Remembrance Day – the powerful moment and poppies

The powerful moment that is the Two Minute Silence began on the first anniversary of Armistice Day, 11 November 1919.

The War Cabinet discussed it on 5 November and approved a ‘Service of Silence’ on Armistice Day. The only amendment they made was to the duration, to one minute, subject to approval from King George V. Lord Milner drafted a ‘personal request’ for the King and took it to Buckingham Palace. However, The King altered the duration of the silence back to two minutes and the announcement was carried by all national newspapers on 7 November 1919.

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The Royal Mint at the time of Guy Fawkes

Most people know the story of Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot, but fewer know about the connection it has to The Royal Mint.

Guy Fawkes was interrogated, and tortured, in the Queen’s House which is inside The Tower of London on Tower Green. Tower Green was the scene of many grisly events throughout history including the beheading of Ann Boleyn.  At the time of Guy Fawke’s interrogation, The Royal Mint was located within the walls of the Tower of London. Today, The Royal Mint is based on a highly secure site at the small town of Llantrisant in South Wales.

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The Sovereign in the modern age

Respected, and recognised all over the world, the Sovereign became synonymous with Britain herself. 

At the turn of the century it was one of the world’s most trusted and respected coins. Yet even the Sovereign could not fail to be shaken by a conflict as devastating as the First World War which saw the end of the Sovereign as a coin in daily circulation. Production of Sovereigns in Great Britain almost stopped from 1917, only recommencing briefly in 1925. The coin would not be issued in great numbers again until 1957.

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Old name, new money – The Sovereign returns

The guinea was the major coin of the eighteenth century, but during the long war with France the banks began to issue notes in place of coins.

The issuing of bank notes helped Britain to pay for its long war, but it caused inflation and national insecurity and a spate of forgeries took hold. You can view many of the old records of cases brought at the time on The Old Bailey website.

Following the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 the decision was taken to undertake a ‘great reform of the coinage’. Gold was adopted as the ‘sole Standard Measure of Value’ and bank notes were taken out of use.

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The first sovereign – a coin designed to impress

The first sovereign – a coin designed to impress

In a new weekly series of articles focused on bringing The Royal Mint’s history to life, we focus on our flagship coin, the sovereign.

The original sovereign was struck on the 28 October 1489 by The Royal Mint in the Tower of London.

The Sovereign of 1489
The Sovereign of 1489

Henry VII ordered the striking of the largest gold coin yet issued in England. The King wished to issue them as gifts to foreign dignitaries to impress upon them the strength of the Tudor dynasty.

He would have had no idea that the coin he issued would, in time, become renowned around the world.

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Typography and coin design

In over seven years of working in the design and engraving department at The Royal Mint, I cannot recall a coin or medal design that didn’t include some element of written language. Whether it is the notation of an authorising country, the denomination, the year of production, or an artist’s initials; type and typography are fundamental elements of coin design.

Inspired to learn more about typography

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The only genuine footage of The Titanic

The only genuine footage of The Titanic

Our friends at British Pathe let us use this amazing archive footage. It includes the only genuine footage of The Titanic, along with a lot of other footage from the same era which provides a flavour of a bygone age.

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The Royal Mint on The Alan Titchmarsh show

The Royal Mint on The Alan Titchmarsh show

Below is yesterday’s Alan Titchmarsh episode. We’re on from 17.25 onwards if you want to skip ahead! The Royal Mint’s expert and Senior Research Curator Graham Dyer talks about some of the commemorative coins from The Royal Mint, both past and present. Richard Bishop from Spink shows some older coins, including a Queeen Elizabeth 1 … Read more…

Wedding gifts and traditions – A silver sixpence

These days it is common to associate diamonds with engagement rings, and wedding lists with wedding gifts from guests…but both of these ‘traditions’ are modern inventions.

De Beers, a diamond mining conglomerate, launched an advertising campaign promoting diamond engagement rings in the 1930s. The campaign, which used the slogan “A diamond is forever”, was devised by advertising agency N.W. Ayer & Son and was fantastically successful, changing the way the world bought diamonds.

Similarly, the idea of a bridal registry, or wedding gift list, was invented in 1924 by department store Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s). Although many people choose not to use a prescribed gift list it is a concept that has gained great popularity in recent times.

…coins are ‘the original wedding gift’

 

Against such recent innovations, it is interesting to reflect on the fact that coins are ‘the original wedding gift’, with a tradition stretching back over thousands of years. Roman grammarian Nonius Marcellus stated that,
…the Roman bride “by way of an old Roman custom” carried three coins: one for her husband, one for the Lares Familiares, and one for the Lares of the neighbouring crossroads.
(Source: The Roman Wedding: Ritual and Meaning in Antiquity By Karen K. Hersch, Cambridge, 2010)

There are a wealth of traditional opportunities to give coins as wedding gifts. Below we list some of the more common. If you have your own, please leave a comment below!

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