3. The World’s Railways on Coins

The World‘s Railways on Coins, by QIAN Lixin (Beijing: China Railway Publishing House, 2015). ISBN: 978-7-113-20216-3. 

钱立新:《硬币上的世界铁路》,北京:中国铁路出版社,2015 年. Qian Lixin, Yingbi shang de shijie tielu, Beijing: Zhongguo tielu chubanshe, 2015.  


The World’s Railways on Coins (front cover)

QIAN Lixin (b. August 1941) of the Chinese Academy of Railway Sciences, is a railway specialist and coin collector. Since retiring, he has had more time to indulge in collecting coins, writing articles for  《中国收藏(钱币)》 [China Collections (Numismatics)] and 《铁道知识》 [Railway Knowledge], and has exhibited his collection of coins featuring world railways at an exhibition about Chinese railway culture in 2007. In the summer of 2013, his collection was displayed at the China Numismatic Museum in Beijing, 《硬币上的世界铁路——钱立新钱币收藏展》 “The World’s Railways on Coins – the Qian Lixin collection”.

This book was published in 2015, and is a handy reference book for this subject, even if you can’t read Chinese. Although the main text of the book is in Chinese, the contents list is bilingual (Chinese and English), and each catalogue entry is well illustrated with historical or contemporary photographs and postcards, as well as clear photo-images of both sides of the coins, printed in colour on thin, glossy paper.


Catalogue entry no.1 on George Stephenson and The Rocket includes coins from the UK, Cuba and Alderney (UK).


Catalogue entry no. 23 on the first coins to feature trains/trams in the design – Notgeld coins, Cremnitz, Germany, 1918-1920

There are three prefaces – by FU Weici 傅惟慈 (Member of the Academic Committee of the China Numismatic Society), GUO Lin 国林 (former Vice Minister of Railways) and FAN Guilin 范贵林 (Managing Director of the Beijing Numismatic Society). These are followed a “Brief Historical Summary of World’s Railways” (17 pages, illustrated). The catalogue section consists of 64 entries, arranged under 5 headings (see below) . After this, there is a page of references (8 Chinese titles, 6 English titles), and an index of coins. The index of coins is a table with the following headings: running number (the order in which the coins appear in Krause), country/region, year of issue, theme, denomination(s), material, no. of coins in issue, type (commemorative/circulating/circulating-for-short–period-only). The table has 143 entries, includes 57 countries, and 223 different coins. Starred entries are included in the book (but there’s no concordance).

The Dept of Coins and Medals at the British Museum, and the American Numismatic Society have copies of this book.

I’ve copied the English catalogue entries below, correcting a few typos on the way, but mostly leaving the text as it is in the book. Each entry refers to a particular subject, and includes one or more coins that are associated with it:

The Birth of Railways

  1. George Stephenson who built the first public railway line in the world, innovated “Rocket” locomotives and is known as “The Father of Railways”
  2. 200th anniversary of world’s first working steam locomotive “Pennydarren”
  3. Thomas Alva Edison who developed many electrical devices including the first experienced electrical railway, that greatly influenced life around the world

Railway Building Around the World

  1. Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was the British most outstanding railway engineer
  2. Utah State: the joint place of the First Transcontinental Railway in United States
  3. 100th anniversary of founding of Canadian Pacific Railway Company and of operating of Transcontinental Railway in Canada
  4. 100th anniversary of the Trans-Siberian Railway operation – the longest railway all over the world
  5. Ernesto Malinowski and the Central Railway of Peru – The world’s first highest railway
  6. Zhan Tianyou who built the Chinese first self-made railway line – Beijing to Zhangjiakou railway and is known as “The Father of China Railways”
  7. 150th anniversary of the first Austrian Railway operation and Franz Joseph I, Furst Metternich
  8. 140th anniversary of the first Spanish Railway operation
  9. 150th anniversary of French explorer Dumont d’Urville’s death caused by the first French railway disaster
  10. 145th anniversary of the first Hungarian Railway operation and Count Istvan Szechenyi
  11. 150th anniversary of Czechoslovakia Railway operation, 100th anniversary of Czech electrical railway operation and of Slovakia mountain rack railway operation
  12. 50th anniversary of Belgium Railway Nord –Midi Jonction operation
  13. 150th anniversary of the first Switzerland Railway operation
  14. 100th anniversary of the Bulgaria Railway operation
  15. The founder of Brazilian first railway – Baron of Maua and the Brazilian early steam locomotive
  16. 150th anniversary of steam railways in Australia
  17. 100th anniversary of the first Thailand Railway operation
  18. 125th anniversary of British the Isle of Man steam railway that was the first small island railway in the world
  19. 125th anniversary of the Liechtenstein Railway operation – the world’s smallest country with railway system
  20. The earliest railway coins in the world released by German: “Notgeld” coins released after WWI
  21. Bermuda State Railway: only survived for the remarkably short period of 17 years
  22. 150th anniversary of the first Norway Railway operation and Norway Railway modernization
  23. Inauguration of Mexico Southeast Railway: construction of national railway net completely
  24. 150th anniversary of the first Belarussian Railway operation
  25. 150th anniversary of the first Cuba Railway operation
  26. 125th anniversary of Brno tramway operation and 100th anniversary of Bratislava electric tramway operation
  27. South African Railways which are the most developing railway system in Africa
  28. Benin Railway and World famous plants

