Brief History of Currency in Malta
The Coinage of Malta
Throughout Malta’s chequered history, the coinage used was mostly that of the ruling power of the central Mediterranean at the time. Local coins, probably also minted in Malta are, however, known to have existed in the third century BC. During later classical times, more Maltese coins were in circulation. Unfortunately, this privilege ended with the coming of the Arabs in 870 AD.
During their rule in Malta from 1530 to 1798, the Knights of St. John minted and circulated their own coins. This was discontinued during the French occupation from 1798 to 1800. At the time when Malta was a British Protectorate, followed by the granting of the Maltese Islands to Britain as a colony in 1814, the circulating currency was mainly Sicilian, Spanish and French. Steps to regularise the monetary system were taken in 1825, and on 24 June that year British Silver and Copper became legal tender. British Gold Sovereigns and Half Sovereigns were minted in England for exclusive use in Malta. This coinage, meant to replace the so-called Malta Grain which had been minted by the Order, continued to be struck until 1913. British copper coins were declared the sole legal tender in October 1857 and remained so until 1972, in spite of the fact that Malta gained Independence in 1964.
In May 1972 the Malta Currency came into being and the currency system was changed into a decimal one. The Malta pound was divided into 100 cents, and 1 cent into 10 mils. Eight distinctive coins in base metal were issued. In November of the same year, the first series of the Malta Numismatic Gold and Silver Sets were issued. These coins and those of subsequent issues were legal tender till 31 January 2008. The Maltese lira remained legal tender till 31 January 2008.
On 1 January 2008, Malta adopted the euro as its national currency and the euro became Malta’s legal tender.
Ancient and medieval coins
If one had to go through Malta’s history, one is bound to find that the coinage used was mainly that of the foreign ruling power of the Island or of neighbouring countries with which Malta had extensive trade links.
The first known coins introduced into the Maltese Islands were those of the Carthaginians who occupied the Islands from approximately the mid-sixth century BC. These coins, which remained the standard currency for about two centuries, contained figures of divinities and various symbols.
Various Greek coins struck in the Greek colonies in nearby Sicily and Southern Italy have also been found in Malta and Gozo. Following the Roman conquest of the Islands from the Carthaginians at the start of the Second Punic War in 218 B.C., the Maltese Islands were allowed a limited measure of self-government and even minted their own coinage. The Punic influence in Malta was slow to disappear and remained evident well into the Roman Period.
The Maltese coins of that period were all struck in bronze, the only metal the Roman authorities permitted to be coined. However, Roman silver and bronze coins dating to this period were also current in the Maltese Islands.
The early coins struck reflect the double culture prevalent at the time in the Maltese Islands – Punic and Greek. Although they were struck during the Roman period they bear either the Punic legend ANN (which may mean ship) or the Greek legend MELITAIWN (meaning of Malta). Also one coin-type minted in Gozo bears the legend in Greek characters ‘GAYLITWN’, (of Gozo).
The Greek legend reflects Greek influence on the Maltese Islands during the Hellenistic Period.
This influence progressively increased in evidence after Malta and Gozo were annexed to the Roman Province of Sicily whose dominant culture was Greek. Towards the mid-first century B.C. coins based on Sicilian standards were struck in Malta, reflecting increasing contacts between the two Mediterranean islands. One coin bears the Greek legend MELITAIWN on the obverse and on the reverse there is the name of the Roman Propraetor C Arruntanus Balbus who governed the Sicilian province from 35 to 27 B.C.
After the first century B.C. there are no records to show that the Maltese Islands continued to mint their own coins. From this date on the coinage of Rome was used throughout the Empire.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Malta was ruled in turn by the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans, the Swabians, Angevins, the Aragonese and Castilians. The coinage of these rulers was current in the Maltese Islands.
Coinage of the Knights in Malta
In 1530, Emperor Charles V of Spain donated the Maltese Islands in fief to the Order of St John of Jerusalem, officially known nowadays as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.
