Posts Tagged ‘numismatics’

The 50 years of the 50p celebrations continue with a tribute to British military history

This year the 50p turns 50 years old. And to mark the occasion The Royal Mint re-issued for 2019 some of the most popular 50ps to have ever been issued – including the rare Kew Gardens 50p which is the pinnacle for most collectors.

Unsurprisingly, the limited edition proof sets sold out in record time – just 2 hours!

Now, to continue the celebrations of the 50th year of the 50p, The Royal Mint has released a second set of iconic 50ps, this time celebrating British military history. It is no coincidence this collection has been released on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

The collection has been officially released today, in a number of precious metal versions and we’re delighted to provide you with all the details you need to know about this latest edition to the 50p family…

Five iconic designs celebrating British military history

50th Anniversary of the 50p Military BU Pack product pages all 50ps - The 50 years of the 50p celebrations continue with a tribute to British military history

Each set includes five popular 50p designs which are a true tribute to British military history, including:

  • 50th Anniversary of D-Day – originally issued in 1994, the design depicts the D-Day landings of the Allied forces as they head for Normandy by air and sea.
  • Victoria Cross Heroics Acts – released in 2006, this 50p commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross and is one of two designs issued to honour award. This one features a design of a soldier carrying an injured comrade.
  • 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross Award – the second 50p issued in 2006 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross, featuring an image of the medal itself.   
  • 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain – first issued in 2015, this 50p features three airmen running to their planes with enemy aircraft overhead.
  • 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings – showing the scene from the Bayeux tapestry depicting King Harold with an arrow in his eye, this coin was originally released in 2016.

Demand for military commemoratives is at an all-time high, especially this year when we mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, and as such it is expected these sets will attract a lot of interest from collectors.

50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Brilliant Uncirculated Pack

50th Anniversary of the 50p Military BU Pack product pages bu pack and 50ps 2 - The 50 years of the 50p celebrations continue with a tribute to British military history

To give as many collectors as possible the chance to own these highly sought-after coins, The Royal Mint has issued them in Brilliant Uncirculated quality, which is coveted by collectors as it means each coin is free from any marks you would find on circulated coins.

Each one is protectively encapsulated in its attractive original Royal Mint packaging to preserve its quality for generations to come. What’s more, you can secure this BU Pack at the Royal Mint issue price of just £45 (+p&p). Click here to find out more>>>

50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Base Proof Set

50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Base Proof Pack product pages open pack - The 50 years of the 50p celebrations continue with a tribute to British military history

Whilst being struck from base metal, the coins in this set have been struck to a stunning superior proof finish. Just 3,500 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Base Proof Sets have been released worldwide, making this set extremely sought after.

You can order the new 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Base Proof Set here with a down payment of just £19.80 (+p&p) followed by 4 further interest-free instalments. Click here to find out more>>>

50th Anniversary of the 50p Silver Proof Set

50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Silver Proof Pack product pages boxed - The 50 years of the 50p celebrations continue with a tribute to British military history

However, you can own the 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Set in an even more limited way – so limited just 1,969 collectors worldwide can own it.  

Each set contains the same five iconic 50p designs, but these have been struck in superior .925 Sterling Silver to a perfect proof finish. Given how popular commemorative 50ps are, this ultimate set is sure to be an even bigger hit.

You can secure this extremely limited set for your collection now for just £29.50 (+p&p), followed by just 9 further equal interest-free monthly instalments. Click here to find out more>>>

50th Anniversary of the 50p Gold Set

The 50th Anniversary of the 50p 2019 UK 50p Gold Proof Coin Collection military   right   UK195MGP - The 50 years of the 50p celebrations continue with a tribute to British military history

Finally, the rarest set of all. Just 75 collectors worldwide will be able to own the 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Set impeccably struck from 22 Carat Gold to a proof finish.

How a young queen saw the world without leaving Europe…

Despite ruling over 400 million people in an empire that covered almost a quarter of the world’s surface, Queen Victoria had never set foot in many of the countries that she ruled over.

For many of those people, the only way to catch a glimpse of their empress was by looking at the portraits on the coins that passed through their hands every day. These coins formed a vital connection between people, even though they may have lived on opposite sides of the world and experienced very different lives.

Victoria Empire 1024x584 - How a young queen saw the world without leaving Europe...
Map of the British Empire during Victoria’s reign

India became known as the Jewel in the Empire’s crown, and was so important to Victoria that she was awarded the title of the “Empress of India” in 1876. Although she never stepped foot in the subcontinent, the currency of India (the rupee) was minted with her portrait on from 1840, so people could recognise their empress despite living 4,500 miles away!

The rupee is one of the oldest currencies in the world, so to feature a British monarch for the first time was an important moment in numismatic history. The later portrait issued on rupees was similar to the Gothic Head effigy can be considered one of the most beautiful coins of the empire.

Another numismatic first took place in Australia in 1855, one more country that Victoria never visited (which is hardly surprising as it would have taken her almost two months to get there!). As the empire grew, so did the need for coins and the Royal Mint opened branches in Australia to mint sovereigns for the empire. In 1855 the first ever sovereign to be minted outside of the UK, the Sydney sovereign, was issued. It featured a portrait of Victoria that was based on the Young Head effigy, but with a sprig of banksia weaved through Victoria’s hair, giving the portrait a distinct Australian feel.

Australia Sydney Mint Victorian Gold Sovereign Obverse Reverse photo 1 - How a young queen saw the world without leaving Europe...
1870 Sydney sovereign with Australian portrait of Queen Victoria

A number of Royal Mint branches were opened throughout Australia after the success of the Sydney sovereign. To identify the mint that sovereigns were produced in, mintmarks were added to the coins, with a small ‘P’ for Perth, and an ‘M’ for Melbourne. The sovereign became legal tender in the majority of British colonies in the 1860s, and its importance in British trade, and worldwide circulation earned it the title “the King of Coins”. By the final years of the British Empire, the sovereign was minted in four continents across the globe.

India and Australia weren’t the only countries that saw Victoria’s portrait. Her image also reached as far as Hong Kong, Ceylon, East Africa and New Zealand. In 1870 the first Canadian dollar with Victoria’s portrait was issued, taking Victoria’s image to a new side of the world for people to see.

Victoria never left Europe, but her portrait and image stood strong on coins around the world. Whilst she never stepped foot in many of the countries that she ruled over, that didn’t stop people recognising her image around the world. The coins that they used every day provided a link to the empire that they were a part of, despite the miles between them.


ST 1886 QV Indian Rupee Both Sides 4 300x177 - How a young queen saw the world without leaving Europe...

If you’re interested

You can now own a genuine Victorian Silver Rupee, minted over 4,500 miles away! Click here for more info>>>>

The Victorian coins that were meant to transform our currency…but were blamed for famine instead.

In 1971 the UK switched to a decimal currency, leaving the old £sd (pounds, shillings and pence) behind and introducing the decimalised coins we know today. You might even remember decimal day yourself, or using conversion charts and rhymes to learn the new currency. And if you’re like me, then you’ll probably remember the excitement of seeing the new coins in your change. 

But decimalisation actually started under Queen Victoria, when two new decimal denominations were introduced. These were coins that were blamed for sickness, famine, and the unemployment of barmaids. In fact, they were so controversial that decimalisation had to be delayed for over a century!

The Godless Florin

ST UK 1849 Queen Victoria Florin Silver Coin Both Sides 002 1 300x176 - The Victorian coins that were meant to transform our currency…but were blamed for famine instead.
1849 Victorian Florin – nicknamed the ‘Godless Florin’

The florin first appeared in 1849 with a value of 1/10th of a pound, or 24 pence. It was rumoured to have borrowed its name from a similar shaped coin from the Netherlands and was issued as a test to help the public warm to decimalised currency. However, its introduction didn’t go as well as hoped. 

The Gothic Head portrait of Victoria was used on the first florins that were issued, and it featured the monarch wearing a crown for the first time in over 200 years. Another unusual design change was the exclusion of the abbreviation “D.G”, meaning “by the grace of God”. In a society where religion was important, the coin was thought to have angered God, so it became known as the ‘Godless Florin’ and was reportedly blamed for Cholera outbreaks and famine at the time.

The Godless Florin was quickly withdrawn from circulation in 1851 and was replaced by a Gothic florin, which had the same design, but included the “D.G” inscription in an attempt to appease the public.

Victorian Florin comparison mobile 002 300x208 - The Victorian coins that were meant to transform our currency…but were blamed for famine instead.
Left: 1851 Victorian Florin with ‘D.G’ inscription, Right: 1849 ‘Godless’ Florin

The Barmaid’s Ruin

Attempt number two at decimalisation came in the form of a double florin, equivalent to 1/5th of a pound. It was introduced in 1887 and featured the new Jubilee Head portrait of Queen Victoria, but it was withdrawn by the end of 1890 making it one of the shortest circulating denominations in British history.

ST UK 1887 Queen Victoria Double Florin Silver Coin Both Sides 2 002 300x178 - The Victorian coins that were meant to transform our currency…but were blamed for famine instead.
1887 Double Florin, nicknamed ‘The Barmaid’s Ruin’

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.

This meant that the coins were easily confused, and the story goes that crafty patrons would trick barmaids into accepting the double florin as a crown. The double florin then became known as the ‘barmaid’s ruin’, because this act resulted in barmaids losing their jobs.

The first attempts at decimalisation happened over 170 years ago, and although the double florin was withdrawn from circulation after just four mint years , the florin was much more successful, surviving until 1993 before it was demonetised. It circulated alongside the 10p coin, which was introduced in 1968 to try and help the public warm to decimalisation – this time it was finally successful!

The Victorians experienced monumental changes in culture, industry, technology, and empire in their time, but it seems they just weren’t ready for the change of their currency.


Queen Victoria Double Florin Main 300x208 - The Victorian coins that were meant to transform our currency…but were blamed for famine instead.

If you’re interested…

Own a piece of history with the ‘Barmaid’s ruin’, the coin that caused barmaid’s to lose their jobs. Click here to order it today>>>