July 25, 2014

Royal Mint Launches the “Portrait of Britain Collection”

The Royal Mint have launched a new four-coin set of some of the country’s most iconic and world renowned landmarks. The four landmarks are all in the city or locale of London and are among some of the most widely visited destinations by both British and foreign tourists. The four landmarks included in this set are:

2014 Elizabeth Tower Silver Coin

Elizabeth Tower: Formerly known as the Clock tower, the immense structure housing the actual clock and the great bell – is more commonly referred to as “Big Ben”. The tower was re-named in 2012 in honor of Queen Elizabeth II who celebrated her 60th year of reign or Diamond jubilee in that same year – only the second monarch in British history to do so. The tower itself holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower. The tower, with its neo-gothic style architecture was designed by Sir Charles Barry and completed in 1858, the tower celebrated its 150th anniversary on the 31st May 2009. The tower has become one of the most prominent symbols of London as well as the United Kingdom and is often in the establishing shot of films set in London.

2014 Buckingham Palace Silver Coin

Buckingham Palace: Arguably one of the most world-famous residences of royalty, Buckingham Palace has been home to British reigning Kings & Queens since 1837 and the accession of Queen Victoria. Originally known as Buckingham House, the building was built as a large townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a plot of land which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was subsequently acquired by King George III in 1761. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which included the East front, containing the well-known balcony on which the royal family traditionally congregates to greet well-wishers. The Buckingham Palace Garden is also the largest private garden in London. The state rooms, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year for most of August and September, as part of the Palace’s Summer Opening.

2014 Tower Bridge Silver Coin

Tower Bridge: Built from 1886 to 1894, it is a combined bascule and suspension bridge structure which crosses the River Thames. Its close proximity to the famed thousand year old Tower of London is where its name is derived and has become an iconic symbol of London. Tower Bridge is sometimes mistaken for or referred to as “London Bridge”. The bridge was officially opened on the 30th June 1894 by The Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, and his wife, The Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra. The bridge consists of two ornate and neo-gothic style towers tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. The bridge’s present color scheme dates from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II. Originally it was painted a mid greenish-blue color.

2014 Trafalgar Square Silver Coin

Trafalgar Square:  A public space in central London it is built in the area adjacent to Charing Cross. Situated in the City of Westminster, its center is Nelson’s Column, a 169 foot or 51.6 meter high monument which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. The public square was designed by William Railton and built to commemorate the heroism of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The Corinthian style column at the center of the square is topped with an 18 feet or 5.5-metre high statue of the Admiral which was sculpted by Edward Hodges Baily. The four identical bronze lions at the column’s base were not added until 1867. The square today has been partially pedestrianized and is an all-time favorite for tourists to spend an afternoon feeding some of the pigeons and having their photos taken in front of the legendary Nelson’s column. The square also serves during the month of December as the spot where the city erects its official Christmas tree, an annual gift given to the United Kingdom by the people of Norway in recognition for their liberation by UK forces in 1945.

Denomination Metal Weight Dimensions Quality Mintage
5 Pounds X 4 .925 silver 28 grams 38.6 mm. Proof & color 3500 sets

The four coins are designed by Royal Mint engravers Laura Clancy and Glyn Davies and also include subtle coloring on the more prominent aspects of their designs. All four coins bear the obverse portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS and in use on British and commonwealth coinage since 1998. The four-coin set is presented in a stylish Royal Mint presentation case, complemented by a booklet that tells the fascinating story behind each iconic subject. A certificate of authenticity completes the set to confirm it is one of only 3,500 available.

For more information or to place an order, please visit this page on the Royal Mint website. Information offered in English – international orders dispatched.

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Comments

  1. Mrs Patricia Aidley says:

    Can I submit my design for the proposed new £1 coin obverse, as part of the consultation process? How do I do that, please?

  2. M Alexander says:

    Hello Patricia,

    Well, the proposed new design for the upcoming £1 coin is still under development, and the obverse side as with all UK coinage will carry an image of the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. As far as I know, a new portrait is not part of the new coin’s design but if you have an idea or design for the reverse, that would go through the Treasury as they are the issuer and have final approval.

    The best thing is to have a look at the Royal Mint’s website and see if there is a section on consultation, that would point you in the right direction. The coin is still in that process, that of consultation and is not scheduled to be released until at least 2017 the earliest.