Through the intercession of Pope Clement VII, the Order, in spite of strong insistence by the Master of the Mint at Messina to deny it the right of mintage, obtained the privilege of striking coins in Malta. The first coins which appear to have been minted in Malta by the Knights were struck during the brief reign of the second Grand Master, Pietro del Ponte (1534-35). The Order of St John minted coins in gold, silver and copper during its 268-year rule in Malta.
After their arrival on the Island the monetary system was adapted to that of Sicily. In 1609, the Council of the Order also appointed a Commission to study the new regulations issued for the Sicilian Mint at Messina to ensure that coins struck in Malta would in future conform in weight and fineness to those of Sicily. From time to time foreign coins, including Spanish Doubloons and Piastres, Venetian Zecchini, Livournine, Genovine and Louis d’Or were allowed to circulate with the local coinage.
Because of the critical financial difficulties following Malta’s Great Siege of the Turks against the Knights in 1565, and to have funds to pay the several thousand labourers engaged in the building of the new city of Valletta, the Order found it expedient to strike fiduciary copper coins. The reverse side of these coins depicted clasped hands surrounded by the legend ‘NON AES SED FIDES’, (Not Money But Trust). According to Giacomo Bosio, historian of the Order, Grand Master Jean de La Vallete (1557-1568) promised to redeem these copper coins in “noble, metal” and also fixed their rate of exchange at par not only with Maltese silver coins but also with Sicilian silver pieces.
Fiduciary copper coins, struck by other Grand Masters continued to pass current in Malta at par with Sicilian silver and to maintain their value with local silver coins until the death of Grand Master Antoine de Paule in 1636 as the amount put in circulation had remained more or less proportionate to the internal needs of the Island. But when Grand Master Jean-Paul Lascaris Castellar (1636-1657) struck these fiduciary pieces in excessive quantities, the rate of exchange between copper and silver was completely unbalanced and increased rapidly from year to year to such an extent that in 1764 local copper was reported to be losing the amount of 107% in exchange for silver.
The Knights’ minting art reached its peak in the gold and silver coins issued during the office of Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena (1722-1736).
Vilhena was the first to coin the 12 Zecchini gold piece, the highest denomination in the Order’s coinage. He also introduced the silver 2 Scudi and the 8 and 12 Tari pieces.
The highest value silver coin minted by the Order was the Maltese dollar, known as the “pezza”, “oncia d’argento” or “uqija” This was first issued during the long reign of Grand Master Emmanuel Pinto (1741 – 1773).
The Mint of Malta
Little is known of the first mint in Malta before the time of Grand Master La Vallete. And even for some time afterwards, only fragments of information have been unearthed. Bosio, in his ‘Storia della Sacra Religione’ wrote in the year 1684 that the Master of the Mint in 1566 (shortly after the Great Siege) was a Fleming named Simon Prevost. He engraved and struck the special coins and medals which were placed in a copper urn under the foundation stone of the new city of Valletta.
The site of the first mint of the Order of St. John in Malta is also unknown. Numismatic historians, however, believe it was probably first located at either Fort St. Angelo or in Birgu (Vittoriosa). Shortly after 1573, the Mint was transferred to the tower of the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta. After 1604, it was installed in St. Sebastian Street in Valletta, today known as Old Mint Street. In 1778 the Mint was moved again, this time to the “Conservatoria” (today the National Malta Library), still in the capital city of Valletta, and remained there until it ceased to function in 1800.
Under the rule of the Knights, the Grand Master himself was responsible for appointing the Master of the Mint who, in turn, had jurisdiction over all goldsmiths and silversmiths operating in Malta.
