This year marks the centenary of the Royal Air Force, arguably the most important military anniversary to be celebrated in British history. In fact, there are numerous official events and ceremonies planned up and down the country to mark the occasion – including a service at Westminster Abbey with an RAF parade and flypast!
It has been a glorious 100 years, full of extreme courage, bravery and self-sacrifice by the men and women who served and continue to serve.
And, to mark this historic occasion, a brand new Official RAF Centenary Five Pound Proof Coin has just been issued on behalf of the Bailiwick of Jersey. In my opinion, it is one of the most striking military coins ever issued and is the perfect tribute to ensure the remarkable feats of technology and courage of our RAF are never forgotten.
So what’s the story behind the design?
For such an important anniversary, we knew the design had to be particularly special and we felt there was no better person for the job than ex-Royal Mint designer, Mike Guilfoyle.
Mike has 30 years of experience designing coins that have circulated around the world and has produced some of the most stunning British Isles coins ever minted. We were lucky enough to see the design process through with him.
From the start it was clear we wanted to include the most renowned planes from the RAF’s history and Mike came up with multiple options for us.
However, it was the idea to show the incredible changes in technology over the last 100 years that really captured our imagination. The coin features three of the most important aircraft from the last century; the Sopwith Camel, the Supermarine Spitfire and the Lockheed Lightning II which brings us right up to the present day and looks towards the future of our RAF.
Highly detailed design – intricate striking
Through careful research and communicating closely with the MOD, Mike has been able to render each plane in exquisite detail.
But this high level of detail and care didn’t just stop at design level. You can clearly see it’s been replicated right through to the striking of Mike’s design on the coins – what really took me aback is that none of the detail has been lost – that’s because the use of Modern Minting techniques used to produce the coins has resulted in one of the most intricately struck coins I’ve ever seen.
What makes it even better is that each plane has been enhanced with 24-Carat Gold Ink to really show off the detail and make it stand out against the Proof background.
The most iconic aircraft of the RAF
Here’s a bit more about why these three special planes have been chosen to feature on the coin:
The Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel has become one of the most iconic fighter aircraft of the First World War.
In fact, J. M. Bruce tells us that “The total number of enemy aircraft shot down by Camels was 1,294, a greater number than were defeated by any other single type of aeroplane of the 1914-18 war”
With that astonishing achievement this aircraft continued to serve until 1923 – an incredible lifespan for a plane in this era. 
Considering that the Sopwith Camel was serving from the very beginning of the RAF’s official formation and it was such an important part of the First World War, its place in RAF history is well-secured and was a clear choice to be featured on this stunning coin.
The Supermarine Spitfire
The Spitfire has to be one of the most famous British fighter aircraft in history and it has become the most iconic aircraft of the Second World War.
In fact, this aircraft has become synonymous with one battle in particular; the Battle of Britain. Alongside the Hawker Hurricane, this aircraft helped to defeat the German air attacks during the Battle of Britain and was seen as such a superior aircraft for it’s time that The RAF Museum states “at the height of the Battle of Britain…a German ace…in a moment of anger and frustration, turned to his Commander in Chief and demanded a squadron of Spitfires!” 
With that in mind, and considering the Spitfire still astonishes the crowds at air shows today, featuring this plane was another unanimous decision.
The Lockheed Lightning II
Now, this multi-role supersonic stealth aircraft is an incredible example of just how far technology has come and is definitely a plane which will play a key part in the RAF’s future.
In fact, 2018 sees the 617Squadron, becoming the first RAF Squadron equipped with the Lightning II aircraft, of which the UK has so far taken delivery of 9. 
To me, these three incredible aircraft represent an ever-evolving RAF that is consistently at the forefront of technology, making this coin a fitting tribute to the courageous work of the RAF, the men and women who have served over the last 100 years and those who will continue to serve in the future.
If you are interested…
You can be one of a limited number of collectors to own the Official RAF Centenary Five Pound Proof Coin.
The three iconic aircraft have been highlighted in 24-carat gold ink and this stunning coin has been struck to the highest Proof standard you can find on a collectable coin.
