The Royal Mint of United Kingdom has the tagline, Treasure for Life™ ! True to that the Coins from United Kingdom conjure up an aura of historical treasures wrapped up in the palm of your hand! A treasure born out of more than 1000 years of history! These Coins from United Kingdom are considered precursors to all modern coins across the world, next only to the Austrian 'schilling' and the Spanish reales (silver) or escudos (gold) coins.
While we know UK's currency is the pound sterling, their earliest known currency was the celtic coin called the 'potin'. This was one of the earliest metallic coins which seem to have been circulated around 600 BC in the isles. Then came the 'staters'. After the Romans invaded the British isles, Roman coins replaced these early coins. When the Romans left, and the Anglo-Saxons arrived, it was the gold 'thrymsa', then the silver 'sceatta', and then much later the copper 'styca'.
In the 10th century, under Edgar I, the King of England, the 'penny' first came into existence. The monarchs after him added more denominations and the system was continued more or less the same way right till 1971. That was the year, UK standardised its denominations through decimalisation.
The Royal Mint
The Royal Mint was established in the 9th century during the reign of Alfred the Great, King of England, in the 'Tower of London'. In the 1800s, the mint was shifted to 'Little Tower Hill' as it needed more space for the steam-powered machinery that was the latest invention then. In the turn of the century 'steam' gave way to 'electricity' and more renovations followed.
By 1960s, the Little Tower Hill Mint couldn't cope up with the demands of coin production and it was decided to shift to a bigger facility in Wales. By 1980, the Royal Mint was completely shifted to Llantrisant, Mid Glamorgan, Wales. The Mint occupies 38 acres of land, employs 900 people and has a huge coin collection starting from the 16th century!
2017 New Releases
Even after 1000 years or maybe because of that, the Royal Mint is still churning out high quality coins for the entirety of the United Kingdom and other nations that get their coins minted here.
New £1 and Threepenny set
After 33 years of the round British pound coin that had counterfeiting issues, a new 12 sided £1 coin has been released this month. It has a stunning award winning design by a 15 year-old, David Pearce. It depicts the four floral emblems of the nations under United Kingdom; rose for England, leek for Wales, thistle for Scotland and shamrocks for Ireland. These flowers are shown emerging from a single stem within a royal coronet. This new pound also comes as an individual coin in Brilliant Uncirculated, Platinum Proof, Gold Proof and Silver Proof versions.
This set has been paired with 1937 penny which was the first 12 sided design of the UK. It has a reverse design of a thrift plant designed by Madge Kitchener. It was very symbolic of the economic downtrend in the 1940s and the need for 'thrift' in day to day life.
Farewell and Nations of the Crown
The Farewell and Nations of the Crown set includes the final round pound coin from 2016 and the 2017 12 sided new £1 coin. The Farewell Commemorative coin depicts the 2016 design of the 4 heraldic beasts of the nations; Lion of England symbolising strength and bravery, Red Dragon of Wales symbolising valour and protection, Unicorn of Scotland for extreme courage and virtue and the Stag of Northern Ireland representing peace and harmony. The 2016 coin was designed by Gregory Cameron. The sets come in Brilliant Uncirculated and Gold Proof versions.
The Queen's Sapphire Jubilee coins
United Kingdom celebrates the Sapphire Jubilee of it's longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, with 3 designs this year. She surpassed Queen Victoria who ruled for 63 years on September 9th 2015 and this year the monarch has reached 65 years.
The cupro-nickel coin was designed by Glyn Davies and depicts the crown with an inscription that says, "My Whole Life, Whether it be long or short, Devoted to your service". Along the rim it says "Sapphire Jubilee" and "1952-2017".
The Sovereign coin is the flagship coin of the Royal Mint and is released every year. It is a 22 carat gold coin and has a reverse design featuring Benedetto Pistrucci’s St George and the dragon. The obverse depicts the most recent coinage portrait of The Queen by Royal Mint coin designer Jody Clark. It was struck on Feb 6th 2017, the date of The Queen's coronation.
Gregory Cameron, has created a Royal Arms design for the Sapphire Jubilee Silver Proof coin and the Gold Proof coin (Kilo and 5 ounce coins).
1000 year Anniversary - Coronation of King Canute
King Canute or King Cnut the Great was the King of Denmark,England, and Norway. He captured England in the year 1016 and was coronated King of England in 1017. Being a Viking himself, under his reign of 20 years there was relative peace in the region from other Viking raids.
This year marks 1000 years since his coronation and is being honored by the Royal Mint through a Commemorative coin. This is the only coin that commemorates the 1000-year anniversary of a King's coronation. Designed by Lee R Jones, it shows his impression of the profile of King Canute, with the inscription "1017 King Canute 2017". The coin has been released in Gold Proof, Brilliant Uncirculated, Silver Proof and a Silver Proof Piedfort (with double thickness) coin versions.
Part 2 of this post will talk about the other interesting releases of the Royal Mint so far this year.