The new millennium began officially in 2001, but a lot of Mints decided to issue coins dated 2000 and with commemorative designs mostly to accommodate collectors who wanted something special to mark the event. One year earlier, a British £5 crown with a dual year date of 1999 and 2000 was one of many coins which marked the passing of a thousand years with an appropriate reverse design featuring the location of Greenwich, where time is measured for the world. The coin was released a second year with the same design in 2000, but many pointed out that the coins should have been dated 2000 and 2001 for greater accuracy. In Australia, the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney were front and centre, with an array of coins to mark the occasion.
Referencing time, the first member of Britain’s royal family, the Queen Mother, celebrated her centenary birthday; it was respectfully pointed out she was as old as the century, and in her honour, a commemorative £5 crown was released. In 2002, the Queen marked 50 years on the throne, and her Golden Jubilee was celebrated in the United Kingdom and in most of the Commonwealth. A beautiful £5 crown coin was released with an equestrian theme and depicted the Queen on horseback, similar to the crowns of 1953 and 1977. Another royal event, the golden wedding anniversary of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, was celebrated with a second commemorative obverse depicting the royal couple for £5 crowns. In 2007, the United Kingdom and London were awarded the Summer Olympics for 2012, and in 2009, we began to see the first of many spectacular coins to mark this international sporting event. In October 2007, I had the opportunity to interview David Barrass, the-then CEO of the Royal Mint, about the upcoming programmes and visited the facilities of the Royal Mint in Llantrisant. It would be the first of many visits in the coming years.
2000 Australia $5 Sydney Olympics
As a long-term Olympic collector, there always seems to be one coin in particular that either stands out from the rest or is designated as the definitive Olympic collector coin. I managed to add Olympic-themed coins since the first ones were released by Finland’s Mint in 1951. Unfortunately, Australia didn’t issue an Olympic-themed coin for the 1956 games, nor did Italy in 1960. Since 1964, host countries have released commemorative Olympic coins for all Summer and some Winter Games. This Australian coin was released as part of an overall greater series of 16 designs and included two effigies with both the Royal Australian Mint and Perth Mint sharing production. The reverse side, designed by Stuart Devlin, depicted the iconic Sydney Opera House along the harbour, which is surrounded by Sydney’s skyline encircling the primary design. The official Olympic Sydney logo is shown just under in colour and struck to Proof quality by the Perth Mint. In my opinion, this was the definitive coin to obtain and add to any Olympic coin collection, but if I hadn’t purchased this coin, I would have gladly settled for the design featuring the Sydney Harbour Bridge as second runner-up.
2001 Canada Dollar
As someone who loves history and coins, I’m often quite enthusiastic when the two come together with such perfection, and that’s exactly what the 2001 Canadian silver dollar accomplished for me. The reverse design replicated the elusive 1911 Canadian dollar coin, which was never released into circulation and is considered a pattern design. With just a few test pieces struck at the British Royal Mint, the dies having been prepared in London, they were dispatched to Canada’s new Royal Mint in Ottawa but owing to a change in government, the coins were never authorised for production. The reverse was faithfully replicated and carries the years 1911 and 2001, and, as they were Proof strikes, the sharpness of the leaves, ribbons, and crown are unbeatable. This is certainly one of my favourite Canadian dollars, and although I would have preferred the RCM have waited until 2011 for this particular coin, they did release a similar commemorative coin for the coin’s centenary anniversary and included the effigy of King George V on the obverse instead of the Queen.
2004 UK Entente Cordiale, £5
I think one of the most outstanding crowns in terms of design concept during this decade was released on the centenary anniversary of the Entente Cordiale. A personal initiative of King Edward VII in 1904 to French President Émile Loubet, the rapprochement was meant to improve Anglo-French relations and trade ties between the United Kingdom and Great Britain. An outstanding feature of the design is the blending together seamlessly of the two allegorical figures, Britannia and Marianne, as they were depicted on British and French coins during the era. Britannia was seen on Edwardian florins from 1902 until 1911, while Marianne was depicted as the sower on two, one, and half-franc silver coins from 1898 until the end of the First World War. A nice element of the coins was both the Royal Mint and Monnaie de Paris released their own version, the very same design, but on the British coin, Britannia is technically at the top of the design next to the word ENTENTE while on the French coin, it is Marianne who is featured next to this word, very clever. I originally purchased the Reverse Proof version, which was struck in cupro-nickel and later found a silver Proof version on my travels; definitely one of the British crowns to look out for and add to any collection.
Variation of Effigies — Australia Royal Visit 2000 50 Cents
I obtained a cupro-nickel version of this coin to put an article together about the Queen’s Royal visit. The effigy was designed by eminent Australian artist Vladimir Gotwald who had actually submitted this attractive effigy of the Queen to the Royal Mint as a contender to replace the Maklouf effigy on British and Commonwealth coinage. Ultimately Ian Rank-Broadley’s effigy was chosen in 1998, but the Royal Australian Mint did make use of the design and included it on commemorative 50-cent coins marking the Queen’s Royal Visit in 2000. I added the sterling silver Proof coin to my collection only last year. Queen Elizabeth II was the first reigning monarch to visit Australia as Head of State. In total, she visited 16 times during her 70-year reign. Her first visit took place in 1954, and the last being in 2011. The 2000 visit lasted 16 days and included a tour of the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, where the Olympics were staged later in the year.
UK Golden Jubilee £5 Crown
Queen Elizabeth II was known for her great fondness for horses, her equestrian skills, and for her keen eye for thoroughbreds. It has often been said that had she not become Queen, she could have made a name for herself in horse racing and horse breeding. The 2002 Golden Jubilee crown depicted the Queen for a third time on horseback, skilfully designed by Ian Rank-Broadley, which was seen on the obverse. The additional legend below the standard titles, AMOR POPULI PRAESIDIUM REGINAE, translates to “the love of the people is the Queen’s protection,” which we were reminded of on more than one occasion. Equally exceptional was the effigy of the Queen, which was shown on the reverse. The likeness of Elizabeth II was based on actual photographs taken for the occasion and beautifully transitioned onto these coins, also the work of Mr. Rank-Broadley and sculpted with great detail. The Queen is shown wearing the George IV State diadem and ermine cape, quintessentially regal and serene, and a coin that makes a statement for an event to be remembered.