STUTTGART â€" Experts are hailing it as a global novelty, and inventors are celebrating it as the "innovation of an era." The new euro coins that will be released in spring 2016 have a ring of blue plastic minted into them, and the oddity is expected to make them a desirable export.
Coins are typically the color of silver or the dark brown of copper, and precious collector's coins are sometimes even made from gold. Some people may even remember the Italian lira, the country's currency from 1861 and 2002. It was so lightweight it seemed to be made of tin.
But very soon Germans will be able to handle coins the likes of which have never been seen before, a development that numismatists , or coin collectors, are eagerly anticipating. A five-euro coin will be released in the spring, and the transparent blue ring that will be incorporated into its design is made of a material that can be worked like metal but is actually plastic. It contains not only a color pigment but also security features.
"This is the innovation of an era," says Peter Huber, director of the State Mints of Baden-Wurtemberg, the largest mint in Germany and the one responsible for developing the new coin. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the plastic ring can in the future be integrated into conventional euro coins to prevent counterfeiting.
The new coin will be legal tender in Germany but will probably not be used because it is designed with collectors, and potential collectors, in mind. "This modern coin is meant to kindle interest in coins in to young people in particular," Huber says.
Earth in your hand
The blue design is dedicated to Planet Earth. A depiction of the globe, surrounded by the blue polymer ring, will be found on one side of the coin. Blue was chosen to symbolize the earth's atmosphere, even though any color could be injected into the plastic.
The ring of polymer is enclosed by another ring of metal, which depicts our solar system's other planets. The coin is therefore made of three components, but Huber insists that doesn't jeopardize the coin's integrity. "The joint between the polymer plastic and metal is just as strong as between the two different metals in conventional one- and two-euro coins," he says.
The diameter of the collector's coin will be 27.25 millimeters, about 1.5 millimeters larger than the two-euro coin, and it will be heavier by 0.5 grams, weighing 9 grams in total. The inner part of the coin, enclosed by the ring of polymer and known as "the pill," is just as big as a one-euro coin.
It took the team 10 years to develop the piece. Even the Federal Bank of Germany, the Bavarian Mint and the Leibniz Institute of RWTH Aachen University, which developed, certified and patented the polymer, were Involved in the process.
At the moment, the dies used to mint the coin are being produced, and they will then be made available to the five mints in Germany â€" namely, Berlin, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Munich and Stuttgart. The coin will then be introduced at the World Money Fair in Berlin in early 2016.
If the coin's developers had their way, this would probably be just the beginning. They toiled for years on end to develop a desirable product for export. "This innovative material, made in Baden-Württemberg, will most likely be used in many countries in the years to come," Huber predicts.
Research is being conducted in many places to develop counterfeit-proof coins, but Germany is the global leader when it comes to minting coins. The production and introduction of this collector's item will represent a field trial to test whether innovative technology will actually survive.
Should it prove successful, the inventors may hope that all conventional euro coins eventually resemble the new one, especially in light of the possible replacement of five-euro notes with five-euro coins. The value of the five-euro note has been declining for years both because of inflation and because its production costs are far higher than those of the new euro coin.
That can be explained primarily by the expensive integration of security features on the notes. The polymer technology would represent a cheaper alternative.
A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.
A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."
The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.
Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."
Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021
Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021
Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?
The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.
The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.
The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."
The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."
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