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Sealand - Its Story and Its Coins

The History and Coins of Sealand

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Sealand Coin

Sealand coin, issued in 1994 by the Principality of Sealand.

Photo courtesy of Ken Potter, NLG
The coins of Sealand offer coin collectors an opportunity to own some great conversation pieces that also have a real chance of becoming fairly valuable someday. In order to discover why Sealand coins make such fascinating collectibles, a brief history of the Principality of Sealand is in order.

Sealand - Abandoned as Scrap After WWII

Sealand is an anti-aircraft artillery platform formerly known as Rough's Tower that was built in (then) international waters about 6 miles off the coast of England during World War II, and abandoned as scrap after the war. In 1967, it was occupied by pirate radio broadcasters when the current owner (who styles himself Prince Roy Bates) forcibly evicted (overthrew) his rival pirate broadcasters to claim possession. Following this "war for independence," Prince Roy declared sovreignty, establishing his "nation" as the Principality of Sealand.

Sealand Issues Coins and Stamps

Sealand soon began issuing its own coins, stamps, and passports. A couple of other "wars" followed, one in which Prince Roy fired warning shots at a ship that came into his "territorial waters" without consent, and another in which a German professor named Alexander Achenbach kidnapped Roy's son, Prince Michael, and took forcible possession of the Principality of Sealand. Prince Roy hired a mercenary force to reclaim his nation from the professor, (who held a Sealand passport and dual Sealand/German citizenship.) When Roy successfully re-invaded Sealand, he held the professor in the Sealand jail for treason! When the professor was finally released months later, he set up a rebel government on the mainland in opposition to Prince Roy. The British courts have decided that Sealand lies beyond the jurisdiction of the U.K., so the U.K. authorities won't involve themselves in Sealand's affairs, further strengthening Sealand's claim of sovreignty.

Sealand is a "Micro-Nation" Coin Issuer

With such a colorful history, it is no surprise that the coins of Sealand are among the most collectible of the so-called "micro-nations" coinage. Sealand's coins, currently issued in precious metals with limited edition mintages, are probably more properly designated as rounds, since they don't circulate anywhere and are not accepted as currency by any nation. Krause Publications lists the coins of Sealand in its fascinating Unusual World Coins catalog, a companion volume to the Standard Catalog of World Coins. Sealand is also noted for being the only micro-nation to have an unofficial rebel coinage, issued by Johannes Seiger, the anointed successor to the German professor who set up the rebel government.

Sealand Coins - Limited Editions in Precious Metal

Sealand has struck coins intermittently since 1972, when the first issue depicted Princess Joan and a classic sailing vessel in .925 fine Silver. Another silver issue featuring Princess Joan was released in 1975, this time with the Sealand Coat of Arms on the reverse. 1977 was a banner year for the coins of Sealand, when it issued at least five different types of .925 silver coins featuring various combinations of Princess Joan and Prince Roy, and one .900 fine gold coin featuring Prince Roy.

Sealand Rebel Coinage

As noted, Sealand is unique among the micro-nations for having its own rebel coinage, issued in 1991 by Sealand Rebel Prime Minister Johannes Seiger. This one-coin issue features a left-facing bust of Seiger, with the Sealand Coat of Arms on the reverse, and was minted in base metal, probably as an attempt to cash in on Sealand's notoriety.

Current Sealand Coin Issues

Sealand's current coin issues are from a series called "Treasures of the Sea." The first coin in this series, and so far the only one issued, features a bold depiction of an Orca whale apparently breaching the water, with the Sealand Coat of Arms on the obverse this time. These coins have been minted in a range of metals, from .900 gold to .999 silver, as well as bronze and cupro-nickel. A number of trial strikes and varieties are known.

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