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The 50 ngwee coin is a circulation piece of the Republic of Zambia that has been issued in six primary types since 1969. The first coin of the denomination, a circulating commemorative, was struck in celebration of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1969. It was followed in 1972 by a similar FAO commemorative coin, which only differs by a single inscription on the obverse. During 1972, 1978, and 1983, a third type was produced to celebrate the declaration of the Second Republic of Zambia on December 13, 1972. Two metal varieties of a fourth 50 ngwee coin, one a circulating commemorative and the other a non-circulating legal tender piece, were then produced in 1985 for the 40th anniversary of the United Nations (UN). The first general circulation coin of the denomination was struck in 1992. Eventually, high inflation in Zambia resulted in the disappearance of low denomination currency from circulation, including the 50 ngwee piece. Consequently, the coin was discontinued and was never reintroduced under the first Zambian kwacha. When the Zambian currency was rebased in 2013, however, a coin of the denomination (dated 2012) made its reappearance. Such a piece has been struck annually since.
All six of the 50 ngwee types were distributed by the Bank of Zambia and struck under contract at foreign mints. The commemoratives were produced at the Royal Mint, the 1992 piece at the Royal Canadian Mint, and the rebased coin at the South African Mint. The most recent type currently holds a legal tender face value equivalent to 0.50 new Zambian kwacha, and remains in circulation in its country of origin. The earlier coins, which remain valid even after the 2013 rebasing, carry a value of 0.50 old kwacha, or 0.0005 new kwacha. Because their face value is significantly lower than their intrinsic and numismatic value, they no longer circulate.
Coins[edit | edit source]
Coins of the first kwacha (1969–1992)[edit | edit source]
Circulating commemoratives (1969–1985)[edit | edit source]
FAO coins (1969–1972)[edit | edit source]
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is an agency of the United Nations devoted to combating world hunger. Since the organization's inception in 1945, all but one UN member state have joined the FAO. Zambia became a member in 1965, shortly after acquiring its independence from the United Kingdom in 1964. In commemoration of the agency, the Bank of Zambia authorized the production of a commemorative 50 ngwee coin in 1969. It was then followed by a similar piece in 1972, which differs only by a single inscription on the obverse. The coins are composed of a cupronickel alloy, weigh 11.6 grams, and measure 31 millimeters in diameter. They have medallic alignment and a plain edge, and are dodecagonal (12-sided) in shape. The rims on both sides are raised and undecorated.
Displayed in the center of the obverse is a right-facing bust of Kenneth Kaunda (1924–), the President of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. Such a likeness, designed by English artist Norman Sillman (1921–2013), made its first appearance on a commemorative pre-decimal 5 shilling piece in 1965, and was later adapted for use on general circulation coins in 1966. Printed in a clockwise direction along the 50 ngwee coin's upper rim, above Kaunda's image, is the state title "ZAMBIA". On the 1969 coin, the dates "1964 • 24TH OCTOBER 1969" extend counterclockwise from the obverse's left to right peripheries. The first date refers to Zambia's independence on October 24, 1964, while the second identifies the date of minting as well as the nation's fifth anniversary. Because the year of production is included as part of a legend, though, the 1969 piece is considered non-dated. The 1972 coin does not bear a decorative legend, and solely includes the Gregorian year of minting at the bottom of the obverse. A partially husked ear of corn (Zea mays) appears in the center of the reverse. The legend "GROW MORE FOOD FOR MANKIND" is inscribed along the periphery of the piece, with a larger "GROW MORE FOOD" written clockwise from the left to right rims, and a smaller "FOR MANKIND" printed counterclockwise from the lower left to lower right boundaries. Engraved to the left of the corn is a large numeral "50", which identifies the coin's face value. It is accompanied by the written out "FIFTY NGWEE", which is printed to the right of the corn on two lines.
A total of 70,000 examples of the 1969 coin and 510,000 examples of the 1972 piece were produced.
Second Republic coin (1972–1983)[edit | edit source]
During its first eight years as an independent nation, Zambia operated as a multi-party state with three prominent political parties. In response to political conflict in the early 1970s, however, a one-party state was declared on December 13, 1972, and formally established with a new constitution in 1973. This new government, often referred to as the "Second Republic" of Zambia, was led solely by Kaunda's United National Independence Party (UNIP). It existed until the founding of the current Third Republic in 1991, which reintroduced multi-party politics to Zambia. In commemoration of the second government, the Bank of Zambia issued a celebratory 50 ngwee piece on three occasions. It was struck for the first time in 1972, the year in which Zambia's new government was proclaimed. The coin was then minted again in 1978 and 1983, respectively on the 5th and 10th anniversaries of the second Zambian constitution. The piece is composed of cupronickel and has a mass of 11.6 grams and a diameter of 31 millimeters. It has medallic alignment and a plain edge, and is dodecagonal in shape. The rims of the obverse and reverse are raised and undecorated.
