Euro coins transportation

The transportation of the newly issued euro coins and banknotes, was a task more difficult than most people would imagine. For accomplishing this mission a wide range of means was used, including airplanes, ships and armored vehicles. The first stage consisted of moving the coins and banknotes from the central Mint to the 27 subdivisions of the Bank of Greece around the country. The maginitude of this operation becomes apparent when one considers that it involves more than 617 million banknotes, 270,000 of which were printed outside the country. However, the transportation of the coins proved to be much more difficult a task. Coins were packaged in packets weighing more than 18 kilograms and every shipment consisted of 1200 such packets (20 tons). The amount of coins and banknotes needed for each city around Greece was also difficult to determine. For instance, Lamia -a mid-sized city- needed around 3000 tons of coins to be delivered.

Another problem was the storage of the shipments and safety precautions that needed to be taken. Several subdivisions of the Bank of Greece, especially those located in smaller cities, lacked the appropritae facilities for ensuring the safety of euros. The solution to this problem was to rent space from other banks (e.g. National and Agricultural Bank of Greece) whenever possible.

Drachma is replaced

Similar problems needed to be addressed with the removal from circulation of the former currency, the drachma. This project wass divided into two different stages, for the banknotes and coins separately. The first one involved the accumulation of the banknotes which was relatively easy. Once again coins pose the greatest problem, as the handling of the weight was extremely difficult. Moreover, the medal used in coins had a considerable value so simply destroying the coins was not an option. Nobody knows exactly how much the Bank of Greece profited from the medal (please consider that all the European countries did the same thing driving the market value down) however it is estimated that the Bank receives some 6 billion drachmas (17.6 million euros).

The time frame for gathering the old coins and melting them was estimated to around 2-3 years. According to more recent calculations, on 32 March 2000, more than 1.88 billion coins existed, which cost 53 billion drachmas and weighed 14,084 tons. The number breaks down to the following:

  • 294,446,800 coins of 100drs (2,945 tons)
  • 216,596,200 coins of 50drs (1,950 tons)
  • 291,302,750 coins of 20drs (2,330 tons)
  • 447,338,750 coins of 10drs (4,026 tons)
  • 416,081,000 coins of 5drs (2,080 tons)
  • 104,139,500 coins of 2drs (417 tons)
  • 111,491,000 coins of 1dr (334 tons)
Photo of a recycled 10 drachma 1959 coin Photo of a recycled 2 drachma 1973 coin

Amazingly, older coins expressed in letpa still existed. For those interested in numbers, there are:

  • 630,000 coins of 0.50drs (50 lepta)
  • 2,900,000 coins of 0.20drs (20 lepta)
  • 30,000 coins of 0.10drs (10 lepta)
  • 2,100 coins of 0.05drs (5 lepta)

The coins above contain mainly copper, but also a variety of other materials:

  • 100, 50, 20 drachmas are made of 92% copper - 6% aluminum - 2% nickel
  • 10, 5 drachmas are made of 75% copper - 25% nickel
  • 1, 2 drachmas are made of 99%

On March 1, 2002, the first copper drachmas where auctioned off with a starting price of 430 drachmas per kilo (1.2 euros). ODDY auctioned off 250 tons of coins (100, 50 and 20 drachmas).