The not so secret code in the euro coin rolls

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A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon a small curiosity that may be obvious. Something that some of those who read me might already know, but that I had never noticed: euro coin rolls have a standardized color code throughout the Eurozone, which also matches the color of euro banknotes.

This adds to something I did know, which is that the amount of coins per roll is also standardized.

This European standardization probably stems from some internal memo of the European Central Bank, but I haven’t been able to find which one. I’ve asked the Bank of Spain, my local central bank, to see if they can help me find it. As soon as they reply, I’ll post it here.

In the meantime, let’s see what colors they are, some examples, and, finally, some exceptions that could give us a clue as to when the ECB’s internal circular was issued.

The colors

The colors of the rolls follow the same progression as the euro banknotes from highest to lowest, and they are:

  • 2 Euro Roll: Purple, like the 500 euro banknote
  • 1 Euro Roll: Yellow, like the 200 euro banknote
  • 50 Cent Roll: Green, like the 100 euro banknote
  • 20 Cent Roll: Orange, like the 50 euro banknote
  • 10 Cent Roll: Blue, like the 20 euro banknote
  • 5 Cent Roll: Red, like the 10 euro banknote
  • 2 Cent Roll: Grey, like the 5 euro banknote
  • 1 Cent Roll: White

Let’s see examples of each:

1 Cent Rolls

1 cent rolls contain 50 coins, totaling a value of 0.50 euros per cartridge. The identifying color is white.

Here is a roll of 2004 1 cent coins from Italy:

Italy - 1 Euro Cent 2004 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

And this one is a roll of 2013 1 cent coins from Malta:

Malta - 1 Euro Cent 2013 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

2 Cent Rolls

2 cent rolls contain 50 coins, totaling a value of 1 euro per cartridge. The identifying color is grey, similar to the 5 euro banknotes.

Here is a cartridge with 2018 2 cent coins from Estonia:

Estonia - 2 Euro Cent 2018 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

And this one is a roll of 2010 2 cent coins from Luxembourg:

Luxembourg - 2 Euro Cents 2010 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

5 Cent Rolls

5 cent rolls contain 50 coins, totaling a value of 2.50 euros per cartridge. The identifying color is red, akin to the 10 euro banknotes.

Here is a roll of 2012 5 cent coins from Belgium:

Belgium - 5 Euro Cent 2012 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

And this one is a roll of 2019 5 cent coins from Slovenia:

Slovenia - 5 Euro Cents 2019 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

10 Cent Rolls

10 cent rolls contain 40 coins, totaling a value of 4 euros per cartridge. The identifying color is blue, akin to the 20 euro banknotes.

Here is a roll of 2011 10 cent coins from Finland:

Finland - 10 Euro Cents 2011 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

And this one is a roll of 1999 10 cent coins from the Netherlands:

Netherlands - 10 Euro Cents 1999 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

20 Cent Rolls

20 cent rolls contain 40 coins, totaling a value of 8 euros per cartridge. The identifying color is orange, akin to the 50 euro banknotes.

Here are the 2008 20 cent coins from San Marino:

San Marino - 20 Euro Cents 2009 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

And these are the 2020 20 cent coins from Germany, minted at Berlin (Mint A):

Germany - 20 Euro Cents 2020 - Mint A Berlin - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

50 Cent Rolls

50 cent rolls contain 40 coins, totaling a value of 20 euros per cartridge. The identifying color is green, akin to the 100 euro banknotes.

Here is a roll of 2019 50 cent euro coins from Greece:

Greece - 50 Euro Cents 2019 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

And this one is a bag of 2000 50 cent coins from Spain, with green bands across the plastic:

Spain - 50 Euro Cents 2000 - Bag
Photo: Eurofischer.

1 Euro Rolls

1 euro rolls contain 25 coins, totaling a value of 25 euros per cartridge. The identifying color is yellow, akin to the 200 euro banknotes.

Here is a roll of 2016 1 euro coins from Austria:

Austria - 1 Euro 2016 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

And this one is a roll of 2018 1 euro coins from Cyprus:

Cyprus - 1 Euro 2018 - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

2 Euro Rolls

2 euro rolls contain 25 coins, totaling a value of 50 euros per cartridge. The identifying color is purple, akin to the 500 euro banknotes.

Here is a roll of the 2005 commemorative 2 euro coin from Spain dedicated to Don Quixote:

Spain - 2 Euro Commemorative Coin 2005 - Don Quixote - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

And this is a roll of the 2017 commemorative 2 euro coin from France dedicated to the Pink Ribbon:

France - 2 Euro Commemorative Coin 2017 - Pink Ribbon - Roll
Photo: Eurofischer.

As you can see, regardless of the country, the color code is there. However, while searching for images for this article, I have found two exceptions to these standard color codes and sizes, which could give us a clue as to when it was established.

The exceptions

The first of the two exceptions are the San Marino rolls of 1, 2, and 5 cents from 2006, which are white with blue bands, regardless of the denomination. Additionally, instead of containing 50 pieces per roll, they only carry 20, resulting in a rather chubby appearance.

San Marino - 5 Euro Cents 2006 - Roll
Roll of 20 2006 San Marino 5 euro cent coins (Photo: Eurofischer).

The second exception lies in the commemorative 2 euro coins from Italy between 2004 and 2009. Although they were already purple, the rolls contained 40 coins instead of the standard 25.

Italy - 2 Euro Commemorative Coin 2009 - Economic and Monetary Union - Roll
Roll of 40 2009 Italian 2 Euro Commemorative Coins dedicated to the Economic and Monetary Union (Photo: Eurofischer).

It was in 2009 when Italy made the change to the standard of 25 coins per roll. The first Italian 2 euro commemorative coin of that year, dedicated to the Economic and Monetary Union, still came in a roll of 40 coins. The second commemorative coin of 2009, in honor of Louis Braille, was the one that inaugurated the 25-piece cartridges for Italy.

With these two exceptions, my hypothesis is that standardization occurred at some point between 2007 and 2009. We’ll see what the Bank of Spain responds to my query.

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