Gifting a Poppy Masterpiece

Each year, as many of you collectors may know, here at The Westminster Collection, we release a special Masterpiece coin in partnership with the Royal British Legion. A donation from the sales of our Poppy coins is made to the Royal British Legion, on your behalf.

2021 saw a special centenary year for the long-established charity, with many celebrations held, including the laying of a wreath at the Cenotaph by RBL National President Lieutenant General James Bashall CB CBE.

One such way we commemorated this important event was the gifting of our prized Remembrance Masterpiece Poppy Coin to D-Day veteran Jim Healy.

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Jim Healy with The 2021 Masterpiece Silver 5oz Poppy Coin

Jim is 97 and from Manchester – he was born in the Spring of 1925 and was called up to join the Armed Forces at the age of only 18. He served in the Royal Marines from May 1943 until August 1945, telling RBL he couldn’t even swim being a Manchester boy! His specific role was Coxswain of the Landing Craft Assault (LCA).

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Jim Healy – center

He landed on Juno Beach on D-Day 1944 and during his time in service, made several trips to land Canadian troops on the coast of Normandy. Describing one such trip he said, “I really admired these lads, I saw some wrecked craft, which must’ve copped a mine, but we were fortunate going in on a high tide, we avoided the mines in the water, going over the top of the obstacles.”

Jim is now a retired printer. He married his wife Marie at the age of 25 and they were married for 38 years, but she sadly passed 30 years ago. His brothers Tom and John also served in the Forces. Tom served in the Royal Air Force, and John worked in munitions.

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Jim Healy – back row, third from left

With the Royal British Legion, Jim has been back to Normandy and took part in the D-Day 75 commemorations in northern France in the Summer of 2019. He has said “I’ve had a whole life before and since D-Day, and it’s only since the RBL started organising these trips that I’ve really started talking about those days.”

“…you’ve got in mind the lads you’ve lostwe lost ten of our boats and even mine was classified as lost, the family were told that I was missing in action, because our craft was disabled in the middle of the sea.”

Jim added “I still don’t know which of those soldiers we dropped off died and which ones survived, which is sad for me. I often think about them, we offer our condolences at various times each year and I know the Canadians suffered heavy losses on Juno Beach, but I never knew them really, which is quite hard.”

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Jim Healy

The Masterpiece which has been gifted to Jim is crafted from 1945 British Army Mess tins, a World War Two Spitfire and a D-Day Landing Craft, similar to the one piloted by Jim himself on June 6, 1944. Representing the three military facets of RBL, we have repurposed these important materials to create a three-dimensional1921 stylePoppy, which sits magnificently on the coin.

To find out more about how the 2021 Masterpiece Silver 5oz Poppy Coin was made and the significance of the materials used, click here >>

Jim has said “I’m very proud to receive this coin, it is a fitting reminder of my time in the Marines during World War Two and I am very grateful. I do get called a hero, but it is a word that’s over-used these days, even by my own family.”

We feel honoured that our 2021 Masterpiece Silver 5oz Poppy Coin has been gifted to Jim and what a fitting tribute that it’s one of our most historically fascinating pieces to have ever been released.

Our partnership, held since 2004, continues with the Royal British Legion who provide financial, social, and emotional support to members and veterans of the UK Armed Forces, their families and dependents.

Behind the design: The Platinum Jubilee Masterpiece that SOLD OUT in hours!

A flagship specification for Westminster collectors, ‘Masterpiece’ issues truly live up to their name and this British Isles Platinum Jubilee release was no different! Issued to mark Her Majesty’s record-breaking reign, this coin was struck from Pure Silver to a Proof finish and features a thoughtful design that pays tribute to the constant and reassuring figure. In fact, artist Neil Bromley spent 2-3 weeks on the exquisite reverse design, and we think he did an amazing job. Just ask the 285 collectors who have bought this Masterpiece, causing a complete SELL OUT!

For this particular Masterpiece, the Queen’s Virtues are the focus — and in this blog, we’ll dissect the fascinating design

What are the Queen’s Virtues?

The Queen’s Virtues encapsulate the personifications of both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II. They are widely acknowledged as principles founded by Queen Victoria in the Victorian Age, and to this day, are carried forward by Queen Elizabeth II and so remain the core virtues of the British nation. The virtues are Victory, Charity, Justice, Courage, Truth and Constancy.

Victory (Victoria)

The Queen holds the position of Head of the Armed Forces and as such, victory as a virtue, represents the end of conflict and celebration of peace.

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Victoria design on Platinum Jubilee Masterpiece

Charity (Caritas)

The virtue Charity expresses the Sovereigns responsibility to make charitable efforts to take care of the suffering.

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Caritas design on Platinum Jubilee Masterpiece

Justice (Justitia)

Sovereigns have established legal systems throughout the UK and from the beginning, have become important figures in the enforcement of law. Therefore, one of the Queens virtues is ‘Justice’ — as monarchs have been known as the ‘Fount of Justice’. The Platinum Jubilee Silver Masterpiece features a winged Angel representing justice for the people on earth, ensuring harmony and orderly manner within society.

