A Commemorative Coincidence

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.

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Victoria to Elizabeth Penny by Penny

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.

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Top Three Facts – the Portrait of Britain Coin Designs

Starting in 2014, the Portrait of Britain Collection is intended to be an annual series of coin sets that portray popular and recognisable landmarks, buildings and natural phenomena from all over the United Kingdom. The idea is that each set  is linked by a common theme, and that over time those themed sets will combine to build what the collection promises; a complete ‘Portrait of Britain’.

The Portrait of Britain Collection

For this first Portrait of Britain set, the common theme is the recognisable landmarks and buildings of London. We’ve pulled together just three facts about each one for you, to set the scene. There are, of course, many more we will talk about in future articles, so stay with us!

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Trinity House – a British Beacon

As a similarly ancient British institution (although not quite as old as us!) we can’t help but feel an affinity with Trinity House or, to give them their full title, the Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond. The House itself is situated on Tower Hill, not too far from our previous home at the Tower of London – indeed, there’s a wonderful view of the Tower from Trinity House.

Tower_of_London_at_night 3As the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, it’s responsible for lighthouses, lightvessels, buoys, other navigational aids and communication systems in the seas that surround our shores, as well as providing deep sea pilotage in Northern European waters.

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Royalty and St George & The Dragon – The Top 10 Facts

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 … Read more…

The Changing Face of British Coins – 60 years of the Queen’s coinage

The Royal Mint is famous for making coins. We have been doing this for over 1000 years and have made coins for every King and Queen of England in that time (as well as for Oliver Cromwell). While we are busy making the change in your pocket, change in society is happening all around us. … Read more…

Part 3 – The Royal Mint in 1953 – The Coronation celebrations

In part 3 of our series of posts, the Coronation events take place and the event passes off beautifully. Royal attention turns to the people who made it happen, and official letters of thanks arrive at the Mint.

(Continued from Part 2 – The Royal Mint in 1953 – The Coronation approaches, excitement builds!)

For their role in the Coronation celebrations, many staff at The Royal Mint receive honours and letters of congratulations and thanks from the Royal family.

For those who don’t receive acknowledgement in the form of an official award, the Specimen sets and Crown pieces are available at a special staff rate so they can at least own a wonderful commemorative.

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Part 2 – The Royal Mint in 1953 – The Coronation approaches, excitement builds!

In part two of our series on the events of 1953 we move into February and March, just months away from the 2nd of June Coronation date.

(Continued from Part 1 – The Royal Mint in 1953 – preparing for the Queen’s Coronation)

Lots of things started happening across the Mint. We’ll leave you to read through the office notes to enjoy discovering them yourself, but we can’t resist sharing a few highlights:

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Part 1 – The Royal Mint in 1953 – preparing for the Queen’s Coronation

Hidden in a dusty corner of our Museum archives sat several files of unassuming looking ‘Internal Office Notes’.

Dated from 1926, many of these yellowing old papers had not been read for years. With the historic events of 1953 in mind, we delved into the files. To our delight, this ‘time capsule’ of stories from inside The Royal Mint shed light on the events of 1953. The notes paint a picture of a Royal Mint excited by the prospect of the coming Jubilee celebrations!

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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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The Ultimate Royalist

Now that the excitement of the Diamond Jubilee weekend is beginning to fade, the thoughts of everyone at The Royal Mint begin to turn to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

However, we still want to keep the Diamond Jubilee buzz going a little longer…so if you haven’t yet seen the announcement of the Ultimate Royalist competition winners, check out The Ultimate Royalist webpage for details!

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