The Monnaie de Paris has launched a new series of collector gold and silver coins which focuses on the contributions of not only French women but women everywhere. Following the earlier series entitled “Famous Women of France,” the new series ...
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France: Proof gold and silver coins introduce new “Women of the World” series, launching with the legendary Grace Kelly and more...

France: Proof gold and silver coins introduce new “Women of the World” series, launching with the legendary Grace Kelly

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The Monnaie de Paris has launched a new series of collector gold and silver coins which focuses on the contributions of not only French women but women everywhere. Following the earlier series entitled “Famous Women of France,” the new series expands its reach to include famous women of the world who have made a significant impact in the fields such as politics, art, or science. The series launches with a tribute to one of the world’s greatest names of the 20th century, Grace Kelly (1929–1982). 

The first coins in the new series, gold and silver, honour Grace Kelly, known to many as Princess Grace of Monaco, on the 40th anniversary of her untimely death. The obverse side includes an image of Grace Kelly inspired by a series of publicity photographs taken in 1955 by the Pictorial Parade of the-then 26-year-old actress. The background depicts a texture of roses that Grace Kelly was passionate about. Her name GRACE KELLY and the years of her birth and death, 1929 – 1982, form a circle around her portrait.

The reverse represents several elements that reflect the time of her life as an actress such as reels of film and cinema clapboards. Centred on the clapboard in English text is an emblematic quote that Grace Kelly is attributed to have offered during an interview early in her cinema career where she declared WOMEN CAN DO ANYTHING THEY DECIDE TO DO. The denomination of 200 EURO or 50 EURO (gold), or 10 EURO (silver), is placed just to the upper-right side along with the year of issue 2022. The entirety of the series uses the principle of a free minting process which gives an antique appearance to coins and makes each coin perfectly imperfect and, therefore, unique. 

Denom.

Metal 

Weight  Diameter  Quality 

Mintage Limit 

10 euro

.999 Silver

22.2 g 37 mm Proof

3,000

50 euro

.999 Gold

7.78 g 22 mm Proof

500

200 euro

.999 Gold

31.1 g 37 mm Proof

250

Both gold and silver examples are encapsulated and presented in a Monnaie de Paris branded case accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. For additional information, please click here for the €10 silver coin, here for the €50 gold coin, or here for the €200 gold coin. 

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Retrospective: Collecting world coins during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, conclusion 

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2020s 

I suppose this decade will perhaps always be remembered for having begun with a worldwide pandemic few saw coming. As late as January 2020, For instance, I distinctly remember the talk which dominated the World Money Fair in Berlin was Brexit. Hardly anyone mentioned the imminent pandemic, which for many of us, was just two months away from strict lockdowns. By the middle of March of that year, and for nearly six months of on/off lockdowns, the world practically came to a stand-still. However, the world of coins managed to stay afloat, with many mints, central banks, and auction sites still managing to keep up their schedule of production, releases, and items on offer for the majority of the year. Travel ceased, of course, and as a consequence, all numismatic events were cancelled. So, it was left up to the online portals to keep the activity going and hopefully distract attention from the despairing news. Just before the pandemic began, I had casually embarked on the enterprising and enjoyable task of acquiring missing British silver crown coins I’d missed from the last decade and during the lockdown, I certainly had more time to check leading online auction websites. As the 2020s involved only three years of the Queen’s coinage, I’ve decided to include the last three coins I added during this remarkable and once-in-a-lifetime reign to conclude this final chapter.

2020 Tuvalu $5 Royal Portraits

If portrait variation is something which attracts a collector to a particular coin, this is the piece to add to one’s collection. This silver Proof coin from the Pacific island territory of Tuvalu was, in fact, one of the items I received during the pandemic lockdown, and it was a welcome addition. In my opinion, the design covers a great span of time in terms of the effigies included on the Queen’s coinage, from the definitive portraits commissioned by the Royal Mint to those seen only on Commonwealth coinage, the Gottwald and Clark effigies. Coincidentally, my insert ticket shows that I received the coin on the 8th September, exactly one year before the Queen’s death, a fitting tribute to someone who had such an extraordinary impact on numismatics.

