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Inverted anchor cross. A cross with slightly widened ends, with two anchor flukes coming out of the top and curving left and right, also with slightly widened ends.

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Polar bear walking left. Value above, date and initials below. Script: Latin Lettering: 5 KRONER 19·G·S·44 Engraver: G. Roberts

1944 Greenland 5 Kroner

Where is Greenland anyway? Despite being part of Denmark, and geopolitically part of Europe, Greenland is actually in North America. In fact, Greenland is only 35 km from Canada across the Nares Strait. Hans island, in the middle of the strait has been the site of possibly the most delightful war ever, the whisky war. For the last 50 years, delegations from both countries have periodically travelled to the 1.2 km2 barren island and left their country’s flag and a bottle of whiskey (Canada) or Schnapps (Denmark). Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Denmark and Canada agreed on a treaty as “a symbolic rebuke of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… The peaceful resolution of the Hans Island dispute is proof that diplomacy works and that territorial disputes can be resolved through the rule of law instead of violence.” Right, that’s all the geopolitical stuff out of the way, on to the coin!

Crowned shield bearing three lions in centre. Lettering around outside Script: Latin Lettering: GRØNLANDS STYRELSE Translation: Greenland Administration

Greenland, like Denmark, used the Krone, with 100 Øre = 1 Krone. The 5 kroner coin was only issued in 1944, and unlike Greenland’s 8 other coins, was not issued by the Danish Royal Mint. At the start of WWII, thousands of US servicemen were sent to Greenland. By 1944 there was a shortage of coins in Greenland and the US Mint in Philadelphia produced 100,000 of these 5 Kroner coins in brass, particularly for use by US personnel. 1 Krone was worth 20 US cents, so the 5 Kroner coin was worth 1 US dollar.

The coin features the crowned Danish coat of arms of three lions surrounded by hearts, with the text “GRØNLANDS STYRELSE” or “Government of Greenland”.

Polar bear walking left. Value above, date and initials below. Script: Latin Lettering: 5 KRONER 19·G·S·44 Engraver: G. Roberts

This particular example has an interesting dark toning. Although not even, I feel it gives this coin a lot of character. The design, with the denomination above a polar bear above the year, matches the 1926 series of coins from Greenland. I really like the polar bear on the reverse. It also reminds me of two different Canadian coins:

Canadian 5 cents (with denomination above a beaver above the country and year) and 2 dollars (Bimetallic with the country above, denomination below and a large polar bear walking in the center)

The layout is not dissimilar to the standard circulation Canadian 5 cent coin design since 1937, which features the denomination above, country and year below, and a beaver on a dam in the center of the coin. The Canadian Toonie, or two dollar coin, since 1996, has featured a polar bear, facing right rather than left, but in a similar pose to the Greenland coin.

Greenland has not produced any coins since 1964, and officially uses the Danish Krone, so will we see any more official coins from “Greenland”? In 2008, Greenland held a referendum on self-governance. This was passed with 75% in favour. The changes brought by this included greater autonomy in many areas. The self-rule law also gives Greenland the option to declare full independence if they wish, however it would need to be approved by a referendum. While a poll in 2016 showed 64% in favour, a 2017 poll had 78% against if it meant a fall in living standards.

In 2010, a set of fantasy pattern coins was produced in honour of the referendum. Each coin had different native wildlife on the reverse, with either a traditional or modern interpretation of the Greenland coat of arms, a standing polar bear. Here is the reverse of the 20 Kroner (featuring a polar bear and cub) and the modern-style obverse of the 5 Kroner:

20 Kroner coin showing a polar bear and cub with value.
with the obverse of the 5 Kroner featuring country name in Greenlandic (KALAALLIT NUNAAT), a standing polar bear, and the year.
Polar bear walking left. Value above, date and initials below. Script: Latin Lettering: 5 KRONER 19·G·S·44 Engraver: G. Roberts





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