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Coins of Hawaii
The coinage of the Hawaiian Islands began in 1847. King Kamehaheha III order coins be struck as coinage was desperately in demand on the Islands. The King tied his currency to that of the United States so it could be used interchangeably with American coinage. He created a Keneta coin, which was a copper coin valued at one cent and containing the same amount of copper as a United States large cent or that era.
This Keneta coin was seen as an affordable issue that could be used and obtained by most Islanders. The government of Hawaii ordered 100,000 of these coins to be struck, most likely by an Attleboro, MA manufacturer and medalist.
When the coins arrived in Hawaii after months on a Merchant ship, they were not warmly received as many Hawaiian words were misspelled and the coins, being copper, arrived discolored and covered in verdigris. Additionally, the portrait of the King was said to be unrecognizable to the residents.
Some 34 years later, King Kalakaua I, was approached by the French and Belgian mint representatives suggesting that the King consider having a national coinage for his island kingdom. Again, misspellings plagued these coins as well and the samples were distributed to the King’s friends but not circulated.
The San Francisco Mint struck coinage for the Kingdom in 1883. Designed by US Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber. This coinage was correct, approved, and circulated well throughout the Islands. A Ten Cents coin saw nearly 250,000 struck. A Quarter Dollar saw 243,000 struck. A Half Dollar coin saw just under 88,000 minted but not melted while there were almost 47,000 Silver Dollar coins struck but not melted.