A platinum year ahead
Volume 59, Number 2, February 2022
Bring out the bunting! SEVENTY years ago, when for the first time since the death of Queen Victoria, the peoples of the UK and Commonwealth sang out the National Anthem in honour of our new “gracious Queen”, little did they know how prophetic the line “long to reign over us” would prove to be. Queen Elizabeth II will be the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee following her accession to the throne on February 6, 1952 aged just 25. For the majority of her subjects both here, in the Commonwealth and the overseas territories, her profile on their coinage has been a constant in a period of almost unimaginable change. A portrait that has, of course, matured along with Her Majesty, as we see her age gracefully through the five different coin obverses from the elegant young Queen so beautifully captured by Mary Gillick in 1952 to a more stately profile from designer Jody Clark in 2015. In 2016, the Queen had already surpassed her great, great Grandmother Queen Victoria’s record as she reached the milestone of 63 years on the throne, making her the longest reigning monarch in the world. As we enter this Platinum year, the Royal Mint, of course, along with a number of other issuing authorities, plan a series of commemorative coins to mark this most auspicious event. Thus far, the Royal Mint has announced a new commemorative 50p and £5 crown. Agency designer Osborne Ross has created the distinct and rather striking “70” design for the reverse of the commemorative 50p (the 50p piece which forms part of the annual year set for 2022 will continue with the Jody Clark portrait) while both of the obverses of the commemorative 50p and £5 crown have a specially-commissioned depiction of Her Majesty. The Queen is shown seated on horseback in an image very much in the style of the previous equestrian designs used for the 1953 Coronation and 2002 Jubilee crowns. For these special commemorative issues the design baton has been passed to renowned artist John Bergdahl. John has also had a second bite of the design cherry as his heraldic shield creation graces the reverse of the new £5 crown. The popularity of coin issues marking Royal events is nothing new, however, as “modern” commemoratives, be they for the wedding of Charles and Diana or for the death of the much loved Queen Mother, are keenly sought at their time of issue by members of the public eager for a keepsake of a memorable event. How many of them eventually get hooked on collecting coins as a hobby we cannot gauge but it is interesting that within the general psyche of the British public, the purchase of a coin comes high on their memento list for a Royal event. As we enter this Platinum year, it won’t just be coins commemorating this Royal milestone as the pomp and pageantry swings into action, with some 1,500 beacons being lit, new trees being planted and street parties being planned. There is even a long Bank Holiday in the UK from June 2–5 to allow everyone to enjoy all of the various festivities on offer. Certainly, for Her Majesty, attending the Derby on June 4 will be a particular highlight (the Token Team will be attending the London Coin Fair and are hopeful there will be cake!). All of these things, from the smallest picnic in the park to the three-day equestrian extravaganza being planned for the annual Windsor Horse Show in May, will be memories to savour, selfies to take (and lose, how often do any of us print off our images?) and stories to tell as they themselves get consigned to history. And that’s where coins are different—they last. They may be small but they are solid and must surely be one of the most tangible souvenirs available to those wanting a keepsake for themselves or their grandchildren. So whether you plan a coin purchase or two, or if a commemorative mug is more your cup of tea, do something to mark this once-in-a-lifetime event as you are witnessing history in the making and that, surely, has got to be something to celebrate.
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