One of the things I find most interesting when collecting historic coins is the insight they give into the time they were struck and of the monarch who issued them.
A particular reign that has always fascinated collectors is that of Queen Victoria. During Victoria’s long reign only three major obverse portraits adorned her coins and they come together to chart the life and reign of one of Britain’s most popular monarchs.
The Young Head
The first effigy to feature on Queen Victoria’s coinage is known as the ‘Young Head’ portrait. This early portrait shows Victoria at the tender age of just 18, when she acceded to the throne.
The public in the early 19th century would not have been aware that the youthful Victoria depicted on their coins would soon become the leader of the largest Empire the world had ever seen and would reign longer than any British monarch before her.
The ‘Young Head’ portrait was extremely popular with the general public and remained on Victoria’s coins with only minor alterations for the majority of her reign.
The Jubilee Head
After 60 years however, it was decided that a new portrait was necessary to reflect Victoria as the elder stateswoman she had become. Victoria’s Golden Jubilee marked the occasion for a design change and Joseph Edgar Boehm was chosen to design a portrait for the 78 year old Queen.
However, Boehm’s portrait failed to gain the public’s admiration in the way its predecessor had. The portrait was met with ridicule by the general public who found the small crown balanced precariously on her head as unrealistic and almost comical.
The Veiled Head
The ‘Jubilee’ portrait was quickly replaced in 1893 after only six years, with what was to be the final obverse used on Victoria’s coinage. This new effigy was designed by Thomas Brock and shows a mature bust of the Queen with a veil representing her long period of mourning after the death of her husband Prince Albert.
Victoria was deeply attached to her husband and she sank into depression after his death. For the rest of her reign she wore black and the final portrait of the highly respected Queen represents this secluded period of mourning that came towards the end of her life.
Together, these coin portraits tell the story of Queen Victoria, with each marking an important period from her long reign. All of these coins are now over 100 years old and for me they epitomise Victorian coin collecting.
If you’re interested…
Today you have the opportunity to own each of these key portraits in the Queen Victoria Half Crown Set. However, these historic coins are very difficult to source and we only have a limited number available.
Click here for more details >>
Last Saturday I had the opportunity to see the RAF’s most famous plane up close and personal. That’s because on the 24th March I drove up to the historic Duxford Aerodrome to have 800 of the brand new Spitfire £2 coins flown in an original WWII Spitfire.
I arrived at 9am but unfortunately the chance of flying was in doubt because of the poor visibility caused by low lying clouds. The rest of the morning was spent nervously looking at the sky waiting for enough visibility for the pilot to safely take the 74 year old warbird into the air.
Our pilot for the day was Flight Lieutenant Anthony Parkinson MBE, known as Parky. The delay caused by the weather gave me the opportunity to talk with Parky about his time in the RAF and how the Spitfire compares to the modern jets he has flown during his time with the RAF. You can see Parky discussing his career and the Spitfire in the video below.
The wait for take-off also gave me the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the famous fighter plane and experience some of what it would have been like for the young pilots who sat in the same cockpit to defend Britain in the skies over 70 years ago.
Finally at 2.00pm the cloud cleared enough for a small pocket of visibility to take the Spitfire into the air. We quickly pushed the Spitfire out of the hanger and Parky secured the 800 Spitfire £2 coins into the wing bays which would have once held the plane’s armaments.
At 2.20 Parky prepared the plane for take-off. Standing a few yards from the plane whilst it’s famous Rolls Royce engine fired up was brilliant, and the Spitfire TD314 drew in a crowd nearby while it taxied along the runway.
Parky swiftly took the famous plane into the sky and gave me and the rest of the crowd a fly by. Despite the cloud cover it was still fantastic to see the Spitfire race through the sky at the hands of a former Red Arrows display pilot.
The brand new Spitfire £2 coin is a fantastic commemoration of the famous plane and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of the RAF with such a fitting tribute.
Thank you to Ben Perkins, Flight Lieutenant Anthony Parkinson MBE and the rest of the team at Aerolegends for helping to take the Spitfire £2 coins to the sky and for giving me the opportunity to see this famous warbird in the flesh.
If you’re interested
All 800 coins have now been sold. However, we will soon be flying the 4 times as limited ‘signed edition’ Silver Proof £2. Click here to pre-reserve yours now >>
Royal Mail’s Game of Thrones Stamps
officially released today.
