First World War

My top 7 most extraordinary coins of 2014

Last year was a vintage year for coin collecting.  We saw technological advances, new minting techniques and even a stampede to own the year’s standout US gold coin. In light of this I thought you’d like a rundown of my top 7 extraordinary coins of 2014…

The highest-relief silver 5oz coin ever struck by The Royal Canadian Mint…

canada 5oz silver proof high relief maple leaf - My top 7 most extraordinary coins of 2014

The highest relief 5oz coin ever struck by the Royal Canadian Mint

The 2014 Canada 5oz Silver Proof High-Relief Maple Leaf $50 is almost like a sculpture! To achieve this, technically enhanced tooling was created especially to sustain the additional minting pressure involved.  I’m forever astonished by the impressive weight and size of 5oz coins, and with such high-relief detail, this one was a particular favourite.

The London Tower Bridge Silver Coin Bar…

london tower bridge - My top 7 most extraordinary coins of 2014

The London Tower Bridge Coin Bar, showing truly incredible craftsmanship.

London’s Tower Bridge is one of the world’s most famous landmarks, and now it has been immortalised on a meticulously crafted silver ‘coin bar.’  This unusually shaped coin boasts remarkable craftsmanship with a surprising level of detail for its size. In fact I consider this coin to be one of the most finely engraved coins that I have seen, making it a truly exceptional issue.


You could add the world’s most famous painting to your collection…

mona lisa - My top 7 most extraordinary coins of 2014

The world’s most famous painting – on a silver coin bar.

The Mona Lisa is of course instantly recognisable, but in 2014 collectors got the chance to own their very own version. This distinctive rectangular silver coin is perfectly suited to show off the famous painting in the best way possible. The Mona Lisa is richly detailed in colour and it was the first time that I had ever seen a piece that combined numismatics with art in such a striking way.


The coin with a hidden secret…

earth coin - My top 7 most extraordinary coins of 2014

A UV torch reveals a hidden secret

I was mesmerised when I first saw this coin – because of the hidden secret you can reveal. Representing our home planet, the coin features a beautiful image of Earth surrounded by all eight planets in our solar system. But, all isn’t as it seems, as Earth has been highlighted with special ink so that when a UV light is shone upon the coin the planet is picked out, glowing blue against the rest of the background. For that reason this coin just had to be among my top 7 of the year.

The coin that caused a modern-day gold rush…

jfk gold proof half dollar - My top 7 most extraordinary coins of 2014

The coin that cased a gold rush

Remarkably, the 2014 JFK Gold Proof Half Dollar caused a stampede of collectors. The US Mint released the coin at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in August which saw hundreds of collectors queuing, running and trampling each other just to get their hands on one. Eventually, the Mint was forced to suspend sales to ensure the safety of their customers and employees. The rush was so intense that the police were called to calm things down. Don’t believe me? See for yourself! (click here to watch the YouTube footage)

Marking a poignant year with a charitable commemorative…

poppy - My top 7 most extraordinary coins of 2014

The coin that sold 80,000 in two weeks

The ceramic poppy display at the Tower of London last year was a momentous dedication to the fallen, which inspired the nation. A ‘100 Poppies’ £5 Coin was also issued to mark the centenary of the First World War. For each sale, a donation was made to the Royal British Legion to support their work and provide financial, social and emotional support to all those who have served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces, and their families. The coin was an unprecedented success – alone raising over £40,000 for the Royal British Legion. It’s not surprising that this coin is no longer available, and having helped to raise such a large amount for the Royal British Legion there is no question about it being one of my top coins of 2014.

Struck using a metal rarer than platinum…

chinea yuan - My top 7 most extraordinary coins of 2014

A metal more precious that platinum

What makes this edition of the 2014 China Silver Panda Coin so special is the fact that it is plated with a metal even rarer than platinum – ruthenium.  The Chinese 10 Yuan is already one of the world’s most sought after silver coins – but this collectable edition tips the bar by combining three of the world’s precious most metals, silver, gold and black ruthenium.  Featuring both a famous design and a one-off finish, it isn’t difficult to understand why the edition limit sold out so fast. The few collectors who own this issue will appreciate just how lucky they are to know that there’s a chance this specification may never be available again.

Of course these are just a handful of the fascinating coins issued last year, and it’s this variety which makes coin collecting so compelling for me. Many have sold out now, but fortunately 2015 is already proving to be just as interesting.  Did you manage to add any to your collection?

If you are interested…

london tower bridge - My top 7 most extraordinary coins of 2014

There is still an opportunity to own one of these coins. With limited stock left, The London Tower Bridge coin is still available to own.

Click here


The “100 Poppies Coin” raises over £131,000 for The Royal British Legion

rbl cheque presentation v3 e1429186207317 - The "100 Poppies Coin" raises over £131,000 for The Royal British Legion

The presentation ceremony – from left to right: Stephen Allen (The Westminster Collection Chairman), Jim France (Royal British Legion Area Manager Hampshire & Dorset), Rachel Darby (The Westminster Collection Product Group Manager) and Jade Irons (Royal British Legion Corporate Partnership Officer)

The ‘100 Poppies’ Coin, launched by The Westminster Collection in partnership with The Royal British Legion last October has now raised over £131,000.

Since 2008, The Westminster Collection, has created a unique commemorative poppy-themed coin each year to honour those who have sacrificed their lives in the Armed Forces. However sales of the 2014 centenary edition coin have seen the biggest donation to date, ensuring that the memories of the fallen live on – as well as the care and support offered by The Royal British Legion.

The full amount was presented to The Royal British Legion by The Westminster Collection’s Chairman, Stephen Allen, on Tuesday 14th April at a special event held at The Legion’s pop-in centre in Southampton. The money raised will help The Legion provide financial, social and emotional support to all who have served and are currently serving in the British Armed Forces and their families.

Stephen said, “though we have been working in partnership with The Royal British Legion since 2004, the Poppy Coin came about in 2008 as a way to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

100 poppies coin1 - The "100 Poppies Coin" raises over £131,000 for The Royal British Legion

“100 Poppies” £5 Coin issued in support of The Royal British Legion

“We are delighted that the partnership has continued to grow, and our special Poppy Coins each year are a way of giving back to a charity that has done so much for both the Service community and the national spirit of Remembrance over the past 94 years.

Charles Byrne, Director of Fundraising at The Royal British Legion, said the coin acts as “poignant reminder” of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“We are so proud of our long-term partnership with The Westminster Collection, a family business which shares our commitment to supporting the entire Service community; whether it’s helping veterans to remain independent in their homes, supporting bereaved families, ensuring people have access to the benefits they deserve or offering employment advice.

“The Poppy Coin is not only a poignant reminder of those who have fought and sacrificed their lives, it also helps the Legion to carry out our vital welfare work, allowing today’s Armed Forces, veterans and their families to live on to a more hopeful future.”

SAVE £10.00 on the new new VE Day Silver Medal

ve day silver medal royal british legion - The "100 Poppies Coin" raises over £131,000 for The Royal British LegionFollowing the success of last year’s coin, The Royal British Legion have teamed up once again with The Westminster Collection to issue an official VE Day silver medal to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.


The story behind the Winston Churchill £5 Coin

mg 2598 - The story behind the Winston Churchill £5 Coin

Plaster engraving of the new Churchill effigy

This year a brand new £5 coin has been issued to commemorate Sir Winston Churchill, and it features a never-seen-before effigy of the great man.

Designed by renowned sculptor and artist David Cornell FRSA, the new portrait shows a defiant Churchill in military uniform.

I’ve been given a behind the scenes look at the creation of the portrait, and had a quick chat with the artist himself.

David Cornell is perhaps more famous for sculpting members of the Royal family, (he was even commissioned to paint a birthday portrait of the Queen) so I thought I’d ask him about his inspiration behind the new design:

img 0598west2 - The story behind the Winston Churchill £5 Coin

David Cornell FRSA working on the new effigy of Sir Winston Churchill

“Winston Churchill was a major part of my childhood growing up in London during the War, hearing his speeches and seeing photos on posters, which left an indelible impression on me.

“I realised later what a great man he was and his contribution to the War effort, inspiring the people of Great Britain.

“As a portrait artist, it has been a great honour for me to be able to portray him in this tribute to honour his legacy.”

First of all Cornell worked on a plaster engraving of the portrait, making sure it fits the very particular dimensions of a coin.  You can see the fine detail in the picture above, and also the large size of the plaster, which has to be reduced when the die is created to strike the coin.

winston churchill jersey c2a35 coin - The story behind the Winston Churchill £5 Coin

The finished Winston Churchill Jersey £5 Coin

The finished £5 coin also features an inscription of one of Churchill’s famous speeches: ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’  Although spoken in reference to the heroes of the Battle of Britain, the quotation was chosen as it represents Churchill’s indomitable spirit during the war.

The coin has been issued on behalf of the Bailiwick of Jersey, and is available now in a range of metals – from an impressive 5oz 22 carat gold version measuring 2 1/2 inches in diameter, to a highly collectable cupro-nickel version available to all.  I’m sure you’ll agree, it will make a fitting tribute in any collection to our greatest ever Prime Minister.

If you are interested…

the winston churchill c2a35 proof coin boxed - The story behind the Winston Churchill £5 Coin

The new Winston Churchill £5 Coin is available now in a special limited edition Proof version.  Complete with Presentation Case and Certificate of Authenticity.

NOW SOLD OUT – For other Churchill coins please click here