At the request of the Visakha Vidyalaya OGA, a commemorative Rs 2000/- Gold embossed, sterling silver crown size frosted Proof NCLT was issued by Central Bank of Sri Lanka to mark the Visakha Vidyalaya Centenary.
Obverse : The Portrait of Selestina Jeremias Dias with the
words 1917 VISAKHA VIDYAKAYA CENTENARY 2017 and
SELESTINA JEREMIAS DIAS in English text along the upper
and lower periphery of coin within raised rim.
Reverse : A traditional oil lamp which is Visakha Vidyalaya school logo selectively plated gold above the face value 2000 in large numerals with Rupees in Sinhala, Tamil and English below. Year of issue 2017 appear just below. All within a plain line circle. The Pali Words of School Motto PAÑÑAYA PARISUJJHATI in English Text on the upper periphery and name of country SRI LANKA Tamil, Sinhala and English along the lower periphery of coin within raised rim.
The School Motto Paññaya Parisujjhati translates to "By Wisdom is one cleansed", is taken from the Alavaka Sutta of the Tripitaka.
In 1873, aged 15, Selestina Rodrigo who had studied only up to the fifth standard at a small Sinhala medium village school, married her first cousin Jeremias Dias, the well known philanthropist of Panadura, who came from a wealthy family involved in arrack trade. Mrs. Jeremias Dias, who inherited great wealth, realised the importance of educating girls. When one of her beloved sons died, in his memory, she founded the "Buddhist Girls College" on 1917 January 16, in a house called "The Firs" at Turret Road, in Kollupitiya. As the numbers increased, Mrs. Jeremias Dias purchased three acres of land at Vajira Road, Bambalapitiya, on which were erected the two original school buildings consisting of class rooms and a hostel. The school was moved to its present premises and renamed Visakha Vidyalaya on 1927 November 21.
The frosted proof coin was struck with one ounce of sterling silver with selected gold plate on obverse to the British crown coin size. Enclosed in a circular clear plastic presure fit coin capsule it is embedded in blue velvet inside a blue paper covered 8.5x9.0 cm spring hinged presentation box, protected with a plain white cardboard loop. A locally printed and numbered Certificate of Authenticity contains the specifications and the text in English in front and Sinhala, Tamil behind.
On 2017 January 23rd the commemorative coin was presented to President Maithripala Sirisena by the Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy. Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, the staff of the Visakha Vidyalaya, including its Principal Sandamali Aviruppola, parents and past pupils participated at this event.
The Coin was sold to public from 2017 Janury 23rd for the issue price of Rs 12,200/- (US $82).
Read my article which was published as Gold and embossed: Visakha gets coins for turning 100 in the Sunday Times of 2017 January 29th.
My reserved coin was obtained from Visakha OGA on 2017 January 24th scanned at 600 dpi and the images displayed at 200 dpi. Also displayed above are scans of Artwork sent to Royal Dutch Mint.
In late 2016 September the issue of the coin was marketed in social media to members of the Visakha Vidyalaya Old Girls Association (OGA) with a issue day of 2017 January 16th. As a collector when I connected them I was told that 100 coins had been reserved for us and we will be informed when a definite price was given by CBSL. I got a SMS on January 8th asking me to place a deposit of Rs 12,300/- per coin at OGA Treasurer office, which is open on School days from 8 AM to 1 PM. When I paid a deposit on 9th I was registered as #369. The coin issue had been postponed by one week to accommodate the President as Chief Guest. CBSL had only given them the fixed price of Rs 12,200/- on January 20th. In my opinion they handled the extra Rs100 deposit with a good administrative procedure. When a coin is collected they ask if a refund of the Rs100 is wanted or if buyer was willing to contribute it to the Centenary Fund. The receipt is rubber stamped with Coin Issued indicating the choice with a strike out. The registration number is pasted on box and is unrelated to number on certificate. About 6 weeks after issue the OGA had only 50 coins left to sell, but after 3 months I was told the same.
This is the first Sri Lanka commemorative coin minted in the Royal Dutch Mint. Both the image of Mrs. Jeremias Dias and the line drawing show her hair as combed back as typical of older Sri Lankan ladies. It is a bit amusing that that they have shown her hair as braided, a style not seen in Sri Lanka but common among the African migrants now living in Netherlands.