Picture the scene: it’s October 1st, 1939; exactly one month since Hitler invaded Poland. Britain and France have just declared War against Germany. You gather your family in front of the television as Churchill prepares to deliver his first wartime broadcast…
In 1939 Britain, 83 years ago, this was the reality for more than half of the adult population. The onset of War provoked extreme economic, social and cultural demises which were navigated by the legendary British wartime Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill.
Sir Winston Churchill
Born on 30th November, 1874, Churchill became one of the greatest Britons our country has ever seen. After being elevated to Prime Minister in 1939 following Chamberlain’s resignation, he was given the unmatched task of leading the country through the most challenging battle it had ever seen: World War Two.
Despite openly disliking the recently created BBC for its infrequent broadcasts and previous decisions to defy the government, Churchill sat before a BBC camera and microphone on October 1st 1939 for the first time to prepare the nation for a long conflict with Germany.
And not only are we marking this anniversary with a special product, but we are also preparing for Churchill artefacts to skyrocket as the year 2024 signposts 150 years since he was born…
The 1874 Victoria Young Head Sovereign
Sovereigns, the flagship of every coin collection, are the perfect way to mark an exceptional figure, anniversary, or cultural moment. So, what better way to beat the crowds and prepare for the 150th anniversary of his birth than with the 1874 Victoria Young Head Sovereign…? The pinnacle coin from the year Churchill was born!
The Sovereign not only originates from the birth year of Winston Churchill, but also from a time when these coins were used in circulation. This means your 1874 Victoria Young Head Sovereign could have been passed through the hands of many wartime heroes, including Churchill himself…
The Sovereign that Survived Two World Wars
You can preserve Churchill’s inspiring legacy with the Sovereign that has transcended from the year of his birth through two world wars! Marked by an exclusive certificate of authenticity to preserve the event and his incredible legacy, this is arguably the most limited way to own the already scarce 1874 Sovereign.
In fact, there is one more thing to remember that makes them even more scarce…
In 1914, the government attempted to reclaim all Sovereigns and use the precious metals of Gold coins to pay off its international debt. This means that your coin will be one of the few remaining to exist nearly 150 years after it was produced.
Extremely Limited… Only 25 Available!
However, we have only been able to source 25 of the 1874 Victoria Young Head Sovereigns! And considering how difficult these Sovereigns are already to source, demand is expected to skyrocket as we fast approach the 150th anniversary of Churchill’s birth.
So, with just 25 of these incredibly rare, historically rich Sovereigns available, you must act now if you want to mark a momentous piece of British history with your collection.
Next month marks the 50th anniversary since the UK switched to decimal currency, leaving behind the old Pounds (£), Shillings (/-) and Pence (d) and introducing the decimalised coins we know today. You might even remember Decimal Day in 1971 yourself, using conversion charts and rhymes to learn the new currency and the excitement of seeing the new coins in your change.
In the 1820s, discussions for a new decimal currency had already begun, and in 1849 a new decimal coin was introduced in the UK. But its introduction didn’t quite go as planned and decimalisation was delayed for almost 130 years!
The Florin first entered circulation in 1849 and had a value of 1/10th of a pound, or 24 pence (in old money). Supposedly, the name came from a similar coin issued in the Netherlands to help with decimalisation there. The Florin (or Two Shilling Coin) featured a special portrait of Queen Victoria in a medieval gothic style. It was the first time since Charles II that a monarch was depicted on a portrait wearing a crown.
Blamed for famine and sickness
The Gothic portrait was featured on the Florin when it was first introduced in 1849. Because the bust was larger than the previous Young Head portrait, the design omitted ten important letters. The words “DEI GRATIA” had been removed from the coin’s inscription. In a deeply religious society, the fact that the words meaning “by the grace of God” no longer appeared on the coin caused outrage.
Many people believed that the lack of the inscription had angered God and caused famine and sickness at the time, leading many to avoid the coin altogether.