Between 1722 and 1727, Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena (1722-1736) struck no less than 200,000 Zecchini pieces but these quickly began to disappear from circulation as, through prejudice or lack of expertise in the art of finance, they were issued at well below their real value when compared with foreign gold coins whose value had risen on the market. Large quantities of these Zecchini were exported, mainly to Naples and Sicily where gold was rated at a higher value than in Malta and where they were subsequently melted down at a profit. Vilhena had in the meantime also made a complete alteration in the silver coinage by issuing new denominations and because the silver standard had also been raised it became just as profitable for speculators to export the Order’s silver coins.
To check the constant flow of the coinage of the Order outside Malta the Mint was ordered to stop striking Zecchini and in 1730 a strict prohibition of the oexportation of local gold and silver was imposed. These measures were partly successful until Vilhena’s death in December 1736.
However, two years after the election of Grand Master Ramon Despuig (1736-1741) it was again found out that the 2 Scudi and Scudo silver coins were being exported by speculators or melted down by the local silversmiths. In spite of the reimposition of heavy fines and harsher penalties for those who either exported or melted down the coinage, silver coins continued to disappear from circulation. In March and April 1738 Despuig withdrew from circulation all silver coins of the Order and coined them into new coins of inferior fineness thereby making it unprofitable for speculators to export them. Though this drastic measure saved the Order from a total disappearance of the silver coins of the Knights from Malta and increased the amount of the coinage, it also resulted in the extinction of a large number of Vilhena’s beautifully executed silver coins.
In March of the succeeding year, again through lack of expertise in financial matters, the Order committed the grave error of arbitrarily raising the value of foreign coins and leaving the rate of the Island’s standard coin, the Zecchino, at the old rate. An immediate exportation of the Order’s gold and silver coins took place and within a short while Malta’s currency practically consisted of its over abundant copper token coins which at that time were worth about 100% less than their nominal value.
On his election, Grand Master Emmanuel Pinto (1741-1773), faced with a great shortage of gold and silver coins, quickly struck a good amount of Zecchini but these were afterwards replaced with new denominations of 10 and 5 Scudi gold pieces (Single Louis and Half Louis – Lwig u nofs Lwig) as the former coins proved to be unpopular due to their inferior fineness. Although Pinto also introduced new denominations in silver including the 30 and 15 Tari pieces (L-Uqija u Nofs Uqija) he was unable to restore confidence in the Order’s currency. In 1762 or 1763, unable to find a remedy he sought the competent advice of Zanobio Paoli, a former Master of the Mint in Florence. When Paoli arrived in Malta he found the local Mint in a deplorable state and in an elaborate ‘ ‘Trattato della Zecca’ ‘ submitted soon after his arrival, he made various recommendations including the introduction of new denominations, the striking of new Zecchini of 22½ carats and the withdrawal of the fiduciary copper coins.
Unfortunately no records exist as towhat measures were taken to reorganise the Mint after Paoli’s report during Pinto’s rule. Apart from prolific issues of certain denominations and the introduction of the gold 20 Scudi or Double Louis of Malta (Lwig doppju) in 1764 very little appears to have been adopted from Paoli’s report and the local Mint continued to be run at a loss. During the short rule of Grand Master Francisco Ximenes de Texada (1773-1775) matters remained just as bad, for the Commissioners of the Mint in 1774 blamed the Mintmaster for the issue of a debased and discredited coinage. Within the period 1766 and 1776 minting had in fact been very erratic and the accounts for the Mint show a loss of just over 2,446 Scudi.
In 1777 the Treasury of the Order, to reorganise the Mint and to stop it from operating at a loss, decided to adopt Paoli’s recommendations with regard to the method of work and the various duties of those employed in that establishment. To restore confidence in the Order’s coinage it was also recommended that the standard gold coin, the Zecchino, was to be restored to its original fineness of 22 ½ carats and 3 1/6 deniers in weight and its value regulated periodically according to the rate at which Spanish Doubloons were bought by the mints of Naples and Palermo. The standard silver coin, the Maltese Scudo, was also to be restored to the fineness of 10 ozs. 12 grs. fine silver per pound and the Commissioners of the Mint were also to issue periodically a tariff showing the purchase price of foreign coins Amongst other matters it was also recommended that Pinto’s debased Zecchini and the copper fiduciary coins were to be withdrawn.
