The Finns collect their own coins, so there is a degree of purchase
pressure for high and middle level material. Demand goes in cycles of course,
depending on the general health of the world economy. Most items exist in
decent quantities though, so both prices and availabilities are theoretically
reasonable for virtually all types and most dates.
DUCHY OF FINLAND - ALEXANDER II
A degree of cultural and political autonomy was guaranteed by the Russian
government. The Finns were granted their own postal service, and paper money
was allowed starting in 1860, but the political promises were not kept. In a sop to
rising nationalist sentiments a Finnish diet was allowed to meet in 1863 during the
reign of the reformist Tsar Alexander II. One of the outcomes was the
introduction of Finnish coinage.
This first issue of 1864 consisted of 1 penni, 50 penni, and markka.
coins are highly desirable in Finland, so they hardly ever turn up here. The
silvers at SCWC prices would be a bargain. The 1864 penni is the copper key,
and is basically never offered. Starting in 1865 the complete denomination set of
penni through 2 markkaa was released. There is demand for this year too, since
these are the earliest coins most people can afford, but all can be found.
"A-II" penni coins tend to be a bit hard to come by. 5 and 10 penni can be
found with the exception of the 1875 10p, but the average grade is VG.
Uncirculated "A-II" coppers are rare, but I suspect only Finnish fanatics would pay
the SCWC quotes, and if gems exist of the series I suspect they must be over
The silver series of Alexander II contains both common and unavailable
coins. The ones which have turned up most often for me have been the 1
markka of 1865 and '66, 50p 1872, and 25p 1872 and '75. Uncirculated
specimens are scarce or rare. Gold was issued late in the reign, dates in the
1870s being quite a bit scarcer than later issues, and again, they turn up rarely or
never in uncirculated. 10 markkaa coins are at least three times as scarce as the
If "A-III" pennis are considerably more common than "A-IIs" the 5 and
are correspondingly scarcer. For me the common pieces have been the 1p 1883,
'92, and 94. These 1p coins start to show up in choice XF, but uncirculated
specimens remain rare, even for the later dates. The 5p and 10p, needed for
type sets, are rather elusive. 25p coins of this Alexander are dated 1889, '90, '91,
and '94. All are common. In 50p only the 1890 is common. the rest are a bit hard
to find. 1 markka coins dated 1890, '92, and '93, despite their low SCWC
valuations, are scarce, and there are no 2 markkaa coins for this reign. Gold is
Virtually all of the "H-II" coppers can be found, with later dates frequently
turning up in AU or better, though only 1915, '16, and '17 are common in
uncirculated. From 1909 on the 1p and 5p coins will occasionally be available in
small wholesale lots, but not the 10p. Since 10p are the copper flagships there is
more collector pressure, so they never turn up in quantity and high grades are
noticeably scarcer than for the 1p and 5p.
All of Nicholas' silver dates are available, but only the 1915, '16,
coins are common in uncirculated, and these really are common, the 25 and 50p
showing up over and over, occasionally in quantity. The 1908 2 markkaa is also
common, and the only date of that denomination which is even somewhat easy to
find in uncirculated.
Nicholas' gold, while commoner than that of his predecessors, remains scarce.
The reforms of Alexander II were cut short with his assassination in
The reign of Alexander III, to whom "progress" was a dirty word, was
characterized by neglect and retrenchment. Nicholas began a policy of active
oppression with the intention of "Russianizing" the region, beginning with a
decree that Finns, formerly exempt, would henceforth serve in the Russian army.
The Finnish senate, hitherto a rubber stamp organization, refused to approve,
and the Russian commander in Finland declared martial law in 1904. The
commander was promptly assassinated and a rebellion ensued, neatly coinciding
with the defeat of Russia by Japan in that little war they had in 1904 and the
revolution in Russia the following year.
The imperial government pretended to give a little and mostly sat tight,
by the turn of the century it had regained the upper hand. Nicholas resumed his
Russianization policies again, and martial law was once more imposed in Finland.
Economic development was forced in the years before World War I, with much of
both product and profit going to Russia. The populace was discontented. With
the start of the war large numbers of undisciplined Russian troops were quartered
in Finland, increasing tension.
With the abolition of the monarchy in 1917 the military government was
lifted in Finland, but the Finnish Diet went ahead and declared independence.
This move was rejected by provisional government in Russia.
During this early part of 1917 the Kerensky coins were issued. All of these
coins are common in uncirculated, especially the silvers.
When Kerensky was overthrown Finland again declared its independence,
and this was recognized immediately by the new Bolshevik government. The
new Finnish government was headed by the Conservative Baron C. G.
Mannerheim. Within a couple of months a Left coalition attempted to mount a
coup. A general civil war followed, with Germany sending troops to aid the
Conservatives. The Right won that engagement, and in late 1918 a Diet was
called to form a new government and write a constitution.
During this period a new small module 5 penni coin was struck.
(KM-21.1) is very scarce, but not highly desired it seems, if my sales records are
any guide. I have no idea why the unofficial un-Finnish restrike is priced higher in
the catalog, though I admit I've had two of the originals and none of them.
Republican coinage divides neatly into pre-war, wartime, and post-war
periods. The first republican coins was the copper 5p of 1918. 1 and 10p were
added the following year, and these types were continued with a few breaks until
1940. As is often the case with world coins, the lowest values tend to be the
hardest to find. 5 and 10p coins are common enough as circulated types, and
some dates, notably the 1938 5p and 1937 10p have turned up for me more than
once in uncirculated, but I have never come across one of these 1919-24 pennia.
