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The 1 thebe coin is a former circulation piece of the Republic of Botswana. It was issued in a single type by the Bank of Botswana from 1976 to 1991, and struck under commission at the Royal Mint of the United Kingdom. The piece, alongside 5, 10, 25, and 50 thebe and 1 pula coins, was first released into circulation on August 23, 1976. From then until its demonetization on December 1, 1998, it carried a legal tender face value of 0.01 pula in its country of origin.
The piece is composed of aluminum and measures 0.7 grams in mass, 18.5 millimeters in diameter, and 1.2 millimeters in thickness. It has medallic alignment and a reeded edge, and like most coins, is round in shape. Both of the coin's rims are raised and undecorated.
Both sides of the piece were designed by Michael Hibbit (1947–), a British sculptor and coin designer. A simplified version of the coat of arms of Botswana is illustrated in the middle of the obverse. In this depiction, a traditional East African shield appears in the center, containing images of three gears, waves, and the head of a bull. In the arms, a tusk of ivory flanks the shield to the left, an ear of sorghum flanks it to the right, and a ribbon bearing the Tswana word "PULA" (English: "Rain") is displayed below. The two zebras that typically support the shield are not present on the coin. Printed clockwise along the piece's left rim is the state title "BOTSWANA", and written in the same direction at the coin's right periphery is the Tswana inscription "IPELEGENG", meaning "self-sufficient" or "independent". The Gregorian date of minting also appears on the obverse, engraved in the opposite direction at the coin's lower boundary below the arms.
The right-facing head of a turaco (misspelled "turako" in the Standard Catalog of World Coins), a type of bird native to southern Africa, is displayed in the center of the reverse. J. Daniel Clements, founder of Daniel's Coin Zoo, identifies the bird as a gray lourie (Corythaixoides concolor), but suggests it could also be a Knysna lourie (Tauraco corythaix). The Weltmünzkatalog, a popular German-language coin catalog, also agrees the bird could be a Knysna lourie (German: Spitzschopfturako). The face value "1 THEBE" appears to the upper right of the animal, the numeral rendered in significantly larger print than the following word.
Total mintage figures for the 1 thebe coin are currently unknown. The Standard Catalog of World Coins states that 25,036,000 examples of the piece, including 25,000,000 business strikes and 36,000 proofs, were manufactured between 1976 and 1984, but does not provide any mintages from 1985 to 1991. Most of the proofs were distributed in official sets by the Bank of Botswana.
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation – Botswana - Thebe, KM #3 (1976–1991)
- Colnect – 1 Thebe (1976–1991)
- Numista – 1 Thebe (1976–1991) (English) (French)
- Daniel's Coin Zoo – Botswana 1-Thebe (KM3) Grey Lourie (Turaco)
- Schön, Günter and Gerhard, Weltmünzkatalog 20. Jahrhundert, 44. Auflage, 2016, Battenberg Gietl Verlag, ISBN 9783866461192
- Botswana pula on the English Wikipedia