The Royal Mint has long tapped into London’s history and culture for numismatic inspiration, and their latest series goes back to 1647 for it. Wenceslaus Hollar, a Bohemian graphic artist, spent much of his life in England, and produced a majority of his works there. Those works were copious, consisting of around 400 drawings, and 3,000 etchings, encompassing a wide range of subjects, including portraits, landscapes, nature, religions, and… cityscapes.
One of his more impressive works, and historically useful, was ‘Long View of London from Bankside’, ironically produced while living in Antwerp, from drawings he’d done while in London a few years previous. Taking a single viewpoint, from what is now Southwark Cathedral, it covers the city from the Palace of Whitehall in the West, to Greenwich in the East. Obviously, cramming all that detail onto a coin (the original is 2.7 metres wide!), is quite impossible, so the Royal Mint has taken a small section of it.
Centred on the Tower of London, a sensible choice given it still exists, with the old St. Olaves church on the South Bank (originally built in the early 11th century, a later building on the same site was demolished in the 1920s), it takes the art from the rightmost of the six plates making up the complete image. It’s a neat idea for a coin, taking actual period depictions, rather than another tedious modern view. The obverse is the usual, unadventurous effigy of QEII, but that’s just the way it is for Britain’s national coin producer.
Eight versions make up the range, four in 0.999 silver (1oz, 2oz, 5oz, 1kg), and four in 0.9999 gold (also 1oz, 2oz, 5oz, 1kg) with prices ranging from £95.00 for the one-ounce silver, to a staggering £69,445 for the kilo gold. All are well presented, as is typical for the Royal Mint, and only the two smallest silver variants have mintages over 500 pieces, indeed, over 310 pieces. An attractive concept that seems well realised. Available from today.