2022 UK £5 Platinum Jubilee

An extraordinary anniversary many in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth were looking forward to. Queen Elizabeth II was the only monarch known to three-quarters of the world’s population who were born near or after 1952. Her reign was longer than the age of many people, and there were many celebrations planned to mark both this anniversary and the end of the pandemic, which was just over two years long when the Jubilee festivities began. Collectors were keenly aware there would be countless commemorative coins on offer, but for many, it was the £5 crown and recently announced 50-pence coins which were likely to be the most sought-after. Both coins featured a commemorative obverse design which included an equestrian theme similar to those of 1953, 1977, and 2002. However, as the Queen, now 95 years old at the time of the anniversary, hadn’t officiated the Trooping of the Colour on horseback since 1986, many had hoped the coin would perhaps feature a new portrait. This choice of design was quite surprising, and with the addition of the Order of the Garter Collar surrounding the Queen on horseback, it was an outstanding look for any coin. For me personally, it was the recreation of the shield depicted on the reverse, which was reminiscent of a motif not issued since the reign of King William IV, which pulled it all together.

2023 “Tudor Beasts” £5 Two-Ounce Silver

The earlier series of the Queen’s Beasts intrigued me, not the Proof collector series, but the initial bullion-type coins released earlier. The coins were issued in gold and silver, one-ounce gold and 10 to two-ounce silver. Eventually, I collected all of the 10 beasts in the collection as well as the “completer” coin, but decided to miss the “Tudor Beasts” collection. However, the design on the 2023-dated Yale of Beaufort caught my eye for some reason, and I bought a nice silver bullion example. This was just one week before the death of the Queen and as the year shown on the design is technically and historically inaccurate, it tells a story all of its own. Producing coins a year ahead of schedule had become commonplace for years, and despite the fact the monarch portrayed on these coins was now well into her 90s, that did little to alter production habits. I will most likely complete the series as it will now include the effigies of two monarchs when the last coin is released.

In Closing

During the last four decades of dedicated coin collecting, it is astonishing to note the sheer number of coins and medals that one can accumulate over this period of time. As an exercise for the last seven chapters of “Collecting world coins during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II,” I went through countless albums, boxes, and even drawers and lost count of items with the late Queen’s effigy. Every coin, of course, is considered modern, but even the earliest issues will be 70 years old next year and reflect a very different world than the one we know today. As a long-time collector, I’ve always been inclined to add coins which held some kind of historical significance or background — rarity was often not a consideration. At the start of the Queen’s reign, and with the exception of just a few commemorative coins issued for her coronation, only standard circulation-type coins were available to collectors. However, because the Queen during the early years of her reign was head of state for many more realms and on four different continents — we were still spoiled for choice and variation.

Today it is very different. Combined with an array of programmes and the fact many mints expected or hoped the Queen would continue to enjoy a long life, coins were produced a year ahead of time. So convinced that Queen Elizabeth II would go on forever that my office was consulting on numismatic projects for 2023 — the platinum anniversary of her coronation, 2024 — surpassing the 72-year-long reign of King Louis XIV and 2026 — her centenary birthday. There was even the hope the Queen would live long enough to mark 75 years as monarch by February 2027 as she would have been 100 years — nine months old at the time. Quite simply, I cannot think of another individual in history who has been depicted on as many coins, banknotes, stamps, and medals as Queen Elizabeth II, and it is likely no other person will ever come close to the duration of this prolific number.

While I would have recommended the Royal Mint produced the first coins for King Charles III to be dated 2023 — the year he will participate in his coronation, it is perhaps likely he or the mint may want to press ahead with as many years of Charles III coinage as possible. The former Prince of Wales became the oldest person to become monarch of Great Britain at 73 years old, and if he is fortunate to mark his Silver Jubilee in 2047, he will be 98 years old. For someone who has written about coins and currency for 25 years, it will be very strange indeed not to include a description of the obverse side of a coin which references the late Queen’s likeness. But, the programmes continue, and hopefully, more collectors will be added to our numbers in the coming years. What an extraordinary and rich legacy the Queen has left behind for us all in the world of numismatics. I imagine the Royal Mint will find a new pattern or time cycle of royal anniversaries to release commemorative coins similar to those released during the Queen’s reign. In 2030, the King will celebrate his silver wedding anniversary, and in 2032, he will see 10 years on the throne. However, I do believe anniversaries connected to the new Prince and Princess of Wales will also feature quite prominently in the coming years.

VIVAT REGINA ELIZABETHA!

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Retrospective: Collecting world coins during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, part 7 

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2010s

For a lot of dedicated collectors, the prolific number of coins covering so many subjects necessitated the need to either set a realistic budget or streamline subjects of interest. Several new monetary authorities, such as the Cook Islands, Palau, and Niue — all small islands in the South Pacific with very small populations began releasing a staggering number of coins for client countries and private mints. The selling point for many of these coins was the fact the Queen’s effigy graced the obverse side, and her image was still important enough to lend legitimacy to almost any subject shown on the reverse side.

