The Royal Mint has launched (June 8) the third set of crown coins paying tribute to the centennial anniversary of the Great War, which occurred for the United Kingdom from late 1914 to the end of 1918.
The day on which the belligerent powers finally agreed to a cessation of hostilities was November 11, 1918 — the 11th hour on the 11th day, known and celebrated in many countries as Armistice Day. The agreement finally put an end to the fighting in which many countries sustained heavy losses to not only their populations but also to their national infrastructure in ways not seen before.
The end of the First World War saw the dissolution of four great empires in and adjacent to Europe, with the Russian Empire becoming the first casualty. In the face of heavy losses and overwhelming firepower from German forces, Czar Nicholas II abdicated the Russian throne. As a result, the Russians removed themselves from the fighting only to begin what would develop into a civil war of its own, eventually concluding with the formation into the USSR.
The two remaining empires in Europe were also dissolved as a result of their defeat at the hands of the allied powers of Great Britain, France, and the United States, who joined the fighting in 1917. After dissolution, the former German Empire also found itself in a bitter fight within its borders to decide whether it would be a republic or militant communist regime, which almost took root in the former kingdom of Bavaria. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, intact for almost a thousand years under the rule of the Hapsburgs, ceased to exist with the stroke of a pen by the triumphant allied powers; Austria became its own republic in late 1918 and other regions gained statehood between 1918 and 1920.
The fate of Great Britain was more positive, as its citizens emerged from the hostilities having defended their island from invasion and conquest. The British Empire remained intact, although there were louder calls from many of its colonies and the dominions for greater autonomy or independence. French colonies were also firmly in the control of Paris, but with many similarly voicing their desire for independence.
The United States had emerged from the European conflict a stronger country with a decidedly greater voice in determining the fate of countries the U.S. believed were primarily responsible for the war. One of the institutions that would emerge from the fighting would be the League of Nations, supported by President Woodrow Wilson. He believed that this forum, in which nations could negotiate disputes rather than declare war, would be instrumental in preventing deadly conflicts similar to what had just been experienced in Europe.
The coins — all crowns — have themes and designs fitting for the Centennial anniversary. The obverse includes the effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II as designed by Jody Clark and in use since last year.
Jack Cornwell VC: John Cornwell, commonly known as Jack Cornwell or simply Boy Jack, has been depicted at his post in a portrait-style design; he was the last surviving gunner aboard the stricken HMS Chester. The coin’s edge lettering reads MOTHER, DON’T WATCH FOR POSTIE, a quotation from “The Ballad of Jack Cornwell” by Charles Causley. This design was created by sculptor David Cornell, who has undertaken a number of commissions for the Royal Mint, including a coin honoring the flying ace, Albert Ball, which was included in the second First World War six-coin set in 2015.
The Somme: The coin depicts the debut of a new piece of military hardware, the tank, with infantrymen advancing behind it. The coin’s edge lettering, DEAD MEN CAN ADVANCE NO FURTHER, is a quotation taken from Major-General Sir Beauvoir de Lisle, Commander of the British 29th Division. This design was created by John Bergdahl, who has undertaken many commissions for the Royal Mint, including the coin honoring the British Expeditionary Force, which featured in the introductory First World War Six-Coin Set released in 2014.
The Army: David Rowlands’ design depicts a group of soldiers in a state of readiness, holed up in their trench. The edge lettering MEN WHO MARCH AWAY is taken from the poem of the same name by Thomas Hardy. This is Rowland’s fifth coin for the Royal Mint; two of his reverse designs were selected for First World War Six-Coin Set released in 2014, and for the 2015 set he designed the coin honoring the Merchant Navy.
Poetry and Language: David Lawrence has embodied poetry with a simple and familiar image: a line of marching men. The coin’s edge lettering, THE TRUTH UNTOLD, THE PITY OF WAR, is taken from Wilfred Owen’s poem, “Strange Meeting,” one of his most famous works. This is David Lawrence’s third coin design to feature as part of the Royal Mint’s First World War Six-Coins Sets, his others being designs exploring propaganda and the role that animals played during the conflict.
Dreadnought: This design, created by Edwina Ellis, is testament to the technology and firepower of the Dreadnought. The edge lettering, WATCH DOGS OF THE NATION, is taken from Augustus H Cook’s poem, “For England’s Sons in Danger.” Ellis also designed a coin depicting a Howitzer, which featured in the introductory First World War Six-Coin Set released in 2014 and another for the submarine in 2015.
The Battle of Jutland: John Bergdahl designed this coin to depict the full fury of the Battle of Jutland, the only major naval confrontation of the First World War. The coin’s edge lettering, OUR CHILDREN SHALL MEASURE THEIR WORTH, is taken from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The Verdicts.”
|5 Pounds x 6||.925 Silver||28 Grams||38.6 mm.||Proof||1,916 sets|
|5 Pounds X 6||.916.7 Gold||39.94 Grams||38.6 mm.||Proof||25 sets|
The Jack Cornwell VC, Battle of Jutland, The Dreadnought, and Poetry and Language crown coins have maximum mintages of 2,000 pieces. The Army coin is limited to a maximum of 2,500 pieces, and the Battle of the Somme coin to 6,000 pieces. The gold editions are sold as a six-coin inclusive set. For more information on these and other coins offered by the Royal Mint, please visit their Web site. International orders will be dispatched where applicable.