Happy Birthday to Her Majesty!
This year, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 95th birthday. A remarkable milestone for the record breaking monarch and a moment that is crucial to our country’s history. Her reign alone has seen the transformation of the Commonwealth, our entry into and exit from the European Union, the invention of the internet, and 14 prime ministers! As the Queen’s 95th birthday approaches, not only has she become the first monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee, but she is also the first to reach this milestone age.
Many historic commemoratives have been issued to mark these important moments, and these have become must-haves for collectors. With the Queen’s next milestone birthday approaching, the demand for these commemoratives is rising and they’re becoming harder to source, especially those more historic issues…
The Coronation Crown
The most famous historic commemorative in the collecting world has got to be the UK Coronation Crown. Issued in 1953, the year of the Queen’s coronation, this Crown coin represents the beginning of a long and prosperous reign for the Queen. It features a special effigy of the Queen on horseback, a fitting tribute to the young Queen’s love of horses. At almost 70 years old, this coin has become a staple for Royal and Historic collectors as it marks one of the most important years of the Queen’s life.
The 1953 Coronation Stamps
Alongside the Coronation Crown, four commemorative one-year-only stamps were also issued with a special design specifically for the coronation. At 68 years old, these stamps are extremely hard to source in good condition. They are popular with collectors around the world, particularly the Yellow-Green 1/3 stamp, which shows the Queen in her Coronation gown and crown.
The Longest Reigning Monarch Issues
In 2015, the Queen became the longest reigning monarch, as she passed Queen Victoria’s record, marking an important moment in history. The Royal Mint issued a remarkable £20 Silver Coin, which included five portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on the reverse creating a timeline effect of the Queen’s historic reign.
Alongside this the Royal Mail also issued special one-year-only commemorative stamps to celebrate this important moment, including a special purple 1st class definitive stamp.
The Sapphire Jubilee Gold £5 Coin
The Royal Mint has issued several remarkable commemoratives to celebrate the Queen’s life and service, but the 2017 Sapphire Jubilee Gold £5 coin stands out above the rest. Struck for the 65th year of the Queen’s reign, the design includes a quote from the Queen’s 21st Birthday Speech “My whole life, whether it be long or short, devoted to your service”, represents the Queen’s lifelong dedication to serving the country. Less than 650 of these coins were ever issued and it has become one of the most sought-after Gold £5 coins ever…
The Queen’s 95th Birthday £5 Coin
Potentially the most important £5 ever issued is the UK 2021 95th Birthday £5. It holds multiple tributes to her Majesty’s long life, including the year of her birth – 1926. The coin also features the inscription “My Heart and My Devotion” in reference to the promise made in her first ever televised speech on Christmas Day in 1957.
As the Queen reaches her birthday this year, demand for this issue has already proven to be incredibly high with collectors. This coin is set to be a long lasting symbol of the Queen’s longevity, and one that collectors won’t want to miss out on.
So there’s our Top 5 commemoratives which celebrate the Queen’s legacy, which one is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!
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On 14th February 1971, the country went to bed with one currency, and woke with another. The following day, 15th February 1971, Britain went decimal. And this year marks the 50th anniversary of this monumental change.
The UK has been at the forefront of iconic and innovative coin designs throughout history. From King Edward III’s first gold coin which was introduced to the UK in 1344, to the experimental and iconic new designs seen on The Royal Mint’s latest issues.
But the UK wasn’t the first country to go decimal. In fact, it was rather slow in its conversion and was one of the last countries in the world to go decimal. And the growing pressure of a world around it changing to Decimal currency would eventually push the UK to make the switch…
Who was the first?
Russia is considered the first country to go decimal, as under Tsar Peter the Great, the Russian Ruble was introduced with a sub-division of 100 Kopeks. It wasn’t until almost 100 years later in 1794 that France followed suit with the Franc, and the Netherlands was the third European country to go decimal in 1817 with the Dutch Guilder. Impressively, there are now only two countries in the world that are still using non-decimal currency – Madagascar and Mauritania (and interestingly both countries’ currencies are sub-divided into units of 5).
