Tower of London is celebrated on a new four-coin Royal Mint collection starting with the ravens

Amongst the most iconic structures in the British capital, the Tower of London can trace its history back almost a millenium. The White Tower at its centre was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and housed its first prisoner, the Norman Bishop of Durham, Ranulf Flambard, just a few years later in 1100. In 1952, amongst the last to be housed there were the notorious London gangsters, the Kray Twins.

The Tower of London grew into a complex array of structures housed inside of two concentric defensive walls. Growing in several stages from the single original tower, English kings like Richard I, Henry III and Edward I expanded the fortress through the 13th century, and it largely resembles that layout to this day. You could write entire books on the history and construction of this quite fantastic complex, and if you’re ever in London, it’s well worth a visit, but what we’re looking at here is the Royal Mint’s latest coin series that showcase it.

A proof series of four coins, the collection will focus on some of the more iconic associated elements of the Tower of London, although not the individual buildings within it. The first coin features the famous Ravens of the Tower. The belief that if the ravens are not present at the Tower, the kingdom will fall, has led to at least six of these highly intelligent birds being kept at the Tower at all times. The fall under the protection of the equally famous Yeoman Warders, also called the Beefeaters – a group founded by Henry VII in 1485.

The coin design is actually very well realised. The bird is exceptionally well depicted and limiting the inscriptions to just the series name ‘TOWER OF LONDON’ has helped considerably. The background contains just a single element – a birds eye layout of a section of the Tower complex. This actually carries on to the other three coins in the series, so laid out next to each other they will form a look at the whole fortress, if a sporadic and incomplete one.

REVERSEBOX
REVERSEBOX

Three further coins will appear through 2019 and feature the Crown Jewels (March), the Yeoman Warders (June), and the Ceremony of the Keys (August). Each looks pretty decent, although we think the Ravens coin will remain the highlight.

The base £5 coin range is offered in three formats. The 39.94 gram 22kt gold format is one the Royal Mint has made its own over the decades, and it continues here. These are noticeable as the gold has that redder look from the copper within them. A mintage of just 325 reflects the price of £1,950 per coin – a significant investment for the set of four. The sterling 0.925 silver coin comes in two thicknesses. The standard range of 28.28 gram coins has a mintage of 3,800 pieces and is clearly the one expected to be chosen by most. Still pricey at £82.50 each, they’re positive bargains compared to most of the offerings. The second silver coin is simply a piedfort (double-thickness) variant of 56.56 grams in weight, with a 950 mintage and a per coin cost of £155.00.

Three other formats, each with a denomination differing from the base £5, are available as well. The ¼ ounce fine gold (800 mintage, £460) will tempt many, and the 5 oz fine silver piece will no doubt be a highlight (425 mintage £420). A 5 oz fine gold coin with a tiny 35 mintage will probably look outstanding, but the £8,265 price tag will keep virtually everyone away.

Available to order now, this is a good-looking set covering a terrific subject. Prices are (as usual) on the higher side of what we’d like to see, but the coins are will presented and have a lot of appeal. Those on a tight budget can pick up the base metal brilliant-unciculated coins for just £13.00 each. If you want to buy, please click the banner lower down and AgAuNEWS will get a small and much needed fee from the mint at no cost to you..

PRESS RELEASE

3 December 2018: The Royal Mint has today announced that the epic story of London’s imposing royal palace and fortress will be brought to life by The Tower of London coin collection. Built almost 1,000 years ago by William the Conqueror, a set of four commemorative coins will mark the ceremonies and legends that have endured to the present day.

The first coin in the collection – The Legend of the Ravens – will feature the iconic birds that have made the Tower their home. Additional coins will feature the Crown Jewels, Yeoman Warders and the Ceremony of the Keys.

The ravens of the Tower are one of the most distinctive images visitors take away with them. Ancient chronicles tell of King Bran Hen of Bryneich who upon his death requested his head should be buried on Gwynfryn (the ‘White Mount’), the site of the Tower of London, giving rise to the legend that if the ravens ever leave, the fortress will fall.

Some say they remain because of Charles II. His astronomer John Flamsteed became annoyed by the birds getting in the way of his work, so the king ordered their destruction, only to change his mind. Fearful of the prophecy, he decreed at least six ravens should remain at the Tower of London at all times.

The Tower ravens enjoy a pampered existence. Biscuits soaked in blood and even scraps of fried bread from the Tower kitchens supplement their usual diet of mice, chicks and rats.

The reverse design of each coin in the collection shows a section of the ancient walls and also features a special Tower mint mark, which is the first time this has appeared on a UK coin. This depicts the White Tower, demonstrating the link between the Tower of London and The Royal Mint, which operated within the fortress for centuries.

Nicola Howell, Director of Consumer Coin at The Royal Mint commented: “Everyone remembers the Tower of London, the grisly goings-on that we learn about at school, or exciting trips there to find out more about the past and see the Crown Jewels. The Tower contains so much British history – including that of The Royal Mint – that we had to mark this with a collection. We hope everyone enjoys finding out more about the myths and legends of the Tower, we certainly did!”

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION £5 UKP £5 UKP £10 UKP £25 UKP £5 UKP £10 UKP
COMPOSITION 0.925 silver 0.925 silver 0.999 silver 0.9999 gold 0.9167 gold 0.999 gold
WEIGHT 28.28 grams 56.56 grams 156.295 grams 7.798 grams 39.94 grams 156.295 grams
DIMENSIONS 38.61 mm 38.61 mm 65.00 mm 22.00 mm 38.61 mm 50.00 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof Proof Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS None Piedfort None None None None
MINTAGE 3,800 950 425 800 325 35
BOX / COA Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
Bold Precious Metals
First Coin Company AD