World Coins

What was the first true commemorative English coin?

The Royal Mint has been striking coins for more than 1,000 years, but English commemorative coins are a relatively new phenomenon.

When George V celebrated his Silver Jubilee on the throne (that’s a 25-year anniversary) in 1935, a special silver crown was issued to commemorate the occasion. 

This coin is the first true commemorative issue in the history of English coinage. And though its striking art deco design today is a classic, contemporary critics did not regard it well.

The king’s portrait (by Sir Bertram Mackennal) remained on the obverse, but Percy Metcalfe’s modernistic treatment of the famous motif of St. George slaying the dragon generated attention, much of it negative. The king himself, a noted equestrian, called the stiff St. George on the horse, “a damned bad rider.” 

Connect with Coin World:  

Some 750,000 examples were struck, with edge lettering incused. An additional 2,500 pieces, with edge lettering raised, were issued in Proof; an example sold by Heritage Auctions in an auction April 10 to 12 is among those latter issues. Graded Proof 63, the coin has a few hairlines but it sold for a surprisingly strong $1,116.25, considering that a Proof 65 Ultra Cameo example proceeding it in the same auction realized $1,292.50. 

If this were a U.S. coin with such a low mintage and popular design, one might expect an extra digit in the price tag.

Community Comments