Secure yours now by clicking here >>
Revealed for the first time today, Royal Mail are set to release 15 new Game of Thrones stamps celebrating the global-success of the hit fantasy TV show, filmed primarily in the British Isles and featuring a star studded cast brimming with home-grown talent.
Scheduled for release on 23 January 2018, the new stamps will feature 10 of the best loved characters from all seven series’, including Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Ned Stark, as well as an exclusive Miniature Sheet, comprising the Iron Throne, the Night King, Drogon and Ghost.
The stamps are Royal Mail’s first ever Game of Thrones stamp issue, and the first Postage Stamps to feature Game of Thrones, the world over.
Here’s your first look at the new stamps alongside a bit of info about each one…
Eddard Stark’s oldest daughter, Sansa, was held in King’s Landing by the Lannister’s after her father’s murder. Initially naive and trusting, she learned how to play the Game of Thrones by observing the devious Petyr Baelish. Following a battle to reclaim her ancestral home, she became the Lady of Winterfell.
The King in the North is a loyal and honourable man. After joining the Night’s Watch, he rose to become the Lord Commander, but his insistence on making common cause with the wildlings led to mutiny and his demise. Resurrected, he returned to Winterfell and defeated Ramsay Bolton.
The head of the Stark family was an honourable, upright and decent man in a dark world. Asked by his oldest friend Robert Baratheon to govern as Hand of the King, he found himself out-manoeuvred at every turn. His execution on trumped-up charges fuelled the War of the Five Kings.
Sharp of tongue and fierce of wit, Olenna Tyrell was the matriarch of the Tyrell family. After losing almost all her family in an explosion orchestrated by Cersei Lannister, Olenna vowed revenge and joined forces with Daenerys Targaryen hoping to bring the Lannister lions to their knees.
The head of the Lannister family was a consummate tactician who ruled his adult children with an iron will. Having engineered victory in the War of the Five Kings thanks to his astute military tactics, Tywin was later undone by his refusal to respect and appreciate Tyrion Lannister.
The youngest Lannister, Tyrion spent most of his life shunned by his family, who failed to appreciate his sharp political mind. Falsely accused of poisoning Joffrey, he was freed by his brother Jaime only to then murder their father. He has pledged his allegiance to Daenerys Targaryen.
Robert Baratheon’s widow spent years hiding a dark secret: her three children were not Robert’s but the product of a long-standing relationship with her twin brother Jaime. Now all three children are dead, and Cersei sits on the Iron Throne in King’s Landing. She is determined to see off all other contenders.
Eddard and Catelyn Stark’s youngest daughter was more interested in learning to fight than becoming a lady. After her father’s death, she survived on her wits, eventually training with the Faceless Men in the Free City of Braavos. She subsequently returned home to Winterfell and reunited with her siblings.
Cersei’s cynical twin brother has a major flaw – his love for his sister. Captured early on in the War of the Five Kings by Robb and Catelyn Stark, he was freed by the latter against her son’s wishes. Increasingly troubled by Cersei’s behaviour, he was last seen leaving King’s Landing.
Revered by her followers as the mother of dragons, Daenerys Targaryen recently landed in Westeros to claim the Iron Throne. Shortly after her arrival, Jon Snow, hoping to convince her to help him fight the forces beyond the Wall, offers the support of the north.
Winter is here with Royal Mail’s official Game of Thrones stamps
The issue consists of independently custom-designed stamps, with unprecedented detail to showcase 10 central Game of Thrones personalities, 4 non-human characters and the Iron Throne itself.
The set of ten best-loved character stamps show exclusive photographic representations of central characters from across all seven seasons in the Game of Thrones’ series. Each stamp is centred on an individual character and is a complex montage of multiple images from the series; creating ten bespoke images that embody the crux of each character’s story. Each individual design is assigned a ‘colour identity’, aligned with the character and their environment, as well as being a reflection of the production values and themes of the series.
The Miniature Sheet centres on the non-human characters in the Game of Thrones series with a very different emphasis to the mint stamps. Despite this, they adhere to a similar design concept; creating distinctive backgrounds through an overlay of imagery to provide insight into the character’s stories. All 4 stamps are carefully constructed in a way that reflects the characters’ environments; however, they are all united by the Iron Throne Definitive at the centre of the sheet, mirroring what lies at the heart of the season as winter comes.
If you’re interested…
You can own all of the new Game of Thrones stamps right now on a limited edition Collector Card – professionally framed and ready to hang.