British coinage has had its fair share of fascinating tales over the years. When searching for coins, I’m always seeking to find classic coins whose numismatic interest and history mean that they will forever be sought-after pieces.
Which is why, with the help of my UK coin specialist, I’ve decided to narrow down what I believe to be six of the most interesting and collectable UK historic silver coins issued over the past 200 years.
Read below to discover the stories of six coins that cover some of the most important events in British numismatic history – including influential design changes, mistaken introductions and controversial issues.
The Great Recoinage Shilling – George III Bull Head Silver Sixpence
1816 marked one of the most important moments in the history of British coinage – The Great Recoinage. For Georgian Britain, it was a change as big as Decimalisation for you or me. The George III Bull Head Sixpence was introduced as part of an attempt to re-stabilise the currency following economic difficulties caused by both the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and marks one of the most important moments in British numismatic history.
The Coin of the Colonies – Victoria Silver Three Halfpence
During the 1800s demand grew for British coinage from all across the globe, with over 25% of the world’s population using coins bearing Queen Victoria’s portrait. The British three halfpence was a silver coin produced for circulation in the British colonies with a denomination which had never been seen in mainland Britain before. What makes this coin so interesting is that it has no indication of what country it was minted for, which meant that it could be used across most of the globe!
The Longest ‘Reigning’ Portrait – Victoria Young Head Shilling
The first effigy to feature on Queen Victoria’s coinage was the Young Head portrait featuring a particularly youthful and charming portrait of the young Queen. The Victoria Shilling featured the Young Head portrait from 1839 to 1887, which is the longest period a single portrait has ever featured on a British circulation coin.
The Withdrawn Sixpence Pair – 1887 Victoria Silver Sixpences
In 1887, new coin designs were issued to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Surprisingly, the new design of the Silver Sixpence shared the same design as the Gold Half Sovereign. Of course, it didn’t take long for crafty opportunists to start coating the Silver Sixpence in gold paint and passing them off as the far more valuable Half Sovereign. The authorities hastily withdrew the Sixpence and a quick redesign took place with ‘SIX PENCE’ written across the middle of the coin.
The Rocking Horse Crown – 1935 George V Silver Crown
The ‘Rocking Horse’ Crown was issued for just one-year-only in 1935 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of George V. Significantly, this special Silver Jubilee Crown was the first-time a commemorative crown was ever struck and started what is now one of the most popular numismatic collecting trends ever seen. Despite its significance, this coin caused controversy when it was first issued, with many traditionalists disliking the art deco reinterpretation of the iconic St. George and the Dragon design.
Each of these coins has unique story that makes them all must haves for any collector with an interest in historic UK coins. We’re certainly lucky to live in a nation with such a rich numismatic history!
However, these coins are now historic artefacts in their own right, and considering that many have been melted down over the past two centuries for their valuable silver content, they are now extremely rare.
I’m sure you’ll agree, that considering the fantastic history along with the scarcity of all six of these coins, they can all be considered amongst the most interesting and collectable UK Silver coins of the past 200 years.
If you’re interested…
Understandably, it is extremely difficult to build up a stock of these fascinating coins. But working with my extensive network of suppliers, I have been able to put together 22 sets of these iconic silver coins to now offer to my collectors. But with such limited numbers available you will need to act now if you want to add these fascinating coins to your collection.
The East India Company is living proof of Sir Walter Raleigh’s (1614) prophetic words: “whosoever commands the sea, commands the trade, whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world and consequently the world itself,” as they rapidly became a trading force to be reckoned with.
And coins were one of the key ways the company managed trade across the globe.
At its peak the EIC was single-handedly responsible for half the world’s trade, including cotton, silk, spices, opium and tea.
Remarkably, the East India Company is still trading today. And they have just authorised a set of limited edition Gold coins paying tribute to the most important coins in their history.
Here is the story behind the coins…
Portcullis Money – 1601 (Throughout the Empire)
Ordered by Queen Elizabeth I to facilitate increased commerce on behalf of the British Crown and to compete against the widely used Spanish Real. These were the first coins issued for the British Empire outside of England’s normal coinage.
The Cartwheel Penny – 1797 (Australia)
The Cartwheel Penny was the first British coin to be exported to Australian Colonies. It was introduced to help curb Britain’s chronic coin shortage which was impacting economic growth. Specially designed to prevent counterfeiting, and the thick rim and inscription led to the pennies being informally named ‘The Cartwheel Penny’.
The Elephant and Castle Guinea – 1663 (Throughout the Empire)
The guinea is regarded as the most successful trade coin, exponentially increasing British and local trade wherever it was introduced. This Guinea was the first British machine-struck coin, and adopted its name from where the gold was mined from.
