Test and commemorative coins and banknotes are in the sight of collectors. Do you know what are they?

Test banknotes and coins are a precious trophy for many collectors. Their designs are fresh, different, unique and very limited. But what is the purpose of issuing test money? As it is said in the name, the objective is to try a new minting or print design in order to:

          Test how it works in ATMs.

          Test new print techniques, continuously improving and evolving.

          Test new material’s durability, like polymer.

          Test new security measures, a field with never ending investigations.

As we can see, in all these tests interfere different with factors and interests and, therefore, the production of this money can be done by any company involved in the production process: printers, designers, ATM and ink manufacturers and, of course, central banks. All of them can work together to test several updating measures at once. The first test banknotes we know about are from the beginning of XIX Century.

Test money usually is classified in numismatics catalogues with the letters PR or PF (for proof) and UNC (uncirculated).

Other uses of test money

Apart from the test money’s genuine reason for finding out the durability and resistance of new materials, designs or technology, nowadays possibilities go further practicality. Marketing has found a new communication and publicity channel using a good design as a presentation letter.  A test banknote is unbeatable as an advertising campaign, right?

Test money has become a big objective among collectors and that’s exactly the reason why there are so many uses of it. Test banknotes and coins are made to commemorate collector’s meetings, special editions of movies, tv programmes, bands, sports events… They will be always pieces for collecting only and won’t circulate as proper money. These editions are limited and, as a souvenir, could be included in exquisite packaging.

This kind of commemorative money can be bought as a souvenir of a place we have visited, as an ornamental item, as a gift (very extended not only among individuals but among companies) or as an investment, expecting a re-evaluation in the future.

Special mention here to Euro coins collectibles, usually minted in a precious metal with a higher value and design than ordinary ones. They must be different in, at least, two of the following characteristics: colour, weight and diameter. Furthermore, they won’t have a shaped edge with fine scallops or a ‘Spanish flower’ shape.

However, despite the many uses that the industry is giving to no circulation money, test pieces are still the most wanted by far. And among them, the most popular are:

          Prototypes: very reduced series of test money

          Series related to exotic places

          Special issues

          Rare cases: Euros minted in 1999, Catalonian ones, with a value of 3€… Test Euro coins or banknotes are really demanded.

Commemorative coins

Do not confuse test money and collectible money (destined for a no circulation purpose) with commemorative money, issued with a very concrete theme and in a limited number to honour a person or a historic event. In the Euro zone this is done only with the 2€ coins and following certain conditions like mint the special national design in one side but keeping the common one untouched. Every European state is allowed to have 2 commemorative editions per year (or 3 if there is something common in the whole Eurozone).

The first commemorative euro coin issued in Spain was to celebrate the IV Centenary of Don Quixote first edition. 8 million copies were issued. The last one was the fifth Centenary of the first trip around the world (1 million pieces).

Out of the Eurozone we also find commemorative money. For example, recently Qatar issued 6 million polymer banknotes with a World Cup special design that was bought for millions of followers as a souvenir.

As we can see, both test money and commemorative money are a important part of collecting world. Do you collect any of them?