There were four primary mints releasing an array of coins covering many anniversaries and national events, quite a few of them being royalty in nature. Particularly in the UK, there was an established pattern of coins that were released in succession since 1993 covering the coronation anniversary (1953), the Queen’s birthday (1926), the Royal wedding anniversary (1947), the birthday of the Prince of Wales (1948) and the cycle was repeated each decade. In 2012, the Queen celebrated 60 years on the throne, and for this occasion, a new portrait commissioned by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley was featured on commemorative obverse crowns and a wide selection of gold and silver coins. Two special events occurred during the early half of the decade, the long-anticipated wedding of Prince William and his fiancé Catherine Middleton in 2011 and, of course, the birth of their first child in 2013.

Continuing on from the Olympics, the UK’s first-ever one-kilogram gold and silver Proof coins were issued for the occasion. During this time, my office was involved in consultation with regard to various numismatic programmes. In this capacity, I had the opportunity to attend several launches for Olympic coins. In particular, I attended the unveiling of these one-kilo gold and silver Olympic coins, where I had the chance to interview both artists behind the designs.

2015 also saw the retirement of the Rank-Broadley effigy and the introduction of the fifth, and ultimately final, numismatic portrait of the Queen. The likeness is the work of Royal Mint artist and engraver Jody Clark, 33 years old at the time, and he was the youngest of the five designers to have created the portraits of the Queen that have appeared on UK circulating coins during her 63-year reign. He was also the first Royal Mint engraver to be chosen to create a definitive royal coinage portrait in over 100 years. The effigy, which was described as highlighting “a sense of the monarch’s warmth, with a hint of a smile, reflecting the modern queen we see today,” was unveiled at London’s exceptional Portrait Gallery. I had the opportunity to interview Jody Clark on the day and take home a new £2 circulation-type coin, which also included the new Britannia reverse design.

2012 Canada Diamond Jubilee $20 Coin

Struck to Proof quality with a high-relief technique, the result is very eye-catching and impressive. The Queen is depicted wearing the distinctive Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara, an item of jewellery purchased by Queen Mary in 1921. This design is the only time I can recall a coin where the Queen I shown facing to the left rather than right, and this is why the design caught my eye, as it was quite a variation in terms of portraits. Slightly smaller in diameter than a traditional crown, the one-ounce silver coin benefitted from the depth, and the result was a beautiful strike with enough detail to see the facets on many of the diamonds. I also added the standard commemorative silver Canadian dollar that year, which was also quite a clever design as the mint recreated a well-known photograph of the Queen on her way to her coronation seen through the glass of the Imperial state coach.

2013 UK £5 Pistrucci’s St. George Slaying the Dragon

With 60 years of Elizabethan coinage from several authorities and mints, it was inconceivable that this amazing design had not been used on the reverse side of a British silver crown until the year of the birth of Prince George. There was an announcement from the Royal Mint that a commemorative coin would be released in honour of the royal birth, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The silver £5 crown depicted Pistrucci’s iconic reverse design, and I remember wanting to make sure I was one of the first to log onto the Royal Mint’s website to purchase the coin — for me, it was a must-have. The correlation to St. George was revealed days later after the entire mintage of 7,500 coins had sold out on the day, and the name of the Prince was unveiled. He was to be known as George Alexander Louis, ostensibly named after Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI.

A week later, I wrote a short article for Coin Update about the coin and a little background information on the design. Quite a few readers commented about their disappointment they couldn’t purchase this important addition in time to add to their crown collection. The coin’s value has both increased and decreased since its release, but recently, I managed to purchase a second example for its original purchase price, and that one is on my desk, just to look at and enjoy!

2019 Australia “Batavia” $1 Triangular Coin

A short series entitled “Australian Shipwrecks” issued in gold and silver. It wasn’t a particular subject I had any great interest in, but the design concept and shape drew me to them. This was also the first coin I added which included the new Commonwealth effigy of the Queen unveiled a year after Clark’s own fifth effigy, which the Royal Mint decided to retain exclusive use of for only British coins. The clever design made use of the shape and depicted these sunken ships as perhaps just capsized or upside down rather than on the ocean floor. Unfortunately, there were only three editions to this series which was also struck in gold, the last two released in 2020.

