Finland 500 Markkaa 1951-1952


Quick Coinage Facts

Years Minted: 1951 to 1952
Silver Content: 0.500 silver, 0.1929 ounces
Diameter: 32 mm
Weight: 12 grams
Obverse Design: Olympic Rings


The Finland 500 markkaa was a circulating commemorative coin issued in late 1951 and throughout 1952 to celebrate the 1952 Olympic Games held in Helsinki, Finland. This may not sound like a big thing as modern Olympic commemorative coins are issued by many nations today but in 1951 this coin was an important step in modern coin production as it was the first ever Olympic coin issued for the modern Olympic Games. The last time a coin was issued to commemorate an Olympic Game event was more than 2,000 years ago in ancient Greece.

The Modern Olympic Games was re-introduced to the world by the French aristocrat Pierre de Coubertin who first organized the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in 1894 and held the first games in 1896 at Athens, Greece. The event was not well publicized yet still managed to attract 300 athletes from thirteen different countries.

Though with a rough beginning and two world wars, the modern Olympic Games would endure and by 1952 the Olympics became one of the world’s most recognizable sporting events. Unlike the humble beginnings in 1896, the 1952 Helsinki games attracted approximately 5,000 athletes representing 69 countries.


The reverse design features the number 500 surrounded by a wreath with the words SUOMI FINLAND MARKKAA (separated by dots) on the outer periphery. A mint mark “H” is located just below the bottom of the wreath.

The obverse design features the word HELSINKI on the lower outer periphery and the word OLYMPIA on the upper outer periphery. Just below the word Olympia is the roman numeral XV to represent the 15th celebration of the modern Olympic games. The center design features the 5 Olympic Rings.


Introduced by Pierre de Coubertin, the 5 rings design was adopted as the standard symbol of the Olympic Games in 1913 and is now one of the most recognizable symbols throughout the entire world.

"These five rings — blue, yellow, black, green and red — represent the five parts of the world now encompassed by Olympism and ready to compete against each other. Moreover, the six colours (including the white background) thus combined represent those of all nations, without exception. The blue and yellow of Sweden, the blue and white of Greece, the French, English, American, German, Belgian, Italian and Hungarian tricolours, the yellow and red of Spain are side by side with the new Brazilian and Australian flags, the old Japan and the new China. It is a true international emblem."
- Coubertin (Selected Writings II, p. 460, 1913)

As an image of Olympism, Coubertin thought the rings had deep significance: that of the union between men. He multiplied the image to create a total of five rings. He designed and commissioned the Olympic flag to mark the 20th anniversary of the IOC's founding, on 23rd June 1914 in Paris. Coubertin never said nor wrote that he saw a link between the colors of the rings and the continents. For him, the five rings represented the union of the five continents, but the colors were merely those that appeared in all the different national flags at the time.

General Market Notes

Of the two years available; the 1951 issue with just a mintage of 19,000 represents the more expensive and difficult example to obtain and examples in a condition of uncirculated can typically have a price tag near $600. Though this may sound expensive to some, it is actually cheap in comparison to its mintage.

Additionally, the 1952 issue with a mintage of 586,000 is also remarkably affordable (typically less than $100). It is also rumored that 26,000 of the coins were returned and melted.

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