The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
(CNMI), is a group of 14 islands in the North Pacific Ocean under control of
the United States. Its capital, Saipan, was the site of some of the heaviest
fighting in World War II. In 1947, in the aftermath
of WWII, it was designated as a Trust Territory of the Pacific, whereby the
U.S. was given supervisory control over the Marianas by the newly-formed
United Nations. They began reconstructing the islands, which had belonged to
Germany until the end of WWI, when it was subsequently placed under the
administration of Japan by the League of Nations. Trusteeship effectively
ended when a Covenant to establish a self-governing Commonwealth in
political union with the U.S. was approved in 1975, and remaining provisions
became effective in 1978. This process was finalized in 1986, when qualified
residents of the dependency were granted American citizenship.
Upon initial research, I found a company called GoldQuest International Ltd
(based in Hong Kong), which was selling a set of 10 coins: the obverse of
each coin has the Islands' coat-of-arms, but the reverse are all replicas of
American silver coinage (1921 Morgan Dollar, 1922 Peace Dollar, 1971
Eisenhower Dollar, 1993 Madison 1/2 Dollar, etc...). It's website is at http://www.goldquest.com/
In 2004 they issued
this attractive 1 oz sterling silver Proof 5 Dollar coins as follow:
02. Pope Paul II
03. Albert Einstein
The Marianas issued
its first coin, a sterling silver Proof 5 Dollar coin dated 2004
commemorating the 453rd anniversary of the discovery of the islands by
Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. The attractive 39mm coin pictures Magellan's
sailing ship on one side and the nations arms, which features an eagle, on
the other. The
controversial coin has a mintage of only 7,500 pieces.
The second coin
which features the Pope on one side and the arms of the Commonwealth of the
Northern Mariana Islands on the other. The coin has a mintage of only 5000
pieces and is expected to be popular. The Diameter of this Coin is 38.6mm
The Third coin
possess a holographic (Stereogram) image of
Albert Einstein showing this long tongue in and out and the arms of the Commonwealth of the
Northern Mariana Islands on the other..
The above mentioned
three coins, are also minted in 1/25 oz .999 Gold in the same year, which
much smaller size. They seem to be "Legal Tender" coins issued by the
"Central Bank of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Islands". The only problem is that nobody in the islands seems to
have heard of their Central Bank. The money and banking of the islands
is controlled by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the U.S.
dollar is the only legal tender for the islands. The Department of the
Interior said it will investigate the legality of the issue. Anyway, these coins
are popular among the collectors.
I purchased by Albert Einstein 5 Dollar 2004 coin from Mr.
Ingo Seemann of Westshore Coins and Collectibles (firstname.lastname@example.org).
He is the U.S. partner of Liechtenstein's Coin Invest Trust, the firm which
commissioned these coins. Their site is at: http://www.coin-invest.li/index.shtml.
In 2005, the
following year, some more silver coins of Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands,
have been minted, described below. These coins can be viewed at http://www.modernworldcoins.com/
under Oceania and Australia category.
01. 5 Dollars
Circle (having a Colored Circle display).
02. 5 Dollars
- Endless Love (Heart Shape Colored coin).
03. 5 Dollars - Shell
& Pearl (white color pearl).
A company called National Collector's Mint (Port Chester, N.Y.) is also
selling a much different private reproduction (1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 Double
Eagle) at http://www.nationalcollectorsmint.com/, which on its reverse merely portrays a small, easy-to-miss depiction
of the Islands' official seal/logo superimposed on the sun. I saw
this coin advertised on television's ESPN!
In the Coin world
there is a hot news of Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
"Freedom Tower - One Dollar Silver Coin", described below:
|Fines over misleading marketing of
Northern Marianas Coins:
An American coin dealer that illegally used the
Northern Marianas logo to sell its product has been fined hundreds of
thousands of US dollars. The national collectors mint in New York has been fined $US 370,000 for
engaging in misleading advertising in its marketing of the so-called
"Freedom Tower Silver Dollar". The dollar was a commemorative coin that used the Northern Marianas logo.
Last year on 03rd Nov 2003, the Northern Marianas government entered an agreement with a
Wyoming-based coin manufacturer, Softsky Inc. to use its "star, stone
and circle" logo on the coins.
