Blue Waters Mint is operated by Bill Turner in Cypress, Texas, USA. We began operation in 2004 and remain a small business. Our history begins with the discovery that banknotes and coins purchased by Bill in the early 1970s had sometimes increased greatly in value. The collecting bug had returned for Bill, who began seeking out rare and unusual notes and coins to add to his collection. After some time, Bill saw a fantasy coin created by Erik McCrea. He had to add it to his collection and he wanted to know more about fantasy coins. Erik was kind enough to point Bill in the right direction but without the money to mint coins, a way to get the money became the key.
Bill decided to release fantasy banknotes mostly made from handmade paper, utilizing custom made stamps. The idea of a brochure to accompany the note was added. A few samples were made in 2004 and sales began in a few weeks. The funds generated from banknote sales funded the first coin release. The fantasy banknotes were sold all over the world to buyer who found Bill's listings on eBay. Later the coins were sold via eBay and eventually by a few coin dealers.
It was early 2006 the first coins were contracted. A release of colored acrylic coins for Ile Crescent was ready for sale in August 2006. The coins are listed in Unusual World Coins, 5th Edition, by Colin R. Bruce II and published by Krause Publications. While they are coins, Bill wanted a metal coin release under his belt.
The Ile Crescent sales were strong enough to provide the funds for a 5 coin release for Viinamarisaar in early 2007. Within 60 days, thanks to an income tax refund, Klef Raraha coins were released. The Viinamarisaar coins were made by Shire Post ( under the direction of Tom Maringer who utilized his screw presses with the coin’s impression (the dies), made by Greg Franck-Weiby, a highly praised metal engraver and artist. The Klef Raraha release was designed and minted by
Our next release for The Most Serene Republic of Excelsior was met with great demand. With Shire Post handling the production, Tom had the insight to double our mintage and commission postage stamps. We believe it was Tom’s great ‘feel’ for the project and demand that lead to a sell-out in a mere ten days.
Next was Mägi Päiväine’s aggressive 16 coin release in the last quarter of 2008. Our most expensive project yet, it took almost a year before we could commission our next release for Pampapana.
The Pampapana release became available in January of 2010 and has met with great success. Easily our finest yet, the huge 1.75 inch or 44 millimeter, thick coins weighing 44 to 49 grams each, were certainly the most difficult to mint. The very impressive design took nearly 100 hours of design time. Again, it was the craftsmanship of Tom Maringer and Greg Franck-Weiby that made this an extraordinary release. Our investment, a small price to pay for the exceptional result, was one of our biggest investments.
This brings us to the here and now. See our News Page for our upcoming plans.

1 Pampapano. Year: ND (January 2010). Weight: 49.00g. Metal: Tin. Diameter: 44 mm. Edge: Plain. Alignment: Medal. Mint: Blue Waters. Obverse: llama in front of a stylized sun and mountains. Reverse: community church. Mintage: 100.
According to Bill Turner: "I have always been a geography buff. I love reading about the places most overlook. I even published a travel newsletter on tropical islands the guidebooks missed in the 1980s called Tropical Frontiers. So, I find a place that inspires me. The real place gives me a region to research. I study the region, culture, history and languages. At this point I start writing the story that will be matched to a coin or banknote release. As a result, the story seems as if it could be a real place because it has a recognized history, culture and sometimes, language. My goal is a plausible story…a place that could be. I look for local or regional languages spoken by few people. I am grateful to some who have given me permission to utilize languages they have developed. These are called constructed languages."
Pampapana is a distant, almost inaccessible area of approximately 670 square miles (1735 sq. km.) located in the mountains of the southern tip of South America. It has a pastoral economy and is void of roads and other modern conveniences. Pampapana recently released three large, attractive coins. The undated coins are 44mm in diameter and are each denominated 1 Pampapano. The coins are struck in copper, brass and tin, all bearing the same design. A llama in front of a stylized sun and mountains is on one side, while the community church is on the other. The large coins were struck one at a time on a manual press coin using hand-cut dies, yet show impressively high relief and detail. Only 100 coins were struck in each metal.
