Pornographic Coins

Posted by admin on Sunday, August 28th, 2011

In this day and age when sex seems to invade every part of modern life, it’s no surprise that silver and gold investors can amass a large collection of coins depicting (mostly) females in various states of undress, and poses, for their delight.

In fact, whilst it may seem strange to many that such engraving exist on coins it is not new a new phenomenon. A simple search of eBay found a Roman coin from around 193AD with the ‘Three Graces’ depicted fully nude on the reverse, and valued at around $500.

In Britain, Britannia was pictured nude (or nearly so) on many coins of the realm for centuries. At the end of the eighteenth century, Britannia was pictured seated and naked on the reverse of a George III half-penny, minted in bronze. One of these coins was sold as recently as 2005 at a price of $1350 at the Goldberg Coins and Collectibles Long Beach Auction on June 1st.

Toward the end of World War I, the United States Mint produced the now famous Bare Breasted Standing Liberty Quarter (1916) which caused uproar when it was released in 1917. The coin was minted in a production run of 52,000 completed on the 26th December 1916 at the Philadelphia Mint. As soon as they were circulated, they were decried as ‘obscene’ and ‘filthy’; Congress was lobbied, and the coin withdrawn. This coin has been volatile as an investment, and there are more available than one would believe, though the curiosity value bumps the price to as high as $25000. With the 1917 covered breast version valued at $810 for the same grade, it would appear that Liberty’s right breast is valued at over $24,000!

This conservative feeling about what is reasonable to depict on legal tender coins continues today, though for those seeking something a little different then there are still such coins – or perhaps tokens is a more accurate description – available to purchase.

Many of these were minted for the legal brothels in the United States, as promotional pieces in the 1960’s to 1980’s. Whilst some are minted in brass or other alloys, others are minted in .999 silver or gold, and they have some rather interesting engravings! From an investment point of view, ‘caveat emptor’ is the definite motto here. There are many brothel coins for sale, on sites such as Koinpro and Joels Coins, but a collector must be aware that they are fantasy coins: they were never used as currency for the purchase of adult services.

The typical price for a 1oz pure silver brothel coin on the koinpro site is $48.99, and this is subject to change. With the spot silver price at around $41 per oz, this is a fairly hefty premium to pay (and then with postage and packaging on top). However, as a talking point, or perhaps a present for the man who has everything, they could be an amusing piece.

For those who want colourised coins, Playboy released a set of twelve in 2002 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, each with a colour picture of a different ‘Playmate of the Month’. In 2004, the London Mint struck two similar coins for a private company that wanted to repeat the 2002 project. However, there were only two coins minted because the project was abandoned when the private company was sold to another that preferred to avoid adult themes. Other colourised coins are available from, as well as the pure silver brothel coins at similar prices to other sites.

On the other hand, genuine brothel coins tend to be very rare. These mostly brass coins were used as currency in brothels and are thought to have originated in Europe, though they were used in the late 1800’s in America also. Some of the most common are those from the French brothels, and typically fetch around $20 to $40 each. At the time of writing, there is a pair of French brothel tokens for sale on eBay, with a starting bid of $162. At present, there are no bids on this item.

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