Can’t cook a cake, but can build a nation! Royal Mint celebrates 1150 years since Alfred crowned King

King Alfred the Great, the only English king to get that suffix (although not until the 16th century), is one of the most well known and well regarded of the English monarchs. Reigning from 871 to 899 in a hugely tumultuous time, when the British Isles were wracked with constant conflict with the Vikings, he inherited a land full of factions, and left one considerably more stable.

In 886 AD, Alfred recaptured London from the Danelaw and then set about issuing silver pennies that carried his portrait. You can see a fantastic example lower down which was recently sold by the Royal Mint’s Collector Services division. This is considered to be the start of the Royal Mint’s continuous history, It’s amazing to think that today, the mint is releasing a coin depicting the King that gave it a future, bearing the effigy of a Queen some 1,150 years later.

The coin design by John Bergdahl is excellent, and takes inspiration from the famous ‘Alfred Jewel’ that was discovered in 1693 and now resides in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. A 6.4 cm long piece of late 9th century Angl;o Saxon goldsmithing, made of enamel and quartz enclosed in gold, it was generally believed to have been mounted at the end of a short stick to point at words in a book while reading. The edge of the coin carries the same inscription as the jewel, which translates to ‘Alfred ordered me made’.

So all things considered, it’s a pretty thoughtful celebration of one of the giants of British history. Three precious metal variants make up the range, all of £5 denomination. There’s a standard ounce of sterling silver, a double-thickness piedfort, and a 22kt gold coin of just under 40 grams in weight. These are all pretty standard for the Royal Mint. Available now, the gold looks to be selling out very fast, something the Royal Mint seems to pull off with amazing regularity these days.


Celebrating 1,150 years since one of the most influential monarchs in British history was made King, The Royal Mint has today announced the launch of a commemorative coin collection honouring the life and work of Alfred the Great. The launch of the new commemorative coin comes just weeks after The Royal Mint’s Collector Services division sold an original Alfred The Great Silver Monogram Penny (871-899) for an impressive £18,700.

The coins of Alfred’s reign were one of the first to state exactly where the coin was minted, in London, and are regarded as particularly significant in the history of The Royal Mint.

Alfred (849-899), king of the West Saxons, was one of the great rulers in English history and the only English ruler called ‘Great’. He came to the throne facing Viking invasions but recovered to win the Battle of Ethandune, in Wiltshire, and force his enemies to sign the peace of Wedmore (878). To defend his kingdom, Alfred built fortified towns, strengthened local militias, and created England’s first navy. His unifying reign demonstrated military skill, far-sighted reform, piety and wisdom, which built the foundations for the modern monarchy of today.

Experienced coinage artist, John Bergdahl, has created an original design that features across the beautiful, accessible range of gold and silver commemorative coins for those remembering Alfred’s life and work this year. He took his inspiration from a precious artefact that embodies the monarch’s enlightenment and passion for education – the Alfred Jewel.

The Jewel, which came to light in 1693 having been ploughed up in a field in Somerset, features a portrait of Alfred which has been replicated onto the face of the new coins. It represents the pinnacle of Anglo-Saxon technological achievement, while the name of the monarch which it proclaims places it among the most precious of royal relics.

On the coin’s edge there is an inscription ‘AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN’ which translates to ‘Alfred ordered me to be made’ taken from the etching on the Jewel.

John worked to ensure the coin was closest to the original Monogram Penny of Alfred the Great (871-899) and used ‘punch lettering’ to reflect the style of the period.

Rebecca Morgan, Divisional Director of Collector Services, said: “As the Original Makers of the Monogram Penny, we knew we had to remember this milestone anniversary. Alfred’s reign not only provided the British with strong leadership, but he also appreciated art and beauty, leaving us exquisite artefacts to draw inspiration from. From the sale of the historic penny to the launch of the new collection, we anticipate the design will be popular amongst our collectors.

“At The Royal Mint we believe Britain’s greats must be remembered to ensure our country’s rich history lives on. We work alongside phenomenal designers such as John to create modern-day collections that pay homage to the past, to enable the nation to celebrate the legacy of inspired historic figures, such as Alfred the Great.”

COMPOSITION 0.925 silver 0.925 silver 0.9167 gold
WEIGHT 28.28 grams 56.56 grams 39.94 grams
DIMENSIONS 38.6 mm 38.6 mm 38.6 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof
SOLO MINTAGE 2,250 900 160
TOTAL MINTAGE 2,260 910 170
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes