The Royal Mint has released the fifth set of collector coins which is part of the popular series entitled “British Monarchs.” The series recreates portraits of previous English and British monarchs as seen on their own coinage at the time of release. The series, when completed in 2026, will comprise coins featuring 21 kings and queens from four specific dynasties and royal houses: Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (renamed Windsor in 1917). The fifth coin features perhaps one of England’s most noteworthy and well-known kings of the 16th century. Henry VIII (1491–1547), of the House of Tudor, was the second son of Henry VII and is remembered for having established the Church of England due to his excommunication from the Catholic Church. Because of his desire for a male heir to inherit his throne, King Henry VIII sought to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine (1485–1536), born a Princess of Aragon, and marry Anne Boleyn (c.1501–1536), a courtier and maid of honour to the Queen. By 1536, Henry VIII had broken with Rome, seized assets of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and declared the Church of England as the established church with himself as its head.
Another aspect of the King’s reign, which is well-remembered, was the debasement of the “coin of the realm,” which involved decreasing the content of silver in his coinage. This was the result of the King needing to pay for the upkeep of his armies on the continent as well as for his extravagant taste and excessive personal spending. With the decrease in the coins’ silver content, King Henry VIII made more profit from the coinage. However, the debasement became very noticeable within a short amount of time. As the coins circulated, the lesser base metal, usually copper, would surface through upon the highest point of the design — that being the King’s nose. As a result, this peculiarity earned Henry VIII the nickname “old copper-nose,” especially in relation to the testoon coins, which depicted the King in a front-facing portrait. King Henry VIII died in 1547 and was succeeded by his young son known as Edward VI, who was himself succeeded by his elder sister Queen Mary I. Since Queen Mary I had no living children of her own, she was, in turn, succeeded by her only living sibling, Princess Elizabeth, now Queen, whose mother was Anne Boleyn.
The design team of the Royal Mint has combined exceptional craftsmanship skills with innovative technology to successfully re-master the Henry VIII coin design. Due to the debasement of the coinage, recreating the front-facing portrait from the surviving examples made this one of the most difficult of the original portraits to reproduce during production, as the fineness, definition, and clarity of the design had been lost over the years. The reverse side of the 2023-dated coins is a re-mastered Henry VIII Testoon coin of 12 pence and depicts what the design would have looked like when it was originally issued. The legend around the King’s crowned portrait reads HENRIC VIII DI GRA AGL FRA Z HIB REX (“Henry the Eighth by the Grace of God, King of England, France, and Ireland”), with each abbreviation separated by a cross.
The obverse side includes an effigy of HM King Charles III created by engraver Martin Jennings and introduced onto British coinage in 2022. The denomination and year of issue of 2023 also appear on the obverse as part of the legend surrounding the King’s likeness.
|2 pounds||.999 Silver||31.1 g||38.6 mm||Proof||1,350|
|5 pounds||.999 Silver||62.2 g||40 mm||Proof||600|
|10 pounds||.999 Silver||156.3 g||65 mm||Proof||250|
|10 pounds||.999 Silver||312.2 g||65 mm||Proof||100|
|100 pounds||.999 Gold||31.2 g||32.6 mm||Proof||100|
|200 pounds||.999 Gold||62.4 g||40 mm||Proof||50|
|500 pounds||.999 Gold||156.3 g||50 mm||Proof||20|
Each of the gold and silver range of the British Monarchs collector coins is encapsulated and presented in a selection of hardwood high-gloss cases (gold) or leatherette or black matte cases (silver) accompanied by numbered certificates of authenticity. For additional information about this new collector series, please visit the Royal Mint’s website.
Additional coins in the series scheduled for release in 2023 include:
|King Charles I||Stuart||March|
|King Charles II||Stuart||June|
|King George II||Hanoverian||September|