Variation of Effigies — 2013 British Antarctic Territory £2 Coin

A head and shoulders variation of Ian Rank-Broadly’s most familiar effigy of the Queen was used on coins produced by the Pobjoy Mint. It appeared on coins issued by the British Virgin Islands, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and, from 2008, coins of the British Antarctic Territory and the British Indian Ocean Territory. Both territories are inhabited only by scientific research staff, armed forces bases, and support stations operated and maintained by the British government. The two territories were authorised by the British Treasury to release collector coins based on the British pound. The £2 crown coin was released in 2013 in honour of the naming of Queen Elizabeth Land in the British Antarctic Territory by the British Foreign Secretary. The ceremony took place during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in December 2012. The design combined two elements I like, maps and portrait variations, so it went on my want list, and not long after, I found a silver Proof example.

Next week, a wrap-up with the 2020s and thoughts on the Elizabethan numismatic era.

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Canada: “The Bigger Picture” series continues with release of $2 toonie featuring the polar bear  

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The Royal Canadian Mint has released the fifth of six large silver Proof coins, which is part of the current series entitled “The Bigger Picture.” A successor to their popular “Big Coin” series from last year, the latest programme artistically focuses on all of Canada’s circulation coins from five cents to two dollars and cleverly reveals a bigger picture, or story, to discover the design behind the main motif of each reverse design. The concept features “a coin within a coin” format, with each circulation design being replicated on a larger five-ounce fine silver piece with a diameter of 65 millimetres providing an extended canvas for the engraved-only art.

The last coin appropriately focuses on Canada’s largest denomination and is the most recent coin to enter circulation. The bi-metallic $2 coins were released in 1996, with the reverse side designed by Brent Townsend, who chose to depict a polar bear in early summer standing on an ice floe. With the release of a circulation-type dollar coin in 1988, which depicted a loon duck on the reverse, the $2 coins were colloquially termed “toonie” as a result of the dollar coins nicknamed “loonie.” Since their introduction, this coin has been used a total of 18 times by the Royal Canadian Mint to release commemorative coins into circulation. The polar bear depicted was also given the name “Churchill” because it was said the location of the scene shown on the reverse of the new $2 coins was in Churchill, Manitoba, a town in the far North on Hudson Bay and best known for polar bears that inhabit the area.

The extended background is designed by Karis Gruben, who offers a bigger picture of the Arctic and a polar bear closely observing a seal in the chilling waters — their prime source of food. To the left of the bigger picture is the year of release, 2022, and to the right is a replicated $2 coin complete with selective gold plating. Above the primary design and in the background is a representation of sundogs, coloured spots of light that develop due to the refraction of the Sun through ice crystals. The obverse also includes the effigy of the late Queen Elizabeth II (1926–2022) created by Susanna Blunt.

Denom. Metal  Weight  Diameter  Quality  Maximum Mintage 
2 dollars .9999 Silver 157.6 g 65.2 mm Proof 1,300

The series is available with a subscription. Each coin is encapsulated and presented in a custom case accommodating its large diameter and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. The last coin in the series, which is the design representing the 50-cent denomination, is scheduled for release towards the end of the year. For additional information, please click here.

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Retrospective: Collecting world coins during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, part 6 

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2000s 

The new millennium began officially in 2001, but a lot of Mints decided to issue coins dated 2000 and with commemorative designs mostly to accommodate collectors who wanted something special to mark the event. One year earlier, a British £5 crown with a dual year date of 1999 and 2000 was one of many coins which marked the passing of a thousand years with an appropriate reverse design featuring the location of Greenwich, where time is measured for the world. The coin was released a second year with the same design in 2000, but many pointed out that the coins should have been dated 2000 and 2001 for greater accuracy. In Australia, the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney were front and centre, with an array of coins to mark the occasion.

Referencing time, the first member of Britain’s royal family, the Queen Mother, celebrated her centenary birthday; it was respectfully pointed out she was as old as the century, and in her honour, a commemorative £5 crown was released. In 2002, the Queen marked 50 years on the throne, and her Golden Jubilee was celebrated in the United Kingdom and in most of the Commonwealth. A beautiful £5 crown coin was released with an equestrian theme and depicted the Queen on horseback, similar to the crowns of 1953 and 1977. Another royal event, the golden wedding anniversary of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, was celebrated with a second commemorative obverse depicting the royal couple for £5 crowns. In 2007, the United Kingdom and London were awarded the Summer Olympics for 2012, and in 2009, we began to see the first of many spectacular coins to mark this international sporting event. In October 2007, I had the opportunity to interview David Barrass, the-then CEO of the Royal Mint, about the upcoming programmes and visited the facilities of the Royal Mint in Llantrisant. It would be the first of many visits in the coming years.

