Coins of The Hawaiian Dollar - Kingdom of Hawaiʻi - 1847 Kamehaheha III Issue - Background


The ill-fated Keneta was commissioned by King Kamehameha III. Coined money was in great demand in the Hawaiian Islands and was in continual shortage in the early nineteenth century. In response, King Kamehameha III devoted Chapter 4, Section 1 of the legal code of 1846 to the monetary system of the kingdom, tying it directly to that of the United States, thus normalizing the rate of transaction of small change in the islands and their corresponding values to United States money. Anticipating growing coined money needs, the legal code also outlined future Hawaiian coin designs.

Of the first coins decided to be acted upon was the Keneta - a copper coin valued at one cent of a U.S. dollar. As the Hawaiian Treasury was in shortage of funds during this period, the copper cent was seen as an initial "affordable" issue to be followed by other denominations at a later date. James Jackson Jarves, acting as agent for the Hawaiian Government, placed an order for 100,000 of these coins in 1846. He contracted Edward Hulseman - best known for his 1837 Half Cent token – to design and engrave the coin. It is not known precisely where the pieces were minted – although Walter Breen in Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins asserts that they were produced at the private mint of H. M. & E. I. Richards of Attleboro, Massachusetts; regardless, Jarves was given a note dated January 14, 1847 in the amount of $869.56 by the Minister of Finance as payment for the order.

On 3 May 1847 the merchant ship Montreal arrived in Honolulu after sailing from Boston via Rio de Janeiro, Cape Horn and Tahiti. The Keneta were part of the cargo delivered to the Minister of Finance. When the coins reached the public they proved a grave disappointment. There has been some claim that the denomination was misspelled "Hapa Haneri" instead of the correct "Hapa Hanele" (which translates to "part of a hundred" or loosely "one cent"). However, "Hapa Hanele" is a 20th century spelling. The spelling "Haneri" was used throughout the 19th century, and also appears on the $100 and $500 bills issued during the reign of King Kalakaua. Reports of the time state that the King's portrait was unrecognizable. In addition, the Keneta also arrived worn or discolored by the humidity and bilge water of the Montreal, in whose hold they had spent many months. Local merchants, who were "against very small transactions," immediately voiced their objections to the coins; and the only general usage witnessed was by governors of the outer islands who used them as change when collecting duties and taxes.

The last known time of issue for the Keneta was in 1862, when 11,595 were still being held in the Treasury vault. Their legal tender status was removed in 1884, and in the following year 88,305 were sold as scrap and shipped out of the country.

The Keneta is about the same size as the United States Large Cent. The coin bears a bust of the king on the obverse surrounded by the legend "KAMEHAMEHA III. KA MOI." and the date 1847 below. The reverse has "HAPA HANERI" within a leafy wreath, tied with a bow at bottom, surrounded by "AUPUNI HAWAII." There are two different obverse varieties: one shows a Plain 4 in the date, while the other has a "Crosslet" 4 (with a vertical bar at the right end of the horizontal line). The Plain 4 is commonly known as the "Small Bust" type, while the Crosslet 4 is called the "Large Bust." There are also six separate varieties of reverse dies with the wreath displaying 13, 15, 17 or 18 berries, with 2CC-6 being the rarest followed by 2CC-1. Modern souvenir restrikes have been made, and have no value.

Read more about this topic:  Coins Of The Hawaiian Dollar, Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, 1847 Kamehaheha III Issue

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