As a coin producer, JVP have always been a little different. Producing some of the most extravagantly designed coins around, struck to the highest quality, they’re not afraid to tackle niche subjects. The passion for the company appears to be religious art going back many centuries and mining a staggeringly deep and rich vein of subject matter. This manifests itself in the companies World Heritage, and Orthodox Shrines series.

We’ve covered some of the Orthodox Shrines series before and in the main they’re richly finished and in a rectangular, often curved form. This new coin is from the World Heritage range and those are often even more imaginatively shaped and equally richly decorated, like the Plaque with Saint Peter in Glory that we covered quite recently. For this latest coin, JVP have gone with the clever decision to replicate the shape of the original piece of art. This was designed to sit in the middle of a fourteenth century Spanish altar cross with which it was only recently reunited by the British Museum after it’s donation in 2003. The museum has owned the cross since 1895, but the centrepiece represented by the coin was missing. There are images of the two lower down the article.

The coin at 47mm tall is actually similar in size to the original piece and is composed of gilded fine silver. Struck to a high relief and adorned with deep colouring, the coin isn’t actually flat on either surface as you can see in the video. The packaging is as beautifully done as usual, if a trifle gaudy, but it’s clear that if you’ve any interest in the subject matter, the coin isn’t going to disappoint.

It’s now available to order on JVP’s new website for €249.


This engraved fourteenth-century altar cross is believed to be of Catalan or Aragonese origin. It is decorated with four enamelled copper plaques. The central one shows a floating Christ with arms outstretched as if on the cross, against a blue sky studded with thirty-three stars, one for each of Christ’s years on earth. The plaque to the left depicts the Virgin Mary, the one above an angel and the one below Adam rising from Golgotha (the hill on which Christ was nailed to the Cross). The right-hand plaque, which unfortunately is missing, would have shown St John the Evangelist.

The plaques were made using the champlevé technique, where the goldsmith engraves the design into copper and lays powdered coloured glass into the grooves. This fuses with the metal when fired and is then gilded with a mercury-gold solution. The cross has been in the British Museum’s collection since 1895, but the central plaque of Christ has only recently been restored to its original setting. In the nineteenth century many fine religious objects were broken up and pieces such as this were sold to satisfy the demand for small enamels to display in cabinets. The plaque eventually became part of the Keir Collection, owned by London-based collector Edmund de Unger. While on loan to the British Museum in 1981 for a temporary display its connection to the altar cross was realised. Mr de Unger’s generosity in donating the plaque to the Museum in 2003 led to a rare and exciting reunion between the two objects.

REVERSE: The reverse captures the centrepiece of the altar cross. It shows a floating Christ (in high relief) with arms outstretched as if on the cross, against a blue sky studded with thirty-three stars, one for each of Christ’s years on earth. The silver coin is gilded and lacquered. Due to the holes in the coin, it can be worn as a necklace as well. A true masterpiece!

OBVERSE: The obverse features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the year of issue and the denomination of the coin.

PRESENTATION: The World Heritage – Altar Cross silver coin is packaged inside an elegant, red wooden box. It is in a beautiful case, which is doing a great job in staging the remarkable coin. The Certificate of Authenticity is displayed on the inner packaging and matches the number on the coin.

WEIGHT 31.10 g
SIZE 47.0 x 40.0 mm