Republic of San Serriffe first
appeared to public notice in "The Guardian" on Friday April 1st, 1977
as a special report at
Page 8. Acording to this British newspaper, this land exists in the Indian
Ocean with its capital Bodoni on the north island of Caissa Superiore (Upper
Caisse). Landmarks in history of this republic are indicated below:
1421: Discovered by adventures
recruited by John Street, an English admirer of Henry, the Navigator. The
crew made their historical landfall in the Shoals of Adze.
Portuguese and Spanish colonization.
Annexed by Britain
Ceded to Portugal
April 1, 1967:
Independence under Social Democratic Government.
Seizure of power by Colonel Hispalis
Seizure of power by General Minion
May 11, 1971:
General M.-J. Pica assumes responsibility of the Government, and
subsequently institutes martial law and assumes full dictatorial powers due
to "foreign terrorist infiltration". This leads to nationwide protests,
escalating into civil war and 23 years of ensuing chaos and anarchy.
May 12 1997:
First general elections. The winner was the charismatic Antonio Bourgeois.
Location: North-east of
the Seychelles Island; Colombo 1,550 miles.
Tourist centers: Garamondo
Villa Pica, Cillcameo, Cap Em, Umbra.
Oceanic equatorial. Rains mainly May-October and early January.
The San Serriffe
Corona = 100 ems. It has become one of the hardest currencies, standing at
C1 = 4.30 Pound Sterlings
San Serriffe Airways
from Gatwick or via Mogadishu.
Smallpox, Cholera, Typhus, and lassa fever vaccinations required.
No Customs duties are levied on tourists or commercial importers.
English is the working language. Caslon is used on ceremonial occasions and there is a
language (Ki-flong) indigenous to the Flongs.
According to Henry Morris: "Many
readers will be justifiably unacquainted with the tiny and little-known
Republic of San Serriffe. I never heard of it myself until I saw the
"Special Report" in the April 1, 1977, issue of The Guardian, one
of the major English newspapers. A copy of this issue was send to me by
an English friend with no explanation other than "I think you'll find
this interesting." I was at first puzzled as it looked like any ordinary
newspaper and I couldn't imagine why he'd gone to the expense of
air-mailing a copy of a now week-old newspaper. After some perusal, I
finally begun to think there was something odd about the eight-page
Special Report which was in a center section. The report dealt at length
with the Republic of San Serriffe, a country whose existence I was
previously unaware of. The power of print is such, that a report like
this in a big-city newspaper establishes instant credibility. I couldn't
understand why I'd never heard of this country before. My suspicions
were soon aroused by the names of various cities shown on map of this
country which was included (see above map). these names were all terms
connected with printing - places like Garamondo, Bodoni and Erbar - all
names of printer's type faces; Caissa Superiore (Upper-case), and Caissa
Inferiore (lower-case), referring to the printer's type-case
arrangement. I finally realized it was colossal printer's April Fool's
Day joke - the greatest I'd ever seen, and done as only the English can
do such thing. Even the advertisers had gone along; Kodak, for example,
had an ad that read: "If you have color photos of San Serriffe we'd like
to see them." In fact there is no such country and even the name is a
play on words, "san serif" being a style of type without serifs."
This was such a great hoax,
Mr. Henry Morris started to issue stock certificate for 1,000 shares in
his newly located satellite plant near Port Clarendon on the east coast
of Caissa Superiore. He printed only 100 of them. He send a letter to
"The Guardian" on May 1, 1977 and heartily congratulated them.
Afterwards he send 10 of his stock certificates to them. In 1978 he
produced a book which he thought might create legal problems, so he
decided to distance himself from it by issuing it under San Serriffe
Publishling Co. imprint.
Later Mr. Henry Morris became
interested in making his coin struck privately. He noticed numismatist
medals produced by various coin clubs and organization. Most of them
were offered to sale and seemed attractive, of good quality and
generally moderate price. One day he got in touch with an officer of
nearby coin club who recently produced a commemorative medal. From him
he got the reverent information on coin manufacturers and steps required
to make a pair of coining dies. In 1988 upon the 30th anniversary of
Bird & Bull Press, he decided to produced a coin to be legal tender and
must bear a monetary denomination. The only country he knew of that was
San Serriffe, as this name was previously used for his stock
certificates and publishing press long back. Below is his 1988 San
Serriffe silver 100 Coronas:
Mint: Garamondo (locally known
as Le Canard Vert). Edge: Split reeded; consecutively numbered 001 to 500.
Weight: 1 troy oz. .999 fine silver. Design: OBV: Bird & Bull pressmark with
anniversary dates and Latin legend meaning "the remembrances of past labor
is sweet." REV: An adaptation of the classic owl and olive branch design
from ancient Athenian coinage. Mintage: 500 pieces. Designer: Rosemary
Tottoroto. Engraver: Kenneth D. Douglas. Project Coordinator: Stella L.
Blazier. The proof aluminum and antique bronze versions are struck from the
same dies as the silver, but not edge-numbered. One hundred and five pieces
each were struck in aluminum and antique bronze. Five proofs, not for
distribution, were struck in .999 gold.
350 copies of this book
"Republic of San Serriffe 1988 100 Coronas" were published and I got the 341
numbered copy with 491 edge-numbered silver coin together from
Apart from the San Serriffe
coin, Mr. Morris delved even further into numismatics with his Trade
Tokens of British and American Booksellers & Bookmakers, With Specimens of
Eleven Original Tokens Struck Especially for This Book, published in
1989 by the Bird & Bull Press. This edition is accompanied by a heavy
die-cut board folder containing 11 different copper tokens, all enclosed in
a slipcase. He has provided a history of these tokens and given a
bibliography of all known British and American examples and included many
illustrations of tokens reproduced from original examples. The participants
include seven booksellers including Oak Knoll Books, the Bird & Bull Press,
one marbler, one bookbinder and one papermaker. An image of these tokens can
be seen at: