The centuries-long tradition of the Kingdom of Denmark celebrating Royal events & anniversaries with the issue of a commemorative coin continues this month, as 2015 ushers in celebrations for the 75th birthday of one of Europe’s longest serving heads of state, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. The recent circulation coins of Denmark have undergone a lot of change, and the same goes for collector & commemorative issues. As a long-time collector myself, Danish coins have always been a favorite of mine to collect, mainly due to their variety and since their monetary reform in 1870, their frequency. Last year, the National Bank of Denmark made the disappointing announcement that due to the running costs of the Royal Danish Mint, which comes under their financial umbrella – and with the level of coinage anticipated in the coming years, they would be retiring the production facilities of the Royal Danish Mint from 2016 – and with it, more than five centuries of numismatic tradition. For this reason, the 2015 coin is especially poignant & relevant as it may likely be the last commemorative coin produced by the Royal Danish Mint before further production is tendered out to an exterior Mint facility.
If you are one of those collectors who can appreciate the fact that the Royal Danish Mint hasn’t “churned out” dozens of coins per year which in a real way, lessens their exclusivity or specialness associated with a commemorative coin, then Denmark is a country you should have or should be collecting. However, the fact that they haven’t bought in to producing many products may well be the reason the Bank has made the disappointing decision to fold up shop – thus ending a fine national tradition spanning more than 500 years.
As a tribute to some of my favorite coins which I’ve managed to acquire over the last couple of decades and in honor of the latest Danish silver Birthday crown, I’d like to focus on the previous birthday coins issued during Queen Margarethe II’s reign, beginning with the first one issued in 1958 celebrating her 18th birthday when her father King Frederik IX was the Danish monarch – to this coin issued on the 8th April which brings this specific topic to five in total. Previously, there have been coins marking the Queen’s 18th, (before her accession) her 50th, 60th and 70th birthdays. The stark differences which can be seen on all of these coins is a treat for admirers of diverse approach to design, a real delight to behold, all so different from one another and for so many reasons!
Along the way, I’m also going to look at some of the other commemorative coins which mark a milestone in the Queen’s life such as weddings, her accession & their anniversaries. These coins, over half a century chronicle the life of the Queen as she emerged from young Princess & Queen-in-waiting to the self-assured, poised and elegant head of state known & admired to much of Europe as only one of two reigning female sovereigns after Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
Queen Margrethe II succeeded to the Danish throne in 1972 at the age of 31 as the eldest daughter of King Frederik IX and Princess Ingrid of Sweden. As such, the Queen is now the longest reigning Scandinavian Monarch with Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustav reigning from 1973 and King Harald V succeeding to the Norwegian throne in 1991. The-then Princess Margrethe was given the designation of heir presumptive in 1953 after the Danish government and the Royal family recognized female succession to the throne and an amendment to the Danish constitution was added. Had this change not been instituted, Denmark’s throne would have been inherited by her uncle, the one-time Crown Prince Knud, younger brother of her father or a male cousin, perhaps one of the Prince’s two sons. The first of Princess, later Queen Margrethe’s birthday coins were issued in 1958.
1958 2 Kroner 18th Birthday
As the heir to the Danish Crown, Margrethe prepared for her new eventual role within the Royal family as she was now expected to succeed her father in her own right. On the occasion of her 18th birthday, Princess Margrethe was given a seat in the Council of State as recognition of her coming of age. She was portrayed for the first time on a commemorative silver coin of 2 Kroner (31 mm.) which was issued to celebrate this milestone birthday. This was only the second commemorative coin which was issued during the reign of King Frederik IX. The coin included a charming depiction of the teenaged princess wearing a string of pearls and looking to the left along with the commemorative text “PRINSESSE MARGRETHE 16 4 1958” along with the coin’s value of 2 KRONER beneath the portrait. The obverse included the first portrait of King Frederik IX which was used on one and two Kroner circulation coins
1967 10 Kroner Wedding
On the 10th June 1967, Crown Princess Margrethe married her fiancé, Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, a French diplomat who joined the French Foreign Affairs ministry in 1962, working as a Secretary at the embassy in London from 1963 to 1967. On the occasion of the wedding of the heiress presumptive to the newly created Prince Henrik (his first name Henri was altered to the Danish version) of Denmark, a new 10 Kroner silver coin was issued (36 mm) the first silver coin with this denomination. This traditionally designed coin depicted the new Royal couple in conjoined portraits and facing to the right. The text around the portraits reads: PRINCESSE MARGRETHE PRINS HENRIK 10 JUNI 1967” with the coin’s value of 10 KRONER just below the portraits. The obverse carries a more mature effigy of King Frederik IX first used on an earlier wedding coin for his youngest daughter in 1964.
1972 10 Kroner accession
Unexpectedly, just after King Frederik IX delivered his new year’s address to the nation, he had fallen ill. After a reign of not quite 25 years, the King had died on the 14th January 1972 and the Crown Princess was proclaimed Queen Margrethe II from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace the following day by the-then Prime Minister. An accession coin in the tradition of previous coins for the same occasion was issued later in the year which saw a graceful portrait of the new Queen on the obverse along with her motto “GUDS HJÆLP · FOLKETS KÆRLIGHED · DANMARKS STYRKE” (God’s Help, people’s affection, Denmark’s strength) This portrait would later be used on one and five Kroner circulation coins until they were replaced with the current series introduced in 1990. The reverse of this coin included a third and last portrait of King Frederik IX along with his title and the dates of his accession and death along with the denomination of 10 KRONER.
1986 10 Kroner, Crown Prince’s 18th Birthday
After the issue of the Queen’s accession coin, commemorative coins would not be produced in Denmark for another 14 years since according the Royal Danish Mint, there were no significant Royal events to celebrate. That is until the Crown Prince celebrated his 18th birthday in 1986 and, as was done for his mother for her own 18th birthday 28 years earlier, a silver (and cupro-nickel for general circulation) commemorative 10 Kroner silver coin (28 mm) was struck. The coin included a somewhat abstract and unpopular portrait of the Queen on the obverse with a similarly styled portrait of Crown Prince Frederik on the reverse. This portrait was later used on new 10 and 20 Kroner coins which were introduced into circulation as part of the coinage reform program which was begun in 1989.
1990 200 Kroner Queen’s 50th Birthday
The announcement that a new coin would be produced for the 50th birthday of Queen Margrethe II was greeted by avid coin collectors with great enthusiasm. Collectors were particularly excited due to the coin’s denomination of 200 Kroner and its dimensions of 31 grams and 38 mm. The last such birthday coin was issued in 1945 on the occasion of the 75th Birthday of the Queen’s Grandfather, King Christian X. However, collectors weren’t quite prepared for the unorthodox design or depiction of the Queen on the new coin which emerged. Designed by Medalier Jan Petersen, his intention was to present something which would be both innovative but traditional at the same time. The detailed portrait depicted the Queen wearing a couture-designed hat, flower ear rings and casual dress rather than a tiara or gown. Note the number “2” instead of the traditional Roman numerals of “II” after the Queen’s name, also a departure from the norm but the number is also included in the Queen’s monogram of her own design. The result was greeted with some misgivings – among those were from the Queen herself but also accolades for the different approach taken and not seen previously on Danish coinage. Eventually, the Queen gave her approval for the coin and it was issued days before her birthday which is on the 16th April. The reverse included a strong depiction of the Danish crown along with a flower beneath, a Marguerite or more commonly known as a daisy, said to be a favorite of Queen Margrethe and supposedly a nickname she is known by with close members of her family.
1997 200 Kroner, 25th anniversary of accession
I wanted to include this coin – although not issued for a birthday, as it’s a favorite of mine and perhaps was one of the more imaginative coins to have been struck by the Royal Danish Mint. It is the 1997 silver coin issued in celebration of the Queen’s 25th anniversary of accession and instead of the usual profile portrait seen so often, the designer Jan Petersen decided to create a more, stately image of the monarch – Queen and head of state as well as head of the Royal House. Inspired by the coins issued by King Christian IV, who had been depicted standing with scepter & crown in hand, the result was a very regal Queen standing in a formal gown, hand extended and wearing the country’s highest chivalrous order, the order of the Elephant around her neck. The reverse, simple in comparison to the obverse, sees the Royal shield in circular shape with the commemorative years “1972 1997” around the upper half of the rim.