The Glory Days of the Railways

  1. Victoria Age – a new era in world railways
  2. The Forth Railway Bridge that was the first steel railway bridge in the world
  3. “Princess Elizabeth” steam locomotive that was the most respectable locomotive in the world
  4. “LNER Flying Scotsman” steam locomotive that was the most famous locomotive in the world
  5. “The Orient Express” that was the first transcontinental luxuriant train in Europe
  6. “LNER Mallard” steam locomotive that is the highest speed locomotive in the world so far
  7. “The General” steam locomotive that bear witness to Civil War of United States
  8. “Royal Scot” steam locomotive that was the largest batch of steam locomotive in 1920’s in England
  9. “Coronation” steam locomotive that was the largest power steam passenger locomotive in England
  10. “21C1” steam locomotive that was the latest outstanding steam locomotive of steam era
  11. The famous steam locomotives of Canadian Pacific Railway: “Royal Hudson”, “Jubilee”, “Selkirk”, “D-10”
  12. “Big Boy” steam locomotive – the biggest power steam locomotive all over the world
  13. Switzerland four famous mount railways: Pilatus, Vitznau-Rigi, Brienz Rothorn, Bernina, Jungfrau
  14. 150th anniversary of Austria Semmering Railway that was the oldest largest scale mountain railway in the world
  15. Typical railway operation procedures of steam railway era

Challenges and Improvements

  1. 42th anniversary of the Albania Railway operation, the complex relationships of Albania with Yugoslavia and Soviet Union were hidden
  2. 100th anniversary of the Birlin subway operation – the longest separate time subway in the world
  3. 60th anniversary of partisan resistance in Belarus during WW II
  4. 40th anniversary of the Moscow-Uhlan Bator-Beijing Railway operation
  5. Reconnection of North Korea and South Korea railways operation and 90th anniversary of Kaisong-Sinuiju railway operation

The Second Glory Days of the Railways

  1. Inauguration of Seikan Tunnel in 1988 in Japan
  2. Inauguration of Seto-Ohashi Bridge in 1988 in Japan
  3. Sydney Harbour Railway-Road Bridge in Australia
  4. Inauguration of the Adelaide to Darwin Railway in January 2004
  5. China Tibet Railway operated in 2006 – the world’s first high altitude and permafrost roadbed railway
  6. France high-speed railways which keep the world highest test-speed records of high-speed train
  7. English Channel Tunnel operated in 1994 – the world’s longest tunnel under the sea
  8. 150th and 175th anniversary of German Railways operation
  9. China Taiwan High Speed Rail
  10. The Mass Rapid Transit System of Singapore
  11. Swedish High-speed Railway: the sample of existing line reformation
  12. A high-speed passenger rail system of China has been completed: Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail opening to traffic in 2011
  13. SUPER INDUCTION [i.e. Recent additions to the collection]
    1. 50th Anniversary of the Shinkansen in Japan
    2. 150th Anniversary of the London Underground
    3. 150th Anniversary of the Portugal Railroads
    4. 150th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Railroads
    5. Inauguration of First African Subway


UPDATE (19 June 2017) – See also Ships on Coins and Medals, a video made by the German auction firm Künker for its Summer Auction Sale 293-294 (27-29 June 2017).


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