Discover the journey of the crown coin and how it became the UK’s flagship £5 commemorative coin…
For more information about the history of the crown coin click here.
Today crown coins are usually issued to mark special occasions of national importance and are intended to be commemoratives rather than ordinary circulation coins. But they have seen some significant changes over the decades...
The British crown first appeared during the reign of Henry VIII and was struck from gold. Issued in 1544, the ‘Double rose’ as it came to be known had a twin rose deign topped with a large crown on the obverse.
Crown coins weren’t struck regularly from silver until 1662 under Charles II – which is when all the previous denominations of gold coins were replaced by milled guineas.
Silver crown coins enter circulation…
The crown issued for circulation that year marked the end of hammered coins as the Royal Mint transferred to mill striking permanently after centuries of working by hand.
At this point the crown started to look more familiar, and it has remained roughly the same size (almost 30mm in diameter) to the present day.
The coins’ generous dimensions leant it an air of importance, and crowns were usually struck in a new monarch’s coronation year. This was true of every monarch since King George IV up until the present monarch in 1953, with the single exception of King George V.
With its large size, many of the later coins were primarily commemoratives. The 1965 issue carried the image of Winston Churchill on the reverse, the first time a non-monarch or commoner was ever placed on a British coin, and marked his death.
Traditionally crowns had a face value of five shillings, but after decimalisation on 15th February 1971 the crown became the 25p coin – one of the UK’s most unusual denominations.
The 25p pieces were issued to commemorate significant events, with one of the earliest issues being the Silver Wedding Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in 1972.
In 1980 an issue was authorised for the 80th birthday of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother; and, in 1981, the coin was issued to celebrate the marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. All of these issues were struck in large mintages, in plastic cases, and in cupro-nickel. However, in addition to this, limited numbers of collectors’ coins of these modern issues were struck to proof quality separately by the Royal Mint in sterling silver.
Legal tender changes from 25p to £5…
The legal tender value of the crown remained as 25p until 1990 when their face value was increased to £5 in view of its relatively large size compared to other coins.
Since the value increased to £5 in 1990 it quickly became recognised as the nation’s flagship commemorative coin and remained possible to buy these coins through banks and post offices (as well as the Royal Mint, The Westminster Collection and other distributors) in circulating quality right up until 2009.
Farewell to the face value £5 coin…
£5 coins continued to be available for a couple more years at face value in brilliant uncirculated quality. But sadly, today the Royal Mint only releases £5 coins in presentation packs selling for £13.
The British crown has undoubtedly seen many changes throughout the years, from metals, size and denomination – it certainly is a coin with an interesting history.
What’s been the most significant change for you? Leave a comment below.
Sign the petition to bring back the £5 for £5 by clicking here
Discover how you can be one of just 1,000 collectors able to own the new 2016 UK Queen’s 90th Birthday £5 for £5 – click here.
This week a new £5 coin will be issued to mark Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becoming our longest reigning monarch on 9th September.
One of the very first coins has been issued by Jersey and I’ve been given exclusive access to go behind-the-scenes for the blog.
The new £5 coin has been designed by Timothy Noad, whose work has featured on many UK coins over the years. He has even designed the Gold Sovereign twice, an unprecedented honour which is testament to his passion and understanding of numismatic art.
This passion shows through in his design for the new £5 coin. Featuring an Oak Tree and the Royal Cipher surrounded by the inscription ‘1952 – Long to Reign Over Us – 2015’, the coin has a dignified and prestigious presence. I asked Timothy what gave him his inspiration for the design:
“The oak tree came to mind as an emblem with many relevant associations. The Royal Oak, as well as a popular pub name, is a well-known image and oak branches form part of the heraldic badge of the House of Windsor.
“It is also a symbol of Britain, endurance and longevity, so very appropriate for the Queen. Shields were hung on trees during medieval tournaments, often held in honour of a Queen or noble lady, and this shield bears the Queen’s personal cipher. I enjoy seeing how my drawings are translated into actual coins and I am very happy with this design.”
From Drawing to Finished Coin
But getting from an idea to a struck coin is a time consuming process, a real labour of love.
First of all the design is hand-drawn, and careful consideration has to be given to the shape and size of the engraving so it can be accurately minted. Then the wording has to be laid out, with the added complication of retaining the typesetting within the circular shape.
Finally, the finished drawing is scanned and processed, ready to be made into a die which will eventually be used to produce the commemorative coins you can own.
Limited Edition Versions Available
The most affordable limited edition version of the coin is the Proof Edition, featuring the addition of gold ink. Just 4,950 will be minted and these are sure to be popular.
The coin is also being struck in a range of other formats, from a face value version right up to a staggering 5 ounce gold edition – I’ve held one and its sheer scale took my breath away.
So there’s a type of coin for all collectors – and if there’s one thing I’m sure, it’s that this coin is a truly fitting commemoration of the remarkable reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
If you’re interested…
The Longest Reigning Monarch £5 Proof Coin is available to pre-order now.
***NOW SOLD OUT***