May 1, 2011

The Papal Coinage and Medals

Not known to many Filipinos, Bayani Rumbaoa is the official engraver and designer of the famous Pope John Paul II commemorative coin during the celebration of the World Youth Day held in Manila in the year 1995. The year was the second visit of the recently beatified Pope in Manila and his first as a Pope was in the year of 1981.

During the Pope’s first visit, Imelda Marcos commissioned Tupas Medal and Coin Engraver to design and engrave medals that would feature the late President’s bust, Ferdinand Marcos and that of the Pope and another medal where both busts are placed on each side of the medal.

Contrary to popular sources on the internet, Rumbaoa is not the first coin engraver of the BSP but Tupas was commissioned by the BSP prior to its establishment during the abolition of the earlier design inherited from the Commonwealth where the design of Melecio Figueroa was utilized. In 1981 at the earliest years of the BSP, the President himself ordered several medals from Tupas that would serve as pattern for the planned coins of Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas. One of those designs was exclusively ordered to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II.

Tupas was not new in designing and engraving the Papal medal and coin. In 1970, during the visit of Pope Paul VI, Tupas was commissioned by the Central Bank to produced medals and pattern coins for the occasion. The preferred design where the President and Pope’s bust were placed on both side of the coin was produced for general circulation and were minted both in proof and uncirculated and were struck in nickel, silver, and gold catalogue in Krause as KM 202, 202A, and 202B.

These coins were minted in Franklint Mint located in the United States where other coins of the Central Bank were also being struck at that time.

Franklin Mint was otherwise commissioned to strike the Papal coinage in 1981; these coins were the 50-piso silver coin (KM 233) and the 1500-piso gold coin.

During the last visit of Pope John Paul II in 1995, several coins were struck by different mint houses to commemorate the occasion. Some issues remain unofficial and with record of mintages still unknown. Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas officially released two (23) different of coins, the first one is struck in silver with the denomination of 100-piso (KM 264) and the second one is struck in gold with a denomination of 2500-piso (KM 266).

Pobjoy Mint of England otherwise produced two (2) coins for the occasion, they were issued in 100 and 200-piso denominations. However, these coins are very rare with mintages still unknown.

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