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 >>
It started – as all ‘great’ ideas do – down the pub.
There I was, sipping on my *ahem* first pint of amber nectar, when an interesting point came up. A good friend of mine, Billy, is turning 70 this year, and I was asked by my mates what I planned to get him.
It didn’t take me long. By the second round I was in top form, and a great idea came to me.
And yet to their minds, my gift seemed beyond generous. And I’m not sure any of them believed me. But why?
Well that’s because it’s a genuine Penny Black – the crown jewel in the nation’s greatest hobby.
“A genuine one?” was the doubting reply. Which is something I’ve heard a lot over the years.
It’s a perfectly valid response. Especially when you consider the most famous example sold for just under £350,000!
You see, the Penny Black is the world’s FIRST postage stamp. And better yet – from a collector’s point of view – they were only issued for 9 months (1840-41), and are so highly revered in philatelist circles that no collection is complete without it. The very first. A pillar of the Victorian Age.
But here’s the rub. 68 million Penny Blacks were printed in its 9 months of production.
And so for stamp collectors, condition is everything. In fact Stanley Gibbons, the authority on stamps, have a series of terms to help clarify what the condition of a stamp is worth. Every year they assign values to every British stamp ever issued. The values of the most desirable versions are called the ‘fine [used or unused] catalogue price(s)’.
And while there are indeed many more factors that affect the overall value of a Penny Black (plate number, cancellation and corner letters), the gold-standard is the ‘4-Margin’ – a stamp with four clear white margins around the stamp. And despite what you might think, it is a real rarity.
You see it was this version, the most desirable of the Penny Blacks, which I was giving to Billy. Perhaps you can now appreciate my friends’ disbelief.
But there’s something else. Something even more remarkable…
Over recent years the global market for stamp collecting has grown at a rapid rate. One of the major factors for this is because old, historic stamps are rare, difficult to source and limited in supply.
This overall rise in values is perhaps best illustrated by the Stanley Gibbons 250 Index, which has seen a 288% rise in the last ten years alone. Tracking the price of 250 key investment stamps, the index rise reflects the constant demand for the very best stamp issues. And significantly, this growth has been in stark contrast to other comparable markets over the same time.
As a result of this continued demand, the last two decades alone has seen the official Stanley Gibbons catalogue value for a fine used example of the Penny Black rise by 150% – out-performing many other comparable commodities.
And so came my idea. To give my good friend Billy a meaningful gift for a milestone birthday. A gift that’s not only dear to my heart, but something with genuine historical significance, fantastic desirability, and as a bonus, a clear track record of increasing value.
So there you have it, a great idea for a great friend – thank-you Fosters.
If you’re interested…
You can own your own 4-Margin Penny Black, like Billy. Click here for details >>>
Celebrate all things quintessentially British with the 26 new 10p coins released into circulation this March. The Royal Mint’s A to Z Silver Proof Coin Series is set to create a collecting storm, with each stunning design featuring a much loved British icon, from the famed English breakfast to the legendary King Arthur. Which will be your favourite?
A is for Angel of the North, the largest UK sculpture, standing at 20 metres tall and welcoming visitors to Gateshead with outstretched, curving wings that are said to give a sense of embrace.
B is for Bond, James Bond. This coin features the unmistakable gun barrel and 007 logo from the nation’s favourite fictional Secret Service Agent and suave character, first brought to the Silver Screen by Sean Connery in 1962.
C could only be Cricket, the Great British sporting pastime and the country’s national sport since the 18th century. We don’t like cricket, we love it!
D stands for Double Decker Bus, famously recognised world-wide as an icon for London, with many of the city’s buses still remaining red as a symbol for the capital and as a much loved tourist attraction.
E brings us to the first mention of Great British food, the irresistible English breakfast, also known as a fry up and featuring much loved classics such as eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and black pudding.
F is for Fish and Chips, another food lover’s favourite and British sea-side classic, with the first fish and chip shop opening in the 1860’s, although to this day there is much debate over whether credit is owed to the North or South of Britain for its origin.
G stands for Greenwich Meantime, with the Royal Observatory in Greenwich being famous as the home of the historic Prime Meridian of the World, dividing eastern and western hemispheres of the globe.
H is none other than the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, perhaps the most recognisable skyline along the River Thames for the past 300 years and meeting place to examine UK Government, laws, taxes and current issues.
I takes us to another classic sea-side treat, the Ice Cream Cone. With a multitude of flavours, toppings and types to choose from, everyone enjoys a scoop or two of ice cream on a British summer’s day.
J is for Jubilee and what better excuse could there be to bring the community together and get out the bunting for a Great British street party than to celebrate our much loved monarchs?
K stands for the myth of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, fabled fifth century warriors of the Arthurian legend, believing in the code of chivalry and upholding the values of honour, honesty, valour and loyalty.
L is another British myth shrouded in mystery, the legend of the aquatic beast known as the Loch Ness Monster or ‘Nessie’ as commonly referred to in Scottish folklore, still yet to be officially discovered.
M stands for the humble Mackintosh, an essential item of clothing needed to battle against the Great British weather. Because when it rains, it pours!
N is for the NHS, or National Health Service, a hugely ambitious idea initiated in 1948 to bring good healthcare to all and now renowned as one of the best healthcare provisions in the world.
O is the mighty Oak tree, a symbol of strength and endurance and the national tree for England and Wales, arguably the most commonly known native British tree found in deciduous woods.
P has to be the Great British Post Box, resplendent in red and an iconic image gracing postcards and tourist souvenir shops across the country.
Q is a world renowned Great British value, forming an orderly Queue and waiting in line with good manners and patience. The people of Britain have queuing etiquette down to a fine art.
R stands for our beloved Robin redbreast, the UK’s favourite bird that can be seen year round, but most famously at Christmas time when they make a beautiful picture against the frost and snow.
S is the prominent prehistoric British monument, Stonehenge, consisting of a ring of stones from our Neolithic ancestors, forming one of the Wonders of the World and a source of both spiritualism and inspiration.
T could be none other than the quintessential British cup of Tea, brewed to perfection. The UK has been one of the greatest consumers of tea since the 18th century, with 165 million cups drank daily according to the UK Tea & Infusions Association.
U stands for a classic British symbol, the Union Flag, otherwise known as the Union Jack, which was first introduced in 1606 and flown at the main masthead of all English and Scottish ships.
V is for Villages, with Britain being known for its quaint communities and setting an ideal for living in a peaceful rural atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
W is the World Wide Web, invented by British computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 to open up the internet so that anyone, anywhere could use it, connecting the world with a single ‘universal space’.
X Marks the Spot of course! Throughout history, treasure hunters, great explorers and infamous pirates alike have set out to find hidden bounties buried at secret map locations marked with the letter X.
Y stands for the Yeoman Warder or ‘Beefeaters’ that nowadays stand ceremonially on guard at the Tower of London and were originally part of the Yeoman Guard, charged to personally protect the monarchs of Tudor times.
Z is the final coin in the series and stands for Zebra Crossing, used in the UK and worldwide to give right of way to pedestrians, but perhaps known most famously in the UK for the Abbey Road crossing featured in the iconic Beatles album artwork.
Let us know your favourite by commenting below.
If you’re interested…
You can own all of the A-Z 10ps in Silver Proof quality now.