One of the shortest-lived coins in UK history
The public outrage meant that the design was altered to include a shortened version of DEI GRATIA (d.g.) by making the diameter of the coin 2mm bigger. This coin soon became the Gothic Florin and was better received by the public, but it’s safe to say that the disaster with the Godless Florin tainted the idea of decimalisation for many years. It also meant that the Godless Florin circulated for just a few years, making it one of the shortest-lived coins in our history!
A second attempt
The Victorian’s made a second attempt at decimalisation in 1887 in the form of the Double Florin (equivalent to 1/5th of a pound, or 48 pennies), issued with a new portrait of Queen Victoria for her Jubilee. But this coin also wasn’t received well and was withdrawn from circulation completely by 1890.
One of the features that makes the Double Florin stand out in history is that it was almost indistinguishable from the crown coin. Neither carried the denomination, and the only difference between the two (apart from the value) was that the Double Florin was 2mm smaller – not something that was easy to spot by eye. Because the two coins were so easily confused, the Double Florin became infamous for causing barmaid to lose their jobs after they short-changed pub owners!
The Victorians are famed for their innovation and sweeping changes in technology, industry, and culture. The Florin as a denomination did circulate until 1993 when it was eventually demonetised, and whilst there were countless experimentations with coinage and new denominations under Queen Victoria, it seems that the UK wasn’t quite ready for a change as big as decimalisation.
If you’re interested:
With such a fascinating story and sense of history behind it, it is no wonder that the Double Florin is such a highly-regarded British coin. Those that do remain are very difficult to track down and we have a very limited number available. And now you can spread your payment across 5 interest free instalments of JUST £19. Click here to secure yours today before they sell out!
Storytelling is one of humanity’s oldest pastimes, with events being captured and passed on for centuries though art, music and dance long before we were writing them down. And one of the oldest and most reliable ways a country can tell its stories is through its coins.
This should come as no surprise. If you think about it, currency is the constant that has always been around in one form or another. It’s continually evolving and adapting to the next chapter in the story.
But there’s one coin in particular that holds more meaning than most – as it blends fact with fiction to produce the world’s most beautiful coin, Una and the Lion.
Controversial, yet beyond improvement
In 1839 William Wyon was commissioned to design a new coin to commemorate the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s coronation.
But it made headlines. It was controversial.
In a bold move it depicted Queen Victoria as the fictional character Lady Una, from Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene. Never before had someone, let alone a ruler, been featured on a coin as a fictional character.
The design shows Lady Una walking alongside her guardian and symbol of England, the lion. It is symbolic of the young monarch leading her vast empire.
Whilst a daring move, the coin was an instant success. Critics hailed it as “beyond improvement”, and to this day it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful coins to have ever been struck.
Part of its beauty was the high relief, providing exquisite intricate detail to the fictional design. But in many ways this was also its downfall, as it meant the coin could not be struck with any consistency. As a result the commemorative was only struck for one year, producing just 400 coins. This makes it extremely rare!
The inspiration: a princess and her protector
Published in 1590, The Faerie Queene, is one of the longest and most distinguished poems in the English language. It was written during the height of the Renaissance when England had just broken away from the Catholic Church and formed its own Protestant Church. Set against the backdrop of this turbulent religious landscape, The Faerie Queene draws on history and myth to deliver numerous tales of romance, adventure, battles, morality and religion.
The first book of the epic poem follows the trials and tribulations of Lady Una – the young and beautiful daughter of a king and queen who have been imprisoned by a ferocious dragon. In a bid to save her parents she embarks on a quest, but on her journey she encounters a fierce lion who plans to eat her.
In a twist of events the lion is so captivated by Una’s beauty and innocence that he abandons his plans to eat her, and instead he becomes her protector and companion.
Together, the iconic pair have become a symbol of beauty, strength and endurance.
The most beautiful coin just became even more exquisite
The Royal Mint has just released a brand new UK Una and the Lion 2oz Silver Proof coin, featuring this iconic and highly sought-after design motif.
Finding an original Una and the Lion coin is virtually impossible, so this may be one of the only ways to secure this design motif for your own collection.
But with an edition limit of just 3,000 worldwide, there aren’t many available for collectors.
As an official Royal Mint distributor, we have secured a limited number for Westminster collectors.