Sri Lanka Army (SLA) completed 60 years on 10 October 2009. To mark this event and to publicize the achievement of the SLA in liberating the entire country from the grip of terrorism, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka issued two commemorative Thousand rupee coins on 2009 October 12th. One in Sterling Silver is 11.9 grams and 2.25 mm thick and has a mintage of 10,000 coins. It is 44% heavier and 23% thicker than the Cupro-nickel variety which is 8.25 grams and 1.8 mm thick with a mintage of 200,000 coins.
Both are however issued in brilliant uncirculated condition. The bright face of the two varieties are almost the same. The silver has a slightly better strike. Other than the weight which requires a good scale, the edge of the coin is the simplest way to identify the coin variety. By comparison you can see the silver is much thicker, but on it's own the Silver has a bright silver shine, and the Cupro-Nickel is a dull gray.
Obverse of coin Depicts a soldier holding the National flag of Sri Lanka with one hand and his weapon with the other, and the map of Sri Lanka in the background, symbolizing the SLA safeguarding the territorial integrity of the country. The words VICTORY THROUGH SACRIFICE appear in Sinhala on top, and Tamil and English to the left and right around the map. Sri Lanka Yudha Hamudava in Sinhala at bottom. All within a ring with decorative motif along the periphery.
Reverse of coin has the logo of the Sri Lanka Army above with the years 1949 and 2009 to the left and right. The face value of the coin 1000 in large numerals below with the currency RUPEES in Sinhala, Tamil and English on the right. The year of issue 2009 below. The words DIAMOND JUBILEE and SRI LANKA in English, Sinhala, and Tamil appear on the top and bottom along periphery within plain circles separated by eight pointed star on either side.
The coin was designed by Central Bank artist Mr Kelum Gunasekera. Although almost proof-like it is a pity that the silver coin was not a frosted Proof. This issue was a rush order made after 2009 August, which probably made Proofs too costly.
The Brilliant Uncirculated coins are enclosed in circular transparent plastic capsules embedded in black velvet inside a rexine covered square box with a dot-wave sliver square printed on top. A white satin sash across the lower left corner in the inside top lid holds a numbered Certificate of Authenticity with the specifications and description in Sinhala, English and Tamil. A Plain white cardboard outer protection. The silver coin is in a screw tight capsule in a red box. The Cupro-Nickel coin is in a pressure fit capsule in a Blue Box.
The Silver coin is sold to public at the issue price of Rupees 2200/- With slightly more than a Tola of Silver it has a melt value of about Rs650/- The cupro-nickel coin is issued at face value of Rupees 1000/-. The capsule with box is therefore Free. This is the first time since 1990 that CBSL has issued a Non Circulating Legal Tender (NCLT) coin at face value.
Of the 200,000 Minted, 195,000 was to issue one to every soldier in the Army. It would have been proper and within Financial Regulations to issue the coin with October pay, since it is legal tender and issued at face value. However the payroll deduction in 2009 September, became controversial headline news.
Acceptance of coin in circulation has still to be tested. This Rs 1000/- coin has been minted to the existing standard diameter of Rs 2/- coin in circulation and in Cupro-Nickel used for that denomination from 1984 to 2004. Shops will probably be worried to give change for Rupees Thousand, for a coin which looks like a Rupees two.
Kavan Ratnatunga maintains an educational website on two thousand years of Lankan coins at http://coins.lakdiva.org/, and is a life member of the Sri Lanka Numismatic Society.
An edited version of which was published as A sterling silver and cupro-nickel salute to SLA in the Sunday Times of 2009 October 18th.
See also 2009 - Sri Lanka - 1000 Rupee Sri Lanka Army - 60th Anniversary at LakdivaCoins.