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.
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).
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.
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 lost – we 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.”
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-dimensional ‘1921 style’ Poppy, which sits magnificently on the coin.
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.
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.
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.
The virtue Charity expresses the Sovereigns responsibility to make charitable efforts to take care of the suffering.
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.
Courage helps the Sovereign perform tasks that need to be carried out, and it is said the virtue courage makes all others possible.
Truthfulness is important to the Sovereign — Our Queen Elizabeth II is known to be the searcher and seeker of truth.
As the longest reigning monarch, Her Majesty has shown great constancy over her 70-year reign, maintaining commitments and Royal duties.
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.
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.
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…
If this disappoints you, then I have what you need…
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As I’m sure you already know, this year Her Majesty marks her 95th Birthday. This is an incredible milestone and an important moment in British history that has been rightfully remembered on some fantastic commemoratives.
But there’s one particular issue that, for me, stands heads and shoulders above the rest…
Introducing the Diamond Masterpiece
The name ‘Masterpiece’ really is appropriate for this coin, and I would almost say that it hardly does justice to this incredible release which is the pinnacle of craftsmanship. Cutting edge minting techniques and materials have been used to create this special commemorative.
Containing NINETY FIVE Actual Diamonds – one for each year of Her Majesty’s life
The coin itself has been struck to an incredible 65mm from FIVE OUNCES of .999 PURE SILVER. The coin is fully approved by Buckingham Palace and the Queen and is the perfect heirloom for you and your family to commemorate the occasion.
And around the outside of the designs are 95 diamonds representing the years of Her Majesty’s life. This is an incredible feature and a real feat of numismatic innovation.
As I am sure you can appreciate, given all of the individual elements that have to be carefully curated for each individual coin, the edition limit as a consequence is incredibly low. In fact, only 195 of these coins have been produced.
JUST 195 AVAILABLE – secure yours while you can!
The Queen’s 95th Birthday Diamond Masterpiece Coin is available to own right now from The Westminster Collection, although these numismatic masterpieces are expected to sell out quickly.