2000 200 Kroner Queen’s 60th Birthday
A change in coin portraiture took place in 2000 but the effigy was first used on the commemorative coin issued to celebrate the 60th birthday of the Queen. Designed by Mogens Møller, Queen Margrethe is portrayed looking to the right as is traditional for the Danish sovereign, wearing a familiar drop pearl tiara and matching brooch but, the portrait is less detailed and has been described as more caricature than portrait. For this commemorative coin, the portrait is placed in front of a subtle daisy motif which is seen in the background. The stark letters around the design include the Queen’s name and title. The reverse design is more festive with a collection of daisies and the commemorative years “1940 2000” seen at the top with the denomination placed below. The coin was issued in two versions, 20 kroner aluminum bronze & 200 Kroner pure silver. The portrait transitioned over to circulation 10 and 20 Kroner coins with a slight difference as the brooch and background daisy was removed, this portrait remained in use until 2011 when it was again changed with a new design which included greater detail to the Queen’s physical image.
2010 500 Kroner Queen’s 70th Birthday
In 2010, a new and some would say a more traditional and finely detailed portrait of the Queen was introduced – first as with the last portrait, on the commemorative coin to mark the Queen’s Birthday, in this case, her 70th. The smaller lettering set of this coin which became a firm favorite with Danish coin collectors mainly due to its more traditional look. The reverse includes not only renditions of daisies but also of the Danish coat of arms complete with crown atop. The coin’s face value was increased to 500 Kroner and the commemorative years are placed along the upper half towards the rim. This effigy is presently used only on 10 and 20 Kroner circulation-type coins. For collectors who wanted a coin with an accurate and detailed portrait of the Queen which has traditional elements comparable to the coins of previous monarchs, this would be the coin to acquire.
2015 500 Kroner 75th Birthday
A departure in design for this coin is an understatement as far as an approach to the Queen’s portrait is concerned. The overall look to Danish coinage has for the most part relied on profile depictions and regardless of their detail and approach, it has mostly been that format but with this new coin, designed by senior Royal Danish Mint engraver Henrik Wiberg, that approach takes a back seat. On this occasion, the Queen is depicted three quarter front-facing, a great departure for Danish coin design. Another aspect of this portrait which is out of the ordinary as there is no head covering, neither hat or tiara to denote this royal lady, just the Queen’s normal hairstyle as she looks towards the right – perhaps in keeping with the right-facing practice. The reverse was designed by senior graphic designer Jeanette Skov Jensen of the National Bank. She designed the reverse which was inspired by the Queen’s own watercolor paintings and includes motifs from Denmark. The design is inspired from changes between horizon and vertical lines, the weather, daytime and seasons – Superimposed over the depiction of this depiction is the Queen’s personal signature of just “M” along with the coin’s denomination and commemorative years “1940 – 2015”
Background on design
A trained engraver and medallist, Henrik Wiberg taught himself about portraiture and had attempted only a few portraits previously before taking on the task of designing coins for the Mint. He accepted the commission for this project 8 months before the coin’s actual production date and after consultation with the Queen’s office about what the coin might look like. Wiberg knew that in order to utilize as much space as possible on the coin’s surface, which was something he wanted to ensure, a three-quarter position approach would achieve this as far as the Queen’s portrait was concerned. Notes from the Queen’s office suggested that on this occasion, he not portray her with any royal jewellery such as a tiara. With this in mind, Wiberg also wanted to include two things about the Queen’s expression, that she look forward – as if into the future, continuing as the country’s head of state but at the same time, looking back over the seventy five years of her life’s experience and those of the country as a whole.
I had been given a sneak-preview of this coin in February which compelled me to plan this article because of the striking differences of the previous birthday coins and which this coin specifically displayed, but also as an opportunity to write about one of my favorite countries to collect coins from. As the Royal Danish Mint wind up their activities after more than 500 years of chronicling the history of Denmark through their coins and doing it so skilfully, as a coin collector, I will be very sorry to see these last coins produced. Nonetheless, I will be eagerly adding this coin to an already extensive collection spanning back to the late 1700’s. I will very much be lamenting the decision which makes the reality of this coin having the disquieting distinction as being the Royal Danish Mint’s very last commemorative – and with this coin, the Royal Danish Mint goes out as it came in, med dygtighed og stil, with skill and style.
The latest commemorative coin can be obtained directly from the retail section of the Royal Danish Mint. A pure silver version as well as a proof 20 Kroner aluminium-bronze example and uncirculated 20 Kroner coins in Mint rolls (20 coins per roll) are all available. For more information, please visit the website of the Royal Danish Mint at: https://royalmint.dk/shop/hm-queen-margrethe-254p.html
My thanks go to the Marketing department of the Royal Danish Mint for the use of many images of the coins which are mentioned in this article, it is greatly appreciated.
Crown coin List of Royal occasions
- 1990 50th Birthday coin
- 1992 25th wedding anniversary
- 1995 1000th anniversary of Danish coinage
- 1995 Wedding of Prince Joachim
- 1997 25th anniversary of accession
- 2000 60th birthday coin
- 2004 Wedding of Crown Prince Frederik
- 2008 Royal Yacht Dannebrog (also part of twelve-coin 20 Kroner “Ships series” introduced in 2007)
- 2010 70th birthday coin
- 2012 40th anniversary of accession
- 2015 75th birthday coin
Tower coin series
In December 2002, The Royal Mint produced the first in the Tower coin series which comprises a total of ten coins. On selecting the individual towers, importance was attached not only to displaying beautiful towers, but also towers with different functions and from different regions of Denmark. A portrait of the Queen designed by Professor Mogens Møller can be seen on the obverse on all of the coins in the series, and was also used on the ordinary 10-kroner and 20-kroner coins. The obverse was first seen in 2000 when it was used on the Queen’s 60th birthday commemorative coin.
Hans Christian Andersen 200th – fairy-tale coin series
To mark the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen in 2005, The Royal Danish Mint produced a series of 10-kroner circulation coins with motives from the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. A total of five fairy tale coins were issued of which the final one was launched in 2007. In addition to the ordinary 10-kroner aluminium bronze coins, all the fairy tale coins were issued in gold (8.65 grams) and silver crown coin versions. The obverse of the fairy tale coins shows a profile of the Queen by the sculptor, Professor Mogens Møller.
Polar year series
On the occasion of International Polar Year 2007-2009, The Royal Danish Mint produced three thematic coins with motifs from the Polar Regions. All of the thematic coins were issued in three different versions – an ordinary 10-krone circulation coin, a 100-krone silver crown coin and a 1000-krone gold coin.
The gold for the 1000 kroner coins was obtained from the Nalunaq Gold Mine by Nanortalik in the South of Greenland. It was the first time that a coin was minted in gold originating from Greenland. A small polar bear in the legend on the 1000 Kroner coins indicates that the coin consists of this Greenlandic gold. The obverse of the polar coins shows a profile of the Queen by the sculptor, Professor Mogens Møller. All the polar coins are legal tender and can be exchanged at Danmarks Nationalbank at face value without time limit.
In 2007, the Royal Danish Mint produced the first coin in the Ship coin series. The series comprises twelve coins and depicts different types of ships selected to cover as many aspects as possible of Danish maritime history. The series concluded in 2012 and also included a depiction of the Royal Yacht the Dannebrog – this coin minted in 2008 was the only one in the series which was also issued as a silver crown coin with a face value of 500 Kroner, the first time this denomination was issued.
Scientist coin series
To mark the centenary of the publication of Niels Bohr’s atomic theory, The Royal Danish Mint produced a new series of coins with scientific theories developed by Danish scientists as their common theme.
All of the four coins in the series were issued on the 7th October 2013 and their motifs were Niels Bohr’s atomic model, Hans Christian Ørsted’s experiment demonstrating electromagnetism, Ole Rømer’s diagram describing the speed of light and Tycho Brahe’s constellation Cassiopeia accentuating the star Stella Nova. On the obverse of the coin is a portrait of the Queen designed by the sculptor Lis Nogel which was originally created to mark the Queens 70th birthday in 2010. The scientist coin series comprises four different 500-krone silver coins and four different 20-krone coins for circulation. For collectors, proof versions of the 20-kroner circulation coins were also minted.