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Ionian 2 lepton coin

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2 lepta / 2½ oboli
Ionian Islands 2 lepta 1819 VM
An 1819 coin owned by Museum Victoria
General information
Country

Flag of the United States of the Ionian Islands Ionian Islands

Value
Years

18191820

Measurements and composition
Mass

~4.5 g

Diameter

22 mm

Thickness

1.6 mm

Composition

copper

Appearance
Shape

round

Alignment

coin

Edge

plain

Obverse

Britannia

Reverse

Lion of Saint Mark holding the gospel and seven lances, state title, year

v · d · e

The 2 lepton / 2½ obol coin is a circulation piece of the United States of the Ionian Islands, a former state and amicable protectorate of the United Kingdom covering the Ionian Islands. On October 28, 1818, the Senate of the Ionian Islands authorized the creation of the coin. It was subsequently struck from 1819 to 1820 at the Royal Mint in Tower Hill, London.

The piece initially held legal tender status in its country of origin, carrying a value of 0.50 Ionian oboli, the equivalent of one British farthing. However, with the introduction of a new monetary system in 1834, the 2 lepton coin was demonetized that year. Due to a shortage of coins on the Ionian Islands, though, it began to circulate again in 1836 with a legal tender value of 2.50 oboli. The piece continued to be valid even after the Ionian Islands were ceded to Greece in 1864, and was finally withdrawn and demonetized in 1870.

Because of the coin's initial value, it was commonly known in everyday speech as a ημιοβολός (Romanized: imiobolós), meaning "hemiobol" or "half obol". In literature it is also sometimes referred to as a farthing (Greek: φαρδίνι; fardíni) due to its value and size.

The coin has similar composition and measurements to the contemporary British farthing, as it is composed of copper and measures about 4.5 grams in mass, 22 millimeters in diameter, and 1.6 millimeters in thickness. The Ionian piece has coin alignment; a raised, dentillated border; and a plain edge, and is round in shape.

The obverse was designed by British engraver William Wyon (1795–1851), who in 1828 would become the next Chief Engraver of the Royal Mint. Featured in the center is a left-facing illustration of a seated Britannia, the national personification of the United Kingdom. As on most modern British farthings, she is shown holding an olive branch in her right hand and a trident in her left, leaning on a shield decorated with the Union Jack. Such an image is accompanied by the caption "BRITANNIA.", which is printed in a clockwise direction along the coin's upper boundary.

The reverse, also designed by Wyon, displays in its center a haloed Lion of Saint Mark holding the gospel and seven lances. Such an illustration, derived from traditional Venetian heraldry, was used as an emblem for the United States of the Ionian Islands and its precursor, the Septinsular Republic, and appeared on both nation's flags. The Greek legend "ΙΟΝΙΚΟΝ ΚΡΑΤΟΣ:" (Romanized: Ionikón Krátos) partially encircles the lion, traveling in a clockwise direction from the piece's lower left to lower right boundaries. Such a name, which translates to English as "Ionian State", was a common shortened alternative for "United States of the Ionian Islands" in Greek. It is accompanied by the Gregorian date of minting, which is followed by a baseline dot and written in a counterclockwise direction at the coin's lower rim.

Approximately 9,462,000 examples of the coin were struck, including several business strikes and a handful of proofs from both years of production.

ReferencesEdit

Template:Ionian obol

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