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 231 years ago, in 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 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:
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…
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.