May 4, 2017 – After the intervention of the Finish Minister of Finance, Mint of Finland withdraws the initial coin of the five-part ‘100 Years of Finnish Independence’ series that was planned to be issued during 2017-2019. The coin’s release had been scheduled for May 18, 2017. When the motifs had been presented on Instagram on April 24, 2017, several followers had called two of the ten designs “tasteless”. The depiction of a firing squad met particularly massive criticism. It was meant to recall the civil war between the Socialist and the conservative independence movement. A planned striking focusing on the present, bearing the title ‘Global Justice’, was also condemned. It shows the dead body of Alan Kurdi. The three year-old had drowned in the Mediterranean on September 2, 2015, while trying to escape the turmoil in Syria. The person behind this series’ design is Ilkka Suppanen. He had the idea to use the two sides of a coin to illustrate both the achievements and the challenges and difficulties of a given era.
By decision of the Ministry of Finance, the Finnish Mint planned and produced five 5-euro-coins that were to mark 100 years of Finnish independence. They were planned to be released one by one between 2017 and 2019. The five issues focus on eras deemed particularly important in the country’s history. Elaborating on his motifs, Helsinki-based designer Ilkka Suppanen said that he wanted to show not just the achievements but also the challenges his country faced right up to the present day.
Immediately after being published on April 24, 2017, the illustrations by Suppanen had met such massive criticism that Minister of Finance Petteri Orpo repealed the decree on the series before the first coin was even released. His statement to the Parliament on the afternoon of the same day could be read in translation on the yle uutiset website: “To my astonishment I discovered that the Mint of Finland had designed commemorative coins, on which there is what I see as a very tasteless picture. I don’t understand how it matches the spirit of Finland’s 100th anniversary – in any way at all. I actually hope that this coin will be withdrawn.”
Money in the public eye
Mint of Finland is not the only one getting a scolding from the public. Recently the British banknotes had come under fire, too. To prevent them from sticking together, they had been equipped with a thin layer of beef fat. For reasons of animal protection and for religious concerns, expressed by the general public both unmistakably and aggressively, the ones in charge are now looking for a new solution. Palm oil as a non-expensive alternative was dismissed for environmental reasons. Another option has still to be found.
You can view pictures of the coins on the Mint of Finland’s Instagram page.
More information on the series is available on the Mint of Finland’s website.
There you can also read the official statement on the withdrawal of the coins.
To read a comprehensive illustrated article, please click here. This is the source from which we have taken the English translation of the Minister of Finance’s statement.
More about Illka Suppanen and his work can be found here.
And here you can follow an online discussion about the mentioned coins.