“The mountains of the southern tip of South America are ominous and uninviting. The jagged peaks and steep inclines almost guarantee the adventurer will quickly turn back claiming travel across those mountain ranges is impossible.” By looking at a topographical map of the region, this would “confirm the incredible feat it must be to penetrate these mountains to the inner valleys. Beyond those jagged peaks is a high plateau that is flat as a pancake aside from a few gently rolling hills along it’s edges. Several small lakes or ponds are found among the hills and are noted for their rich blue and rich green hues. Some say it looks like the water is loaded with food coloring!” Pampapana is located in these “grassy plains and sparsely vegetated rock-strewn areas”. It “remains a distant, almost inaccessible, outpost thanks to the steep inclines of mountain after mountain for miles, blocking this nearly alpine pampa from the rest of the world. There are no roads coming close to Pampapana and no airstrips, although landing a plane in the flat areas is not too difficult. Even so, the area is known as one of the uncharted wildernesses of South America…With an elevation ranging from about 11,500 to 16,400 feet above sea level, this high plateau in the Dry Puna region is a windy and cool place.” Covering an area of about 670 square miles, Pampana is a very lonely place. It is “void of roads and modern conveniences. The population raises herds of vicuña, guanaco, llama, alpaca and sheep. The area is rural open ranching land. Even though the population is far flung, it is a tight knit community that enjoys socializing. The extended family resides in separate homes on the family's land…Some 50 families inhabit Pampapana, all living on their ancestral lands and working cooperatively for the good of the family. While population figures are not available, it is believed about 300 people live in Pampapana with estimates ranging from 250 to 375.” Their ancestors/forefathers “settled this high puna plateau completely enclosed by the Andean Mountains.” They “established the division of lands so each family might sustain themselves on their own parcel of land.” The Pampapana community became “successful in herding native animals, providing an attractive habitat for them. In return, [the families] reap the economic gain from the fur of these animals. They also provide food for [the entire] population.”
Just like the old days, “The people of Pampapana have a sense of community and eagerly volunteer to help sick or elderly neighbors and make sure the community as a whole is without need. Families gather for a trip in to market every Saturday. Most have a small home at the center of Pampapana where there is a small plaza that doubles as a market…Religion is important in the lives of the people. There is a Church Pastor and the services lean toward Catholic beliefs although the church is not a member of any denomination. The pastor is a local considered to be ‘devoted to God’…Schooling is handled by the mother of the children. No other form of education is available, however the population seems far from illiterate.” Unfortunately, “Pampapana rates as among the poorest locations on earth”. But luckily, “A small regional organization” known as the “S.U.P. has adopted the folks of Pampapana. The group is concerned with teaching folks to grow and utilize traditional foods and teaching self-sufficiency. Every year or two a person or family from the organization lives several months in Pampapana, learning and teaching along the way. S.U.P. is responsible for much of this information.” Overall, “Pampapana is a very isolated community with few modern conveniences found in the world around us. [Their] families live sedentary lives in a simple and uncomplicated manner.”
Mr. Turner also provides a bit of insight into the money of Pampapana: “A small box in a nook at the Church holds quite a few old gold pieces and silver coinage from generations past. Word is it is the collected wealth of the original families. It is assumed this is the reserve to back up the money in use in Pampapana. Most of the silver, it is told, was used to strike coins for Pampapana. Local coins of silver are used by the locals. The coins are small and range in silver content from .667 to .900. There are no pure silver coins, so perhaps the melted coins were not of pure silver. This was a common practice of some colonial mints as the mint master would lower the silver content to shave off some silver for the mint master…Some crude paper notes are circulated with several varieties found among the families in Pampapana. Since surplus goods are usually traded, the number of coins and paper notes is less than one would think.” The first Pampapana banknotes were produced by Mr. Turner in late February or early March of 2008. “Clay-like coins have circulated in Pampapana. It is thought that the people have used virtually any commonly available material to use for money, backed by the chest of silver and gold. It seems their minting is highly controlled to match the value of the gold and silver at the Church.”
Mr. Turner also received a written response, from someone named Luis P. A. Campos (he seems to be one of the volunteers affiliated with the S.U.P.), to his “request for additional information on Pampapana, most expressly, our coins and currency.” Here is his overview of the Pampapana monetary system: “In reference to your inquiry on our coins and currency, our forefathers chose to collect gold and silver of each family to be held in a box with the collective sum to be utilized to help the community at large. This wealth has always been stored at the church, a location considered by all to be the best location as spiritual guidance is always sought before our gold and silver is rendered for a purchase and because in Pampapana, the pastor is our most trusted individual from who we seek direction and guidance. The Pampapana community uses little money. Most arrangements are trades negotiated by the interested parties. Sometimes the trades are not equal, so there is a monetary transaction. For such arrangements, our forefathers utilized coins made from some of our silver coins. These coins were melted, weighed and struck for use in Pampapana. Since some in our community began to establish a collection of coins, it was decided a paper form of money could insure more silver would be available at the church. In more modern times, paper and coins of metals considered less valuable have been utilized as a substitute for the gold and silver. While a great portion of our silver came from the Potosi mines, we also gathered copper, brass and tin from our numerous trades when our men would venture out of Pampapana. It was these metals we have utilized to mint our coinage. We still have a number of small silver coins traded but no large silver coins are in use. The bulk of our silver holdings and all of our gold are held to guarantee the value our paper and metal coins. At present, our collected wealth is considered between $500,000 and $800,000 in U.S. dollars.”