The obverse of the coin is virtually identical to that of the 1972 FAO commemorative. A right-facing likeness of Kenneth Kaunda appears in the center, with the state title "ZAMBIA" inscribed clockwise at the rim above, and the Gregorian date of minting written counterclockwise along the rim below. Featured in the center of the reverse is the coat of arms of Zambia – which consists of a central escutcheon decorated with wavy lines, and supported by a man in Western clothing and a woman in traditional attire. Both people are illustrated standing on a grass-covered earth compartment, on which a building, plains zebra (Equus quagga), and ear of corn are also displayed. Under this compartment, a scroll bearing the national motto "ONE NATION ONE ZAMBIA" is shown, and above the escutcheon, an African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) and crossing hoe and pickaxe are depicted. "SECOND REPUBLIC" is printed to the left of the coin's rendition of the arms, curving clockwise along the left rim. It is followed by the date "13TH DECEMBER 1972", which arches in the same direction from the coin's upper periphery to lower right boundary. The remaining portion of the rim is occupied by the face value "50 NGWEE", which is written counterclockwise at the bottom of the piece. It is separated from the other texts by two small circular points.
During its three years of production, 6,124,000 examples of the commemorative coin were produced. Of these, 6,998,000 minted in 1972 and 1983 were made with a normal finish, while the remaining 26,000 struck in 1972 and 1978 were manufactured as proofs. An unknown number of 1972 pieces, both normal coins and proofs, were included in packages for collectors, and of the 24,000 proofs coined in 1978, all but 4,000 were put in collectors' sets.
United Nations coins (1985)[edit | edit source]
The United Nations (UN) was formally established on October 24, 1945, shortly after the conclusion of World War II. The successor of the League of Nations, the UN aims to preserve world peace and promote international cooperation, and through its various agencies, it also provides countries with humanitarian aid and economic assistance. In 1985, the organization celebrated its 40th anniversary. In commemoration of the occasion, the Bank of Zambia issued two metal varieties of a celebratory 50 ngwee piece in 1985: one in cupronickel and the other in .925 fine silver. Both varieties measure 11.6 grams in mass and 31 millimeters in diameter. They have medallic alignment and a plain edge, and are dodecagonal in shape. The rims of the obverse and reverse are raised and undecorated.
The obverse follows the same design as the earlier 50 ngwee commemoratives, featuring Kaunda's portrait in the center, with the state title "ZAMBIA" written clockwise at the rim above, and the Gregorian date of minting, "1985", printed counterclockwise along the periphery below. A commemorative United Nations emblem – featuring a globe superimposed by a "40" and surrounded by olive branches – is displayed in the middle of the reverse. Printed clockwise along the rim of the piece, extending from the coin's left to right boundaries, is the legend "UNITED NATIONS FOR A BETTER WORLD". The face value "50 NGWEE" is written in the opposite direction at the bottom of the reverse, and is flanked to the left by the date "1945", identifying the year of the UN's founding, and to the right by the date "1985", indicating the year of the UN's 40th anniversary.
The total mintage of both metal varieties is currently unknown. Cupronickel pieces were struck solely with a standard finish, while the silver coins, intended solely for collectors, were made exclusively as proofs. An undisclosed number of both varieties were placed into packages for collectors.
General circulation coin (1992)[edit | edit source]
According to statistics published by its central bank, Zambia experienced a 4,000 percent increase in consumer price index (CPI) from 1980 to 1990. As a result of this high inflation, the kwacha lost a significant amount of purchasing power, causing low denomination coins and banknotes to disappear from circulation. In response, the Bank of Zambia authorized the production of a new series of circulation coins in higher values of 25 and 50 ngwee, and 1, 5, and 10 kwacha. After a few years though, these also fell out of general use, and coins would not be reintroduced until nearly two decades later. The 50 ngwee piece of the series is composed of nickel-plated steel, weighs 4.05 grams, and measures 23 millimeters in diameter and 1.6 millimeters in thickness. It has medallic alignment and a plain edge, and is round in shape. Both of the coin's rims are raised and undecorated.
