Despite ruling over 400 million people in an empire that covered almost a quarter of the world’s surface, Queen Victoria had never set foot in many of the countries that she ruled over.
For many of those people, the only way to catch a glimpse of their empress was by looking at the portraits on the coins that passed through their hands every day. These coins formed a vital connection between people, even though they may have lived on opposite sides of the world and experienced very different lives.
India became known as the Jewel in the Empire’s crown, and was so important to Victoria that she was awarded the title of the “Empress of India” in 1876. Although she never stepped foot in the subcontinent, the currency of India (the rupee) was minted with her portrait on from 1840, so people could recognise their empress despite living 4,500 miles away!
The rupee is one of the oldest currencies in the world, so to feature a British monarch for the first time was an important moment in numismatic history. The later portrait issued on rupees was similar to the Gothic Head effigy can be considered one of the most beautiful coins of the empire.
Another numismatic first took place in Australia in 1855, one more country that Victoria never visited (which is hardly surprising as it would have taken her almost two months to get there!). As the empire grew, so did the need for coins and the Royal Mint opened branches in Australia to mint sovereigns for the empire. In 1855 the first ever sovereign to be minted outside of the UK, the Sydney sovereign, was issued. It featured a portrait of Victoria that was based on the Young Head effigy, but with a sprig of banksia weaved through Victoria’s hair, giving the portrait a distinct Australian feel.
A number of Royal Mint branches were opened throughout Australia after the success of the Sydney sovereign. To identify the mint that sovereigns were produced in, mintmarks were added to the coins, with a small ‘P’ for Perth, and an ‘M’ for Melbourne. The sovereign became legal tender in the majority of British colonies in the 1860s, and its importance in British trade, and worldwide circulation earned it the title “the King of Coins”. By the final years of the British Empire, the sovereign was minted in four continents across the globe.
India and Australia weren’t the only countries that saw Victoria’s portrait. Her image also reached as far as Hong Kong, Ceylon, East Africa and New Zealand. In 1870 the first Canadian dollar with Victoria’s portrait was issued, taking Victoria’s image to a new side of the world for people to see.
Victoria never left Europe, but her portrait and image stood strong on coins around the world. Whilst she never stepped foot in many of the countries that she ruled over, that didn’t stop people recognising her image around the world. The coins that they used every day provided a link to the empire that they were a part of, despite the miles between them.
If you’re interested
You can now own a genuine Victorian Silver Rupee, minted over 4,500 miles away! Click here for more info>>>>
It is hard to imagine a scandal taking place today where the political leaders of our country are arrested for causing the financial markets to crash. But that is exactly what happened when the ‘South Sea Bubble’ burst.
The ‘South Sea Bubble’ was a political and financial scandal that led to the arrests of leading members of Parliament and the near collapse of the stock market. From this turmoil one of the 18th Century’s most interesting coins was produced. Let me tell you how it happened…
The South Sea Bubble
The South Sea Company at the heart of the scandal was a trading company with a monopoly on trade in South America. The company was heavily linked with the government of the day, and a number of MPs owned large shares in the company.
Because of their shares in the company, members of the government began using phoney insider information to convince investors of the huge potential in South American trade, and therefore the profitability of the South Sea Company.
However, once investors realised that there was insider trading taking place, the company’s share price collapsed causing a catastrophic loss of money and property.
Frantic bankers and members of the gentry who had lost their life savings stormed Parliament and the Riot Act was read to restore order. An enquiry found that more than 500 members of Parliament had been involved in the crash and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was imprisoned.
The South Sea Company Shilling
On the brink of collapse, the South Sea Company luckily stumbled across a horde of silver in Indonesia and sold the precious metal to The Royal Mint.
The silver was minted into coins in 1723 with distinctive ‘SS’ and ‘C’ notations on the reverse. The proceeds from this silver helped enable the South Sea Company to recover from the scandal and ultimately continue operating for another century.
The shillings struck with this silver are now almost 300 years old and are a relic of a financial and political disaster which shook the whole country.
If you’re interested…
Historic silver issues are extremely difficult to source, however we have a small stock of just 50 South Sea Shillings available for collectors. Click here to find out more >>
On 4th May Buckingham Palace announced that HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, after 70 years at Her Majesty’s side, would be retiring from public duty. To mark this record-breaking achievement, and celebrate his 70 years of service to Her Majesty the Queen, The Royal Mint have today released a brand new design in tribute to Prince Philip.
The design features Humphrey Paget’s (1893-1974) portrait of The Duke of Edinburgh. Paget’s legacy was much more than just this portrait though – he is now considered to be one of the most exceptional coin artists of the 20th century.
The Royal Mint’s coin designer Lee R. Jones has added to the portrait to include a table inscription and an edge inscription. The final design has been officially approved by Prince Philip himself.
The coin is available in Gold Proof, Silver and Brilliant Uncirculated Base Metal. Here’s your guide to the new 2017 United Kingdom Prince Philip £5 coin range:
Perfect Quality. Very Affordable.
The Royal Mint is releasing a brilliant uncirculated base metal version of the Prince Philip £5 coin. These coins have been specially struck and carefully handled to ensure that they are free of scratches and chips found amongst circulating coins.
Known as Brilliant Uncirculated (BU), they are available for £13.00 in a Royal Mint Presentation Pack or £10.99 in a Change Checker Certified Brilliant Uncirculated Collector Card.
Silver Proof – the Collector’s Favourite.
The Silver Proof £5 coin is firmly established as the most sought-after coin amongst collectors because they have all the qualities that collectors really desire.
- Precious metal content – struck from 925/1000 Sterling Silver
- Strictly Limited Edition – just 3,000 coins. That’s EVEN LESS than the last UK Prince Philip coin issued for his 90th birthday. With a mintage of 4,599 it was, at the time, the most limited Silver Proof UK £5 coin ever issued.
- The perfect Proof Finish – even better than Brilliant Uncirulated. Proof coins are struck several times using specially polished dies to create a flawless finish with a perfect mirrored background. The ultimate coin quality.
The Gold Standard
For the ultimate limited edition, a Gold Proof coin has also been issued. Struck in 22 carat Gold, just 300 of these coins have been authorised for release.
If you’re interested …