Last year an important milestone was reached; over £500,000 was raised, through sales of Poppy coins, for The Royal British Legion. To mark this incredible milestone, 450 very special Masterpiece Poppy Coins were released.
This year, collectors of the annual poppy coins, have helped raise that total to an incredible £700,000 for The Royal British Legion to provide lifelong support for the Armed Forces community – serving men and women, veterans, and their families.
To mark this new milestone, and the start of The Royal British Legion’s 2017 Poppy Appeal, a 2017 Masterpiece Poppy has been authorised which is even more limited than last year’s issue.
Just 250 to be issued
With a strict edition limit of just 250 pieces this makes the 2017 Masterpiece Coin almost twice as limited as the 2016 Masterpiece issue.
And it is called a masterpiece for a reason. Using cutting edge minting techniques and specialist craftsmanship, the instantly recognisable red Poppy veritably bursts to life from the face of the coin.
As well as the stunning enamel, the 2017 Masterpiece Poppy Coin also has an incredible ultra-high relief, standing over 1.6mm tall. This type of relief can usually only be achieved through relatively unsophisticated casting methods. But this is NOT a cast piece.
It is a fully struck proof coin – and benefits from all the detail, mirroring and frosting that you expect from a commemorative proof coin.
Each coin starts life as a ‘blank’ – a highly polished solid silver disc. Next, the design is struck onto the coin up to 5 times using massive pressure and incredible skill. In fact, the coin is so difficult to produce many dies were broken in the process, but the resulting effect is definitely worth it.
Finally, the coloured enamel is applied to give the coin its famous red Poppy – a perfect fit for a coin officially issued in support of The Royal British Legion.
Each coin is heated to a precise temperature while the enamel colour is prepared. The enamel is applied expertly by hand and heated in between each application to ensure a smooth finish. The end result is astonishing and defines the essence of the Masterpiece.
Available now – with a donation to the Legion…
The 2017 Masterpiece 5oz Silver Proof Poppy Coin is available to own right now from The Westminster Collection, although they are expected to sell out quickly as they are almost twice as limited as last year’s issue.
To further support the work of The Royal British Legion, The Westminster Collection have organised for a donation of £49.50 from the sale of each coin to go directly to the charity, helping them to continue to provide financial, social and emotional support to all who have served and are currently serving in the British Armed Forces and their families.
If you’re interested…
A donation of £49.80 from the sale of each coin will go directly to The Royal British Legion.
In just a few weeks’ time something remarkable happens. Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Prince Philip celebrate 70 years of marriage – their Platinum Wedding Anniversary
You probably know someone who has celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary (50 years of marriage). You may even know someone who has reached 60 years – their Diamond Wedding Anniversary. But I’d be happy to place a small wager that you don’t know anyone who has managed 70 years of marriage.
That’s because only around 30 couples in the whole of the UK ever reach that milestone each year. Or to put it another way – the Queen and Prince Philip are literally one in a million.
And to mark the occasion, eight special commemorative 50p coins have been issued. It is the VERY FIRST time that British Isles specification 50p coins have been struck to mark a key royal wedding anniversary such as this.
Most importantly, these coins have been authorised by the Isle of Man Treasury, have full legal status AND a very limited number will enter circulation in the Isle of Man.
The UK’s most collectable coins…
The 50p coin has rapidly become the UK’s most collectable coin spurred on by the release of the Olympic 50p coins and, more recently, the incredible demand for the UK’s Beatrix Potter coins.
And that’s why these issues are so important.
British Isles 50p coins like this rarely turn up in your change in the UK, making them some of the most sought-after circulating coins around.
As the first major Royal wedding anniversary to feature on any British Isles standard specification 50p coins, this is a very significant moment.
A moment that’s made even more important due to the incredible milestone 70 years of marriage represents.
How you can own the new coins…
Start collecting the new Platinum Wedding 50p coins, struck to superior Brilliant Uncirculated Collector Quality for your special introductory price of just £3.99.