Alapi’i Collecting

Alapi’i collecting is the special term I use in collecting a specific type of Hawaiiana numismatic material.

The Alapi’i Collector.

The English translation for the Hawaiian word alapi’i is “step”. In this type of collecting, the collector collects by steps.  In alapi’i collecting, the exact numismatic design is collected with three possible steps in mind:

1)      Metal composition step

2)      Diameter size step

3)      Finish step

As an example, a collector acquires an available specimen with the exact same design, but in different metal compositions and sizes. An example is the Hawaiiana numismatist that collects a particular Hawaii Statehood medal design that was struck on a planchet in sizes of 39mm, 32mm, 13mm, and in a variety of metal compositions such as sterling silver, 24KT gold on sterling silver, bronze, and platinum.

Here is an example  alapi’i set.


The goal of alapi’i collecting is to secure a design specimen in  a combination of steps or all available the steps. The Franklin Mint issues have an abundance of Hawaiiana related items that fall into the category of alapi’i collecting.

The first difficulty of the alapi’i collecting is the availability of the individual steps. In order to acquire an alapi’i specimen, a completed set must be either broken-up with the individual specimens made available for sale or an entire set purchased and cannibalized for the desired specimen(s) with unwanted pieces dispersed for re-sale.  This is where the term collecting takes heart. One must be patient and diligent to locate the step specimen for sale. One must be on constant watch to locate a particular step specimen, as sets are broken up at irregular intervals.

The second difficulty in alapi’i collecting is the limited number of available Franklin Mint sets. Several of the Franklin Mint sets are limited issued and fall in the category of single or double digit mintages. The Hawaiiana Numismatist is also competing with the Franklin Mint set collectors for these limited sets. And in most cases the only means to acquire a step specimen is by direct cannibalization of a completed set. This can be cost prohibitive as most completed sets command a premium.

The third and  final alapi’i collecting difficulty is the incomplete and inaccuracies in current Hawaiian numismatic reference books. Hopefully, the book  I am in the process of writing will start the trend in  alapi’i collecting  and assist Hawaiiana numismatists with a more comprehensive and accurate listing of the Franklin Mint issues.

Here is another  alapi’i set with a unlisted step. (An example of  inaccuracies in the 1991 Medcalf & Russell book).