BRITISH MONARCHS (2022-2024) by The Royal Mint
This is one of those releases we always look forward to. The Royal Mint has produced this multi-year programme of coins tapping into Britain’s rich history, in the same vein as recent numismatic hits like the Queen’s Beasts, the Tudor Beasts, and the Great Engravers series. They almost always exhibit sky-high standards of design and execution, and this five-year, 21-coin series, looks to be no exception.
Called the ‘British Monarchs Collection’, it will span the Royal Houses of Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, and finally the current mob, Saxe-Coburg, Gotha & Windsor. The aim of this range is to reproduce in ‘high definition’, basically taking original coins back to an idealised look, as if freshly struck with more detail. A selection of four silver (1, 2, 5, 10 oz) and three gold coins (1, 2, 5 oz) make up the range, all carrying the same design, and all with a proof finish.
Done with obvious reverence, the entire series will grow into something very special. The highlights are stunning two-coin sets containing a two-ounce gold coin, along with an original coin from the period. There will be very limited sets made available, usually just 10 of each. This brings us to our only real complaint, and as usual, it’s one of value. Only one of the seven coins is (just) under £100 at launch, and the smallest gold runs in excess of £2k. If you want to engage newer collectors, we’re going to need some more offerings at the lower end. Overall, however, a terrific series, rich with history.
Rebecca Morgan, Director of Collector Services, said: “Henry VII was a numismatic innovator who took the time to commission the first realistic portrait of a British Monarch. It was important to Henry VII that his subjects could clearly see him, and we’ve been able to recreate his effigy in high definition for the first time on a UK coin. There are very few ‘fine’ examples of coinage from this period, and they are coveted by collectors for their iconic design and rarity. Being able to faithfully and accurately remaster this design on a new coin will allow more people to own and appreciate its beauty.”
The remastered Henry VII coin has been produced to the highest modern striking standards but retains features which honour its unique history. Coins of this period were hand struck using hammers by workers at the Mint in the Tower of London, and it was common for them to be ‘clipped’ by members of the public keen to secure small amounts of precious metal. This means the size and shape of coins could vary, and this has been reflected in the new edge design.
Gordon Summers, Chief Engraver at The Royal Mint, said: “When we began remastering this series, we wanted to retain the authenticity and beauty of the original – reflecting the best quality striking that the original engraver could only dream of achieving 500 years ago.”
“Naturally, coins from 500 years ago have experienced wear as they passed through the generations, were hand struck using hammers and were commonly ‘clipped’. All of these factors give the original coin irregularities, and it was important to reflect and celebrate that in the new design.”
“We digitised a high standard original coin using an extremely precise scanner, which gave us a really accurate model of the design. We then began to refine the surface, removing the damage and wear of centuries to deliver a coin which showcases Henry VII’s original effigy and historical features in high definition.”
The reverse of the latest coin features a coinage portrait of James I from circa 1604-1619, while the obverse features Jody Clark’s definitive portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The seventeenth-century monarch appears on this new coin in the same classic design that would have featured on the coins of the Jacobean era. Whilst the design first appeared on British coinage more than 400 years ago, this coinage portrait has been faithfully recreated as close to the original as possible using state-of-the-art technology.
Much like Tudor coinage, fishtailing is a common defect on Stuart coins, where you get a slight distortion at the bottom of letters created by the pressure of a die on the metal, which in turn causes an outward flow. Also, characteristic of this period is flatter surface area on the blanks which allow for a more polished finish and showcase and improvement in minting technologies compared to the hammered coins of the earlier period. These characteristics have been faithfully recreated in the new James I portrait design,
The Stuarts were the first kings of the United Kingdom. King James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England, thus combining the two thrones for the first time. The Stuart dynasty reigned in England and Scotland from 1603 to 1714, a period which saw a flourishing Court culture but also much upheaval and instability, of plague, fire and war.
Gordon Summers, Chief Engraver at The Royal Mint, said: “As you move out of the Tudor period, we start getting coins struck in collars, so they were perfectly round. As a result, there is a marked difference between the quality of Tudor coins and Stuart coins. However, there is still fishtailing on Stuart coins, where you get a slight curve at the bottom of the letter. They would have tried their best at the time, but it wouldn’t have been perfect, so we’ve made a conscious effort to reproduce the coins in this manner.”
Rebecca Morgan added: “The remastered James I coin has been produced to the highest modern striking standards, but retains features which honour its unique history. In an advancement from the hammered coins of the Tudor period, the coinage of the Stuart era reflects improvements in portrait engraving and the use of master punches to repeat portraits on individual dies. The table surface of the coin is flatter, which allows for a polished finish which is reflected in the new coin.”
Born in Germany to a powerful European family, the ascension of George I in 1714 to the British throne came about in difficult and unprecedented circumstances. Despite this, the arrival of the House of Hanover in Britain led to nearly 200 years of royal stability, whilst the fabric of British society rapidly changed. It was during George I’s reign that sovereign power began to shift to the modern system of cabinet government, and many considered Georgian coins the finest in the world at the time.