The Company Rupee – 1833 (India)
The Rupee is one of the world’s oldest systems of money. It was adopted by the East India Company upon its arrival in the East, and soon became one of the company’s most important coins and means for trade. In 1833 reforms to the Indian weights and measures led to coinage in India changing from the Sicca to the standard ‘Company Rupee’.
The Rix Dollar – 1821 (Sri Lanka)
Great Britain sought to develop Ceylon’s (Sri Lanka’s) economy and increase trade to and from Europe. As a part of this aim The Rix Dollar was struck specifically for use in Ceylon. Designed by Benedetto Pistrucci, who is also responsible for the now iconic rendition of St. George slaying the Dragon which features on British Sovereigns.
The British Trade Dollar – 1839 (The Orient)
To facilitate the trade of their most lucrative commodities, namely tea and opium a trading post in Canton, China was established. During the Trade Wars Great Britain found itself having to rely more and more on its own silver coinage, and this paved the way for one of the most distinctive silver British coins in numismatic history to be struck: the British Trade Dollar.
Hog Money – 1609 (Bermuda)
In order to develop Bermuda’s prosperous economy King James I granted permission to mint coins, which resulted in the issuing of Hog Money, inspired by the wild hogs previously introduced to the island, it’s the first English coin to be minted specifically for use in North America.
The St Helena Halfpenny – 1821 (St Helena)
In 1815 St Helena’s economy benefited from the arrival of the former French Emperor, Napoleon, during his second exile, as the famous prisoner brought with him an entourage of British troops, effectively doubling the islands population and prosperity. As the economy swelled, St Helena’s first local coins were introduced.
The Nova Scotia Penny – 1823 (Canada)
Prior to the Canadian Confederation in 1867 many provinces issued their own coinage. However in 1823, without seeking official approval from the Home Office, the province of Nova Scotia ordered the issuing of coins. The coins, issued in denominations of one pennies and halfpennies, contributed to the expansion of local commerce in Nova Scotia.
The 2019 Empire Collection
For this exceptional 2019 issue collectors will be taken on a journey to the far flung corners of the world. Retracing the steps of the East India Company, to discover some of the most significant coins which have helped build an empire stretching across three centuries from 1600 to the Victorian Era.
Finished to an exceptionally high standard, the 2019 collection truly represents the global resonance of The East India Company and these significant coins. There is no doubt the 2019 Empire Collection is going to become a future collector priority.
If you are interested…
Out of a Worldwide edition limit of just 100 we have a small stock of the 2019 Empire Collection available. If you are interested in owning a set – please complete the form below and we will contact you directly.
Last Saturday I had the opportunity to see the RAF’s most famous plane up close and personal. That’s because on the 24th March I drove up to the historic Duxford Aerodrome to have 800 of the brand new Spitfire £2 coins flown in an original WWII Spitfire.
I arrived at 9am but unfortunately the chance of flying was in doubt because of the poor visibility caused by low lying clouds. The rest of the morning was spent nervously looking at the sky waiting for enough visibility for the pilot to safely take the 74 year old warbird into the air.
Our pilot for the day was Flight Lieutenant Anthony Parkinson MBE, known as Parky. The delay caused by the weather gave me the opportunity to talk with Parky about his time in the RAF and how the Spitfire compares to the modern jets he has flown during his time with the RAF. You can see Parky discussing his career and the Spitfire in the video below.
The wait for take-off also gave me the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the famous fighter plane and experience some of what it would have been like for the young pilots who sat in the same cockpit to defend Britain in the skies over 70 years ago.
Finally at 2.00pm the cloud cleared enough for a small pocket of visibility to take the Spitfire into the air. We quickly pushed the Spitfire out of the hanger and Parky secured the 800 Spitfire £2 coins into the wing bays which would have once held the plane’s armaments.
At 2.20 Parky prepared the plane for take-off. Standing a few yards from the plane whilst it’s famous Rolls Royce engine fired up was brilliant, and the Spitfire TD314 drew in a crowd nearby while it taxied along the runway.
Parky swiftly took the famous plane into the sky and gave me and the rest of the crowd a fly by. Despite the cloud cover it was still fantastic to see the Spitfire race through the sky at the hands of a former Red Arrows display pilot.
The brand new Spitfire £2 coin is a fantastic commemoration of the famous plane and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of the RAF with such a fitting tribute.
Thank you to Ben Perkins, Flight Lieutenant Anthony Parkinson MBE and the rest of the team at Aerolegends for helping to take the Spitfire £2 coins to the sky and for giving me the opportunity to see this famous warbird in the flesh.
If you’re interested
All 800 coins have now been sold. However, we will soon be flying the 4 times as limited ‘signed edition’ Silver Proof £2. Click here to pre-reserve yours now >>