Mr. Turner produced a fair number of non-metallic pieces for Pampapana. To begin with, there are three hand-painted pieces made from wood: 2 Plata (painted “school bus yellow”), 4 Plata (painted green), and 5 Plata (painted blue). These are round and dated 1997 (the initial pieces were made in May 2008) and feature a silhouette of a large dragonfly on the reverse. To make these, Mr. Turner employed a variety of methods. The word “Pampapana” was “hand stamped using an alphabet rubber stamp set I bought years ago [on eBay].” He also described it as “a typewriter font of miniature rubber stamp letters that each come on their own wood mount”. The large numerals were made with the same “store price making kit” that Mr. Turner used for the wooden Ile Crescent piece. Then, the word “Plata” and the date were made with his trusty Labelon Custom Rubber Stamp Kit. He later produced a hand-painted rectangular 2 Plata piece, dated 2006 (actually made in March 2009): “The 2006 version you have of the rectangular Pampapana is a one of a kind.” Though the large numeral comes from the “store price making kit”, the remainder of the text comes from the Labelon Custom Rubber Stamp Kit. There is also a 1 Plata piece (undated, also made in May 2008) made of a sculpting compound known as Super Sculpey (manufactured by Polyform Products Co.). The reverse features “a sun with a face but I have another of the sun without a face that gives a better indention of the design.” For the lettering, “I used little [individual] characters I had and simply pressed them in the clay”. He then “flipped over the piece and stamped it with the sun rubber stamp, then turned it back over to restamp any letters that got weak from pressing the sun rubber stamp on the other side.” After baking and cooling, the coins were colorized with Paint Jewels (produced by Delta Creative, Inc.), “a glossy [glaze-like] see-thru sort of paint/stain…Once the stain is dry, I seal each side [with acrylic spray].” In March of 2009, Mr. Turner produced an additional denomination in the same “primitive” style: an undated 2 Plata piece. The image on the obverse — “a llama amid a South American [decor] border” — comes from the impression made by an earring. “The reverse simply says 2 Plata. They are undated.” Not surprisingly, “each coin is a bit different and has some imperfection.” They are made with Plus Clay (manufactured by Activa Products, Inc.) — a premium quality, natural, self-hardening clay. “I really prefer this stuff to that Sculpey Clay. It is easier to work with, retains its shape and I can roll it down to a thickness of a coin more easily. Plus it tends not to chip if it falls. I want these to be real durable.” Initially, however, “The images and lettering [did not show] up well so [he needed] to do something to highlight the image of the llama and decorative design plus the lettering.” Therefore, Mr. Turner decided to try another method — something called Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments (produced by Jacquard Products) — to add color to the coins. He describes it as “a bottle of dry paint that can be just sprinkled on the clay…The instructions say it can be mixed with paint, varnish, glue or paste or applied dry and dusted, then sealed. The particles are 10 to 60 microns in size.” He chose to use the “Super Copper” color for the new Pampapana pieces. “This stuff is sort of amazing. It is like dust. What I did was take my finger, dip it in the dry pigment and rub it on the clay surface. It can be sealed a minute or two later. It is almost as if the pigment becomes a part of the clay and stays put even thought you are brushing on the sealer. The clay almost looks like a red copper. These turned out nicely.” Once the pieces had been dusted with the Pearl Ex, Mr. Turner had to apply a clear protective coating in order “to keep the copper from rubbing off”. This time, he did not spray an acrylic seal on the coins (I had commented, months ago, on how the spray-on acrylic finish/coat he’d been using remained too tacky upon drying; the coins would adhere a bit too strongly to the inside surfaces of the plastic coin-holders in which they were stored). He instead used a liquid acrylic solution that needs to be applied with a brush: this newer protective finish “is like water, the color of milk and leaves a very thin coat that is not sticky whatsoever. I think it will be a nice improvement over the glaze I had used in the past.” I did indeed find it to be an improvement — a slight one, but an improvement nonetheless — over the previous product. After all his laborious experimentation with clay (starting with the Excelsior pieces), I think Mr. Turner finally hit the jackpot! Clay tends “to be sticky, so working with [it] is always a challenge.” Thank goodness he never gave up, because I think he finally found the best formula/method for making the kind of clay coins he envisioned. “I think the clay coins turned out better. They are very simple (note the earring just mashed into the clay) with simple lettering. Once dry, I take this powder and stick my finger in the jar and rub my finger on the coin. This is strange stuff. It attaches itself to the clay and you can immediately take a paint brush and apply a thin coat of glaze without the powder coming off. The only part of the process that takes time is the drying [of the clay]…The Plus Clay package suggests 48 hours to air dry. Since I dry one side at a time, I dry each side 48 hours. I cut the pieces on a flat surface covered with aluminum foil. So, one side dries before the other side.” Meanwhile, Mr. Turner had an innovative idea to add to the uniqueness of these tokens: “Since the Plus Clay is air-dry clay, it means I could try planting one of the llama pieces in the clay. I have a good 10 or 20 of them.” In April, he did indeed begin making a limited number of these, each of which features “an inset llama”. To do so, he “pressed the pieces in the clay and then put the gloss on them in hopes of keeping them from separating from the clay. They look pretty nice.”


Chiefa Coins