A commemorative one thousand rupee silver proof coin was issued to public on 2012 November 12 to mark the 60 years of Diplomatic Relation between Sri Lanka and Japan.
Obverse : Colour print image (300 dpi) of the Upper Kotmale Hydropower Project, located within the central hills in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka - Japan 60 years in Tamil, Sinhala and English along the periphery within a plain rim. Year of issue 2012 below at center.
Reverse : Insignia for the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Sri Lanka, especially designed by the Mint of Japan. Sri Lanka in Tamil, Sinhala and English along the periphery of the coin, within a plain rim. The face value of the coin 1000 in large numerals appears below with Rupees in Sinhala, Tamil and English below along the periphery.
Ceylon established diplomatic relations with Japan in 1952, four years after gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. Since then, the two governments have enjoyed a very prosperous and steady friendship with the Tokyo also contributing to several government initiatives and infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka.
The Upper Kotmale Hydropower Project, located within the Nuwara Eliya District in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. This initiative is partially funded by a soft loan from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). When fully operational, the facility will be the third largest hydroelectric dam in the country. It has been criticised as being bad for environment.
The frosted proof coin has been struck with twenty grams of sterling silver and has a diameter of 35 mm, which is a new and first clearly metric weight and size for Sri Lanka coins. It is the first Lankan coin Minted in Japan and first with an actual multi-colour photograph printed on the coin, issued by the CBSL. Artwork designed by Japan Mint.
Enclosed with a white ring to fit in a circular transparent tamper resistant plastic capsule it is embedded in a white base inside a red velvet covered 8.2cm square spring hinged Japan Mint presentation box. A small flap at back of base allows coin to be displayed at an angle. The insignia for the event is printed in Silver on the white satin of the inside cover with a rad sash on lower left. A printed not numbered Certificate of Authenticity contains the specifications and the text in Sinhala, Tamil, English and Japanese.
The Japan Mint said I quote "The capsule we used was sealed to protect the coin and if you open it, the latches of the capsule may be broken. We recommend you not to open it to prevent the coin from dusts, dirt or other damages, and to keep the coin shine as it is."
The outer packaging has color image taken at a different angle of Upper Kotmale Hydropower Dam on top with text on obverse of coin in a circle. The color logo of CBSL on the top side of cover and text "60th Anniversary of Sri Lanka - Japan Diplomatic Relations" Commemorative 1,000 Rupee Silver Proof Coin in Sinhala, Tamil, English and Japanese.
Both the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Japan Mint have been authorized to retail coin and set the coin to interested collectors. If browser does not translate the Japanese, see translation
Of the 20,000 coins minted 5,000 were boxed alone and 3,500 of them sold in Japan at 6,000 Yen (Rs10,000). CBSL ordered a very small number since they don't expect to sell many at this high price. On 2012 November 15th, CBSL adding cost of courier charges and VAT, issued about 200 coins to public at Rs12,500 (US$95) each. Strictly one coin per customer in queue. This is far less than estimated 1000 coins, needed to meet Numismatic collector demand in Sri Lanka.
The remaining 15,000 were packed with a set of 2012 Proof coins of Japan and 13,500 of them were sold in Japan at 13,000 Yen (Rs21,700). This is the first such product with a Lankan coin, but was not sold in Sri Lanka.
The product was over subscribed in Japan 11 times for the single coin and 1.5 times for the full Set. Buyers in Japan were selected using a Lottery. The over subscription maybe a direct result of the Lottery, since anyone can submit more than one application by post card to increase the probability of getting one.
On the two occasions that the Royal Mint sold Sri Lankan commemorative coins, they were sold in UK by the Royal Mint, at more than three times the price as sold by CBSL at that time.
The Sri Lanka Numismatic Society wrote to the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka and the Japan Mint asking them to give a discount to ensure that CBSL will be able to sell them at least at the same price as in Japan.
In an E-mail reply the 1st Secretary to the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka said I quote "There will be no discounts on the part of Japan because it is the domestic sales unit price, which is strictly fixed by the government order of Japan. Please note that both Japan Mint and Central Bank of Sri Lanka will not make any profit at all out of this issue."
In an E-mail reply the Japan Mint said I quote "We are really confident not only on the proof quality to emboss the official logo of the anniversary elaborately with the frosting processing technique, but also on our proud colour printing technology applied to the relief on the coin in order to recreate the image of the Upper Kotmale Hydropower Project in detail. We believe that the collectors of this coin will feel such high quality is worth its price."
The first commission from a foreign Government they received for the production
of coinage, was the New Zealand-Japan Friendship Silver Proof One Dollar
with colour image of Aoraki / Mount Cook issued on 2007 December 4th.
The Japan Finance Ministry and Japan mint have been working to win foreign coin orders.
It is the first coin Minted in Japan for Sri Lanka, and the second foreign order for the state-owned Japanese company which has marketed its expertise in producing coins, as use of coins has fallen in Japan as electronic payment options spread. In 2012 November managed a US$6.5 million order from Bangladesh, after satisfying tender requirments of two Foreign orders.
The price does not reflect well on the International competitiveness of the Japan Mint. The CBSL 60th is crown size silver coin which also has a printed image, issued at Rs7000 (US$64) just 2 years ago is 40% more heavy and sells in 2012 November for Rs10,650 (US$80). So the Japan Mint coin should have cost at most around Rs7500. Since it was a no-tender-bid contract given by CBSL to the Japan Mint. CBSL should have insisted on getting about 1000 at a price that would have been charged by Royal Mint to strike a similar coin.
Mr Fred Medis who in 2008 was elected as president of the Japan-Sri Lanka Friendship society and promoted the issue of this commemorative coin as a circulation issue at face value.
Despite the high price the very limited number of coins made available to public by CBSL in Sri Lanka sold out within hours of issue. When number issued (Supply) is much smaller than demand they clearly sell at what ever price. There were clearly in queue many non collectors when I went in at 9AM sent, I presume from coin market Street to make resale profits. One sold on eBay few days later for 75% more than the issue price. 8 months after issue they were still available on eBay at about two times the issue price in Japan. However 15 months after the issue it was selling on eBay with free shipping from Japan for less than the price sold by CBSL. However technically you need exchange control permission to import coin into Lanka, and you could be subject to over 20% VAT and other taxes at Postal customs.
This Sri Lankan coin which celebrates 60 years of diplomatic relation between Sri Lanka and Japan will be out of reach of most collectors in Sri Lanka, while much large numbers are sold in Japan. Many collectors of Sri Lanka coins will now have one missing in their collection, because of high cost or non availability of the coin. Some may even give up collecting these NCLT coins which are hardly Numismatic.
The coin was obtained from CBSL on the day issued. The plastic capsule is designed to ensure coin is not removed from capsule. I thank the Japan Mint for sending me a 1500 dpi scan of coin and it's thickness. The images above were Photoshoped from their scans and reduced to 600 dpi and displayed at 200 dpi.
Read my article, an edited version of which was published as Silver coin for 60 Years of diplomacy with Japan in Sri Lanka Sunday Times on 2012 November 18th.
The first coin was ceremonially issued to H.E the President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabral, the Governor of the CBSL on 2012 November 12th at Temple Trees. From left to right the new superintendent of Currency, Ambassador for Japan, HE President, Governor of Central Bank, and Minister of External Affairs.