Many of these recommendations, though approved by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan (1775-1779) were ignored; for instance Pinto’s Zecchini were never withdrawn and the copper pieces were only countermarked against forgery. However, there is no doubt that necessary measures and changes in the Mint’s administration were carried out, as the coins of de Rohan are most exact in weight and purity. The financial records of the mint also reveal that this establishment, though losing in certain years, made an overall profit of over 25,000 Scudi over the period 1778 to 1788.
Nevertheless, during De Rohan’s rule the financial position of the Order deteriorated further and seriously chiefly because of developments occurring overseas. The economic affairs of Malta depended to a large degree on the steady inflow of capital from abroad. Much of these funds originated from ‘responsions’ or remittances in connection with property income from the large number of land holdings in Europe belonging to the Order. During the French Revolution however, much of the income-producing property owned in France was confiscated and many Knights fled to Malta. With little money available, the Order was forced to incur huge debts in Malta and abroad to maintain its operations, and to make up for the loss, it was obliged to coin the silver plate of its galleys as well as much of the silverware in the Grand Master’s Palace, the Hospital and other places.
The Mint of the Order continued to function during the two-year reign of Ferdinand von Hompesch (1797-98) who relinquished Malta without any serious effort to defend it from the French who landed on the Island in June 1798.
French Rule, 1798-1800
When Napoleon landed in Malta, he seized whatever gold, silver and precious stones he could find in the Co-Cathedral of the Knights (the Church of St John) in Valletta and various other churches and institutions elsewhere in the Island. Some of the silver found was melted down at the Malta Mint and struck into 30 and 15 Tari pieces depicting the bust and arms of Hompesch, the last Grand Master of the Order to govern in Malta.
In September 1798 the Maltese revolted against the French. All the gold and silver of the Monte di Pieta’, a state-owned pawning institution, was seized by the French and later used to finance the troops and inhabitants during the blockade of Valletta by the Maltese insurgents. As no coins could be minted owing to the lack of certain materials, the French struck ingots made of gold and silver during the blockade of the French garrison in Valletta.
These ingots circulated for a time as money. On one side of the ingots were stamped the arms of the city of Valletta and on the obverse the value in Scudi, Tari and Grani.
British Era, 1800-1964
With the advent of the British Protectorate in 1800, which was followed by the granting of Malta to Britain as a colony in 1814, the Mint of the Order ceased to function, and the machinery was taken to the Civil Arsenal for storage. In 1828 after being polished and put in working order it was sold to the Greek Government for the petty sum of £100. During the first fifty years of British rule, the legal circulating coinage included the coins of the Knights, Spanish Doubloons and dollars, Sicilian Dollars, South American Dollars, French 5 Franc pieces and English coins. Other foreign coins, though not legally current, also circulated in Malta; these consisted mainly of French Louis d’Or and Maria Theresa Dollars.
The dissimilarity of the intrinsic value of British silver coins with more acceptable continental coins, as well as with the cosmopolitan collection of currencies which circulated in Malta during the British era, were the cause of much discontent in the Island. Furthermore, projects for an Island coinage proposed by the local Merchants and recommended by the local Government were for various reasons not adopted and the currency situation was often very difficult.
Steps for the regularisation of the local monetary system were taken in June 1825 when British silver and copper coins (the Crown, Half Crown, Shilling, Sixpence, Penny, Halfpenny and Farthings) were declared legal tender as a preparatory measure to the general introduction of British metallic currency as the circulating medium in Malta. However, British silver coined in England after 1816 on the basis of 66 shillings instead of 62 shillings per Pound Troy remained unpopular in Malta for a long time after their introduction. Such a type of coin was wholly unserviceable then in operations with the markets of the Mediterranean where the preferred coins such as the Spanish and Sicilian Dollars had an approximate and corresponding value in proportion to their weight of fine silver. Furthermore, though in December 1825 Government departments began to keep their accounts exclusively in Sterling, the Banks, the Commercial Body and the inhabitants did not change their mode of keeping their accounts and of making sales, contracts etc., in Scudi, Tari and Grani.
