The First World War commemorations in the numismatic world have been extensive and planned to continue through until at least 2018. One of the primary movers has been the Royal Mint, hardly surprising given the pivotal role of Britain and the Empire in the conflict, and the firm entrenchment of the First and Second World Wars in the British psyche. Coins ranging from fractional sizes right up to one-kilo monsters with tiny mintages have appeared in the Royal Mint’s interesting range, but what we have here might be one of the finest yet.

Struck in five-ounces of fine gold or fine silver, the artwork by the renowned 84 year old scupltor James Walter Butler MBE RA, is an object lesson in portraying the horror of trench warfare. The shattered trunks of what must once have been a lush forest, the duckboard paths through the mud that stopped soldiers being sucked to their dooms, and the bodies of those who wouldn’t make it home, all combine to form an incredibly powerful reminder of just what early twentieth century warfare was truly like.

With such a large lump of gold, it’s obvious that these aren’t going to be common, and with the mintage set at just fifty pieces and a price of £6,950, it’s a fortunate collector that manages to get their hands on one. The silver is a little better at £395, but the mintage is still set at just 500 pieces. For a unique design of such quality and integrity, it’s hard to argue that the coin is overpriced when the mintages are so low. Available now, both are well presented and come with a Certificate of Authenticity. As you can tell, we like this immensely.


The Royal Mint’s five-year programme of First World War commemorations continues with a new five-ounce coin – the second in a series of five-ounce coins marking the 100 year anniversary, each revealing its own unique story.

Available in Gold Proof and Silver Proof, the coin’s reverse design is by world-respected sculptor James Butler MBE RA, and its obverse bears the new definitive portrait of Her Majesty The Queen by Royal Mint Engraver Jody Clark. It is available in 999 fine gold or 999 fine silver, and is accompanied by a booklet created in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum, which explores the wartime events of 1915 and reveals the designer’s inspiration.

Shane Bissett, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin and Medals said: “James Butler’s atmospheric design captures the reality of war – the devastation and the desolation experienced by those who fought on the battlefields during the terrible conflicts of 1914 – 1918.”


James Butler’s haunting scene depicts a path of duckboards flanked by war-ravaged trees, surrounded by what at first appears to be muddy ground, but on closer inspection reveals the outline of indistinct figures – soldiers having laid down their lives, lost in the mud, with no hero’s grave.

The inspiration for this design derives from James’ years of research into the First World War for the 42nd Rainbow Division, for whom he created a memorial that was inaugurated in 2011.

Placed at the Croix Rouge Farm at Fère-en-Tardenois in France, the statue depicts an American soldier carrying a lifeless comrade, in memory of the troops engaged in combat at the site in July 1918, securing a victory for the Allied forces. Photographs provided the sculptor with the most vivid insight into scenes such as these, with images of stark landscapes and boggy lands, often scattered with human remains – the aftermath of conflict.


Born in London in 1931, James Butler MBE RA is one of the most widely respected figurative sculptors of today, and boasts a prolific portfolio. Whilst renowned for his towering bronze sculptures, the artist has also earned a notable reputation in the numismatic world, creating several prestigious pieces for The Royal Mint.

One such creation was the Great Seal of the Realm adopted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001, who granted a sitting with James to perfect his design. The design is respected worldwide as a numismatic work of art, and an original plaster model of the seal still hangs in the boardroom at The Royal Mint. The seal’s reverse featured a powerful interpretation of the Royal Arms device that later adorned the reverse of the coins in The Queen’s Portrait Set, released in 2013.

James was honoured to play a part in The Royal Mint’s commemoration of the First World War as he explains,

The First World War remains such an emotive subject 100 years on. I am not a particularly religious man, but when I have researched the subject over the years, I have been quite taken over and moved by the powerful imagery that surrounds the war. It reveals the horrors and the bravery of so many people often indistinguishable and sadly uncelebrated.” BJames Butler MBE RA




£10 UKP 0.999 SILVER 156.295 g 65.00 mm PROOF 500 YES / YES
£10 UKP 0.999 GOLD 156.295 g 50.00 mm PROOF 50 YES / YES