May 2002, Volume 39 No. 5
It is with sadness, albeit tinged with a sense of inevitability, that we learn, as we go to press, of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and it is with an equal sense of inevitability, but not I hasten to add sadness, that we now await the announcements of the numismatic world’s tributes to the life of this amazing lady. That there will be tributes of some kind, from across the world, is not in doubt, although it was the 1965 issuing of the ubiquitous “Churchill Crown” that started the “trend” the most obvious use of coinage to commemorate a death came with the issuing of the Princess Diana Memorial Crown in the UK and the myriad similar items produced across the globe. That event saw the start of a new numismatic phenomenon, one already in existence for some years in philately, and whilst it is unlikely that the numismatic world will embrace the Queen Mother’s passing in the same way as it did Princess Diana’s, (after all in the eyes of the public, and so the collectors, the two events are very different, the sudden tragedy of the first in stark contrast to the serene, almost expected, circumstances of the second) the Queen Mother’s very longevity has meant that there has been a vast array of coinage produced to commemorate various milestones in her life (in the UK alone a 25p crown in 1980 and £5 coins in 1990 and 2000) and it is therefore realistic to expect a large number of pieces to become available both to celebrate that life and to mourn her death. At the time of going to press the Royal Australian Mint had announced their intention of minting a “proof coin to commemorate the life of Her Majesty the Queen Mother”, the 1oz pure silver coin, with a face value of AUS$5.00 is expected to be ready later this year and Pobjoy Mint, who have produced the memorable “Life and times of the Queen Mother” series for Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, have also announced that they will be marking the event by re-issuing the 2002 dated crown pieces from those series with a black band covering the legend. Whilst there is no official word from the British Royal Mint at this early stage, it is expected that something, quite probably a £5 crown, will be forthcoming, if it is then we will find ourselves in the unusual position of having two crowns available this year, one to celebrate the joyous occasion of the Jubilee and another to commemorate a sad event. With the Millennium crowns and Royal Crowns (Diana’s death and The Queen Mother’s 100th) there were two different £5 pieces issued in 1999 and 2000 but even with the former the contrast was not perhaps so stark as it would be this year. Of course we might be wrong, there may be no official UK coin to mark this occasion but even if there isn’t it is guaranteed that there will be a plethora of pieces from elsewhere. “Thematic” has been a growing arm of our hobby for some years and commemorative coins of all shapes and sizes, whether “official” UK or not have always proved popular with both collectors and the general public alike and Royal crowns in particular are snapped up as soon as they are made available; it is therefore safe to assume that whatever is produced to mark the sad passing of one of Britain’s best loved public figures and one of the world’s best known Royals it will be eagerly sort after – but for now it is just a case of waiting and seeing what the numismatic world has to offer, we’ll keep you informed.
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