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1974 Fiji pattern 1 cent

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From 1977 to 1982 the Fiji 1c was struck with a special FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation - part of the UN) reverse with the legend GROW MORE FOOD. What is less well-known is that an apparent pattern Fiji 1c dated 1974 was struck, possibly as a precursor to the final design.

The pattern coin in question bears no denomination though is apparently a 1c (likely based on its size), though unlike a regular Fiji 1c it reportedly has a reeded edge. The obverse is similar to that of a regular Fiji 1c but the legend is in a more curved font, and the Queen's hair appears flatter but deeper cut. The reverse bears the legend OPERATION FEED YOURSELF SELF RELIANCE and shows a farmer with a hoe and what is likely a sugar cane plant.

Whether the coin is a true pattern or a fantasy is unclear - an example has been verified by NGC but no history or details are offered. The use of a new obverse is perhaps not unexpected for a commemorative, but does not help verify it. The reverse legend is not typical of an FAO coin either - the legend on such coins was typically FOOD FOR ALL or GROW MORE FOOD (p7, Armiento, FAO Coins International Catalog, 2013), while Operation Feed Yourself was an agricultural program in Ghana in 1972. The lack of a denomination on the reverse is unexpected. The apparent use of a reeded edge is also puzzling as all other Fiij 1c pieces have a plain edge. While it does raise a number of questions, more research is required.

Most recently an example sold in Heritage Auction's 25th April 2019 Weekly World and Ancient Coin Auction 231917 as lot number 64217 for $420 USD. It was sold earlier in by a smaller auction house which the author has been unable to trace.