The Government of Ascension Island has issued a new coin observing the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.
One of the most well-known documents in recorded history, it was not meant to be a lasting declaration of legal principle, but was a practical solution to a political crisis in England. It served the interests of the Barons of the time by reasserting the power of custom to limit the tyrannical behavior of King John. The document was painstakingly written on parchment and was authenticated with the Great Seal of King John, but not signed.
Copies of the Magna Carta were originally sealed on June 15, 1215 under oath by King John at Runnymede near Windsor on the bank of the River Thames. Three of the four surviving copies of the document have lost their wax seals over the centuries. As a result of changing methods of implementing laws and statutes over time, only three of the original clauses in the Magna Carta are still law; they are: the Freedom of the English Church, the Ancient Liberties of the City of London, and, perhaps the most important one:
“No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will we not pass on him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgement of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not defer to any man either Justice or Right.”
Essentially, this clause guaranteed that everyone has the right to a fair trial. This clause was given no prominence at the time but its adaptability has allowed subsequent generations to interpret it. In the 14th century, Parliament saw it as guaranteeing trial by jury, and it has resonant echoes in the American Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, only four copies of the original 1215 text remain, all of which are located in England; for this year’s auspicious event, all four surviving copies have been brought together to celebrate the anniversary.
The coin is produced by the Pobjoy Mint UK on behalf of the Government of Ascension. Its design is based on the domed memorial at Runnymede in England that contains a pillar of English granite upon which is inscribed “To commemorate the Magna Carta, symbol of Freedom under Law.” King John’s original seal is shown within the roof, with a ribbon curling down the pillar. The domed roof showing the stars can be seen with the central pillar leading down. The coin has been produced with a partially curved shape to replicate the domed roof of the memorial. The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS.
|Crown||Cupro-nickel||28 Grams||38.6 mm.||BU||unlimited|
|Crown||.925 silver||28 Grams||38.6 mm.||Proof||10,000 pieces|
Available in cupro nickel (BU) and sterling silver (Proof), each precious metal version is struck four times to achieve a detailed and sharp Proof finish.
For more information on this and other coins issued by the Government of Ascension, please visit the Web site of the Pobjoy Mint. Information is offered in English, with international orders dispatched where applicable.