What about the Commonwealth?
By the 1960s, half the world had gone decimal and a number of Commonwealth countries had also made the switch to a decimal currency. Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa all turned to decimal throughout the 1960s giving rise to a powerful decimalisation movement in the UK. As the world around it converted to a modern decimal currency, it seemed inevitable that the UK would soon have to follow suit.
By the time the UK eventually got to Decimal Day, the majority of the world had already made the switch. That includes the likes of the US, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, The Philippines, Nova Scotia, Bolivia, China, Brazil, Jamaica, Fiji, and many more.
When D-Day finally came…
When Decimal Day finally arrived in 1971, many countries around the world had long since made the switch. For the UK, although the wheels had been set in motion with the introduction of the Florin 120 years prior, it wasn’t until 1968 that decimal coins officially circulated. The 10p and 5p coins were issued alongside their pre-decimal siblings, the Florin and Shilling, for almost 3 years before Decimal Day. Importantly, the first 50p coin entered our circulation in 1969, ultimately becoming the collector’s staple denomination. Fittingly, it is also the denomination that The Royal Mint have chosen to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Decimalisation this year.
These early introductions helped the public warm to decimalisation and after seeing the world around them change. 15th February 1971 marked a long foreseen, yet inevitable event for the public – the biggest for UK coinage in over a thousand years! It altered the lives of everyone in the UK, remember these were the days before bank cards, and people had to learn a whole new currency! It is certainly an important moment in the history books.
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Queen Elizabeth II is Britain’s longest reigning monarch, and that means that she has adorned the obverse of our coinage since 1953 when the first coins were issued with her portrait. Her reign has seen five different portraits on our coinage and one of the biggest changes to our currency – decimalisation.
And as this month marks the 50th anniversary since the day that Britain officially went decimal, we’ve been taking a look back at British coins and how their stories have changed over time. And there’s one icon that stands out above the rest, one that has featured on coins for far longer than Queen Elizabeth II’s impressive 68 years. I am of course referring to Britannia.
Over 2000 years old!
It’s thought that Britannia first featured on coins in Britain when the Romans arrived under Julius Caesar, but the depiction is wildly different to that which we recognize today. The coins showed a figure, neither male nor female, as a warrior with an inscription along the lines of “DE BRITANNIS”.
It wasn’t until Hadrian arrived in the second century AD that the coins started to feature a female figure with the inscription “BRITANNIA”. These Roman coins are always difficult to find, and many remain buried away even today.
A 1400 year hiatus…
This female figure disappeared from coins, and culture, for over a thousand years, not reappearing until the Tudor period. And even then it wasn’t until Charles II that she finally made her reappearance onto coinage. It’s thought that the rise of Britain as a naval power was the inspiration to include Britannia on coinage again.
Britain’s largest penny
Under George III a one penny and two penny coin were introduced in an attempt to restore confidence in British currency. The intrinsic value of the metal plus an allowance for the cost of production was made equal to the nominal value of the coin. This made them very heavy and a lot larger than other coins in circulation – giving them the nickname ‘Cartwheels‘.
Importantly though, as Britannia had become more and more associated with the sea, these were the first coins to depict her holding a trident rather than a spear.
The Standing Britannia
Throughout history Britannia has been depicted on several denominations of coins, usually pennies or half pennies. Often she was shown seated with the sea in the background, and never before had she been issued on a Florin. After the long Victorian tradition of a crowned cruciform shield for the reverse, a new Britannia design was issued as King Edward VII took to the throne. A truly beautiful design, it shows Britannia with her trident, shield, and stood powerfully against the sea. Only issued during King Edward VII’s short reign, this coin has become incredibly popular for its iconic design and impressive story.
Of course the Britannia has featured and continues to feature on Britain’s coinage, with new depictions on annual releases and even special releases such as the 2019 commemorative 50p. It certainly looks like she’ll continue to have a long reign on our coinage.
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