I’ve been a bit of numismatist for a while now, mostly secretly, as collecting is a strange thing to admit to your friends. Sometimes people understand and are happy to have found a fellow collector, but more often than not, its an admission that’s met with something akin to pity…..
Anyway, to the subject of today’s blog, coins.
As far as I can remember, the first coin I ever considered as anything more than something to buy sweets with, was a Silver Jubilee Crown given to me by my parents in a presentation wallet back in 1977, and from then on, the Crown has held a special fascination for me, primarily due to its large size, almost 40mm in diameter.
For the first 400 years or so of its existence, despite being made variously of either gold or silver, the crown always had a value of 5 shillings. This only changed after decimalisation in 1971 when it became (unsurprisingly) 25p, a status that lasted up until the final crown celebrating the wedding of Charles & Diana was produced in 1981.
The earliest crown in my collection is the 1935 George V silver crown. Known as the Rocking Horse Crown, this is a beautiful coin with a stylised, almost Art Deco, George and the Dragon design on the reverse that apparently looks like a rocking horse. This playful design is in stark contrast to one of the two crowns issued during the reign of George VI, where the Festival of Britain Crown from 1951 had the far more traditional Pistrucci design of St George and the Dragon.
The next significant event for this coin was its redenomination in 1990 to the value of £5, a value that was felt to be more in keeping with its size, weight and cost of production.
Over the next 20 years new designs of this £5 coin were issued with ever increasing frequencies until now there is at least one new design every year. Some of my favourites are as follows:
The Millennium Crown, with its large clock counting down to midnight. Two versions of this coin were minted. The one shown was sold only at the millennium Dome. It has a small representation of the dome on the right side of the central area (just above the word Anno) and is the much rarer of the two designs.
The 2003 Queens Golden Jubilee Crown is also a striking design as it is one of the very few coins to not feature a detailed portrait of the Reigning Monarch, having as it does a stylised outline on the obverse side.
Finally there is the Crown from 2007, celebrating the Queens diamond wedding with its ornate stained glass window design, taken from Westminster Abbey where the ceremony took place. This coin is again notable, as it has a joint portrait of both the Queen and Prince Phillip on the obverse side.
In all I have over 40 of these wonderful coins, and what with the Olympics and other planned celebratory sets, this is likely to increase at an exponential rate… (as long as I can still afford them of course, and they are not as cheap as they were!)