Justice - Behind the design: The Platinum Jubilee Masterpiece that SOLD OUT in hours!
Justitia design on Platinum Jubilee Masterpiece

Courage (Animus)

Courage helps the Sovereign perform tasks that need to be carried out, and it is said the virtue courage makes all others possible.

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Animus design on Platinum Jubilee Masterpiece

Truth (Veritas)

Truthfulness is important to the Sovereign — Our Queen Elizabeth II is known to be the searcher and seeker of truth.

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Veritas design on Platinum Jubilee Masterpiece

Constancy (Constantia)

As the longest reigning monarch, Her Majesty has shown great constancy over her 70-year reign, maintaining commitments and Royal duties.

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Constantia design on Platinum Jubilee Masterpiece

The masterpiece carries each of these virtues in segments, with the seventh segment at the bottom displaying ‘70’ in Roman numerals and ‘Platinum Jubilee’ written in Latin.

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British Isles Platinum Jubilee Silver Masterpiece

Meet the Designer

Neil Bromley who studied art for six years at college and graduated with a H.N.D in Calligraphy and Heraldry at Reigate School of Art in 1995, spent 2-3 weeks designing the reverse. Having designed and drawn over 30 coin designs to date, his work includes the painting of family crests, shields and full coats of arms.

Bromley took inspiration from the Queen Victoria Monument in London, situated in front of Buckingham Palace, which commemorates the death of Queen Victoria in 1902.

Using 2,300 tons of white Carrara marble, the central monument is 25 metres high and was created between 1906 and 1924 by Sir Thomas Brock. It features Victoria, as well as statues representing courage, constancy, victory, charity, truth, and motherhood.

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Queen Victoria Monument in London

Creating a Masterpiece

Bromley spent many hours researching the Victoria Monument — alternative images of the six virtue statues from different angles were found to define a balance within the coin. He also took inspiration from some of the original drawings by Thomas Brock and old photographs.

Once Neil had suitable images, they were drawn by hand to form a pencil sketch on trace.

Each virtue was then re-drawn on hot press paper as separate single artworks. Each drawing taking around 2-3 days. Given the amount of detail in each statue, it was important to capture as much as possible and to create depth.

The coin design was created separately and took into account the directions of the images that related to the Latin text in each segment. The Latin for each segment was discussed through a medieval forum to gain the correct spelling and to advise on a suitable Latin inscription for Platinum Jubilee. This was discussed and agreed upon by several medieval historians and calligraphers.

The final Masterpiece design was then struck from .999 Pure Silver to a Proof finish, with selective 24 Carat Gold-plating added to enhance elements of the design. The Proof finish requires immense craftsmanship and as such a mirror-like result sharpens the design.

And as I mentioned earlier, this incredible piece SOLD OUT in a matter of hours

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HMS Endurance discovered: Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship found in Antarctic

You might have already seen the news that the HMS Endurance has been discovered more than 3,000 metres below the Antarctic Ocean.

It’s a fascinating discovery – in fact, the team that discovered the lost ship said that it’s ‘by far the finest wooden shipwreck’ they’ve ever seen.

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The stern of the Endurance with the name and emblematic polestar. Credit: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic

If you don’t know why this story has captured everybody’s imagination, I’m going to explain to you why Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition on his ship HMS Endurance is one of the most enthralling stories in British maritime history

The story of Endurance…

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expeditions to the Antarctic captured my imagination as a young man, and even inspired the likes of Sir Edmund Hillary.

His most famous voyage was on the HMS Endurance – the very ship that’s discovery was announced this week. It’s this journey that produced one of the greatest stories of heroism in British exploration history.

Shackleton’s attempt to complete a Trans-Antarctic voyage left him and his crew stranded on the ice for 6 months with no prospect of rescue after the Endurance was crushed and sank in the place where it’s since remained for more than a century.

With the pack ice breaking apart underneath their feet, Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance had to make a decision and fast.

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The crew of Endurance on Elephant Island, off the coast of Antarctica. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Using three small fishing boats the crew sailed 800 miles through the treacherous Southern Ocean, battling against hurricane force winds and icy water to cross South Georgia’s uncharted glaciers.

During this tortuous journey, Shackleton’s main concern was for his men. At one point, Shackleton handed over his precious mittens to a member of the crew who lost his at sea, suffering frostbite as a result.

When rescue finally arrived, the crew of the Endurance returned home to find that the First World War had broken out in their absence.

Shackleton’s immense journey, his bravery, and his endurance firmly secured him a place amongst Britain’s greatest.

The Discovery of the Endurance

Now, more than 100 years since it was last seen, the HMS Endurance has finally been discovered!

Dr John Shears, the expedition leader of Endurance22, said the search for Endurance had made “polar history” by completing what he called “the world’s most challenging shipwreck search”.

In memory of the famous explorer and his ship the HMS Endurance, you have the chance to own a collection of coins that celebrate the famous explorer.

View our range of Sir Ernest Shackleton commemorative coins here >>

Ernest Shackleton BU 2 Set - HMS Endurance discovered: Sir Ernest Shackleton's lost ship found in Antarctic
The Ernest Shackleton 100th Anniversary £2 BU Set