100 years ago this year, at 11 o’clock on 11th of November, the guns of war finally fell silent. The First World War was over.
While many fathers, sons, uncles and brothers came home, millions lay where they fell, on the Battlefields of Europe. Those who were lucky enough to be identified were placed in makeshift graves, often only identified by a rifle placed in the earth with his steel helmet placed on top as a final memorial.
To commemorate the Armistice Centenary, The Royal Canadian Mint have issued a remarkable new coin that honours each and every fallen soldier.
Struck in the shape of a WWI Brodie Helmet, it is more deeply curved surface than any other concave or convex-shaped coin I’ve seen before. The design is so unique in fact, that the Mint have kept the minting technique a closely guarded secret.
Although the original helmet would have been cast from Steel, this coin has been struck in the very finest .9999 or “four nines” silver, this is the purest grade of silver available. The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the very few Mints in the world with enough minting expertise able to strike coins with this incredible high relief finish. It’s an exceptional feat of craftsmanship.
What’s more the attention to detail is outstanding, each coin has been given a final antique finish and there are even engraved cracks and markings which complete the helmet’s battle-worn appearance. A reminder of the hardships endured by those who fought.
The amount of 2018 Silver ‘Helmet-Shaped’ coins available is very low. A worldwide edition limit of just 6,500 has been set by the Mint, but of course many of these won’t even make it out of Canada. Without any doubt, this has to be one of the most collectable issues ever struck.
The First World War will always be known as one of Man Kind’s darkest hours but poignant issues like this one allow us to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
If you’re interested…
We have just 500 WWI Lest We Forget Silver ‘Helmet-Shaped’ coins available for UK collectors, but to get one you’ll have to act quickly.
2018 marks 100 years since the day the Allies of World War I and Germany signed an armistice for the cessation of all hostilities on the Western Front. This took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.
For this special centenary year we have worked closely with The Royal British Legion, including five veterans from Bravo 22 Company, as well as numismatic artist Michael Guilfoyle, to design a poignant Armistice Commemorative Medal for the Centenary.
Bravo 22 Company
Bravo 22 Company, which is made possible by The Royal British Legion and The Drive Project, has been successfully running theatre and art projects across the UK since 2011.
The projects are open to all members of the Armed Forces Community, including serving personnel, veterans and their family members and are designed to improve self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as help individuals along their paths to recovery.
The design process
The design process began with a creative workshop led by numismatic artist Michael Guilfoyle, at the Legion’s Pop In centre in Bristol. Five alumni from Bravo 22 Company were invited to join the workshop, all of whom have served in the Armed Forces. The participants were encouraged to draw on their experiences in the military to create a fitting tribute for the Armistice 100 year centenary anniversary.
Mike started the session with an introduction to medal design and explained the process from the initial ideas stage through to final production. Coins and medals generally offer a relatively small canvas to the artist, so Mike explained the importance of using a simple composition to create a strong and impactful design.
To generate some key themes, Mike had everyone write down words they associated with the First World War and Armistice. These were then used to inspire the visual design stage, where everyone began to sketch ideas.
The rest of the workshop was spent developing the rough sketches into more refined ideas.
The finished design
Taking inspiration from the original designs of the veterans, Mike was able to create the striking and poignant designs that feature on the medal.
The Royal British Legion 2018 Armistice Medal is available to own today. Due to its significance, the medal has been issued in partnership with The Royal British Legion and Bravo 22 Company. If you choose to own one, we will ensure a donation is made to them on your behalf.
The official new Poppy Coin has just been issued in support of The Royal British Legion and this year the design features the stylised poppy that’s synonymous with the Legion with particularly poignant wording from the ‘Ode of Remembrance’.
I caught up with designer Christopher Lloyd to ask him about the story behind his design:
“As the coin is the only official coin to support The Royal British Legion, the most important part of the coin had to be the Legion’s stylised poppy. I wanted to make this the centrepiece of the coin so decided to highlight the poppy in full colour.”
“The brief this year was to use the wording from Laurence Binyon’s famous poem ‘For the Fallen’ which was written during the First World War. I felt the words ‘We Will Remember Them’ were particularly poignant, especially as it forms part of the ‘Ode of Remembrance’ which is recited at remembrance services across the world, so I gave these special words the same red highlighting as the poppy itself to make it really stand out”.
“It has been an honour to design the 2017 Poppy coin and I hope it helps to support the important work of The Royal British Legion.”
A coin for every collection
A whole range of different coin specifications are to be struck, meaning there is a coin for every collection. From a special Proof quality cupro-nickel £5 coin – right up to an astonishing 5oz Gold edition, the new Poppy Coin is undoubtedly a moving tribute for Remembrance Day and it’s certainly one of my favourites.
Officially issued in support of The Royal British Legion
To support the work of The Royal British Legion, The Westminster Collection have organised for a donation 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…
The 2017 Remembrance Gold-Plated Proof £5 Poppy Coin is available now.
A donation from the sale of each coin will go directly to The Royal British Legion.