- European currency
Euro pictures & specifications
Euro coin themes
- Architectural and ornamental style
- Aims and ideals of the European union and
- European personalities
The design process for the coins started in spring 1996. During the Informal Ecofin Council in
Verona, the european governments decided that the euro coins will have a European side and a national side. Member
States were free to choose the national side (preferably with the display of twelve stars on it) and the Commission
organised a competition at European level to select the design for the common face of the euro coins. The design
competition was limited to three themes.
National selections were made by all Member States, except Denmark. In March 1997, a European
jury of experts from a wide variety of occupational sectors (art, design, consumer representatives etc) chose the
nine best series out of a total of 36. Mint Directors were consulted in parallel on the industrial feasibility of
the various designs. An opinion poll was also organised by the Commission throughout the European Union among the
general public and professional organisations representing the major coin-using sectors. The winning series were
chosen by the Finance Ministers, and confirmed by the Heads of State and Government at the European Council of
The winner of the competition was designer Luc Luycx, a 39 year
old graphic designer of the Belgian Royal Mint. The winning design came first in the opinion poll, with nearly 64%
of positive responses. The design on the common side of the euro coins features a representation of Europe, as
opposed to a map of Europe. The 1, 2 and 5 cents show Europe in the world. The 10, 20 and 50 cents illustrate the
Union as a group of nations. The 1 and 2 euro coins illustrate a Europe without frontiers. Only islands of over
2500km2 and archipelagos of over 5000km2 were included in the design.
The design of the euro common side was changed, at the 2666th Council meeting of Economic
and Financial Affairs in Luxembourg on June 7, 2005. The decision reflected the enlargement of the Eurozone and the new
country – members are depicted on the the 1, 2 euro and 10, 20, 50 cent coins.
When detitleining the coin metals for the highest denominations of 1 and 2 Euro, much
attention was paid to the safety marks. Considering the value of these coins it is important to consider that
they are difficult to forge. The choice finally landed on coin plates that are made up of several metal alloys.
These materials consist of a core of a certain metal and a ring of another metal, both with a different
coloration. Coins of this composition are called ‘bi-colour coins’. The production of bi-colour coins are a
technical innovation of the last decades.
EdgeEdge lettering, fine milled
ColourOuter part: white; inner part: yellow
CompositionOuter part: copper-nickel; inner part: three layers: nickel brass, nickel, nickel brass
ColourOuter part: yellow; inner part: white
CompositionOuter part: nickel brass; inner part: three layers: copper-nickel, nickel, copper-nickel
For the choice of coin metals for the eight Euro denominations a plea was made to avoid the
application of nickel in so far as possible in connection with commonly occurring nickel allergies. Before the
introduction of the Euro series, around 75% of the coins in the European Union included nickel. By reducing the
use of nickel to the coins of 1 and 2 Euro, now only 8% of all Euro coins contain nickel. For the three middle
denominations, 10, 20 and 50 Euro cents, a nickel free metal sort with a golden colour was sought after. The
choice finally fell on a relatively new material: Nordic Gold.
Nordic Gold was originally developed more than 10 years ago for the Swedish Mint and is today
being used for the Swedish 10 Crown coin. It is a brass alloy, made up from more than 89% of copper, 5%
aluminium and 1% zinc. By adding aluminium the material gets its pretty golden shine. For normal daily use the
shine remains and the coins do not become mat. In contrast to brass or bronze Nordic Gold is difficult to
produce, meaning that the risk of counterfeit is reduced. Moreover there is great skill and technical knowledge
required to make Nordic Gold into a coin. Because of the difficult processability the alloy is not used for
EdgeShaped edge with fine scallops
ShapeSpanish flower shape
EdgeShaped edge with fine scallops
For the coins of 1, 2 and 5 Euro cent red coloured coppered steel was chosen. This material
is relatively cheap to produce and can be processed in the coin press without any problems. Moreover, the final
coin is well protected against oxidation due to the protective copper layer. Unfortunately, the appearance of
the coppered coins changes greatly during use due to contact with fingers. The red coloured gloss makes room
for a deep brown colour that gives the design of the artist extra depth. Coins that circulate in payment remain
expressive. Coins that are laid away shall however slowly and evenly discolour.
Copper also has the unique characteristic of being a naturally antibacterial material. This
hygienic aspect of copper is very well known and explains many of copper’s other uses, such as doorknobs and
handles in antiseptic environments like hospitals. Copper is fully recyclable,
which in this time of increasing environmental consciousness, made it even more of a perfect choice for the
currency. It is well known that the remelting and reuse of copper has been practiced since the Bronze Age. It
is estimated that more than 80% of all the copper ever mined is still in use today and the value of scrap
material, at the end of its useful life, will guarantee copper’s future recycling.
EdgeSmooth with a groove
No further changes will be made to the common side of the coins until 2007 at the earliest.
Member states must keep their national reverse for five years. There are some exceptions, though. If the head
of state of a country dies or abdicates, coins depicting the new one may be minted. There are no plans to move
to common reverse issues in the nearly future.
Even though the Euro was introduced as payment means in 2002, the production of Euro coins
already started in 1999. Because the coins are provided with the year in which they are produced, the issue of
Euro started with the year 1999. Years before the introduction of the Euro the coin masters of the European
Union were intensively involved with the technical specifications of the new coins. Based on extensive research
they made suggestions concerning the composition of the Euro coin series and the metals, dimensions, weight and
edges to be selected. For these choices the requirement that coins should be easily distinguishable for blind
people, and for use in machines was taken into account.
Coin security features
The production of euro coins is carried out in accordance with specifications and characteristics of advanced
technology. Therefore their reproduction becomes extremely difficult. Special care is taken for the incorporation
of unique security features on €1 and €2 euro coins: Euro coins incorporate the most secure machine readable
features and can be used in vending machines throughout the euro area, regardless of the issuing country. The coins of
€1 and €2 are bi-metalic and their counterfeiting becomes extremely difficult, while lettering has been
engraved around the edge of the €2 coin.
- Specifications – the common side, diameter, weight and composition
- National side – photos of all the circulating euro coins
- New common side – all EU Member States are now represented
- Designer Luc Luycx – the man behind the euro coin designs comes from Belgium
- Production figures – quantities broken down by denomination and country
- Member states – the countries participating in the eurozone
- Circulation coins – the mintage of all the circulating euro coins