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…
4 August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the day Britain, having declared war on Germany, entered the First World War.
It was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, on 28 June 1914 that set in motion a series of events which would lead to the beginning of the First World War. Following the assassination, Austro-Hungary served an ultimatum to Serbia; deeming the response to be unsatisfactory, they then declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914.
ill you be celebrating Father’s Day this year in a similar way to Mother’s Day? We all know Father’s Day is not celebrated on the same scale as Mother’s Day generally, and while I’ve read some articles that try to explain why , I think the reason is simple – it’s because Fathers and Mothers are so different! What delights your Mum may well not please your Dad so much, especially those sentimental and openly affectionate gestures usually welcomed by Mums.
I’ve made a sweeping generalisation there, so let’s take a look at how Father’s Day started and see where it takes us…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although The Royal Mint is enjoying a new focus on bullion, UK bullion coins have hundreds of years of history.
The Royal Mint’s 1,100 year history of producing fine coins make it uniquely placed to offer bullion buyers the security and reassurance that they demand.
The origin of UK bullion, The Gold Sovereign
Quality assured by Act of Parliament, the ﬁrst gold Sovereign was struck in 1489 by order of King Henry VII and took its name from the regal portrait of the Monarch that appeared on its obverse – a tradition that is observed to this day.