Currency of Hawaii

The dollar or dala was the currency of Hawaii between 1847 and 1898. It was equal to the United States dollar and was divided into 100 cents or keneta. Only sporadic issues were made, which circulated alongside United States currency.

King Kamehameha III

The creation of large plantations and the adoption of a Western style economy beginning about the 1820s created a demand for coined money. At first, this money consisted of coins carried in from a variety of countries having interests in the islands. This source proved unreliable, and coins were in chronically short supply. As dissatisfaction grew, King Kamehameha III (1825-54) set out to rectify this shortage by including a provision for a Hawaiian monetary system in his new legal code of 1846. The first official coinage issued by the Kingdom of Hawai’i was in 1847. This coin was a copper cent bearing the portrait of King Kamehameha III on its obverse.

It was originally anticipated that the 100,000 pieces included in this initial delivery were to be just the first of many, yet the overwhelming rejection of the copper coinage meant that no more would be struck.  The King Kamehameha III copper cent proved to be unpopular due to the King’s portrait being of poor quality. After 1862, the Hawaiian Treasury seized disbursing the unwanted cents, and a mere 11,595 pieces remained outstanding at that time.

In 1883, Kingdom of Hawai’i official silver coinage were issued in the denominations of one dime (umi keneta in Hawaiian), quarter dollar (hapaha), half dollar (hapalua) and one dollar (akahi dala). 26 proof sets were struck by the Philadelphia Mint and contained the umi keneta, hapaha, hapalua, and akahi dala. 20 proof specimens in the denomination of an eight dollar (hapawalu) were also struck. The Kingdom of Hawai’i desired to conform to the United States silver coinage denominations and selected the umi keneta over the hapawalu. The silver coins issued for circulation in the Kingdom was struck by the San Francisco Mint

Hawaii 1883 One Dollar silver coin with effigy of King Kalākaua

Hawaiian coins continued to circulate for several years after the 1898 annexation to the United States. In 1903, an act of Congress demonetized Hawaiian coins, and most were withdrawn and melted, with a sizable percentage of surviving examples made into jewelry.

Friday Odds and Ends June 3rd

Welcome to the Friday Roundup! This is where we share links and stories from the past week that caught our eye. Enjoy!


hawaiian.PNGHawaiian Island Stamp and Coin sent us a signed copy of their new Hawaiian Money catalog: thanks! It looks terrific!





The prestigious Alberto Francisco Pradeau Award was presented to Allan Schein by the Mexican Numismatic Society for his book on the Mexican “caballito” peso, Mexican Beauty.


Forever-stamps-views-of-Our-Planets-setThe USPS released two new stamp sets: Views of Our Planets and Exploring Pluto. The first shows the eight planets of the solar system in high-detail color imagery, while the Pluto designs showcase the newest photo of Pluto along with New Horizons, the NASA spacecraft that took the photo.


A mystery is solved when a family examines a little-known type of Australian love tokens.


CjxMoNeUgAIL7HAHobo nickels are a classic American art form, and they’re still going strong! Check out the Hobo Nickel Society website and Twitter to see some stunning examples of these unique coins. (Example shown is from artist Shaun Hughes.)

Hawaiian Coinage

It’s a little known fact outside the collector’s world that the Hawaiian Islands had their own coinage.  Five official coins were issued for the Kingdom of Hawai’i before it became a territory of the United States.  All of these Silver pieces were designed by Charles Barber and were minted in San Francisco.  Serving as legal tender in Hawai’i, Hawaiian coinage includes the 1847 cent issued by King Kamehameha III and the 1883 silver dimes, quarters, halves and dollars, which bare the portrait of King Kalakaua.

Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The element that makes these coins so collectible can be found in their uniquity.  After Hawai’i became a United States territory in 1900 these coins were no longer accepted as legal tender and lost their initial value.  At that time, most of these coins were withdrawn and melted down.  As a result, they are more rare and of higher value.

Aside from their limited number, they are unique in the many hands they passed through during a specific time and locale in history.  Initially 100,000 of these Hawaiian coins were issued and were used for the remainder of the century alongside a plethora of foreign coins circulated through plantation work and trade.  Because the Hawaiian Kingdom did not have the means necessary to mint their own coins, commerce relied on a medley of currency from Spanish American colonies, Asia and the United States.  Alongside foreign coins, plantations such as Wailuku, Thomas Horton, Waterhouse and Haiku distributed tokens to serve as minor coinage.

