Rising to the challenge
Volume 39, Number 10, October 2002
It seems that every where we turn these days there is another date being commemorated, another anniversary marked, one year since this, five years since that, fifty years since the other; some of these occasions are undoubtedly important and deserve to be marked, the original event or events being of profound significance- whether it is known at the time or not. Others of course are less obvious and one wonders from time to time whether the “sixtieth anniversary of the first telephone box that wasn’t red” (or whatever!) is necessarily something one would wish to spend time reflecting upon. Of course the collectables market has always been extremely grateful for anniversaries and commemorations and for years coins, stamps and ‘phone cards have been adorned with images designed to celebrate one occasion or another – some have been somewhat tenuous, others obvious and fortunately the numismatic world has generally stuck to the latter leaving others to concentrate on the more obscure historical events. The latest crop of commemorative coins is no exception and as the anniversaries come thick and fast so the banks and mints have risen to the challenge well. Commemorative coins seem to fall into two distinct categories; those marking a tragic event and those marking a fortuitous, maybe world changing one, for the former one need look no further than the death, five years ago of Princess Diana, an event that shocked and stunned the world, at the time it was marked by the introduction of the Diana £5 crown and now, five years later there are more crowns being produced to reflect that her legacy lives on. Of particular note are the coins of Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney that have been struck by the Royal Mint. Limited edition gold and silver crowns and brilliant uncirculated cupro-nickel crowns (all with a face value of £5) and limited edition gold £25 sovereign size coins have been struck and from the sales of each a donation is being made to the Princess of Wales memorial fund, a fact reflected in the fact that each coin bears the motto of the fund - “the Work Continues”. Of course it wasn’t just Diana’s death that was at the front of people’s minds this late summer with the first anniversary of the events of September 11 leading to a number of very tasteful memorial coins from around the world including from Israel and from Pobjoy Mint striking on behalf f the British Virgin Islands. However it isn’t only tragedy that makes its way onto coins and this coming year will see a number of very important anniversaries commemorated on UK circulating coinage. The most obvious event is the fiftieth anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty Elizabeth II for which the Royal Mint are striking a £5 crown with a bold new design, COIN NEWS has had a sneak preview of this and we can guarantee that it will set tongues wagging in the hobby, we’ll bring you more details as soon as we can. Also celebrated next year is the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA, a vital breakthrough in biological research that has enabled scientists the world over to advance medial research in ways impossible before – this important milestone is featured on a new design £2 coin due to be circulated in conjunction with the standard “technology” coin we are used to. One of the most important forces in the fight for Universal suffrage - the Women’s Social and Political Union was formed in 1903 and it is that 100th anniversary that features on a new 50 pence design, it is difficult sometimes to believe that less than one hundred years ago women were not considered capable of making political decisions and were therefore completely discounted from the electoral procedure, without organisations such as the Social and Political Union that might still be the case today. This fifty pence design follows those struck for the 50th anniversary of the NHS and the 150th anniversary of the Public libraries; with a £2 coin this year featuring Marconi and the advent of wireless it might seem that the Royal Mint has, whether intentionally or not, started a pattern - £2 coins for scientific breakthrough, 50pence pieces for social reform. We wait with interest to see whether this will continue in future years, in the meantime we are confident that the latest commemoratives will, like their predecessors and so many others struck around the world, be very well received indeed.
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