The Tower of London has been a symbol of royal power for nearly 1,000 years.
Built during the Norman conquest in 1066, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and fortress of the Tower of London has been used as a prison, jewel house, mint and even a menagerie.
It’s been home to kings and queens, thieves and traitors and lions and bears.
In tribute to the Tower, The Royal Mint announced they would be issuing a four coin series throughout 2019 celebrating the history of the Tower of London, one of Britain’s most iconic attractions. The series will include coins depicting the following:
- The Legend of the Ravens
- The Yeoman Warders
- The Ceremony of the Keys
- The Crown Jewels
2019 Ceremony of the Keys £5
The Royal Mint has just released the fourth and final coin in the Tower of London series, with the new £5 being issued to celebrate the Ceremony of the Keys.
Designed by Glyn Davies the reverse of the coin depicts the keys and lamp which take centre stage in the ceremonial unlocking of the Tower of London gates.
What’s more, now that all four coins have been released the full image showing the Tower of London walls can be created by connecting the coins.
The Ceremony of the Keys £5 is available in Gold Proof, Silver Proof and Brilliant Uncirculated quality and I’m sure collectors will be eager to add this representation of our royal history to their collection.
Featuring a Raven with a bird’s-eye view of the Tower in the background, this coin captures the illustrious history of the iconic British landmark and its most famous residents.
The Tower’s ‘raven mythology’ is thought to be a Victorian flight of fantasy and has been a source of many legends, including the fate of Greenwich observatory.
It’s said that King Charles II disliked the raven’s droppings falling onto the telescope at the Tower’s observatory,and so ordered that the ravens must go. However, superstition stated that if the ravens left, the Tower would fall and Charles would lose his kingdom. Ever the pragmatist, the King decided that the observatory must go to Greenwich and the ravens must stay in the Tower.
Since Tudor times, the Yeoman Warders have been guarding the Tower of London. Nicknamed as ‘Beefeaters’, they originally formed the Yeoman of the Guard, which was the monarch’s personal team of bodyguards.
The Yeoman Warders were responsible for looking after the prisoners in the Tower and protecting the crown jewels, however nowadays they also conduct guided tours of the Tower and are an important icon for Britain, resplendent in their red uniforms and a favoured tourist attraction.
They need to be between 40 and 55 years old on appointment and hold at least 22 years’ military service, during which time they must have reached the rank of warrant officer and to have been awarded the long service and good conduct medal.
The Ceremony of the Keys
For over 700 years, as the clock strikes ten, the words ‘Halt! Who comes there?’ echo in the Tower of London. The ancient Ceremony of the Keys is a formal locking and unlocking of the Tower gates, which started in the mid 1300s on order of King Edward III after he entered the Tower unannounced one night and was able to walk straight in, unchallenged!
Tradition states that at exactly seven minutes to ten at night, the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower must leave the Byward Tower, wearing a red Watch Coat and Tudor Bonnet and carrying a lantern. He takes with him a very special set of keys – the Queen’s Keys.
A military escort meets him at the Bloody Tower and at 10pm he moves two paces forward, raises his Tudor bonnet and says: ‘God preserve Queen Elizabeth’. This is answered by ‘Amen’ from the guards and ‘The Last Post’ played on a bugle.
The keys are then taken back to the Queen’s House and handed to the Queen’s representative at the Tower, The Resident Governor.
Several expansions were made to the Tower throughout the reign of Kings Richard I, Henry III and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries, however in general the original layout remains consistent. It suffered structural damage during the Blitz, but this was repaired after the Second World War and the Tower was opened to the public, to marvel at the Tower’s most esteemed treasures – the Crown Jewels!
Not only a powerful symbol of the British Monarchy, the jewels have deep religious and cultural significance in British history and are used by HRH Queen Elizabeth for important ceremonies and royal duties.
However, the 12th century anointing spoon and three early 17th century swords are the only four original jewels left after the English Civil War in 1649, when the Crown Jewels were destroyed and the monarchy abolished. The jewels were remade for Charles II’s coronation in 1661 following Oliver Cromwell’s death.
From the late 15th century and during its peak period as a prison in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Tower housed some of Britain’s most notorious criminals, including Guy Fawkes, Anne Boleyn and even Elizabeth I before she became queen.
For those in a position of wealth, serving time at the Tower could be relatively comfortable, with some captive kings allowed to go out on hunting or shopping trips and even allowed to bring in their servants. However, for those less fortunate, the phrase “sent to the Tower” would conjure up gruesome images of torture and execution, such was its fearsome reputation.
Despite this reputation, only 7 people were executed at the Tower before the World Wars of the 20th century, where 12 men were then executed for espionage.
From 1272 until 1810, the Tower of London was home to The Royal Mint. Coins of the realm were produced in a dedicated area in the outer ward known as ‘Mint Street’. This dangerous task involved working with scorching furnaces, deadly chemicals and poisonous gases and many Mint workers suffered injuries including loss of fingers and eyes from the process.
In the 1600s, coins were no longer made by hand, but instead a screw-operated press was introduced. However, risk still befell the Mint workers, as they faced severe punishments should they be caught tampering with or forging coins.
In 1810, the Mint moved from the Tower to a new site at Tower Hill and eventually on to its present location in Wales to allow for expansion.
