Scout centenary gets Rs. 2 coin

By Kavan Ratnatunga

The Central Bank has issued a commemorative coin for the centenary of Scouting in Sri Lanka. Designed by the Sri Lanka Scout Association, the Rs. 2 coin was struck by the Royal Mint to the current standard of nickel-plated steel, with a diameter of 28.5mm and weight of seven grams.

The first coin was officially handed over to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal on April 1, at the opening of the 29th Asia Pacific Region and Sri Lanka Centenary Scout Jamboree held at D.S. Senanayake College, Kandalama Dambulla.

On the obverse at the centre of the coin is the 'Fleur- de-lis' logo of the World Scout Movement localized for Sri Lanka with a lion in the middle, encircled by lotus petals to signify peace and prosperity. 'SRI LANKA SCOUT CENTENARY' in Sinhala, Tamil and English appear at the top, left and right sides around the emblem, with the rope around signifying the unity of National Scout Associations worldwide.

The centenary theme 'Together for a better world' in Sinhala, Tamil and English appear at the top, left and right sides along the periphery, while 1912 and 2012 adorn the bottom on either side of the reef knot joining the two ends of the rope.

The reverse is similar to the regular Rs. 2 coin and has 2012 on it. With a coin in circulation being chosen rather than 'non-circulating legal tender' (NCLT) and two million coins being minted and put into circulation at face value, every Scout in Sri Lanka and abroad who is interested will be able to obtain one. However, since there was a delay in taking a decision to mint the coin, the main shipment is only expected for public release next month. It is a pity they were not available at the Jamboree held from April 1 to 6.

Just 100 coins were struck early by the Royal Mint and sent by air in time for the opening of the Jamboree. Enclosed in a circular, transparent plastic capsule, it is embedded in black velvet inside a black rexine-covered box.

The Scout Association has now decided to gift most of these coins to those who donate Rs. 3,000 for the Scout Centenary Fund. This will ensure that die-hard collectors will be able to get one from this limited stock. Last year, 500 Rs. 2 coins issued for the 60th anniversary of the Air Force were also capsuled in a box and sold at Rs. 500 each.

However, the Central Bank issuing boxed coins in the case of a non-governmental organization has created a bad precedent. The Central Bank should make available at least 500 of every numismatic item made, directly to the public to prevent them from being used for fund raising. The box is unimportant but capsuled coins of every coin in circulation should also be sold by the Central Bank's online store.

The capsuled Rs. 2 coins are basically the same as those that will be issued into circulation, with the only difference being that since the coins were transported in individual plastic capsules and not bagged, they will have no scratch marks caused by coins striking each other.

In 1978, a rush order for the JR coin resulted in a coin which was slightly different to the rest being minted, with the initial 2,600 coins becoming a sought-after rarity. It is unlikely, however, that history will repeat, but one will never know until these coins are issued.

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