25p, 50p, and 1 markka coins were added in 1921, and though they are by no
means ubiquitous, they are no trouble to find either, with later dates again turning
up from time to time in uncirculated. The reduced size markkas issued 1928-40
are considerably tougher.
Aluminum-bronze 5 and 10 markkaa were introduced in 1928, with the
20m following in 1931. Even the common dates of these types are not
particularly easy to find. The metal loses it's surface particularly rapidly and also
has a pronounced tendency develop spots, so choice uncirculated specimens are
(dare I say it?) rare. Finally in the pre-war period there are the two gold coins. I
have seen both of them several times in auctions, so high catalog values
notwithstanding, I'd have to class them as "available" rather than rare.
During the war things got quite messed up of course. The Soviet
government made territorial and political demands which the Finnish government
was not inclined to meet, and Soviet troops invaded in 1939. In the armistice of
1940 certain lands were ceded, including Karelia and the town of Vyborg (which
now want to return to Finland). When Germany invaded the USSR in 1941 the
Finns launched an offensive to take back the lost territory. They were
unsuccessful in this attempt. Britain declared war, the German position started to
slip, and in 1944 another armistice was signed, ceding territory and granting an
indemnity to the USSR.
Wartime types include the center hole 5 and 10p, the latter struck first
copper and then in iron, and both denominations existing without the hole.
Prewar types of the 25 and 50p and the markka were continued in different
metals during the war, again initially in copper, then iron. 5m coins were issued in
the normal aluminum-bronze, but 10 and 20m were suspended.
Generally, copper versions are a bit more available than irons, but
the wartime coins are really common. Call up any twenty American dealers in
world coins and chances are none of them will have a single one. With the iron
you have the usual caveat that coins over forty years old without rust are at least
scarce. Uncirculated material from this period most likely borders on rare.
In the years immediately following the war inflation caused the
abandonment of the minor denominations. Aside from the 50p of 1945-48 no
penni denominations were issued until the reform of 1963, and the 50p was
dropped after '48. The 50p, their companion 1m, also in iron, and the 5m in brass
rather than aluminum-bronze, are all there is for the late '40s. In my experience
they are difficult coins.
Iron 1m continued until 1962. The size was reduced in 1952, and
coins were nickel plated starting in 1953. The 1954 date (and I think 1958 too)
was imported in massive quantities by wholesalers back in the '50s. I remember
getting a set of "Coins of the World" from Gimbel's, must have been Christmas
1958 or so, that had this coin, and it still show up occasionally in poundage. The
other dates are kind of hard to find. Low SCWC values make it unprofitable for
American dealers to get them from Finland, where they are worth more.
The brass 5m were replaced with reduced size iron in 1952, nickel plate
added the following year. These also turn up occasionally in poundage, usually
with rust, but to get the date set in uncirculated you'll probably have to write to
Inflated 500m coins commemorating the Helsinki Olympics were issued
1952 and '52. Everyone has seen this type. The '52s are quite common in XF or
so, scarce in choice uncirculated. 1951 date is a well known scarce coin. It can
be obtained, but you have to be willing to spend the requisite bucks, and again,
uncirculated specimens are quite elusive.
In 1952 reduced size 10 and 20m coins were issued, along with the new
denomination 50m, all in aluminum-bronze. These turn up circulated in
poundage, but uncirculated examples are scarce for coins in this soft metal, and
no one I know actively tries to maintain the types in inventory. Silver 100m and
200m types of the late 50s are considerably more common in my market circles,
common dates turning up frequently in uncirculated. The rare date 200m - 1958
and 1959 - must all be in Finland.
The last inflation type was the 1000m commemorative of 1960. This
been universally acclaimed by the hobby as an ugly coin. It is common.
In 1963 a reformed markka was introduced and penni coins were issued
once again. 1p and 5p were issued in copper, later replaced by aluminum.
These are common, with large wholesale inventories of certain dates (1p of 1968
and '75 spring to mind). 10p, 20p, and 50p in aluminum-bronze are also
common, but there is no large wholesale stock that I know of outside of Finland.
Silver 1m are common. Usually they are 1964, because everyone wants to have
the new type when it first comes out and then they forget about it. That's the
theory behind the pricing of the 1968 key date relative to the 1964. 30% of the
mintage, 37% of the price, far less availability.
5 markkaa coins, introduced in 1972, have not found their way into the
world market in any great quantity, though of course they are not by any means
scarce. All of the 10 markkaa are commemoratives. None are scarce, but the
1967 coin with the geese is perhaps a bit harder to find. Last time someone
asked me for it I had all the others, but not that one. The 25m and 50m are all
The newest denomination, the 100 markkaa, having a face value of about
$25, and originally released at a premium, has run into resistance from
collectors. Who wants to pay twenty times bullion value for the new issues year
after year? Many nations are trying this high face - low intrinsic formula lately,
and I suspect many of those issues don't sell out. But they often trade on the
secondary market below their issue price.
PATTERNS, SETS, TOKENS
The patterns started in 1863 and have continued to the present.
The premier of
the series is the 1863 copper 20 pennia, a few pieces of which evidently entered
circulation. These pieces are practically never offered. Mint sets have been
issued since 1973, but I've never seen one. I have no information to hand
regarding tokens, and can't remember ever seeing one offered by the major USA