Euro launch - Part 1

The ECB lets the coins out of the bag
Public opinion unlikely to be positive

17th December 2001.

    The Euro coins were released this Monday morning at Banks and Post Offices in nine countries of the Euro zone. They had been available to the public in Ireland, France and The Netherlands since Friday the 14th.

Presentation lacking imagination. A small plain plastic bag for distributing 20 dm starter sets.

    At my local bank in Northern Germany the staff were doing a swift trade in the 20 dm starter sets. This was a tiny clear plastic bag with an assortment adding up to grand total of €10.23.  A marvelous opportunity missed I thought to give out special presentation boxes especially as we are now just a few days away from Christmas. Perhaps the ECB was afraid that the box might be more collectable.

    The coin counting machine was also busy sorting "Schlaf Munzen" - German currency that had been previously relaxing in Piggy banks and coin jars. 

    The first and endearing impression is that the coins are far too small. This is particularly true of the €1 and €2. The €1 is smaller than both the English 10p and American quarter, but noticeably thicker. The €2 Euro whilst somewhat lager than the €1 is still not a big coin by any standards and is considerably smaller than the popular 5 dm, 5 Franc or 2.5 Guilder.

The set of eight coins. Impressive but unfortunately enlarged from the actual size

   At the opposite end of the selection the 2 cent is even smaller than the American 1 cent. The 1 cent being exactly the same size as the hardly ever seen German 1 pfennig. It would seem pretty obvious that these two coins are destined to have a very limited life span.

The €2, 1 & 0.5 compared to the 5, 2 & 1 Deutschmark coins

    Importantly there is a difference in the milled edges of the €2 and €1 but because of the size and the fact the coins are both the same thickness this difference is unfortunately not pronounced enough to make a substantial difference in feel.

Size matters. The €1 is smaller than the British 10p and American 25 cents.

    My overall impression was one of disappointment. Older people and those who's sight is poor or failing will have genuine problems telling the coins apart. This will lead to confusion and many mistakes when making purchases or receiving change.

    How the coins perform for the gaming and machine vending industry will be something that will become apparent when the coins are in general circulation. Will there , as  rumored, be a difference in performance of the coins dependent upon where they were minted?.

    The banknotes will be available to the general public on the 1st of January 2002. The changeover period will run for two months until the 28th of February. The seven banknotes are of values €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 & 5. 

    Part 2 of Gaming floor's Euro launch coverage will continue when we get our hands on the notes.

    What I can definitely say at the moment is that whoever designed the coins or approved the final sizes is unlikely ever to feel comfortable coming forward and admitting it.

Ian Sutton
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