With the Battle of Waterloo reaching its 200th Anniversary this year, I have come across some fascinating commemoratives which have been issued to mark the historic event. However, there was one in particular that really caught my eye and has an intriguing story behind it…
It all started in 1815 when The Royal Mint was commissioned by the Duke of Wellington to strike a medal honouring the leaders of the allied nations following the Battle of Waterloo.
The medal was to be of the grandest scale, finished with outstanding detail – a task perfectly suited to Royal Mint Chief Medalist Bendetto Pistrucci – whose proposed design was chosen from a shortlist.
Pistrucci was a masterful engraver with a mercurial personality. He had already completed a stunning design of St George and the Dragon (which famously still graces the Sovereign today). His design for the medal looked set to be one of the greatest ever undertaken…
But, there was a problem
Pistrucci was under the impression that Master of the Mint, William Wellsley-Pole, had promised him the position of Chief Engraver at the Royal Mint. However, as a result of politics and infighting at the Mint, it became apparent his ambitions would never be fulfilled.
In fact he soon recognised that once he had completed the Waterloo medal, The Royal Mint was sure to cut all ties with him. Determined not to let this happen, Pistrucci took his time, and prolonged the project – by 30 years.
By the time the dies were completed, all the intended recipients were dead, except for Wellington himself.
The end result was one of the most magnificent pieces of medallic art ever seen, but this wasn’t the end of the story. Pistrucci’s dies were so large and complicated that they proved impossible to harden and the medal that had taken three decades to complete was never even struck.
So the ill-fated Waterloo medal remains one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of The Royal Mint, and is still talked about to this day – despite the fact it never even made it to production!
Now the medal has been made…
Using the latest minting technology, a small batch of just 495 replica medals have been made for the anniversary year of The Battle of Waterloo. We still have some available if you’re interested, click here for details.
This year will mark the bi-centennial anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. But, despite Napoleon’s defeat taking place a distant 200 years ago, it seems that it is still a delicate subject for the French… or is it?
In March, Belgium planned to issue a €2 commemorative Waterloo coin in honour of the historic event. However, after 180,000 coins were minted with the design, France voiced such objection that Belgium destroyed the coins to avoid upsetting their neighboring country.
But earlier this week Belgium crushed the French resistance by invoking a little-known European Union rule. It allows countries to issue euro coins of their choice, provided they are in an irregular denomination – cue a new €2.50 coin – a first in Belgium.
The coin displays the Lion Hill memorial that marks the battle, with dotted-lines indicating the position of the troops when forces led by Britain and Prussia defeated Napoleon in the countryside near Brussels.
But, ironically, it was the French who issued one of the first Waterloo Commemoratives…
Remarkably, the French State Mint issued a Battle of Waterloo Medal after Napoleon’s defeat in 1815. It was designed for sale in the British market by renowned French sculptor Emile Rogat, depicting a fallen eagle on the reverse, symbolising the French Army.
The eagle is encircled by four vultures to represent the victorious British, Prussians, Austrians and Dutch and the obverse features an official effigy of Napoleon. It became a piece of history, stored in the British Museum.
It’s a great time for collectors during huge anniversaries such as this, as there are so many fascinating coins and commemoratives issued. But perhaps it’s time France looked back at their own history before they complain again!
The ‘100 Poppies’ Coin, launched by The Westminster Collection in partnership with The Royal British Legion last October has now raised over £131,000.
Since 2008, The Westminster Collection, has created a unique commemorative poppy-themed coin each year to honour those who have sacrificed their lives in the Armed Forces. However sales of the 2014 centenary edition coin have seen the biggest donation to date, ensuring that the memories of the fallen live on – as well as the care and support offered by The Royal British Legion.
The full amount was presented to The Royal British Legion by The Westminster Collection’s Chairman, Stephen Allen, on Tuesday 14th April at a special event held at The Legion’s pop-in centre in Southampton. The money raised will help The Legion provide financial, social and emotional support to all who have served and are currently serving in the British Armed Forces and their families.
Stephen said, “though we have been working in partnership with The Royal British Legion since 2004, the Poppy Coin came about in 2008 as a way to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
“We are delighted that the partnership has continued to grow, and our special Poppy Coins each year are a way of giving back to a charity that has done so much for both the Service community and the national spirit of Remembrance over the past 94 years.”
Charles Byrne, Director of Fundraising at The Royal British Legion, said the coin acts as “poignant reminder” of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“We are so proud of our long-term partnership with The Westminster Collection, a family business which shares our commitment to supporting the entire Service community; whether it’s helping veterans to remain independent in their homes, supporting bereaved families, ensuring people have access to the benefits they deserve or offering employment advice.
“The Poppy Coin is not only a poignant reminder of those who have fought and sacrificed their lives, it also helps the Legion to carry out our vital welfare work, allowing today’s Armed Forces, veterans and their families to live on to a more hopeful future.”
SAVE £10.00 on the new new VE Day Silver Medal
Following the success of last year’s coin, The Royal British Legion have teamed up once again with The Westminster Collection to issue an official VE Day silver medal to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
NOW SOLD OUT