The Crocodile Coins Of Melanesia: 1 Kina (Papua New Guinea, 1975)-Article

This massive New Guinean coin represents the 5th denominated coin of the Kina (Series 1975). The kina was introduced on 19 May 1975, as a replacement for the Australian Dollar. Despite being phased out in 31 December 1975, the two currencies were pegged at par (1:1). The Royal Australian Mint (Canberra) produced all 1975 dated 1 Kina coins. (SEE: A Brief History Of 1 Kina Coins)

This coin is a cash-type reeded-edged design made of a copper-nickel alloy and weighs a hefty 14.52 g. Its dimensions are 33.72 mm (2.60 in) wide and 2.01mm (0.102) in thick. Making it larger in size to a US Half Dollar (30.61/1.205 in), in that respect. (This coin will be reviewed reverse first)


New Guinean 1 Kina reverse by William Shoyer.
New Guinean 1 Kina reverse by William Shoyer.

The reverse features a pair of Saltwater Crocodiles, native to New Guinea's coastal mashes and large rivers. The coin's crocodiles surround a large central hole, used to string multiple coins. Notably the tail of the upper-right crocodile the text "K1". Representing the coin's 1 Kina face value.

Surrounding the crocodiles is a ring of small raised "diamonds", used to add extra grip. Beyond this ring is the coin's raised outer rim, which can seen on both sides. A smaller rim can seen surrounding the center. Although unlike the outer rim is too shallow to prevent wear.


New Guinean 1 Kina observe by Richard Renninger.
New Guinean 1 Kina observe by Richard Renninger.

The reverse features the Bank of Papua New Guinea logo. The logo represents a stylized Greater Bird-of-paradise, the split "tail feathers" ring the coin's center hole. Below a semi-circle of text reads, "Papua New Guinea 1975". Just as the observe the reverse features a ring of raised "diamonds and a thick outer rim.

A Brief History Of 1 Kina Coins

A 2nd generation 1 Kina coin (2004)
A 2nd generation 1 Kina coin (2004)

Within its decades long history, the 1 Kina coin has been produced by 3 separate mints. As a general rule coins produced by The Franklin Mint (USA), feature a "FM" mint mark. Allowing them to be identified from Royal Australian Mint coins, which lack mint marks. While coins dated 1995 and the present (2022), are produced by the Royal Mint (Llantrisant).

In addition to different mints, the 1 Kina is separated into 3 generations. All which share the same basic design, although differ in size and composition. The longest generation being the 1st, which circulation spanned from 1975-1999. It's also the only generation that was produced by all 3 mints. Notably it was the largest type and was minted from a copper-nickel alloy.

While the Kina has been a relatively stable currency. Long term inflation eventually lead to a coin debasement. The 2nd generation of 1 Kina was introduced in 2002 and was made of nickel-plated steel. Although at 33.28 mm (1.31 in) wide, its slightly smaller. Additionally its circulation was extremely short, ranging from 2002-2004. It was replaced by the 3rd generation, in 2005.

The 3rd generation, retains the nickel-plated steel composition of the 2nd generation. Although it has been further reduced in size, to 30 mm (1.18 in). It currently remains the only generation in circulation. As the 1st and 2nd generations were demonetized on 31 December 2008.

Size Comparison

A New Guinean 1 Kina coin with US Half Dollar for scale.
A New Guinean 1 Kina coin with US Half Dollar for scale.

Additional Notes

  • The Kina ISO 4217 code is PGK, it uses K as its official symbol.

  • Kina is derived from the Kuanua word for a type of polished trade shell.

  • The Kina is subdivided into 100 Toea, also named after trade shells.

  • New Guinea's tribes use polished shells and boar tusks as currency.

  • Boar Tusk money is created from tusks, which have grown into a full circle.

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