By The original uploader was Ianwatts at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By The original uploader was Ianwatts at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Each of the coins might have been the daily bread of a migrant plantation worker or a means of cultural trade.  Even today Hawai’i is referred to as a “melting pot”.  It’s fascinating that from the beginnings of currency and language, Hawai’i has demonstrated a blending of cultures which can be seen through their limited currency and the story each coin tells.

The Power of Pineapples

Ah, the humble pineapple — a wonderful tropical fruit that’s tasty in fruit salads and smoothies. But when it comes to pineapple, there’s more than meets the eye. There’s history and meaning behind it that you might not expect.

The fruit comes from South America. Christopher Columbus, who encountered the pineapple on the journey to the New World, brought the fruit back to Spain. The voyagers named it piña because it looked like a pine cone.

Show your friendly personality with this lovely pineapple charm: currently 25% off on our eBay page!

Show your friendly personality with this lovely pineapple charm: currently 25% off on our eBay page!

In the Caribbean, a pineapple placed by a village entrance represented hospitality. Seeing a pineapple at an entrance meant you were welcome to come in.

Captains used to put pineapples (symbols of their exotic travels) out on railings when they returned home as a sign that they were currently at home.

European hothouses grew pineapples for those who had developed a taste for them. Emperor Charles V of Spain wasn’t a fan of the fruit, but the public had different tastes, and the 18th century saw pineapples become a popular delicacy.

Vintage Jiffy-Jell advertisement using the tradition of a pineapple as a centerpiece.

Vintage Jiffy-Jell advertisement using the traditional pineapple centerpiece.

Colonial America families put pineapples out on the table when visitors came. Guest rooms often had pineapples carved into the bedposts, once again as signs of hospitality.

It’s not uncommon to see pineapples used in architecture and decoration from way back when. As a welcoming symbol, the pineapple is also said to mean good luck & prosperity in a home.

old pineapple ad001

Of course, one can’t talk about pineapples without mentioning Hawaii. It was only in the year 1901 that the pineapple became a recognizable Hawaiian symbol; that was the year that Jim Dole founded his Hawaiian Pineapple Company. Thanks to his expert hand at business, twenty years later the pineapple became Hawaii’s biggest industry. And until recently, Hawaii was the biggest canner of pineapples in the world.

old pineapple postcard003

Vintage Hawaii pineapple harvesting postcard.

When it comes to current fashion, pineapples are having their moment in the sun. The summer may almost be over, but hospitality and friendliness are always in style.


Florida Libraries


Hawaiian Missionary Stamps

Hawaiian Missionaries are some of the rarest stamps in the world.

We’ve written about rare stamps before, but the Hawaiian Missionaries have a particularly intriguing past.

These were the first postage stamps of the Kingdom of Hawaii, issued 1851.

Why are they called “Missionaries”, you ask? These stamps were usually found on the letters of missionaries working in Hawaii, hence the name. Only a small number of the stamps have survived to this day.1-4

In 1920, new Missionaries showed up on the market from someone named Charles Shattuck, who said that his mother had connected with a missionary family in Hawaii. The stamps were sold to a dealer for $65,000. But in 1922 a court case deemed the stamps as forgeries. Since then, numerous studies have been done on the stamps, but no one has quite agreed on whether they’re real or not. Someone even published a book in 2006 titled The Investigation of the Grinnell Hawaiian Missionaries by the Expert Committee of the Royal Philatelic Society London. If you’re feeling kept in suspense on the investigation’s results, know that the Society has declared the stamps as counterfeit — though some may still disagree.Two_Cent_Hawaiian_Missionary

One of the most peculiar tales surrounding the stamp seems like something pulled straight from a crime novel. A wealthy man named Gaston Leroux was found murdered in his home in Paris, and the police could think of no motive – until they found a 2-cent blue Hawaiian Missionary missing from his collection. The police contacted every stamp shop, but no luck; they then contacted Leroux’s friends and found that one, Hector Giroux, was a stamp collector who happened to own a collection of Hawaiian stamps, including the 2-cent blue. Giroux confessed to offering the buy the stamp from Leroux, and when he was refused, killed Leroux in a fit of rage. Giroux was hanged for the crime — a crime committed all for a single stamp.