British copper coins were declared the sole legal tender copper currency in Malta in November 1827 and in April of the following year all copper coins of the Order ceased to be legal tender. To this effect, a copper coin, called the British Grain (1/3 farthing), had been struck by the Royal Mint in England for exclusive use in Malta and issued for local circulation in 1827. This coin, meant to replace the so-called Malta Grain, locally known as “Habba”, and which had been minted by the Order, continued to be struck until 1913. A proposed design for the Grain, sent by the local Government to the Secretary of State in 1825 which depicted the value “1G” within a circle surmounted by the name ‘MELITA’ on the reverse, was not adopted by the Royal Mint who instead preferred the seated figure of Britannia.
In October 1855, a Proclamation declared Sterling to be the sole legal tender currency in Malta. In spite of this, however, the business and banking community continued to make use of gold and silver coins of the Order as well as certain foreign coins, particularly the Sicilian Dollar. These non-sterling coins were removed from local circulation during the period October 1885 – November 1886 following a decree by the Italian Government withdrawing the coins of the Pontifical State and those of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The remaining gold and silver coins of the Order of St John were demonetised and withdrawn from circulation between October and November 1886. These developments left British coins as the only legal tender coinage on the Island. They remained so until the early 1970s when the Island’s coinage system was radically changed.
New Coins for Malta
In the light of recommendations of the Currency Decimalisation Committee appointed in 1967, the Maltese Government approved legislation in September 1971 providing for the decimalisation of the local coin currency. The British coins in local circulation – the ¼d, ½d, 1d, 3d, 6d, 1/-, 2/-, 2/6, the 5/- (Churchill Crown), and the 5p, 10p and 50p – were thus demonetised in stages, and in May 1972 a set of Maltese coins was issued in replacement.
The Malta pound, which was renamed Maltese lira (Lm) in 1983, was retained as the currency unit. This was divided into 100 cents, and the 1 cent into 10 mils. Initially, eight coins were issued in the following denominations: 2 mils, 3 mils, 5 mils, 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 50 cents. The mils were in aluminium, the 1 cent in bronze, and the rest in cupro-nickel. On 13 December 1974, Malta was proclaimed a Republic within the Commonwealth. To commemorate this event, a 25 cents coin in nickel brass was issued in June 1975.
This decimal set represented the first coinage issued by Malta as an independent nation and marked a new era in which Malta’s own coins could circulate exclusively as the Island’s sole legal tender coinage.
In 1986, a new set of seven definitive coins was issued, in denominations of Lm1, 50 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, 2 cents and 1 cent. The 10 cent coin was the first in the new set to be issued, introduced on 19 May 1986.
An innovative feature in the new set was the Lm1 coin which replaced the Lm1 currency note.
Maltese Bank and Currency Notes
The first banknotes of Malta were issued by the Banco Anglo-Maltese, established in 1809, and by the Banco di Malta, established in 1812. The notes were issued in various denominations of scudi with 12 scudi equivalent to one pound sterling. These banknotes were not accepted by government departments and were issued more for the convenience of the commercial body. In 1855, when sterling was declared the sole legal tender in Malta, banks stopped issuing notes in scudi and introduced notes in pounds sterling in denominations of £1, £5, £10, £20, £30, £50 and £100. Between 1873 and 1875, these notes were overprinted ‘Payable in Sicilian Dollars’, reflecting the wide-spread popularity of the Sicilian dollar, notwithstanding the 1857 proclamation.
Banknotes ceased being issued in 1878. However, when the Sicilian dollar was withdrawn between November 1885 and February 1886 following a decree by the Italian government, the banks again reverted to the issue of notes in sterling.
