This year The Royal Mint revealed a series of brand new base metal UK £5 coins featuring an intriguing range of creatures called the ‘Queen’s Beasts’.
The release soon captured collector’s attention as the use of a bullion coin design on a base metal coin was unprecedented.
However, the choice of designs is equally fascinating and I decided to explore the history of these beasts and find out exactly why they were chosen to feature on our new £5 coins.
Why “The Queen’s Beasts”?
Over 400 years ago Henry VIII commissioned the sculpting of 10 heraldic animal statues. They were produced to represent the ancestry of King Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour. These became known as “The King’s Beasts” and can still be seen to this day, guarding the main entrance to Hampton Court Palace.
In 1952, in preparation for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, sculptor Sir James Woodford was tasked to create ten new statues, similar to “The King’s Beasts” but more suited to the Queen. Woodford was instructed not to produce exact replicas to those at Hampton Court Palace as some of them would have had little connection with Her Majesty’s own family or ancestry.
As the Queen arrived for her coronation at Westminster Abbey, she was greeted by 10 six-foot tall beasts each representing a different part of her genealogy and thus “The Queen’s Beasts” were born.
The 10 beasts were made up of ‘The Lion of England’, ‘The White Greyhound of Richmond’, ‘The Yale of Beaufort’, ‘The Red Dragon of Wales’, ‘The White Horse of Hanover’, ‘The White Lion of Mortimer’, ‘The Unicorn of Scotland’, ‘The Griffin of Edward III’, ‘The Black Bull of Clarence’ and ‘The Falcon of the Plantagenets’.
After the coronation, the beasts were offered to Canada as a gift. The Canadian government accepted and the beasts can still be seen today on display in the Canadian Museum of History.
The Queen’s Beasts in modern culture
Still to this day, the Queen’s Beasts play a hugely important part in British culture, in particular The Lion of England and The Unicorn of Scotland.
For example, they feature in the logos of some of our country’s most famous and important institutions, most notably The Royal Arms, 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.
Now that you know about the history of these heraldic creatures, take a look around and you’ll be surprised how often you see them being used in everyday life.
2018 Red Dragon of Wales CERTIFIED BU £5 coin
The 2018 Red Dragon of Wales £5 coin has been struck to a superior Brilliant Uncirculated condition, ensuring it is perfect for you to add to your collection. It will also come protectively encapsulated in official Change Checker packaging to preserve for generations to come.
After 185 years of production, The Royal Mint of Belgium is set to close forever.
The Royal Mint of Belgium struck its first coins in 1832, just two years after the institution was founded, but the long standing mint will cease operations forever on January 1st 2018.
From the end of the 1990’s the Belgian Mint started producing euro coins ready for the switch from the Belgian Franc to the euro at the start of 2002. And the nation considers itself one of the pioneers with regards to the introduction of the euro as it was Belgian chief engraver Luc Luycks who designed the obverse side of all euro coins.
Unfortunately the Federal Government feels it has become too expensive for the Royal Mint to carry on producing coins itself and has decided that a private company should produce Belgian euro coins. And with more and more people paying electronically there is less and less need for coins.
Instead, the task of striking coins is being outsourced to a private company in an effort to save money.
The Royal Belgium Mint caused a stir back in 2015 when they issued a €2.50 coin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo after France forced it to scrap a €2 coin with the same purpose.
Paris objected to the Belgian coin, commemorating the French emperor’s defeat by British and Prussian forces, branding the commemoration of Waterloo as a “symbol that is negative” which would “undermine the unity of the Eurozone.”
Belgium was forced to get rid of about 180,000 €2 coins that had already been minted after Paris sent a letter saying they could cause an “unfavourable reaction in France”.
But Belgium managed to skirt the French protests by taking advantage of a European rule stating that Eurozone countries are permitted to approve their own coins without approval of other member states, providing the new denomination as an irregular one. In this case the irregular denomination was €2.50.
The Royal Belgium Mint strikes more than 40 million coins a year but the final batch of commemorative coins have now been minted, ready to close its doors in just over a month.
The last coins ever struck at The Royal Belgian Mint were the special €2 coins issued to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Ghent University.
The special coin features an engraved logo of the University of Ghent with the dates 1817-2017. The Belgian mintmark, a helmeted head of the archangel Michel, as well as the mintmaster mark, the armorial bearings of Herzele city, are located respectively on the right and on the left of issuing country indication ‘BE’ (meaning Belgium). The12 stars of the European flag are represented on the external ring of the coin.
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On the 20th November, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh will celebrate their Platinum Wedding Anniversary – that’s an incredible 70 years of marriage (or 25,568 days to be exact) and a first in British royal history.
In honour of the occasion, The Royal Mint issued a brand new £5 coin – featuring a specially commissioned double portrait of the couple.
The coin marks the longest marriage in royal history, and a very personal milestone for the couple. But it’s also the RAREST EVER Royal anniversary and is of huge significance to collectors around the world.
The incredibly rare anniversary few of us know about
Although there are no official statistics to back it up, it seems likely that only around 30 couples will join the Queen and Prince Philip in celebrating their Platinum Wedding Anniversary this year. Or to put it another way – just 60 people in the UK will mark 70 years of marriage in 2017 – that literally makes each of them one in a million!
The royal couple have a love of horses so it is only fitting that the coin depicts the Queen riding her favourite horse ‘Burmese’ with her husband Prince Philip by her side. The special conjoined portrait of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip on the obverse has been designed by Etienne Millner, a leading figurative sculptor.
So not only does the new UK £5 coin commemorate this incredibly rare milestone, the coin is also one of the most historically important coins issued during Her Majesty’s reign.
For the Queen and Prince Philip their Platinum Wedding Anniversary is the pinnacle of their long list of incredible milestones, and this coin is sure to be sought after by collectors all over the world for years to come.
2017 UK Platinum Wedding CERTIFIED BU £5
The Platinum Wedding £5 coin is protectively encapsulated and Certified as superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality, so you know your coin will be protected forever and guaranteed by its Certified Hologram.