Today the Royal Mint Museum marks its 200th anniversary! To celebrate this milestone, for 200 days the Museum will share its collection on Facebook, taking a look at a new object each day and revealing some remarkable objects from the collection along the way. In its 200 years, the collection has grown to now encompass nearly 100,000 coins, as well as a collection of some 31,000 tools and 18,000 plasters. But just how has the collection grown and developed over that time?
How many of us have ever asked ourselves the question – what’s in my change? Those of us who have will know the answer, of course, which is – more history, art and treasure than you could imagine! Let me elaborate…
Today is a hugely significant day in the 307-year history of the constitution of the United Kingdom, as we all now know the result of the Scottish referendum. The vote has come back in favour of No and the Kingdom remains United.
We thought it was worth looking back over those years into the mists of time to explore a key figure in the creation of that Union – the life and reign of Queen Anne, the last Stuart Queen and the first monarch of Great Britain. Events during Queen Anne’s reign have a significance that still resonates today and the Act of Union in 1707 could be considered the most significant, and a legacy that now lives on.
Most of us will be aware of the hugely significant nature of the length of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 inspired celebrations in streets across the UK and towns and cities all over the world, and with good reason; it was only the second time in our history that a British monarch had achieved a reign of 60 years.
The only previous such anniversary was enjoyed by The Queen’s great-great-Grandmother, Queen Victoria, who also went on to record the longest reign by any monarch in British history; 63 years, seven months and two days. Looking forwards, there is every chance that Queen Elizabeth II will surpass this record and, in September 2015, become Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
As we begin to look towards this historic date, we have uncovered some intriguing facts and figures about the royal effigies – from Victoria to Elizabeth – that have appeared on one of our most-loved and hardest-working coins, the penny.
Benedetto Pistrucci is a name closely associated with The Royal Mint and a familiar one among numismatists. However, I’m sure there are some of you left wondering just who is Benedetto Pistrucci?
Benedetto Pistrucci was born in Italy, on 29 May 1783. Already established as a renowned gem engraver, he moved to London in 1815. His journey with The Royal Mint began the following year, when he was introduced to William Wellesley Pole, the then Master of the Mint. Pole commissioned Pistrucci to create models of a portrait of King George III, which he created in red jasper – an unusual material for a model of a coin, but one which Pistrucci, as a gem engraver, preferred to use.
Within the drawers of The Royal Mint Museum lie many rare coins, and the 1937 Edward VIII Gold Proof Sovereign is certainly one of the rarer. Another, of the few in existence, recently made headlines when it went to auction and sold for a record £516,000 – the highest sum ever paid for a British coin! Surprisingly, the Edward VIII Sovereign wasn’t the only Sovereign to shock at this auction; a rare 1953 Elizabeth II Gold Proof Sovereign also fetched a staggering £384,000.
In this instalment of our Queen Anne blog series we move into the years of Queen Anne’s reign in which many political upheavals and cultural changes came about. On-going War with Spain, resolution of long-standing tension with Scotland and the development of a two-party political system are all notable issues Anne dealt with during this period. Anne’s confidence in dealing with and influencing such matters increased, evidenced by her vetoing an Act of Parliament in 1708, the last time this has ever happened. It may be said that this was the period in which Anne truly ‘reigned’ in the full sense of the word.
We recently trialed the first of what we hope will become a regular feature for our Social Media fans – #AskaCurator. It is your chance to ask The Royal Mint Museum’s curators absolutely anything – from questions on a specific coin to how to stop silver from toning.
Here is a selection of our favourite questions, picked and answered by one of the Museum’s curators, Chris:
Anne ascended the throne on 8th March 1702 following the death of her unpopular brother-in-law, William of Orange. He had shared the throne with Anne’s sister Mary since 1689, and had inherited it for life following Mary’s death in 1694. He and Mary had no children so Anne was the undisputed heiress to the throne following his death in 1702. In contrast to many Kings and Queens before her, Anne came to the throne peacefully…
It’s hard to be brief about the treasures held safely for the nation behind the anonymous door that opens to The Royal Mint Museum, but I’m going to try, so here are some snippets:
The Museum holds a cabinet said to be Sir Isaac Newton’s when he was Master of the Mint from 1699-1727; pistols from the Tower of London that provided the security of those times and literally thousands of coins from all over the world. Plasters of coins and medals from the late 19th Century, wax impressions of the Great Seals of the Realm and other official Seals from the start of the 20th century, are all preserved here.