The eighteenth-century monarch appears on this new coin in the same classic design that would have featured on the coins of the Hanoverian era. Whilst the design first appeared on British coinage more than 300 years ago, this coinage portrait has been faithfully recreated as close to the original as possible using state-of-the-art technology.
Unlike the previous coins of the Tudor and Stuart era, the Hanoverian period saw an advancement of the minting process into mechanisation. Coinage at this time was vastly superior in quality to the hammered coins that came before, with improved lettering and portraiture showing a genuine likeness to the monarch, and these characteristics have been faithfully recreated in the new George I portrait design.
The Hanoverians came to power in difficult circumstances that looked set to undermine the stability of British society. For all that, the Hanoverian period was remarkably stable, not least because of the longevity of its monarchs. From 1714 through to 1901, there were only six monarchs, one of whom, George III, remains the longest reigning king in British History. Queen Victoria then surpassed her grandfather in both age and length of reign.
The portrait of Edward VII was originally created by the engraver George William De Saulles, and this ‘bare head’ portrait defined Edward VII’s nine-year reign. The name ‘bare head’ comes from the absence of a crown or laurel wreath in the portrait, which appeared in coinage portraits of previous British monarchs; De Saulles also created an alternative crowned portrait of Edward VII that appeared on some overseas coinage.
The Edwardian era saw a great advancement in minting processes. The use of large-scale models in the designing process invited the hand of the sculptor, rather than the engraver, to create stylised naturalistic portraits with personality.
As the firstborn son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Edward VII was always destined to be king. By the time he inherited the throne at the age of 59, he was the longest-serving heir apparent in British history, and a well-travelled and popular public figure. Edward VII’s relatively short reign saw the modernisation of the military and navy, and disputes settled with France, both of which proved vital when war broke out years later.
By the time Edward VII inherited the throne in 1901, the United Kingdom’s presence across the globe was so great that approximately a quarter of the world was under British influence. Trading between countries had given rise to the popularity of The Sovereign, also known as the ‘chief coin of the world’.
One of the United Kingdom’s most infamous monarchs, Henry VIII reigned between 1509 and 1547, presiding over monumental changes which brought England into the Protestant Reformation.
During his reign, Henry VIII turned to debasing his coinage, which involved combining the precious metal content of a coin with a more common ‘base’ metal such as copper. Coins were struck with increasing amounts of copper, which has a thin layer of silver applied in order to make them more acceptable. This layer eventually wore away, especially around the nose of the Henry VIII’s forward facing portrait. This tell-tale sign on debased coins gave Henry VIII an unfavourable nickname, ‘Old Coppernose’.
The debasement of the coinage affected the quality of Henry VIII’s portrait, making it one of the most difficult of the original portraits to reproduce for the British Monarch’s Collection, as the fineness and clarity of the design had lost definition over the years.
To remaster the original Henry VIII coin as part of the British Monarch’s series, The Royal Mint’s talented design team combined their exceptional craftsmanship skills with innovative technology to successfully remaster the Henry VIII coin design. The design team, utilised state of the art technology at the very beginning, with scanners being used to examine the original coin multiple times to provide clear reference points to the design. This, along with liaising with the Royal Mint Museum regularly, ensured that the Henry VIII coin design had been remastered faithfully, with clarity added to the modern version of the original coin. The remastered Henry VIII coin design depicts what the design would have looked like once the coin was struck, prior to it losing its fineness of design.
Featuring a remastered portrait of Charles I based on an original coin produced in the 1630s., this is the sixth coin in The British Monarchs Collection and the latest launch from the House of Stuart.
The coin features the only equestrian portrait in The British Monarchs Collection. As with the other coins in the collection, The Royal Mint’s talented design team combined their exceptional craftsmanship skills with innovative technology to successfully remaster Charles I’s original portrait. The Charles I portrait is an original design by Nicholas Briot which has been beautifully remastered to show the coin as it would have appeared almost 400 years ago.
Charles I reigned between 1625 and 1649, succeeding his father, James I and was the second Stuart King of England. In 1603, James VI of Scotland became the King of England, thus combining the two thrones for the first time.
British coinage during the reign of Charles I underwent various changes. The Tower of London ceased to strike dates on sixpences, a method first introduced during the reign of Elizabeth I to distinguish the coin from the groat. The output of gold coinage decreased, and the angel was the sole fine gold coin in circulation by the end of Charles I’s reign. A popular coin, many believed that once the monarch had touched an angel coin, it would protect the owner from scrofula and offer a cure for this prevalent disease.
|£500 UKP||156.30 grams of 0.9999 gold||50.0 mm||Proof||56|
|£200 UKP||62.42 grams of 0.9999 gold||40.0 mm||Proof||126|
|£100 UKP||31.21 grams of 0.9999 gold||32.69 mm||Proof||610|
|£10 UKP||312.59 grams of 0.999 silver||65.0 mm||Proof||156|
|£10 UKP||156.30 grams of 0.999 silver||65.0 mm||Proof||281|
|£5 UKP||62.86 grams of 0.999 silver||40.0 mm||Proof||756|
|£2 UKP||31.21 grams of 0.999 silver||38.61 mm||Proof||1360|