Ananda College gets an anniversary crown

By Kavan Ratnatunga

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has issued a commemorative frosted proof coin for the 125th anniversary of Ananda College, the very first commemorative coin issued for a school anniversary. With the crown size of a Buddha Jayanthi Rs 5 coin, it is struck with one ounce of sterling silver.

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

Obverse: At centre 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 Steele Olcott (1832-1907) as founders of Ananda with anniversary dates 1886-2011 inside a semi-circle.
At centre above the Ananda College crest, the face value 2000 in numerals below RUPEES in Sinhala, English and Tamil. 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".

Ananda College was founded as the "Daily Buddhist English Academy" at Maliban Road, Pettah on November 1, 1886 by the Buddhist Theosophical Society to provide English instruction to Buddhist students. In 1895 the school was moved to Paranawadiya, Maradana and renamed Ananda College, after Arahant Ananda, the most devoted disciple of the Buddha.

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

The artwork was done by an Ananda College artist. Enclosed in a circular coin capsule, the coin comes in a 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.

It is the third 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 in 2011 issued a variety of nice numismatic items, the total cost of one each of these numismatic items issued by CBSL for the year amounts to Rs 47,112. It has clearly left many serious collectors of Sri Lankan coins and currency unable to keep up with this hobby.

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 collectors’ item for school children, and minimum additional cost to mint. How many students and even Old Boys can afford the current Rs. 8500 for this crown sized silver coin.

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