A small manmade fort located six miles off the eastern shores of
Britain is celebrating its 50th anniversary of becoming a sovereign
principality with a Proof $25 commemorative coin.
Sealand, famous for the interesting question of its often debated
statehood, was proclaimed, by its owner, to be a sovereign
principality Sept. 2, 1967, when Roy Bates, a major in the British
army, raised the new Sealand flag on the 10,000-square-foot World War
II era radar platform, Roughs Tower, alongside his family and friends.
During the 19th century, Freedom and Liberty
often took center stage on American money.
Also inside this issue, we look at a long-running series of
auction catalogs that set a high standard for competitors.
The silver coin, designed by Michael Alexander, was minted by the
United Kingdom’s Tower Mint on behalf of the Treasury of the
Principality of Sealand. The reverse depicts that first raising of
Sealand’s flag and is based on an original photograph of the event.
The coin’s obverse includes three portraits of the sovereign princes
and princess since independence: Prince Roy Bates, who ruled from 1967
until his death in 2012; Princess Joan Bates (Roy’s wife), co-ruler
from 1967 until her passing in 2016; and Prince Michael Bates who
succeeded his father in October 2012 and his mother in March 2016.
Prince Michael is Sealand’s sole “ruler” and this is the first coin
issued to include his effigy. Sealand’s official motto E MARE LIBERTAS
(meaning “from the sea, freedom”) is placed above the portraits.
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The Proof .925 fine silver coin weighs 28 grams, measures 38.6
millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 300 pieces. The
coin can be ordered now from the Principality of Sealand’s website for $74.99.
The coin comes in a gold-colored leatherette case imprinted with
Sealand’s commemorative dates and crest on top. The anniversary coins
are individually numbered from 001 to 300 and hallmarked on their
reeded edge. A numbered certificate of authenticity is also included.
While some legal experts today say it’s nothing more than a rusting
platform, the Bates family holds firm its statehood.
Sealand’s storied history began during World War II, when the
British government built several forts in the North Sea to defend the
coast. Some of those structures were built illegally in international
waters — distances outside of the United Kingdom’s jurisdiction. Fort
Roughs Tower, which later became known as Sealand, was one of them.
While most of the forts were later destroyed, Fort Roughs Tower was
simply abandoned. Bates became interested in the tower as a place to
operate his radio station in order to get around BBC broadcasting
rules. According to Sealand’s website, Bates “proceeded to occupy
Roughs Tower, on Christmas Eve 1966, with the intention of
revitalizing his dormant radio station. This was until he conjured a
different plan entirely. After consulting his lawyers, Roy decided to
declare this fortress island the independent state of ‘Sealand.’ ”
A 1968 British court decision upheld Sealand’s independence when the
judge stated the tower does not fall under U.K. jurisdiction.