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.
We’re often asked by Change Checkers what can they collect once they’ve completed their collections of 50ps, £1s and £2s.
Quite simply, there’s only one answer. £5 coins. These are my reasons why:
1. A Treasure Hunt
In the past, collectors were able to get £5 coins from banks and post offices, but nowadays some of the older designs are like gold-dust. And more often than not, new UK £5 issues are snapped up by collectors on release, so it can be quite a challenge tracking down every single one for a complete collection. You can source online, in auctions and of course from Change Checker! We’ve built up some superb stock over the years which we are now making available to collectors.
2. When less is more
In this case – interest. It’s obvious that popular coin issues create instant and on-going demand for a coin, but the same can be said for ‘less interesting’ coin designs. Let me explain…
This may come as a surprise, but a coin that is issued with a less interesting theme or design and is not initially popular with collectors, can be a real hidden gem for coin collections. This is because the less coins that are sold, the lower the final number of units that are available to future collectors.
But whilst most collectors would shy away from unpopular themes, it is these very coins that are likely to become the most sought after in years to come. And the 2011 Prince Philip £5 coin is a prime example…
Back in 2011 a UK £5 coin was issued by The Royal Mint in celebration of the 90th birthday of Prince Philip.
The coins design featured a specially commissioned portrait of Philip by Mark Richards FRBS. Just 18,730 of these coins were struck in Brilliant Uncirculated presentation packs making it one of the rarest £5 coins ever.
And because of this, the coin is extremely sought after by collectors and is virtually impossible to get hold of on the secondary market.
3. Only available for a limited time
As you probably already know, coins with a lower mintage are often the most sought-after by collectors in years to come. And the coins with popular themes are timeless pieces of numismatic history that only become more and more desireable as time passes.
£5 coins are only available for a limited time and when you add to this the intense interest in the event the coin is commemorating (usually important royal events), you have a hugely collectable coin, sought after by collectors from all over the world.
4. Historically valuable
One of the key points Change Checkers look out for when deciding which coins to add to their collection, is the possibility that the value of that coin will increase and we’ve seen it happen many times before with circulation coins. The Kew Gardens 50p for example.
One thing you can be sure of though is the historical interest of £5 coins will be worth more to future generations than the £5 face value now. When you take all the above points into account, there is no doubt that the importance of £5 coins ensures the coins remain sought-after and collectable.
Interested in finding out if you own one of the rarest £5 coins? Click here to find out more>>
The perfect introduction to collecting UK £5 coins or a great addition to your existing collection…
With 2 new coin releases, the launch of a new UK banknote, our first ever Live Coin Swap and our first Scarcity Index quarterly update– July was a very busy month!
Watch as Yasmin and Luke discuss all the latest change collecting news: