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The Kalākaua Coinage: Hawaii's Coins (1883)

Hawaii's Coinage
Hawaii One Dollar Coin

In the 1880s, the Kingdom of Hawaii was faced with an issue. American and western influence as a whole was seeping into every day life since their arrival at the end of the 18th century. Prior to European Contact, The Hawaiian peoples comfortably used barter systems in order to conduct their trade. After some brief experimentation earlier in the century, King Kalākaua, also known as David, had concluded after his tours of the European continent and the world that it was time for the Kingdom to adopt its own coinage. A bill was passed through the house of legislators, and designs were drafted up by contractors both private and public to create Hawaii's Coins. Eventually, Charles E Barber’s designs for a dime, quarter dollar, half dollar, and dollar were chosen, With dies Engraved at the Philadelphia mint, $1 million face value was approved to be struck at the San Francisco mint during late 1883.

The first instance of The issues circulating was found on January 10, 1884, when a half dollar was found in the receipts of the Hawaiian Music Hall, which was then placed in a pendant and presented to that nights leading lady. The Hawaiian Coinage of 1883 soon replaced circulating US issues, either through preference or through Gresham’s law, And remained a mainstay through the last year’s of the kingdom, the brief Republic that succeeded it, up until it’s annexation by the United States during the turn of the century. In or around the year 1900, the Federal Government began a redemption program where most of the mintage was turned in and melted down, leaving The coins to become quite the rarity in straight graded condition, due to the majority of surviving examples being placed in jewellery as souvenirs.

Net mintages are as follows:



Half Dollars-87,781

Dollars- 46,374

An experimental 1/8 dollar, or 12 cent denomination was struck. 20 examples were distributed to members of the Hawaiian royal family and dignitaries.

Charles E. Barber, US Mint Engraver
Charles E. Barber, US Mint Engraver

King Kalākaua aka "David"
King Kalākaua aka "David"


“Coinage of the Hawaiian Kingdom: King Kalakaua’s Coins”. The Numismatist

Medcalf, Donald; Russell, Ronald (1991) [1978]. Hawaiian Money Standard Catalog


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