World Coins

2015 £5 coin marks 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death

Fifty years after he died, Sir Winston Churchill is returning to British coinage.

Named the "Greatest Briton" of all time in a 2002 poll, Churchill will be honored on a 2015 £5 coin marking his Jan. 24, 1965, death.

The leader, known for his fierce admonition to “never give in,” already appears on the crown coin issued in 1965. Churchill is the first statesman (nonmonarch) to appear on two coins of the United Kingdom, according to the Royal Mint.

The new coin features a reverse designed by Mark Richards, who captures an image of the former prime minister that is instantly recognizable. The obverse carries the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, which is being replaced in 2015 with a new design on other British coins.

The coin was launched Nov. 5.

The edge lettering of the 2015 coin reads: NEVER FLINCH, NEVER WEARY, NEVER DESPAIR.

The quote is taken from a March 1, 1955, speech Churchill made before the House of Commons, the last great speech he made in that body.

Churchill was best known for his service as the United Kingdom’s prime minister during World War II, but before that he was a soldier, war correspondent, statesman, author and, of course, politician. His oratorical skills and wit are legendary, and Churchill is widely regarded as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. Churchill also popularized the Cold War term “Iron Curtain,” at a 1946 speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., and he became the first honorary citizen of the United States by act of Congress. 

In a statement from the Royal Mint, Richards says: “I wanted to capture something of Winston Churchill’s intensity, to create an active portrait, a sense of the man that you may have come away with had you met him. I thought the portrait created for the memorial coin in 1965 by Oscar Nemon couldn’t be bettered, so though I much admired it, I wanted to start afresh. I decided to create an image that is larger than the field of the coin — because this was a larger than life man, there was so much more to him than can ever be captured in one portrait.” 

1965 commemorative coin

The obverse of the 1965 circulating copper-nickel crown issued upon his death features the Mary Gillick effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse, which is generally considered as unflattering, features a bust of Churchill facing right, with the single word CHURCHILL.

Great Britain had not yet adopted the decimal system of coinage, and the crown then was the equivalent of 5 shillings or 60 pence.

This inexpensive 1965 commemorative coin, minted to the extent of more than 9.6 million pieces, was widely sold in the United States at a time when the country was producing no commemorative coins of its own.

The 2015 coin weighs 28.28 grams and measures 38.61 millimeters in diameter. At present, only copper-nickel versions are available, but precious metal versions are expected to be released at later times.

Multiple packaging options are available for the coipper-nickel version.

A Brilliant Uncirculated example of the 2015 coin is available individually in a colorful, informative folded card package, with an unlimited mintage, for £13.

A limited edition of 5,000 sets, offering both the 1965 coin and a BU 2015 coin, retails for £20.

The £5 coin is offered in the Royal Mint’s annual BU set, along with BU base metal versions of four other 2015 commemorative coins, and examples of all definitive or standard circulating designs. The sets have no stated mintage limit and retail for £50.

Three Proof sets are available for 2015 containing base metal versions of the Churchill coin and four other commemorative 2015 coins. Some of the sets contain additional coins, as described below.

The Commemorative Proof set has a limit of 10,000 sets, each available for £65.

The Collector Proof set, also containing Proof versions of all eight definitive circulating designs, has a limit of 20,000 sets and costs £110.

The other Proof set announced so far is the Premium Proof set, which has a limit of 5,000 sets. The only difference is different packaging and a “Premium Proof set medal,” a ringed-bimetallic medal bearing the Royal Mint logo and text related to the 2015 coins. This set costs £155.

For more information or to order the coins, visit the Royal Mint website.    

Collectors can also order the coins by calling the Royal Mint at (011) 44 845 60 88 222.  

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