In 1882 the entire business of the Treasury Chest in Malta was transferred to the Anglo-Egyptian Banking Company’s branch which had been opened the previous year. In 1886, approval was given for the issue of the bank’s own notes. All these private issues continued to be made until 1903.
The first official Maltese Currency Notes were issued on August 1914, prompted by reasons of expediency and precaution. Following the outbreak of the First World War, a massive hoarding of gold and silver coins set in, generating a run on the banks. Under such emergency conditions, Ordinance No VIII of 1914 was rushed, providing for the issue of temporary paper currency. The new issue was in denominations of five shillings, ten shillings, £1, £5 and £10. Between 7 May and 30 September 1915, these notes were demonetised and replaced by British notes, in denominations of £1 and 10 shillings, which remained in circulation for some twenty years. With the outbreak of World War II, legislation was passed on 13 September 1939, authorising the Maltese government to issue Maltese notes in denominations of 2/-, 2/6, 5/-, 10/- and £1. These were put into circulation at different dates during 1940, except for the 2/- note which was issued in March 1942. A 1/- note (overprinted on old 2/- unissued stock) was issued in November 1942 and replaced by a new 1/- note in 1943. The issue of small denomination paper currency was necessitated by the scarcity of metal for coinage, and by the difficulty of shipping British currency to Malta during the war. With the war’s end, these small denomination notes became obsolete and fell into disuse, mainly because paper wore out too quickly, and they were again replaced by British coins which continued to circulate as legal tender up to 1972.
The notes issued in Malta during the Second World War were uniface (single faced) notes except for the 1/- note which represented an overprint on old stocks of the 1918 2/- note.
This was probably a wartime austerity measure applicable to note issues for the British colonial empire, as all other colonial note-issuing territories had similar uniface notes.
The Malta notes therefore formed part of the colonial omnibus issues.
The paper currency issued during both World Wars though intended only for temporary use, was however found convenient, and Ordinance No 1 of 1949 (The Currency Notes Ordinance) finally put the issue of local paper currency on a permanent basis. Between 1949 and 1968 the notes detailed below were issued by the Currency Board.
On 8 May 1951, new 10/- and £1 Maltese notes came into circulation. These came to be known as the ‘New’ series. Similar notes bearing Queen Elizabeth’s portrait were issued in April 1954 to commemorate Her Majesty’s visit to Malta.
On 2 June 1961 a £5 denomination note was issued for the first time, bearing the famous Annigoni portrait of HM The Queen. Two years later a 10/- and £1 note were issued on the same design, and these three came to be known as the ‘Pictorial’ series.
The Central Bank of Malta, which was established by the Central Bank Act of 1967 and began operating on 17 April 1968, took over the assets and liabilities of the Note Security Fund from the Currency Board in June 1968.
From that date responsibility for the issue of currency notes passed to the Central Bank and during the same month the Bank issued its first 10/- and £5 notes bearing the same design as the ‘Pictorial’ series. The £1 note in this series was issued on 24 September 1969 and these three notes were called the CBM 1st series.
The Central Bank issued its second series, the CBM 2nd series, on 15 January 1973. The 10/- note was dropped (a 50c coin had been issued in May 1972 as part of the coin changeover to decimalisation) and a £M10 note was introduced.
The third series, called the CBM 3rd series, was issued on 30 March 1979, and has kept the same denominations of £M1, £M5 and £M10 as the previous one.
On 17 March 1986, the Central Bank issued a new set of four notes -namely Lm2, Lm5, Lm10, Lm20 called the CBM 4th series. This issue marked the appearance of the Lm20 and the Lm2 note. The Lm1 note was replaced in 1986 by a coin. For the first time the notes included a portrait of the President of the Republic as Head of State.
