The Central Bank of Malta has issued (4th June) new silver collector coins to mark an event in Maltese history remembered as an essential step to self-rule and eventual independence. The day is remembered on the 6th June, when, in 1919, four Maltese nationals died when fired upon by British soldiers.
Despite the nearly 200 years of co-existence between the Maltese and the British, who ruled the island, changes after the conclusion of the Great War began to disrupt life on Malta in terms of its economy and social cohesion. During the war, trade in the Mediterranean was significantly disrupted and affected Malta, which was greatly dependent on this trade for much of the food that fed the small island. During the war, and the months after, the price of grain, flour, and ultimately bread rose sharply which led to expensive shipping insurance for importers and resentment by many locals who suspected merchants of price-gouging on every loaf of bread sold. Aside from this, there were growing rates of unemployment and resentment among the Maltese against the British colonial government, who were increasingly controlling local affairs. Of one particular instance that came to light was the question of language. English was the official language, but there was a growing demand that both Maltese and Italian be used more in public life.
Ultimately, a general disdain for colonialism all contributed to the spirit of unrest, which came to a head on the 7th June 1919. The events of the day began when protestors broke into a shop in Valetta flying a Maltese flag bearing a Union Jack. As word spread, other buildings were stormed, including a flour mill, but police outnumbered by the protestors were unable to keep the situation under control without assistance from the military.
Coincidentally, during the riots, the new British governor and local representatives were, at the time, negotiating what would become a successful compromise that gave Malta greater self-rule. Islanders, however, were instinctively mistrustful of the colonial government, and the negotiators were unaware of the riots until they were well under way. When the Maltese National Assembly learned of the riots, one of the members, Count Alfredo Gatto (1868–1926) spoke twice to the crowds and eventually dissuaded them from further rioting. This happened too late, however, to prevent some British soldiers from firing into an unarmed crowd, resulting in four protestors who lost their lives on the day.
The eventual outcome was that Malta did gain a greater degree of self-rule, but not any degree of real independence. That day would not come until 1964 when the United Kingdom granted Malta full independence on the 21st September 1964. Malta transitioned into a republic 10 years later on the 13th December 1974. However, the Maltese language became the official language, along with English, according to the island’s constitution of 1934, pre-dating independence by 30 years.
The 7th June, or Sette Giugno, is a national holiday in Malta which is celebrated every year and remembers the events that ultimately led to an independent nation and people.
The Proof quality coins are produced by the Royal Dutch Mint at their facilities in Utrecht on behalf of the Central Bank of Malta and are designed by graphic artist Noel Galea Bason. The obverse side carries a representation of a standoff between a crowd and a squadron of armed soldiers. Above the primary design is the denomination of the coins, 10 EURO, and the commemorative inscription to the left of the design which reads 100 SENA SETTE GIUGNO 1919 2019, arranged in four lines.
The reverse side includes the standard motif consisting of the Maltese crest along with the top portion of a tower fortress. The text MALTA is placed to the left and the year of issue 2019 is placed on the right. The entire design is encircled with 12 incused stars symbolising Malta’s membership in the EU and euro-zone.
|28.4 g||38.6 mm||Proof||
The encapsulated coins are presented in a custom-branded Central Bank of Malta case that also includes a certificate of authenticity. For additional information about this coin and others available from the Central Bank, please visit their website.