British music giants Queen, kick off the Royal Mint’s new ‘Music legends’ coin series

While not exactly rare, we don’t tend to see a huge number of coins celebrating the world of music. However, there was bound to be an increase in interest after the sell out popularity of the AC/DC coins issued by both Coin Invest, and the Royal Australian Mint in 2018. We certainly didn’t expect the next big release to be by the relatively conservative Royal Mint, but here we are, and it isn’t a half-hearted fifty pence coin issue either.

The first release is a collaboration with Bravado, a brand management company representing the giant Universal Music Group (UMG), ‘Music Legends’ is to be a series showcasing some of the incredible music talents that have been birthed in the United Kingdom. If the whole series is to be as represented by UMG, that would include such artists as Elton John, George Michael, U2, The Who and Amy Winehouse. Sadly, it also includes the Spice Girls…

As you can see, the debut coin features that most loved of bands, now enjoying a second renaissance, Queen. Believed by many to be one of the greatest bands to have ever created music, Queen, fronted by legendary singer Freddie Mercury, are represented by their iconic instruments, at least fragments of them. The band name and the mic-stand that Mercury used complete the design by first-time coin designer, Chris Facey. The obverse is the usual effigy of not so thin Lizzy.

A big mix of sizes out now and yet to come. Two 0.9099 gold formats on offer are 1oz and 1/4oz in weight, with 1oz and 1/2oz 0.999 silver variants making up the debut. The larger silver coin has selective gilding on the reverse face, but misses out on the very nice packaging of the smaller silver coin. The gold coins are packaged in, appropriately enough, piano black boxes. A cupro-nickel coin with an unlimited mintage is also available in a blister-card and slipcase, and there are also three packaging variants of that one featuring different Queen album covers that are only available from the Royal Mint and are limited to 15,000 examples of each. All are available to order now and selling fast (the 1oz gold is already gone!)

There are more coming soon under a new mint programme called Inspired Innovations. These are issues that enhance the finish of the originals, but early indicators point to considerably more expensive formats. The Queen coin is to have an unusual sounding surface animation that appears to play the opening chords of Bohemian Rhapsody. It sounds fascinating, but we’ll reserve judgement until we’ve seen it. Those coins will consist of a 2oz gold proof (53 mintage in honour of Queen’s 53 UK Top 40 singles), a 2oz silver proof (500 mintage, and a 1kg gold proof with a mintage of just 6 pieces (as per Queen’s UK Number 1 hits). We will revisit when we know more.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The Royal Mint has announced the iconic band, Queen, will be celebrated with the launch of a commemorative coin collection, making it the first time that a British band has been celebrated on UK coinage. Available from today, the design is the first in The Royal Mint’s new ‘Music Legends’ collection.

Known for pushing the boundaries with their own unique style and continually reinventing their approach to music, Queen’s layered sound and flamboyant anthems continue to influence a new generation of musicians’ decades after they were formed.

Perhaps the most striking example of the band’s determination to be bold was their decision to release a six-minute quasi-operatic single, Bohemian Rhapsody, in 1975. Before the release of the song, the label was determined to cut the length of the single significantly. However, the foursome refused and the risk paid off, with the single spending nine consecutive weeks at the top of the charts. In 2002, 27 years later, the single was voted as Britain’s favourite song of all time. The opening notes of Bohemian Rhapsody are so well recognised, that The Royal Mint’s coin designer, Chris Facey, decided it was a fitting tribute to showcase these by featuring the keys on the piano pressed down.

The coin commemorates all four members of Queen, in recognition of their contributions to the band’s success. This is done through the portrayal of each member’s instrument, with the Bechstein™ grand piano – which Freddie Mercury played for Bohemian Rhapsody – featuring at the top of the coin. Meanwhile, the group’s logo is placed at the centre of the design and is underscored by the singer’s signature mic stick.

Brian May’s ‘Red Special’ guitar – which he still plays using an old sixpence to give his unique sound – also features alongside John Deacon’s Fender Precision Bass™. Finally, Roger Taylor’s Ludwig™ bass drum is decorated with the Queen crest, as it appeared in the band’s early days.

Brian May from Queen said: “This is a big ‘Who could have imagined it?’ moment for us. When we began as Queen, even the first rung of the ladder to recognition seemed remote and unreachable. To have our band recognised and our music celebrated in this way is very touching – a real honour.

”Roger Taylor from Queen said: “Marvellous, all this fuss over our band. I feel entirely spent.”

Nicola Howell, Chief Commercial Officer at The Royal Mint, commented: “Queen were one of the most influential bands of their generation, and their timeless classics are still enjoyed by millions of fans around the world. That’s why we’re so pleased to be honouring their great contribution to British music with their very own coin, which will be the first time a British band has been celebrated on UK coinage. British music is one of our greatest contributions to culture around the world, and its musicians like Queen who are at the forefront of this. We’re looking forward to announcing other coins in our new ‘Music Legends’ collection later this year, marking the work of other exceptional British musicians.”

Chris Facey, designer of the Queen coin, added: “My first memory of Queen was hearing Bohemian Rhapsody in the film Wayne’s World, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. It’s therefore such an honour to be asked to commemorate such an extraordinary band on a UK coin, and even more exciting as it’s the first coin I’ve designed. All four members of Queen were vital for their bravery in the music they created and the boundaries they pushed, and I hope that fans will enjoy seeing each of their contributions paid tribute to on this coin.”

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION £100 UKP £25 UKP £2 UKP £1 UKP £5 UKP
COMPOSITION 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold 0.999 silver 0.999 silver Cupro-Nickel
WEIGHT 31.21 grams 7.80 grams 31.21 grams 15.71 grams 28.28 grams
DIMENSIONS 32.69 mm 22.0 mm 38.61 mm 27.0 mm 38.61 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof, gilded Proof B/uncirculated
MINTAGE 350 1,350 10,000 20,000 Unlimited
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Frame / Yes Blistercard
R.R.P. £2,020.00 £510.00 £90.00 £60.00 £13.00
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