Having been produced after Kenneth Kaunda's fall from power, the 1992 coin does not feature a likeness of the former president. In its place, the coat of arms of Zambia is displayed in the center of the obverse, accompanied by the state title "ZAMBIA", printed clockwise along the periphery above, and the Gregorian date of minting, "1992", written counterclockwise at the rim below. Engraved at the upper right portion of the reverse is a left-facing Kafue Flats lechwe (Kobus leche kafuensis) standing on grass-covered earth. Such an animal, a type of African antelope, naturally occurs in the Kafue Flats in central Zambia. Printed to the left of the lechwe is a large numeral "50", indicating the coin's face value. A written out "FIFTY NGWEE" is also included on the piece, appearing on two horizontal lines at the bottom of the reverse.
The total mintage of the 1992 coin is currently unknown. According to the Bank of Zambia, a small number of proof examples were placed into proof sets.
Coin of the rebased kwacha (2012–present)[edit | edit source]
During much of the 1990s and 2000s, Zambia continued to experience high inflation rates, resulting in continued weakening of Zambia's currency. In response to this issue, in 2012 the Board of the Bank of Zambia recommended rebasing the kwacha. This measure was authorized by the Zambian government on January 23 of the same year, and by July production began for a new series of coins in denominations of 5, 10, and 50 ngwee, and 1 kwacha. These pieces, along with new banknotes, were officially unveiled by Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda (1938–) and Bank of Zambia Governor Michael Gondwe at a ceremony on December 31, 2012, and entered circulation the previous day, on January 1, 2013. Of the coins, the 50 ngwee piece has been struck annually since 2012. It is composed of brass-plated steel, weighs 3.54 grams, and measures 21 millimeters in diameter and 1.6 millimeters in thickness. The coin has medallic alignment and a reeded edge, and is round in shape. The rims of both sides of the piece are raised and undecorated.
The coin's obverse features the coat of arms of Zambia in its center, with the state title "ZAMBIA" engraved in a clockwise direction at the rim above, and the Gregorian date of minting inscribed in the opposite direction along the periphery below. Displayed in the middle of the reverse is the left-facing head of an African elephant (Loxodonta africana), a species of large mammal native to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, including areas in Zambia. The numeral "50", which identifies the coin's face value, is printed to the left of the animal, with the first digit shown higher on the piece than the second. Inscribed counterclockwise from the piece's bottom to right peripheries is the written out value, "FIFTY NGWEE".
The total mintage of the piece is currently unknown. Only business strikes are known to have been produced.
References[edit | edit source]
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation – Zambia 50 Ngwee KM# 14 (1969) • Zambia 50 Ngwee KM# 15 (1972) • Zambia 50 Ngwee KM# 16 (1972–1983) • Zambia 50 Ngwee KM# 24 (1985) • Zambia 50 Ngwee KM# 24a (1985) • Zambia 50 Ngwee KM# 30 (1992)
- Numista – 50 Ngwee (FAO) (1969) • 50 Ngwee (FAO) (1972) • 50 Ngwee (Second Republic) (1972–1983) • 50 Ngwee (United Nations - Cupronickel) (1985) • 50 Ngwee (United Nations - Silver) (1985) • 50 Ngwee (1992) • 50 Ngwee (2012–2014) (English) (French)
- Bank of Zambia – Numismatic Coins
- Food and Agriculture Organization Legal Office – FAO Members
- Chikulo, Bornwell C. (1988). The Impact of Elections in Zambia's One Party Second Republic (vol 35, no 2). Africa Today
- Zambia in the 1980s: A Review of National and Urban Level Economic Reforms – World Bank
- Zambian kwacha on the English Wikipedia
|Banknotes||Current: 2 K • 5 K • 10 K • 20 K • 50 K • 100 K|
Former: 50 n • 1 K • 2 K • 5 K • 10 K • 20 K • 50 K • 100 K • 500 K • 1,000 K • 5,000 K • 10,000 K • 20,000 K • 50,000 K
|Coins||Current: 5 n • 10 n • 50 n • 1 K|
Former: 1 n • 2 n • 5 n • 10 n • 20 n • 25 n • 50 n • 1 K • 5 K • 10 K • 20 K • 75 K • 100 K • 200 K • 250 K • 500 K • 1,000 K • 2,000 K • 2,500 K • 4,000 K • 5,000 K • 10,000 K • 20,000 K • 25,000 K • 40,000 K • 50,000 K • 100,000 K • 500,000 K
|Miscellaneous||Bank of Zambia • De La Rue • Kwacha • Ngwee • Rebasing • Zambian pound|