Freetown of Christiania
The Free City/Town of Christiania (Fristaden Christiania) is a democratic commune, which is partially self-governing neighborhood in Copenhagen, Denmark. Founded in 1971 as an alternative society, which was an offfpring of the Danish counter-cultural movement and the student / hippie squatters uprisings of the 1960s. The community appropriated some abandoned military/army barracks because the vacant tract and boarded-up buildings became an eyesore, and they wanted to convert it into a playground/park. So they knocked down the fence at the corner of Prinsessegade and Refshalevej streets and began their anarchistic social experiment. They pride themselves on not being part of the city, the country, or the European Union. One of the more influential persons was Jacob Ludvigsen, who published an anarchist newspaper, which widely announced the proclamation of the free town. The Freetown's “entrepreneurs” celebrated the City's 30th birthday on September 26, 2001. One of the commune's website can be viewed at: http://www.christiania.org/  

The neighborhood is accessible only through two main entrances. The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, completely independent of the Danish government. Having No cars, No stealing, No Guns, No Bulletproof Vests, and No Hard Drugs. The community rules clearly says that marijuana is cool...but hard drugs (heroin and cocaine) are absolutely forbidden.

Famous for its main drag, known as Pusher Street, where hashish (often shortened to hash) was sold openly from permanent stands until January 4, 2004, the stands were finally demolished by the owners themselves (without stopping the hash trade as such, which continued on a person-to-person basis) as a way of persuading the government to allow the Free Town to continue to exist. The region negotiated an arrangement with the Danish defense ministry (which still owns the land) in 1995, and the residents now pay taxes. The future of the area remains in doubt, though, as Danish authorities continue to push for its removal. On Pusher Street, cameras are not allowed, and locals will wave their hands and shout "No photo!" if they see someone trying to take a picture.


There are two series of coins in Christiania. First, there are a number of “Fed” (fat, 1 gram) and “Klump” (lump) coins, whose nicknames/values allude to portions/quantities of hashish, the personal use of which is semi-legal within the Free City. These began as a fun experiment, spearheaded by Vagn Sorento Dichmann, and date back to 1976. In his own words, “the FED was started by 3 guys who get the idea and had the money,” and the designs on that 1st coin “were made by me and a friend, 1 side each — but I was the only one who could do the engraving.” Initially, it was very exciting and required total secrecy, because they all feared the coin would not be allowed by the Danish government. But once “the FED popped up on the street”, the authorities did not raise any objections to their existence — as long as they did not resemble the states' official coinage. If people had utilized them to make purchases, as opposed to saving them, thousands (instead of a few hundred) would have been churned out. Materially, the early ones were challenging for the novice coin-maker to fashion; the '76 coins, for example, “were cut in the hand in some steel we found”; starting with the 2nd coin (1977), he was working solo; the 3rd coin (1984) ended up being one-sided. But by the 4th coin (1985), Mr. Dichmann “finally found out how to stamp them in the right way”, thereby improving upon their overall quality. From then on, both sides of each coin have been perfectly centered, as was originally intended. It still takes “a lot of handwork” to make each coin, so mintages have been limited to 200 silver and 200 copper or bronze. Having become very popular, “they mostly disappeared in peoples pockets.” They are eagerly anticipated, like a tradition, partly because each coin is “a little mirror of what was happened in the year.” In 1997, he was asked to produce a fully machine-made coin to sell to the many tourists. It would also see regular hand-to-hand usage “as it was meant to be from the start”. So he referred them to a friend (Bent Jensen) who would be able to professionally machine-engrave them. Produced in December of that year, this coin turned out the be the initial Løn (wage, pay, salary, compensation), which are used as remuneration for commercial transactions, services and labor. These act as Christiania's second, more licit monetary system, and a different coin is minted annually. As circulating coins, the Løn in particular is referred to as a “complementary currency”. “I'm going on with the FED,” adds Mr. Dichmann, “which give me much more pleasure to make.”

Millenium Dragon (Swan)

Year: 2000
Medal: Copper
Diameter: 30 mm
Edge: plain, marked E.T.
Weight: 11.5 g (est.)
Mintage: 200

Flying hats

Year: 2004
Medal: .999 Silver
Diameter: 30 mm
Edge: plain (unreeded)
Weight: 13.0 g (est.)
Mintage: 200

If you're looking for Christiania coins, you can directly contact Vagn Sorento Dichman (for "Fed" issues) and Ditlev Nissen (for "Løn" issues). Fed coins were issues in 1976-1977, 1981, 1984-1985, 1988, 1993 and 1997-2006. Klump were issued in 1991 only. Løn were issued in 1997-2008. Christiania also has some anniversary-ralated medallic and exonumia, bearing the words " aar" in 1977, " år" in 1981 and 1991. These feature its 06th, 10th and 20th anniversaries respectively. In 1996 special issues were also made to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Some NEMO known as HEMP tokens are also believe to be produced around 1985.

Images of Christiania’s entire output of coinage can be viewed at Mr. Chaim Dov Shiboleth's private collection, at his website, which was created after his long struggle of research:
http://www.taedivm.org/christiania1.html

 
 
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