is inscribed in the same direction as the caption and rendered in Western Arabic numerals. Printed counterclockwise along the periphery above Moshoeshoe's likeness is the English legend "KINGDOM OF LESOTHO", which is separated from the monarch's name and the date by two small circular points, one at each side of the obverse.
A depiction of a mokorotlo, a traditional Sotho hat, is illustrated in the middle of the reverse. A national symbol of Lesotho, this type of straw hat was featured on the country's flag until 1987, and then again starting in 2006. It is accompanied on the coin by the face value "1 SENTE", which appears on two lines in the center of the coin. The numeral is rendered in large print and partially superimposes the mokorotlo, while the word is displayed in smaller print below the base of the hat.
The total mintage of the coin is currently unknown. Approximately 4,500,000 business strikes were manufactured in 1979, and around 22,500 proofs were produced from 1979 to 1981 and sold in sets. In addition, a large amount of business strikes were made in 1980, 1983, 1985, and 1989, and a small number of uncirculated pieces were distributed in mint sets in 1989.
Coins of Letsie III (1992)Edit
In 1990, Prime Minister Justin Lekhanya (1938–; i.o. 1986–1991) deposed Moshoeshoe II and forced him into exile, allowing Moshoeshoe's oldest son, Prince David Mohato Bereng Seeiso, to ascend the throne as King Letsie III. Because of the change in leadership, the government of Lesotho decided to introduce new coins not featuring the former king's likeness. The first such pieces, consisting of denominations of 1, 2, and 10 lisente, were released in 1992. They were later followed by new 5, 10, 20, and 50 sente and 1, 2, and 5 loti coins from 1994 to 1998. Each was struck under commission at the Royal Mint. The 1 sente piece was solely manufactured in 1992 in two different metals.
One type is composed of a nickel-brass alloy and weighs 1.5 grams, while the other is made of brass-plated steel and weighs a lighter 1.39 grams. Both coins share the same diameter of 16.5 millimeters and the same thickness. They have medallic alignment and a plain edge, and are round in shape. The rims of both coins are raised and decorated with beaded borders.
A depiction of the coat of arms of Lesotho appears in the middle of both coin's obverses. Such an illustration features a Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) on a traditional Sotho shield in its center, supported by two horses. A crossing thrysus of ostrich feathers, assegai, and knobkerrie are displayed behind the shield, and a ribbon bearing the national motto "KHOTSO PULA NALA" (Sotho for "Peace, Rain, Prosperity") is featured below. On the coin, the state title "KINGDOM OF LESOTHO" is inscribed clockwise along the rim above the arms, and the Gregorian date of minting, "1992", is engraved in the opposite direction at the periphery below.
The reverse is identical to that of the earlier sente coin. A mokorotlo is displayed in the center of the coin, and is accompanied by the face value "1 SENTE", which is rendered on two separate lines.
The mintages of both coins are currently unknown. Only business strikes of the two types are reported to exist.
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation – Lesotho - Sente, KM# 16 (1979–1989) • Lesotho - Sente, KM# 54 (1992) • Lesotho - Sente, KM# 54a (1992)
- Colnect – 1 Sente (1979–1989) • 1 Sente (1992 Nickel-Brass) • 1 Sente (1992 Plated)
- Numista – 1 Sente (1979–1989) • 1 Sente (1992 Nickel-Brass) • 1 Sente (1992 Plated) (English) (French)
- Schön, Günter and Gerhard, Weltmünzkatalog 20. Jahrhundert, 44. Auflage, 2016, Battenberg Gietl Verlag, ISBN 9783866461192
- Lesotho loti on the English Wikipedia