Royal Mint reuses historic portraits of monarchs
- Published: Feb 5, 2022, 10 AM
The first coins in a five-year series from the Royal Mint celebrating classic British monarchs were just released, and most quickly sold out.
The Royal Mint on Jan. 24 announced plans to remaster portraits of historic British monarchs in high definition for the first time. The British Monarchs collection will showcase iconic kings and queens from the last 500 years of British history, and is using original source materials, including coins from the period, to remaster original portraits from four royal houses — Tudor; Stuart; Hanover; and the Saxe-Coburg, Gotha and Windsor family.
The collection will be released over five years. The first coins in the collection feature Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty, who reigned from 1485 to 1509. His effigy is faithfully recreated in fine detail, using state-of-the-art technology and numismatic processes, by Gordon Summers, the Royal Mint’s chief engraver.
Henry VII’s reign was a milestone for British coins as he commissioned the first realistic portrait of a monarch on English coins and set a new standard. The reverse of the coin features a coinage portrait of Henry VII from circa 1504, while the obverse features Jody Clark’s definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
Rebecca Morgan, Director of Collector Services said: “Henry VII was a numismatic innovator who took the time to commission the first realistic portrait of a British Monarch. It was important to Henry VII that his subjects could clearly see him, and we’ve been able to recreate his effigy in high definition for the first time on a UK coin. There are very few ‘fine’ examples of coinage from this period, and they are coveted by collectors for their iconic design and rarity. Being able to faithfully and accurately remaster this design on a new coin will allow more people to own and appreciate its beauty.”
The remastered Henry VII image is produced to the highest modern striking standards but retains features that honor its unique history, according to the RCM.
Coins of this period were hand struck using hammers by workers at the Mint in the Tower of London, and it was common for them to be clipped to correct the weight (or by members of the public keen to secure small amounts of precious metal). Therefore, the size and shape of coins could vary, and this is reflected in the new edge design.
Summers said: “When we began remastering this series, we wanted to retain the authenticity and beauty of the original — reflecting the best quality striking that the original engraver could only dream of achieving 500 years ago.
“Naturally coins from 500 years ago have experienced wear as they passed through the generations, were hand struck using hammers and were commonly ‘clipped’,” he said, in a press release. “All of these factors give the original coin irregularities, and it was important to reflect and celebrate that in the new design. We digitised a high standard original coin using an extremely precise scanner, which gave us a really accurate model of the design. We then began to refine the surface, removing the damage and wear of centuries to deliver a coin which showcases Henry VII’s original effigy and historical features in high definition.”
The British Monarchs Collection will feature 21 monarchs over five years.
Seven coins were released for the first monarch in the series, four Proof .999 fine silver coins, and three Proof .9999 fine gold versions of the design.
In addition to the individual coins, the Royal Mint is also releasing a limited number of sets combining new and historic coins. These limited-edition sets will pair a British Monarchs coin with a genuine historical coin from the era of the respective monarch.
In the United States, Heritage Auctions is distributing the 1-ounce gold £100 coins, making them, apparently, the exclusive distributor for this coin.
Heritage offers the coins graded and encapsulated by Numismatic Guaranty Co., in either “First Release” or “One of First 100 Struck” labels.
The “First Release” label coin is priced at $4,950 each and the “first 100 struck” label example is priced at $5,950 each, with a limit of five of each type per customer.
At press time Feb. 2, the Royal Mint had only 5-ounce gold coins still available, for £11,430 each. It did not offer the 10-ounce silver £10 coin direct, and it is unclear which distributor handles those coins.
To order, visit Heritage at www.ha.com/information/modern-coins.s?type=surl-britishmonarchs or the Royal Mint at www.royalmint.com/our-coins/events/british-monarchs/henry-vii/.
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