On 18 September 1989 the Bank issued a new set of currency notes, the fifth series. This coincided with the twentyfifth anniversary of Malta’s Independence. These banknotes, which had the same denominations as those of the fourth series, were enhanced with security features in 1994.
On 20 March 1974, legislation was passed whereby notes demonetised previously would no longer be exchangeable at the Central Bank as from 20 March 1984, and other notes would no longer be exchangeable as from 10 years after their demonetisation date.
Malta’s euro coins
Malta adopted the euro as its national currency and the euro became Malta’s legal tender on 1 January 2008.
The choice of the designs for the national sides of Malta’s euro coins was decided through public consultation. In the first consultation twelve themes were presented to the public. Of these, three of the designs – the Statue of the Baptism of Christ, Malta’s Coat of Arms and the Mnajdra Temple Altar – were chosen. The fourth design, that of the Maltese eight-pointed Cross, was also considered after it received the highest number of votes from the public as an alternative to the twelve themes presented in the consultation process.
The second consultation resulted in the Maltese eight-pointed Cross, Malta’s Coat of Arms and the Mnajdra Temple Altar being chosen as designs for the Maltese euro coins.
Following the choice of the coins, the Monnaie de Paris was awarded the contract for the minting of euro coins bearing the Maltese national side. The Monnaie de Paris is the State-owned mint that has been responsible for the minting of all French euro coins.
Malta entered into an agreement with the Commission of the European Communities through a Memorandum of Understanding that was divided into two phases. The preparatory phase, included the production of a certain quantity of test coins.
The second phase consisted of the mass production of the whole quantity of coins required for the changeover, which started after Malta received the formal approval from the EU Council of Ministers to adopt the euro.
The designs for the Maltese side of the euro coins was approved by the EU Commission and this resulted in some small changes that were carried out to the original designs selected by the public to make them conform fully to the Commission Recommendation on common guidelines for the national sides of euro circulation coins.
Each country in the euro area uses its own symbol or design on the euro coins. Although the national sides are different, all the euro coins can be used in all parts of the euro area.
The coin commemorated the 10th anniversary of Economic and Monetary Union. Each euro area country issued a similar coin bearing the same design but with the name of the country and the legend ‘EMU 1999-2009′ shown in the respective language. The Maltese euro coin has the legend ‘UEM 1999-2009′, where the letters UEM stand for ‘Unjoni Ekonomika u Monetarja’.
The deliberately primitive design of the coin symbolizes the euro as the latest step in the long history of trade up to the formation of economic and monetary union. It was created by George Stamatopoulos, a sculptor from the minting department at the Bank of Greece.
On Friday 30 March 2012, the Central Bank of Malta issued the €2 coin commemorating ‘’Ten years of the Euro’’. Euro area citizens were invited to submit designs in May 2011. A professional jury selected five from more than 800 designs. The short-listed designs were then placed online, open to all euro area citizens, for a public vote in June 2011.
Close to 35,000 participated in the vote. The winning design, receiving 34% of the votes, was created by Mr Helmut Andexlinger, a professional designer at the Austrian Mint.
The design symbolises the way in which the euro has become a truly global player in the last ten years and shows its importance in ordinary people’s lives (represented by the people in the design), trade (the ship), industry (the factory) and energy (wind power stations). This was the third time that all euro area countries issued a euro coin with a common design on the national side. The first was the commemorative €2 coin issued to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in 2007 and the second, in 2009, commemorated ten years of Economic and Monetary union and the creation of the euro as a unit of account.
The Central Bank of Malta on 24 June 2013 issued a new euro coin set dated 2013. The set incorporates the eight Maltese euro coins as well as a €2 coin, commemorating the 1921 Constitution granting self-government to Malta. All coins were struck at the Royal Dutch Mint. The euro coins were designed by Noel Galea Bason while the €2 coin was designed by Ganni Bonnici. The set also includes a replica coin from the Byzantine period and is packed in a distinctive presentation box. The minting is limited to 35,000 sets.