The obverse of the coin features an image of the proposed
Tower being built on the former site of the World
Trade Center in New
York, the United
States national motto "In God We Trust", and the words
"Freedom Tower, July 4, 2004." The reverse features an image of
the former World Trade Center and the words "We Will Never
Forget", along with a small symbol of a star on a stone pillar within a
circle. This latter unidentified icon is in fact the coat
of arms of the Northern Mariana Islands.
CNMI had to suspend its contract with a U.S. based coin manufacturer in
the wake of the court injunction imposed against the company in New York
over alleged fraudulent acts. Gov. Juan N. Babauta said the CNMI is suspending
its Nov 3, 2003 agreement with Softsky, which authorized the latter to
develop and market commemorative coins. The governor said that the
injunction entered by the state court of New York against Softsky on Nov.
10, 2004 alleges fraud and false advertising regarding its Freedom Tower
Coins. "We are very concerned about these events. To date, both coins
that have been marketed under this program have been fraud with
controversy and, in the case of the Freedom Coin, apparent fraudulent
action," said Babauta. A state judge in New York has reportedly found
that National Collector's Mint Inc. engaged in civil fraud, false
adverstising and deceptive business practices when it marketed its
"2004 Freedom Tower Silver Dollar" for $19.95 in television and
print ads. The company, which markets Softsky coins, reportedly claimed
the medallions were made of nearly pure silver recovered from World Trade
Center site in lower Manhattan as "U.S. territorial legal tender".
validity of this claim has not been confirmed. Distributors warn that the
minting of the coin will cease once the quantity of recovered silver has
been exhausted, and have therefore placed a limit on the number of coins
that can be ordered per person. The coins are not solid silver, but are
(2.54 micrometre) layer)). The New York attorney general
Eliot Spitzer has said the Northern Marianas has no
authority to issue a legal tender since it actually uses U.S. currency.
And he added the coins were not pure silver but rather a cheap / inexpensive
metal alloy plated with about one-tenth-thousand of an inch of Silver.
Spitzer has filed an $8 million lawsuit against the Port Chester-based
Company. On October
Spitzer obtained a temporary order halting the company from advertising or
selling the coin. On November
9, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Cannizzaro ruled that the
company had engaged in deceptive and fraudulent marketing practices, and
ordered the company to terminate its misleading advertising of the coin.
said that his office is in process of evaluating the court finding.
"When we have developed a complete record, we will make a final
decision regarding our agreement. Until that time, you are not authorized
to develop, mint, or market any coins utilizing the authorization of the
CNMI", said Babauta in a Nov 12, 2004 letter to Softsky president
Joesph Hartman. In terms of money remitted to the CNMI, Babauta said,
"We are also evaluating our options in how to these funds should be
handled". "We are not happy taking these actions but the events
surrounding this agreement warrants this suspension", he told
Hartman. Hartman came to Saipan last July to personally hand the
"royalty fee" to the CNMI. Softsky has issued two $25,000 worth
of checks to the CNMI from the proceeds of the sale of minted CNMI coins.
Babauta said that the company was about to send an additional $110,000 to
the CNMI as royalty fee. The U.S. Mint has said that advertisement for the
Freedom Tower Coin appear confusing because the company (the distributor of the coin, National Collector's
Mint) uses phrases such as "legally authorized
government issue", "U.S. territorial minting", and
"silver dollar". The production itself may also be confusing
because it bears the inscription, "In God We Trust", which
Congress requires on all U.S. Coins, and the inscription, "One
The New York supreme court has said the National Collectors Mint
"preyed upon and exploited public sentiments concerning the the
September 11 terrorist attacks and defrauded the public". Other groups have also released silver Freedom Tower coins, but not with
a denominational value or advertised as government issue.
The CNMI coin was named "Stupid Investment of the Week" by CBS
(Columbia Broadcasting System) MarketWatch on September
24, 2004. In 2005, a similar coin to the CNMI Freedom Tower coin was sold, with
similar design and the same claim of being made from silver
"reclaimed" from the World Trade Center, but bearing the name of
Islands instead of the CNMI. The Cook Islands are a self-governing
democracy, and do mint their own currency (at par with the Australian
dollar), though this coin is sold as "non-circulating".