2 ½ ECU from the Netherlands (1989) - Was it ever circulated? [solved]

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Joined: 12-Sep-2018
Posts: 3
Hello - I was looking into the topic of the ECU currency; and I stumbled upon the trivia fact on Wikipedia. It stated that an ECU coin from the Netherlands was accepted as actual currency.
It was said that coins commemorating the Jubilee of the Congress of Europe were issued, but unusually were actually legal tender - a 2 ½ ECU coin could be used to buy items in retail shops in The Hague during 1989.

I looked into this information more and more and found the original pamphlet that was given to buyers of the ECU coins - in Dutch of course. I tried to transliterate and then translate it:

Uniek en zeer bijzonder - een wereldprimeur zelfs - is het, dat de ECU voor het eerst in de geschiedenis van Europa als betaal-munt zal dienen. Winkelbedrijven aangesloten bij de "Vereniging Ondernemers Haagse Binnenstad" zulten de 2½ ECU gedurende "European Festivities" van 7 fot 10 september 1989, als circulatiemunt accepteren."
Unique and very special - a world first even - is that the ECU will serve as a payment currency for the first time in Europe's history. Retailers affiliated with the "Vereniging Ondernemers Haagse Binnenstad" Association will accept the 2½ ECU during "European Festivities" of 7 September 10, 1989, as a currency of circulation."
De ECU is - nog - geen wettig betaalmiddel, maar een rekeneenheld welke is samengesteld the specifiekig bedragen in ieder van de valuta's van de lidstaten van de Europese Gemeenschap. Op basis van huidigie waarde-toerekening kan de ECU gesteld worden op ca ƒ 2,35."
The ECU is not yet a legal tender, but a unit of account composed of the specific amounts in each of the currencies of the Member States of the European Community. On the basis of current value allocation, the ECU can be set at around ƒ 2.35."

So, the coin (out of 18,608 issued) could be used at retail shops affiliated with the "Ondernemers Haagse Binnenstad" association during the month of September 1989. This was from a time that people thought the ECU was going to become a functioning currency à la the Euro.

Now my question is - was this coin ever actually circulated and used in the retail stores mentioned? Did someone actually go into the store and purchase an item with the 2½ ECU coin? Who were the stores in that association?
Moreover, was it even economical to use the coin as real currency and not as a commemorative item?
Does anyone have information about how much the 2½ ECU coin cost back in 1989?

In general, were there any ECU coins from any country that circulated?

Thank you for reading this ramble of a first post on here, and I hope we'll have answers for my many questions z)
Joined: 23-Nov-2011
Posts: 797
In several European countries, ECU coins were minted, mainly with the purpose of letting the public get used to the idea of a European currency.

While the ECU was a valid currency in the digital world, for instance interbank transfers would be in ECU, it was not a cash currency. And the ECU has never been a cash currency. Later, the Euro also initially started of as a digital currency only, and only later became a cash currency as well.

These commemorative ECU coins were more of a gag than serious money, and I even seriously doubt if they were ever monetized by a central bank. Your translation of the brochure is adequate, and it says nowhere that the coins are legal tender, only that they will be accepted by certain retailers. And under the caption "guaranteed 'nominal' value", with nominal ominously between quotes, it only says that the ECU is a guaranteed currency, and not so much that the coin is of a guaranteed value.

Ecu's wouldn't be easy to use alongside the regular currencies, because of their fractional exchange rate. Your 'coin' (mark the quotes :D) would have been worth NLG 5,88 - enjoy calculating! During adoption of the Euro, all financial systems, cash registers, etc. would show dual pricing in EUR and in local currency to overcome problems of this kind, and a similar organizational effort was never performed for the ECU.

In my opinion, these ECU coins are just 'wannabees', and should not be regarded as circulating.

Earlier, I made the same point for commemorative local currencies that would only circulate locally for a (very) limited period of time. They're interesting collectionable coins, but to mark them as 'circulating' because a few retailers had committed themselves to accept them for a few days - no, that's too much of honour.
Joined: 30-May-2014
Posts: 8288
If I remember correctly, the ECU (European Currency Unit, right?) was rejected as the "Eurozone" currency partly because it was also the name of an old French coin (the écu d'or/argent) from the 14th to late 18th (late 19th if you count the decimalised 5 Francs coins) centuries.
Joined: 12-Sep-2018
Posts: 3
Thank you very much for posting!
Yes, I believe you are correct - I thought the coin was issued by the Dutch Mint but it was not -
"Uitgegeven door MUNTPOST / MONUMENT B.V., Elst (Gld), in samenwerking met de EUROPESE BEWEGING IN NEDERLAND, bij gelegenheid van de EUROPEAN FESTIVITIES 1989 in's Gravenhage."
"Issued by MUNTPOST / MONUMENT B.V., Elst (Gld), in collaboration with the EUROPEAN MOVEMENT IN THE NETHERLANDS, on the occasion of the 1989 EUROPEAN FESTIVITIES in The Hague."

The issuer is MUNTPOST / MONUMENT B.V.
So it probably has nothing to do with the Dutch government, and thus not legal tender...

I've heard there were more ECU coins from other countries (like Gibraltar and Belgium) which were legal tender - were they ever circulated? I'm only collecting coins that circulated so that's why I'm asking (but I'm beginning to think these sorts of coins are a lost cause for me, oh well).
Choucas Numista team
Joined: 21-Jun-2017
Posts: 1924
I know that in Belgium it was a legal tender but I don't know if they were really used as mean of payment (I'm too young for that).

I asked some people and apparently they have never seen any of them in circulation, even if they kind of know it had some value.
Traducteur catalogue : n'hésitez pas à me demander de traduire une fiche.
Catalog translator : feel free to ask me to translate a page.
Essor Prof
Joined: 13-Apr-2015
Posts: 2137
In Belgium there are 23 official ECU types (34 dates), 22 of these (33 dates) are in Krause, 19 types (30 dates) are in our catalogue in the **Exonumia** sector. They were legal tender coins so they shouldn't be in the **Exonumia** sector.
The ECU coins are trade coinage. 16 types are gold, 7 are silver. 32 dates have a low mintage between 1,000 and 50,000. 1 gold coin has a mintage of 1,502,000 and 1 silver coin has a mintage of 1,000,000. 29 dates are Proof coins, so these certainly didn't circulate, but to my knowledge none of the others circulate either.
Status changed to Solved (matan2001, 19-Oct-2018, 10:25PM)

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