Cuba is the biggest island of the Antilles, at Caribs sea, placed in a privileged position between Miami and Yucatan peninsulas. During colonies time, it was a very valuable point of contact to Europe, hence the nickname of "Key of the Caribs", illustrated on their coat of arms showing a key between 2 peninsulas, and by the Cuban minthouse mark being a key. During colonial times, Cuba did not have an own minthouse, and received scarce sending of coins from Mexico mint, known as "Situados". These were not enough, and many Spanish coins were used, mainly from Seville mint, so they were called "Sevillanas". Those coins had a real value lower then the colonial minted ones, but they were exchanged at same value of colonial coins. To avoid this, in 1841, many were countermarked to "clean" the circulating coinage. On 1741, during the siege to Santiago de Cuba, copper coins were minted - the first in Americas. First Cuban coin is considered to be the "Peso Souvenir", minted to finance the freedom campaign on 1897. Minted in the US, "1 Peso" was replaced with "Souvenir" word. The following year same type of coins were minted displaying a "1 Peso" face value. First coinage from Cuba as independent country started with 1915 and 1916 series, including copper-nickel, silver and gold coins. These were engraved by the famous Edward Barber, from the US, and the obverse is still used on actual coins. From 1994, Cuba has double currency, the original Peso Cubano (CUP) from 1915, that never changed (copper-nickel coins still are legal tender), and the Peso Convertible (CUC) originally intended to be used by visitors and Cubans living overseas. CUC is commonly paired to USD value, and CUP is about 1/25 CUC. From a few years ago, government is considering to return to use only 1 currency. Today Cuba strikes all its circulating coins and most of the commemorative issues through its own minthouse, that started production on 1977. Cuba has maintained the design of circulating coins, with minor changes, and introduced 2 bimetallic coins of 5 CUC in 2004 (dated 1999), and 5 CUP in 2016. More noticeable differences are found on commemorative circulating issues. Cuba hase produced a huge variety of commemorative coins from 1977, based on themes such as sports, Cuban history, monuments, flora & fauna, FAO, Hispanic-American themes, etc.
Numista referee for coins of this issuer is adanieluy.
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