coinfodder's Blog

14 Oct 2020

The Fifty States of Coinage- Part 11- Hawaii

Coins-United States | coinfodder

Aloha! And today, as we leave the Peach State for Volcano World. I think based on the first word you can where that is.

Hawaii was first discovered by Europeans when Capitan James Cook sailed to the islands in 1778. He and his party would be butchered by the natives a year later. In 1795, the House of Kamehameha diverted control of all the Hawaii Islands to him and his house. They would rule the islands until 1872. During that timespan, the House tried to convert many natives to Christianity, inviting missionaries, most notably Saint Damien (of Molokai, patron saint of lepers) to start a leper colony there. After King Kamehameha VI died without a heir, turmoil broke out in Hawaii. In 1891, Queen Lili'uokalani became the last monarch of Hawaii, changing the Constitution (for the third time). Then, after a non-violent coup-d'état, the monarchy was overthrown and Hawaii became a US Territory.

Later during the 20th Century, the US Navy saw the importance of the island and sent most of their Pacific Naval Fleet to Honolulu, at Ford Island Naval Base, near Pearl City. On December 7th, 1941, Isoroku Yamamoto lead the attack on this fleet at Pearl Harbor. Despite massive loss of life, the attack was considered a failure by Japanese High Command, due to the fact no aircraft carriers were sunk that way. And then WWII happened, and you know what happened after that. In 1959, Hawaii became the last state to join the union.

Today, Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, bringing plenty of tourists over to the always-warm isles. The volcanos on the island are alive and well, and so are the stories of "Pele's Curse" (more on that later). Famous citizens include Kamehameha I, Daniel K. Inouye, Ellison Onizuka, andDuke Kahanamoku.

To mind first for most people is the 50 State Quarter and the ATB quarter. The 50 States Quarter was released in 2008, the last of the major 50 states. On it is a facsimile of the state. Also is a drawing of the statue of King Kamehameha I, which is also in the U.S. Capital as part of the National Statuary Collection. On the ATB quarter, is a volcano at Hawaii Volcanos National Park, issued in 2012. The volcano is erupting, which goes to show when you steal rocks from Kilauea, you will be punished by Pele (the curse is that if you steal a piece of volcanic rock from Kilauea, you will be cursed, like one man who lost his job. The visitor center states that people have mailed back their pieces of rock, telling of their misfortune. Don't believe me? Search up Pele's curse.). Anyways, both coins are pretty neat and are easily found on the marketplace today.

Hawaii coins from before Hawaii became a US possession are interesting in their own right. There were two major types, done by the United States for the Kingdom. They were regular, circulation issues, and plantation tokens.

Circulation issues were designed mostly by Charles Barber, who made Kamehameha V look like some European guy. Most, if not all of these coins had the face of the current Hawaiian Monarch slapped onto one side, and on the other side some other design. After Hawaii became a US Territory, the legality of these coins were stripped. Most were made in 1883. The 1881 Five Center is not an official issue. Buying one of these will set you back quite a bit.

On the other hand, plantation tokens were private tokens issued for use in Hawaiian company stores. (Bowers, Mega Red 4th Edition, 1293), much like Civil War or hard time tokens. The odd denomination of 12-1/2 was related to the wages of workers in the sugar plantations, and was also related to the Spanish eight-Reales coin.

See you later on our road trip of the states!


Barber made some excellent designs for Hawaii.


Level 5

Hi Coinfodder! Great blog and very educational. I have never been to Hawaii so this post was very interesting. I don't have any of their earlier coins either. I do have the State Quarter and the ATB Quarter that I have just recently received. Thanks again for sharing your information and pictures!


Level 5

Nice blog. Enjoyed reading


Level 5

I have been to hawaii many times, and have been to this park. A wonderful area, and a BEAUTIFUL design. Thanks for yet another great blog! Cheers, NM


Level 5

I have never graced the shores of Hawaii, however, my better half insists that we go there, she likes it there. So if we go, I will be looking for coin stores and would love some of the Plantation Tokens, or even the older commemorative if I find one priced ok. Thanks for this unique look at our Hawaii state coins. Later!


Level 6

Beautiful coins. I always thought of collecting them. I may after this read. Hmmmmm. Thanks.


Level 5

I have the 1883 coins. Dollar, half, quarter, and dime. Very interested on Hawaii coins and medals now. I need to visit Hawaii sometime. Hawaii must be amazing. Will try to pick up another coin or medal from Hawaii. Would be a great specialty area.


Level 6

the Hawaii Statehood Quarter is one of my favorites of the series, it reminds me of the 1928 Capt Cook Hawaii commemorative . Thanks for a well researched blog.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Famous Hawaiians: And let us not forget Tuanigamanuolepola "Tua" Tagovailoa who led the Alabama Crimson Tide to two National Championships! Nice coins and another very good blog.....Thanks!


Level 5

Oh. Tua. I wanted to mention him, but I forgot. I am not a UGA fan, as I am a Georgia Tech fan, so back in 2018 I thought the Crimson Tide would beat UGA. Turns out, much to the chagrin of my fellow schoolmates, I was right.


Level 7

My wife's side of the family lived there for many years. I love the coins I don't have any but after reading your blog I might have to spend money. I have the Medal it's beautiful just like the islands. Thanks for your research and the history. That's how we learn. Enjoy and be safe.

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