Cast your imagination back to the 19th century… Queen Victoria ruled 400 million people in an empire that covered almost a quarter of the world’s surface!
With a name and title famous across the globe, it may come as a surprise to you that Queen Victoria never actually stepped foot in many of the countries she ruled over.
India was held with such high regard in Victoria’s heart that it became known as the Jewel in the Empire’s crown. In 1876, India awarded her the title of ‘Empress of India’ in a gesture of appreciation.
Although having never stepped foot in the country and living 4,500 miles away, Victoria’s portrait was minted on to the currency of India (the rupee) from 1840, so people could recognise their empress!
The rupee is one of the oldest currencies in the world, so to feature a British monarch for the first time was an important moment in numismatic history.
The later portrait issued on rupees, similar to the Gothic Head effigy, can be considered one of the most beautiful coins of the empire.
A 22hr flight to Australia seems a long journey now but for Queen Victoria, a trip to this corner of the world would have taken her almost two months to get there!
So, there’s no surprises this was also a country that she never visited. However, the need for a British presence in the country was growing with the empire; as the empire grew, so did the need for coins. The Royal Mint opened branches in Australia and in 1855, a sovereign was minted outside of the UK for the first time – the Sydney sovereign.
It featured a portrait of Victoria that was based on the Young Head effigy, but with a sprig of banksia weaved through Victoria’s hair, giving the portrait a distinct Australian feel.
The Sydney sovereign became incredibly successful and a number of Royal Mint branches were opened throughout Australia as a result. To identify the Mint that sovereigns were produced in, mintmarks were added to the coins, with a small ‘P’ for Perth, and an ‘M’ for Melbourne.
The sovereign became legal tender in the majority of British colonies in the 1860s, and its importance in British trade, and worldwide circulation earned it the title “the King of Coins”. By the final years of the British Empire, the sovereign was minted in four continents across the globe.
India and Australia weren’t the only countries that saw Victoria’s portrait. Her image also reached as far as Hong Kong, Ceylon, East Africa and New Zealand. In 1870 the first Canadian dollar with Victoria’s portrait was issued, taking Victoria’s image to a new side of the world for people to see.
Despite never leaving Europe, Queen Victoria’s portrait and image stood strong on coins around the world. Whilst she never stepped foot in many of the countries that she ruled over, that didn’t stop people recognising her image around the world.
The coins that they used every day provided a link to the empire that they were a part of, despite the miles between them.
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On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month this year, we will mark exactly 100 years since the guns fell silent – the war in Europe was over.
To mark this historic centenary year, many of the allied nations have joined forces again to issue special commemorative coins in a poignant move to mark the anniversary, and so we’ve taken a look at some of the coins released from around the world, including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, France and of course the UK.
2018 UK Armistice £2
This £2 is the final coin issued as part of the First World War £2 series first issued by The Royal Mint in 2014. Issued earlier in 2018, the design by Stephen Raw features the words ‘The truth untold, the pity of war’, from the Wilfred Owen poem Strange Meeting. The words stand out of a mud-like background in the centre of this striking £2 coin, which was actually modelled in the clay taken by the artist from the Sambre-Oise Canal where Wilfred Owen died in 1918.
2018 Canada Armistice $2
In October this year, The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled these finely crafted $2 coins issued to remember the sacrifices of Canadians who fought for freedom during WWI.
Just 3 million coins have been minted – two million of a stunning coloured version and one million of the non-coloured coin, both of which have been released into circulation in Canada. The reverse image by artist Laurie McGaw features a soldier’s helmet in the centre to represent the many lives lost during WWI and the large poppy beneath it is inspired by the Canadian poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, who died in combat in January, 1918.
2018 New Zealand Armistice 50-cent
The 2018 Armistice 50 cent coin follows the Anzac coin which was minted in 2015 to mark the centenary of New Zealand’s efforts in WW1. Designed by Dave Burke, the reverse of this 50 Cent features a coloured red poppy flower surrounded by a wreath and the three silver ferns on the wreath represent the three services of the New Zealand Defence Force: Army, Navy and Air Force. The 50-cent coins were released into circulation in New Zealand last month but were actually struck by The Royal Canadian Mint, where all 10, 20 and 50 cent coins are currently minted for New Zealand.
2018 Australia Armistice $2
Just released by The Royal Australian Mint today, the new $2 Armistice coin serves as a tangible and visible reminder to all Australians of the fight for freedom 100 years ago. Designed by T Dean and developed with the assistance of the Australian War Memorial, the coin features the number 100 to signify the important Armistice Centenary Anniversary, and the centre zero features a red coloured poppy. The coin features a ‘C’ mintmark, meaning the coin has been struck at the Canberra Mint and is a stunning keepsake in this centenary year.
2018 France Armistice €2
Issued by La Monnaie de Paris (The Paris Mint), this €2 coin features a cornflower, a symbol of remembrance in France. This dates back to WWI as soldier’s uniforms were blue and these flowers, as well as poppies, continued to grow in land devastated by war. The flower also symbolizes delicacy and innocence.
Each coin pays its own historic tributes to this significant anniversary marked by millions of people around the world. And as a Change Checker, you’ll appreciate how hard it has been to track down each of these coins. Indeed it’s taken us the best part of a year to secure each of the coins mentioned above to create the Allied Nations Armistice Centenary Coin Pack – drawn together from five of the world’s most renowned Mints.
Secure the 2018 Armistice Centenary Coin Pack to mark this important historical anniversary
Without a doubt, these coins would make a great addition to your collection. And in this centenary year, it’s a particularly meaningful purchase which I hope will find a cherished place in your collection.
Because of the difficulty in sourcing these coins, we only have a limited number of collections available, so please click below now to be one of the first to own them all.