Ananda College 125th Anniversary Crown

By Kavan Ratnatunga

For the 125th Anniversary of Ananda College the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, has issued a commemorative frosted proof coin on 2011 November 29th. With the crown size of a Buddha Jayanthi Rs5 coin, it is struck with one ounce of sterling silver.

Obverse: At center an image of Ananda Viharaya with rays above depicting impact of knowledge and education. Below from left to right portraits of Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala Thera (1827-1911), Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera (1823-1890), and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907) as founders of Ananda with Anniversary dates 1886-2011 inside a semi-circle. ANANDA COLLEGE appear in Sinhala at bottom and in English and Tamil to left and right within the annulus along the periphery. Reverse: At center above the Ananda College crest, the Face Value 2000 in numerals below RUPEES in Sinhala, English and Tamil. The name SRI LANKA in Sinhala at apex, with Tamil and English to left and right within the annulus along the periphery. Four decorative floral designs inside inner ring. The crest in the shape of a shield has the standing Sinhala Lion below the Buddhist Stupa with radiant pinnacle. On top the Motto in Pali Appamdho Amathapadhan Buddhist quote from the Apramadha Vagga in the Dhammapada meaning: "Heedfulness leads to Nirvana".

The artwork was done by Ananda College Artist. The Basic Concept by Thilak Karunaratne, President and Deva Rodrigo, Deputy President of Ananda College Old Boys Association. Design by Sameera Kothalawala under the direction of Dileepa Abeysekara of "Heensare'

Enclosed in a circular coin capsule it is embedded in Black velvet inside a Maroon leatherette covered 7.5cm square spring hinged Royal Mint presentation box. The Emblem of the Royal Mint is printed in silver on the white satin of the inside cover. A printed numbered Royal Mint Certificate of Authenticity contains the specifications and the text in Sinhala, Tamil and English.

The Rs 2,000 coin was officially handed over to Hon. Minister of Finance, H.E the President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Mr. K G D D Dheerasinghe, the Senior Deputy Governor of the CBSL, at Ananda College on 2011 November 29th.

One of the coins were shown on National TV, sadly covered with fingerprints which were obvious even at that resolution. Proof coins are manufactured without handling by hand and should not be touched outside the protective clear plastic capsule to avoid any risk of destroying it's proof quality and numismatic value.

This is the First commemorative coin issued for a School Anniversary. The "Daily Buddhist English Academy" at Maliban Road, Pettah was founded on 1886 November 1st by the Buddhist Theosophical Society to provide English instruction to Buddhist students. In 1895 the School was moved to Paranawadiya, Maradana and was renamed Ananda College, after Arahant Ananda, the most devoted disciple of the Buddha.

This is the First Lankan commemorative coin with portrait of an US citizen Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907). Previously the only Foreign National to be shown on a Lankan coin was Siam citizen Ven. Phravara Upali Nahimi on the 2003 - 5 Rupee Syamopasampada - 250th anniversary coin.

Of the very limited 1500 minted, 1000 will be purchased and sold by the Ananda College OBA, leaving only small number for CBSL archive and sale to Public. The public issue date is December 15th since the full shipment of coins has not yet arrived in Sri Lanka.

It is the 3rd such Non-circulating Legal Tender (NCLT) silver crown issued in 2011, of only 12 issued since 1957. Although collectors are happy that the Central Bank has issued in 2011, a variety of nice numismatic items, I do wish to point out that the total cost of one each of these items, total Rs47,112/-. It has clearly left many serious collectors of Sri Lankan coins and currency unable to keep up with this rapidly inflating cost, which is bad for the hobby.

2005 Rs 8.75
2006 Rs14,693.75
2007 Rs 4,930
2008 Rs 2,952
2009 Rs 7,708.75
2010 Rs 7,010
2011 Rs47,112
The total annual cost of numismatic items issued by CBSL for last 7 years, is shown in table. I hope CBSL issues commemoratives more as a few million circulation coins and less as NCLT to keep costs manageable, with a limited Proof or Brilliant Uncirculated coin of same for the collectors, like the Rs 2 coin for the Air Force 60th Anniversary.

It is a pity that a circulation coin was not selected for Ananda, which would have been a great collector item for the School children, and minimum additional cost to mint. How many Students and even old Boys can afford the current Rs8500/- for this crown sized Silver coin.

The writer maintains an educational website on Lankan coins at http://coins.lakdiva.org/


An edited version of this article Ananda College gets an anniversary crown By Kavan Ratnatunga appeared in Sri Lanka SundayTimes on 2011 December 11th.