The second part of our series on the life of Queen Anne looks into the events during the early years of her reign. If you missed part one you can read it here.
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…
Both these well-known beliefs are as true today as they’ve ever been, but we believe they can be combined, because coins as love tokens and gifts have long played their part in romantic rituals. There are many records of such traditions, some stretching back centuries. With today’s fashion for all things vintage, maybe now is a good time to resurrect them, so – how would you feel about that special person in your life demonstrating their love for you with the gift of a coin?
1672 Britannia coin
Before you answer too quickly, let’s take a look at some of the history and meaning behind such an idea. It is thought that in the 17th Century the love-struck King Charles II was so enamoured of Frances Stewart (ONE of his many loves) that he asked for the design of Britannia on his coinage to be inspired by her beautiful image – although there is no definite record that his wishes were carried out, the diarist Samuel Pepys remarked that the Britannia design did bear a striking resemblance to the future Duchess of Richmond. Her image has changed, but Britannia has remained a feature of modern British coinage ever since – lasting far longer than any marriage ever has!
On Day 10 of our Facebook Advent Calendar, we’re opening the window (see what I did there?) on our Top 10 Festive Facts. A Christmas quiz has become a fun tradition for many people, so I hope these will help you out!
1. Advent Calendars – the first ones appeared in Germany. The BBC History channel refers to printers in Munich being the first to produce them in 1908. Paper and cardboard rationing during the Second World War put an end to them until 1946. Chocolate advent calendars appeared in the UK in the 1950’s after food rationing ended and they soon spread across the globe, with something for everyone – here’s a trendy one and here’s a classical musical one.
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’swhen 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.
One of the great treasures, the Waterloo Medal Roll, lists the names of all those who fought at the Battle of Waterloo. Medal-making is an area of our work that is perhaps not very well-known. It began here in 1817 when we made the Waterloo Medals, and continues to this day with production of medals for the Armed Forces and many other organisations.
I’ve had a lovely task recently – looking at copies of Birth Certificates of babies born in the UK on the same day as Prince George of Cambridge. We offered a gift of a Lucky Silver Penny to any such baby, asking for applications through our Facebook page, and the response has been phenomenal.
The Lucky Silver Penny
From the details submitted, we’ve found all sorts of interesting facts to share…
I’ve felt surrounded by Georges and Dragons lately! So my friends in our Museum have helped me pull together these Top 10 Facts about them, that I think you really need to know…
Our flagship coin, the Sovereign, is known and recognised throughout the world. It’s our most famous coin and shows St George, the patron saint of England for more than 650 years. We are thrilled that in 2013 this is a real tribute to the new Royal baby Prince George!
The legend of St George and the Dragon symbolises the triumph of good over evil. It’s been familiar for many centuries, for instance in colourful wall paintings in medieval churches and on the badges of pilgrims.
The St George and the Dragon design by Benedetto Pistrucci was first used on gold Sovereigns in 1817. His neo-classical depiction is a masterpiece and has appeared on the coinage of every British monarch since George III, with the single exception of William IV (1830-1837).
The Royal Birth £5 Crown is the first time in over 100 years that Pistrucci’s St George and the Dragon has appeared on a silver crown. It was last seen on a silver coin for the Coronation year of Edward VII in 1902.
St George and the Dragon first appeared on the English coinage in the reign of King Henry VIII. These ‘George nobles’ are very rare and much desired by collectors.
Six Kings have been named George, the first four reigning in succession from 1714 to 1830. George V was The Queen’s grandfather and George VI was her father, who died in 1952. Only Henry and Edward have featured more frequently as Kings’ names, both appearing eight times.
George V was the founder of the Windsor Dynasty in 1917. He used a version of St George and the Dragon for his Silver Jubilee crown in 1935.
With the personal approval of George VI (The Queen’s father) a version of Pistrucci’s design was used for the centre of the George Cross, Britain’s highest civilian award for gallantry. At the same time another version of St George and the Dragon was used for the reverse of the George Medal, based on the bookplate used in the Royal Library at Windsor.
St George and the Dragon also appeared in 1663 in the design on the reverse of the famous petition crown of Charles II (now on loan from our own collection to the exhibition at the Tower of London).
St George and the Dragon is also familiar as the badge of the Order of the Garter, Britain’s oldest order of chivalry dating back over 650 years to the reign of Edward III. The link with the Royal Family is emphasised by the location of St George’s Chapel within the walls of Windsor Castle.
I hope you now feel much more enlightened about St George, his Dragon and how they relate to sovereigns and Sovereign coins!
To see the 2013 range of gold Sovereigns featuring the original Pistrucci design, take a look at The Royal Mint’s website
The Royal Mint’s social media team were lucky enough to have a work experience placement called Leah for a week in July 2013. We asked Leah to post on Facebook asking people to suggest questions that they would like to be answered. Leah researched and wrote the answers to your questions.