Now that the first coin in the Royal Mint’s brand new four coin series celebrating the Tower of London has been released, I’m sure £5 coin collectors will be looking forward to building up this fascinating collection.
Let us know what you think about the design and which coin in the series you’re most looking forward to seeing.
Complete your Tower of London £5 series
The Ceremony of the Keys £5 coin is now available to purchase in Brilliant Uncirculated quality.
Earlier this year, The Royal Mint released a brand new UK £5 coin that celebrates the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the Royal Academy of Arts.
The coin is available as a Silver Proof UK coin as standard, but The Royal Mint have also made another version. This version has been struck to base metal specifications and has initially been made exclusive to Change Checkers.
The reverse of this £5 has been designed by architect Sir David Chipperfield RA, and features the mid-19th century frontage of the famous Burlington House of the Royal Academy, with ornate sculptures on the roof.
What’s more, a mintage of just 12,000 has been set, making this the rarest base metal UK £5 coin ever!
The other £5 coins that make up the top 3 are The Queen Anne £5 coin that commemorates the 300th Anniversary of the death of Queen Anne – the first queen of Great Britain who left behind political stability and prosperity. Just 12,181 of these coins were struck in Brilliant Uncirculated presentation packs which made it the rarest UK £5 coin ever…until now!
The Prince Philip £5 coin, the third rarest with a mintage of 18,730, is extremely sought after by collectors and is virtually impossible to get hold of on the secondary market. In fact, sold listings on eBay show that the Prince Philip £5 coin regularly fetches in excess of £50!
Remember, when it comes to collecting, there is one fact which is always inevitable –the rarest coins are always in highest demand.
The Royal Academy of Arts
Founded through a personal act of King George III on 10 December 1768, The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London.
It has a unique position as an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects; its purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate.
The Royal Academy does not receive financial support from the state or the Crown. Its income is from exhibitions, trust and endowment funds, receipts from its trading activities, and from the subscriptions of its Friends and corporate members.
It also gains funds by sponsorship from commercial and industrial companies, in which the Academy was one of the pioneers.
2018 UK Royal Academy of Arts BU £5
This brand new £5 has been struck to a Brilliant Uncirculated quality and has initially been made exclusively available to Change Checkers.
What’s more, an edition limit of just 12,000 has been set, making this the rarest base metal UK £5 coin ever!
*** 2020 UPDATE ***
Three years since the old round pound coins were demonetised and replaced by the 12 sided £1, it’s been revealed that 122 million of these old coins still have not been returned to The Royal Mint.
Roughly 1.58 billion have found their way back to the Mint, but in addition to this, there have been at least 1.5 billion counterfeit round pounds handed in.
The Royal Mint said these fakes “could not be readily distinguished from the genuine coin, which is why a new coin was introduced”.
But, of the 122 million genuine round pounds still in circulation, which ones should you be looking out for?
In 2017, the Round £1 coins were demonetised and replaced by the new 12 sided coins we see today. The public were encouraged to spend or return their coins to the banks, but did you know that not all of these coins made it back to The Royal Mint?
Whilst these old coins are no longer legal tender, they can still be returned to the bank and deposited into you account, however there’s a few coins you definitely shouldn’t be cashing in if you’re lucky enough to find one (tip: try looking down the back of the sofa, in coat pockets or old supermarket bags for those lost and forgotten coins!).
Here are the ones to look out for:
Scotland: Edinburgh City
The Edinburgh City £1 coin was released in 2011 with a mintage of just 935,000, making it the lowest Round Pound by 680,000!
Taking this into account, there’s no real surprise that this coin sits top of our Scarcity Index with a perfect score of 100.
Such is the rarity, only 17% of Change Checker users list having this coin in their collection.
This coin currently sells for between £7-£12.
Wales: Cardiff City
Another of the capital cities series, the Cardiff City £1 coin is definitely one to keep.
This coin depicts the circular Coat of Arms of Cardiff as the principal focus to represent Wales.
This coin is worth between £3-£5.
England: London City
The 3rd coin from the capital cities series that you should hold on to is the London City £1 coin. Interestingly, the Belfast City coin does not make our list.
Released in 2010, this coin has a mintage of 2,635,000, much higher than Edinburgh and Cardiff but low in comparison to other £1 coins.
London City scores an impressive 77/100 in our Scarcity Index.
This coin can sell for between £3-£6.
Scotland: Thistle and Bluebell
The Thistle and Bluebell £1 coin was released in 2014 as part of the floral emblems series.
This coin features a thistle alongside a bluebell to represent Scotland.
This is worth between £2-£5.
UK: Crowned Shield
The UK Crowned Shield £1 coin was released way back in 1988, only 5 years after the Round £1 came into circulation.
Although it has a relatively low mintage figure of 7,118,825, this coin makes the list due to some interesting Change Checker App data.
It scores a 51 in our Scarcity Index but less than 1/4 of Change Checker users list having this coin in their collection and swap requests outnumber swap listings by 6 to 1!
This coin will sell for between £3-£7.50.
It’s worth noting that our valuations are based on coins that have recently sold on auction sites. The value of a coin depends on a number of factors including the coin’s condition.
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