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2012, a year of festivities for England.
Everyboby knows that in 2012, the town of London is welcoming the Summer Olympic Games. The Royal Mint, the workshop that strikes the British coins, is about to produce a great quantity of commemorative coins specially for this event. Yet, the real festivity in this great parliamentary monarchy that is the United Kingdom, is of course the Queen’s anniversary of her sixty years of reign. On February the 6th of 1952, King George VI died. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth of Windsor, de facto became queen. Not only Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but also sovereign of a great number of the Commonwealth kingdoms, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This last was greatly mentionned during the Rugby World Cup. If the victory gained by the All Black received the Queen’s greatings, it is because this country is a former British colony. Through the Commonwealth, New Zealanders keep a close link with English people, even if they are geographically very far. But let’s return to Elizabeth II, who is celebrating her diamond jubilee for her reign this year. It is precisely from February 6th of this year 2012 that Elizabeth will be able to celebrate her sixty years of reign over more than sixteen countries. Concerning her coronation, it took place on June, 2nd in 1953. You must know Elizabeth is already in the Guinness records’ book for being the oldest Queen ever in the United Kingdom. The Queen was born on April, 21st in 1926, she will reach the honorable age of 86 years old in 2012. It is also the opportunity to recall every one that she is the sixth woman to have fully reigned over England. The salic law does not exist in Great Britain, that’s why a woman can come to the throne if there is no male heir. The crown’s transmission is made by primogeniture. Among the former Queens of England, we first remember Victoria, whose long reign, from 1837 to 1901, marked the nineteenth century. We also remember Elizabeth I, contemporary of Shakespeare, she reigned from 1558 to 1603. We should also think about Marie Tudor, with her short reign of five years, from 1553 to 1558. She remains the « bloody » or « bloodthristy queen » , the famous Bloody Mary, who gave her name to the cocktail. The other ones are only known by History amateurs or historians. We can mention Anne Stuart, who reigned from 1702 to 1714. During her reign, England and Scotland were unified. The last one to be remembered is yet the first woman who should have legitimately been Queen of England. I am talking about Matilda, who lived from 1102 to 1167. Shed did not manage to keep the throne, usurped by the despicable Stephen of Blois. At that time, Matilda claimed the crown of England. She had to face men of the Middle Age, in every sense of the term (more or less like Ségolène Royal in 2007 with the despicable Sarkozy. The reign of Sarkozy, like the one of Stephen of Blois, will remain in the History like a stain, a blemish, a soiling). But that is enough digressions, let’s come back to Elizabeth II. She was nearly 26 years old when she became Her Majesty the Queen. Nevertheless, if her reign is alre ady part of the most importants by their length, it’s her grandmother Victoria who still has the record of the longest reign ever in the United Kingdom, that is to say sixty-three years and two hundred and sixteen days. To compare with, Louis XIV reigned over France more than seventy-two years, another record to break ! You can see all the coins of the United Kingdom especially made for this jubilee when you visit the official website of the Royal British coin, the Royal Mint : http://www.royalmint.com/
It goes without saying that monetary workshops of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and all the other nations of the Commonwealth which have Queen Elizabeth for Chief State (we must include then British possessions like Gibraltar) will also propose commemorative coins of this historical moment. You will find more complete information about the diamond jubilee of Elizabeth II on Wikipedia : Know everything about the diamond jubilee of Elizabeth II.
The reason for this website to be : a fascination for British coins
I collect British coins of the XIXth and XXth centuries. From Victoria to Elizabeth II, including Edward VII, George V, and George VI (father of Elizabeth II). Why collect these coins in particular ? The question to be asked would be : "How not to be fascinated by old English coins ?". According to me, the Victorian epoch is the golden age of coinage of the British crown. Nonglad to have had with their use coins still struck in noble metals, brilliant gold coins and heavy crowns of silver, the contemporaries of Victoria and her descendants had the privilege to have daily under the eyes, at the time of each incidental expenses, nothing less than true small travelling works of art. I am also fascinated by the fact the British empire was the biggest in the world, which offers to the collector a great variety of coins to which the British touch gave a beautiful unity. The quality of the engraving and the frequency of traditional themes of United Kingdom are the best guarantee, along with the classic remembrance on the common obverse of the profile of the one who wore in his time the crown of England. Moreover, the Victorian epoch saw an impressive quantity of talented authors and artists : Oscar Wilde, Herbert George Wells, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and many others... Imagine yourself holding in your hand one of these coins from 1837 to 1910 and think that somebody who may have marked the History could hold it between his hands! Such rupee could have passed in the hands of Kipling, such shilling in those of Conan Doyle which will have lent it to its Sherlock Holmes, such half crown in those of Katherine Mansfield or Virginia Woolf.
Ancient British colonies
From the start of the colonization of the New World but even more thereafter, England will endeavour to acquire maritime supremacy to appropriate (“adapt itself” according to the English dictionary available on the web !) more than any other nation of Europe the most possible colonies in order to increase its resources and its wealth, and it will reach that point, particularly by its victory over France at the end of the seven years old war (1756-1763) who will give him New France, i.e. the current province of Quebec, federated with Canada, British dominion, and a part of the soon British Indies, which later provided pretext to do of the Queen Victoria anything less than one empress !
Themes of engraving on British coins
Engraving workshops of the coins of the United Kingdom still use the traditional symbols associated with each territory of the Union: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. England has the symbols of St George, the rose and the three lions (gold lions on red field, or Plantagenet's lions, known as passers by) as well as the crown and the Order of the Garter. Wales has the symbol of a red dragon on white and green zone. Scotland is associated to the thistle, the lion (this time rising or upright and red on a golden field), and St Andrew. Ireland has the symbols of clover or shamrock, the harp and St Patrick.