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Norway Weighs Future of 50-Ore Coin
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
November 15, 2010

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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Low denomination coins worldwide have in recent years fallen victim to the ravages of inflation. Some countries have discontinued the circulation of low value coins due to their declining purchasing power, while others have continued such denominations in inexpensive base metals due to the increasing costs of production.

Norway is now at such a crossroads. Norway’s circulation coinage is currently produced at the privately owned mint Det Norske Myntverket. During 2009 this mint issued 9.9 million 50-ore coins, Norway’s lowest denomination coin in circulation. The Norwegian National Bank or Norges Bank now wants to cease purchasing the denomination entirely. Officially, the reasoning is that the purchasing power of these coins is too diminutive.

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In fact the coins are composed primarily of copper, whose raw price has been rising in recent years, making it expensive to produce a coin with this low of a face value. As of September, the 50-ore coin was equal to 0.07 euro or eight cents U.S.

The Norwegian central bank has indicated it believes the coins are being hoarded and that they have little value or impact in commerce.

Sweden abandoned its 50-ore coin denomination on Oct. 30, 2009. It is anticipated Norway will follow Sweden’s example, but no date for such a decision had yet been announced at the time this article was being written.

In modern history numismatic Norway changed from a silver to a gold standard on June 6, 1873, implementing a system of 100 ore equal to one krone. At that time the value of one krone was fixed to 0.49323 grams of gold. In 1875 Denmark and Sweden joined Norway in a Scandinavian monetary agreement that resulted in both Denmark and Sweden dropping the speciesdaler and riksdaler in favor of the ore/krone monetary system. Norway’s speciedaler was set as being equal to four kroner.

Due to inflation, silver has since been abandoned as a coinage metal, having been replaced with copper and nickel. Norway’s last silver composition coin was struck in 1919, 14 years after Norwegian independence from Sweden.

As inflation continued to erode the purchasing power of low denomination coins while the cost of the raw materials from which they are made rose, Norway discontinued the 1- and 2-ore coins in 1974, followed by the demise of the 5-ore coin in 1984, the 10-ore coin in 1991, and the 25-ore coin in 1982.

The 50-ore coin on which the central bank is now focusing its attention is composed of a bronze mix of 97 percent copper, 2.5 percent zinc, and 0.5 percent tin. The current coin depicts a crown on the obverse, with a mythological portrait from a medieval stave church in Urnes on the reverse.

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