    M Alexander

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks, so much, for providing the details on this newest RM offering, Mr. Alexander. I like the premise of this product, and am quite pleased with the landmarks selected for the four, respective coins. Within London and its immediate vicinity, there are enough, similarly well know landmarks to create another 2 or 3 sets of this type.

    I recognize that this is a limited edition program, with 3500 certified sets from the 5000 authorized mintages for each coin, but their price point for four, less than one troy ounce, Sterling silver coins in nice packaging seems to leave a lot on the table from the collector’s perspective. In comparison, the RM still has yet to sell out their similarly priced, 2014 5 oz Year of the Horse product, which was struck with a PR finish in 0.999 Silver and an authorized mintage of 1488.

    I was wondering if you might be able to provide some insight as to why the RM continues to use the Sterling Silver format for so many of their highly priced commemorative issues, while they have simultaneously transitioned to 0.999 silver for their more competitively priced Britannia bullion, proof and uncirculated issues, as well as some of their other, unique numismatic offerings – like the Year of the Horse product mentioned above. I would think that some of their current, nicely designed products, like the Queen Anne 350th and their “Floral Series” Piedfort coins, might see improved interest had they been struck in 0.999 silver with slightly better pricing. I know I was interested in both of those until I learned they were struck in Sterling.

  4. M Alexander says:

    Hello Chris,

    Regarding the British £5 crowns and their contionued use of sterling silver instead of gravitating to .999 silver, I can only offer my own insight as to why this is continued.

    Having compiled a list of commemorative British crowns for an article about these exceptional coins, the Royal Mint, when they decided to issue the first decimal crown in 1972 for the silver wedding anniversary of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh chose the very same specifications as traditional silver crowns, that of 28 grams of sterling silver, 38.6 mm. perhaps to offer continuity with previous silver crowns of those specifications which goes back to the more refined & machine pressed crowns issued during the reign of King George III from 1818. Of course the 5 shilling sterling silver crown dates further back but it is the 1818 crown of George III which set the standard for future production of this 5 shilling denomination. It wasn’t until the reign of Queen Victoria that this denomination was produced in greater numbers with three portraits used for circulation pieces during her 63 year long reign.

    The Crown was also produced in limited numbers during the reign of George V and only after the silver content had been reduced to 50% – this occurred in 1920 after the end of the First World War. Curiously, the Royal Mint’s first commemorative coin for general use was only produced in 1935 for the silver jubilee of George V in 1935 but this coin too, was produced in the reduced silver content. A coronation year series of coins were produced in 1937 for King George VI and also included a circulation type 5 shilling crown, this too was produced in the now familiar 50% silver fineness. Successive crowns in 1951, 1953, 1960 and 1965 were produced exclusively in cupro-nickel so it was a real welcome when in 1972, the Royal Mint returned to its roots and issued the sterling silver crown.

    To date (not including series & sets) and since 1972, there have been 35 additional sterling silver crowns which have mostly celebrated royal anniversaries and milestones, with two crowns issued in 2005 for the bi-centenary anniversaries of the death of Nelson and the battle of Trafalgar. Two definitive Olympic coins were issued in 2012, including the para-lympic games and one of the most popular coins recently issued was on the occasion of the birth of Prince George though I suspect the popularity was due more to the reverse design on the reverse than for the occasion.

    I am not aware if the Royal Mint feel compelled to revise the silver content of the traditional crown to increase the fineness & weight to a troy ounce but… they did something last year which saw the silver Britannia bullion ounce coin increased in silver fineness to .999 from the previous Britannia .958 fine standard and saw a reduction in the diameter from 40 mm. to 38.6 mm.

    It might be that the RM issues two distinctive crowns, those of the traditional specifications for royal occasions and an ounce standard for all other crowns such as the WWI series and the new Portraits series – I suspect time and public, which I mean collector demand might be what determines this, watch this space…

    M Alexander

  5. Chris says:

    I really appreciate you taking the time to prepare and publish this wealth of information about the Crown coins and some of the unique offerings within that series. You articles and your willingness to engage in dialogues with your readers have helped to further my understanding of our hobby and the coins I collect. I’m already looking forward to your next offering.

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