Royal Mint issues Tower of London series of coins
- Published: Dec 23, 2018, 4 AM
The Royal Mint will issue a set of 2019 commemorative coins to “bring to life ... the epic story of London’s imposing royal palace and fortress.” The Tower of London Coin Collection, released earlier this year, features four commemorative £5 coins detailing different aspects of the 1,000-year-old Tower of London. Available in three different metal compositions and two different finishes, the coins are dated 2019 and can be ordered for the holiday season 2018.
The Tower of London has stood on the north bank of the River Thames in the heart of London for nearly a millennium, dating to the conquest by the Normans in the 11th century. After its completion around 1078, it was used primarily as a royal residence, though it became notorious for its role as a prison, from the beginning of the 12th century and ending with the Kray Twins, infamous gangsters held overnight in 1952. It also once housed London's mint, and The Crown Jewels are also held at the Tower.
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Each of the four commemorative coins being issued depicts a different facet of the Tower of London’s history. The first depicts a raven superimposed over a portion of the perimeter wall. The background of each coin’s reverse depicts a different part of a diagram of the palace’s perimeter wall. Depicting a raven evokes the story of King Bran Hen of Bryneich; “Bran” is a Welsh word meaning “raven.”
On his death, King Bryneich apparently requested that his head be buried at the site of the Tower of London, giving rise to the legend that should ravens ever leave the Tower, the kingdom would end. To this day, the staff of the Tower of London keep seven ravens because of a decree supposedly made in the 17th century by Charles II. His court astronomer complained of the ravens in the Tower, but according to the legend, King Charles not only elected to allow them to remain but required the presence of at least six in the Tower, fearing the end of the kingdom that King Bryneich prophesied should the ravens leave.
The second of the Tower of London commemorative coins depicts a member of the Yeomen Warders (also known as beefeaters), the ceremonial guards of the Tower. A Yeomen Warder stands at attention on a parapet, ax in hand, on the reverse of the Tower commemorative coin. He wears the traditional 16th-century garb that identifies the Warders to this day.
The Warders conduct ceremonies such as the Ceremony of the Keys, commemorated on another of the Tower of London coins, and give guided tours. There have been 37 Warders since 2011.
The reverse design of the third Tower of London commemorative coin features two keys and a lantern, signifying the Ceremony of the Keys, where a sentry questions a Warder approaching the gates of the Tower with the keys to lock up the Tower. The procedure is practiced daily as it has been for centuries.
The final coin in the series portrays an iconic crown on the reverse. This commemorates the Tower’s historic and contemporary role as the repository for the Crown Jewels.
Each of the coins features a Tower of London Mint mark on its reverse.
All four of the coins are available in copper-nickel, silver, and gold versions. A copper-nickel coin can be bought in either Uncirculated or Proof finish, while the silver and gold coins are available only in a Proof finish. The silver coins can be purchased in either 1- or 5-ounce sizes, and the gold coins are available in quarter-, 1-, and 5-ounce sizes.
The copper-nickel coins can be acquired for £13 each, the silver 1-ounce coins for £82.50, the silver 5-ounce coins for £155, the gold quarter-ounce versions for £460, the gold 1-ounce coins for £1,950, and the gold 5-ounce coins for £8,265. The coins may purchased at https://www.royalmint.com.
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