2000 Australia $5 Sydney Olympics

As a long-term Olympic collector, there always seems to be one coin in particular that either stands out from the rest or is designated as the definitive Olympic collector coin. I managed to add Olympic-themed coins since the first ones were released by Finland’s Mint in 1951. Unfortunately, Australia didn’t issue an Olympic-themed coin for the 1956 games, nor did Italy in 1960. Since 1964, host countries have released commemorative Olympic coins for all Summer and some Winter Games. This Australian coin was released as part of an overall greater series of 16 designs and included two effigies with both the Royal Australian Mint and Perth Mint sharing production. The reverse side, designed by Stuart Devlin, depicted the iconic Sydney Opera House along the harbour, which is surrounded by Sydney’s skyline encircling the primary design. The official Olympic Sydney logo is shown just under in colour and struck to Proof quality by the Perth Mint. In my opinion, this was the definitive coin to obtain and add to any Olympic coin collection, but if I hadn’t purchased this coin, I would have gladly settled for the design featuring the Sydney Harbour Bridge as second runner-up.

2001 Canada Dollar

As someone who loves history and coins, I’m often quite enthusiastic when the two come together with such perfection, and that’s exactly what the 2001 Canadian silver dollar accomplished for me. The reverse design replicated the elusive 1911 Canadian dollar coin, which was never released into circulation and is considered a pattern design. With just a few test pieces struck at the British Royal Mint, the dies having been prepared in London, they were dispatched to Canada’s new Royal Mint in Ottawa but owing to a change in government, the coins were never authorised for production. The reverse was faithfully replicated and carries the years 1911 and 2001, and, as they were Proof strikes, the sharpness of the leaves, ribbons, and crown are unbeatable. This is certainly one of my favourite Canadian dollars, and although I would have preferred the RCM have waited until 2011 for this particular coin, they did release a similar commemorative coin for the coin’s centenary anniversary and included the effigy of King George V on the obverse instead of the Queen.

2004 UK Entente Cordiale, £5

I think one of the most outstanding crowns in terms of design concept during this decade was released on the centenary anniversary of the Entente Cordiale. A personal initiative of King Edward VII in 1904 to French President Émile Loubet, the rapprochement was meant to improve Anglo-French relations and trade ties between the United Kingdom and Great Britain. An outstanding feature of the design is the blending together seamlessly of the two allegorical figures, Britannia and Marianne, as they were depicted on British and French coins during the era. Britannia was seen on Edwardian florins from 1902 until 1911, while Marianne was depicted as the sower on two, one, and half-franc silver coins from 1898 until the end of the First World War. A nice element of the coins was both the Royal Mint and Monnaie de Paris released their own version, the very same design, but on the British coin, Britannia is technically at the top of the design next to the word ENTENTE while on the French coin, it is Marianne who is featured next to this word, very clever. I originally purchased the Reverse Proof version, which was struck in cupro-nickel and later found a silver Proof version on my travels; definitely one of the British crowns to look out for and add to any collection.

Variation of Effigies — Australia Royal Visit 2000 50 Cents

I obtained a cupro-nickel version of this coin to put an article together about the Queen’s Royal visit. The effigy was designed by eminent Australian artist Vladimir Gotwald who had actually submitted this attractive effigy of the Queen to the Royal Mint as a contender to replace the Maklouf effigy on British and Commonwealth coinage. Ultimately Ian Rank-Broadley’s effigy was chosen in 1998, but the Royal Australian Mint did make use of the design and included it on commemorative 50-cent coins marking the Queen’s Royal Visit in 2000. I added the sterling silver Proof coin to my collection only last year. Queen Elizabeth II was the first reigning monarch to visit Australia as Head of State. In total, she visited 16 times during her 70-year reign. Her first visit took place in 1954, and the last being in 2011. The 2000 visit lasted 16 days and included a tour of the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, where the Olympics were staged later in the year.

UK Golden Jubilee £5 Crown

Queen Elizabeth II was known for her great fondness for horses, her equestrian skills, and for her keen eye for thoroughbreds. It has often been said that had she not become Queen, she could have made a name for herself in horse racing and horse breeding. The 2002 Golden Jubilee crown depicted the Queen for a third time on horseback, skilfully designed by Ian Rank-Broadley, which was seen on the obverse. The additional legend below the standard titles, AMOR POPULI PRAESIDIUM REGINAE, translates to “the love of the people is the Queen’s protection,” which we were reminded of on more than one occasion. Equally exceptional was the effigy of the Queen, which was shown on the reverse. The likeness of Elizabeth II was based on actual photographs taken for the occasion and beautifully transitioned onto these coins, also the work of Mr. Rank-Broadley and sculpted with great detail. The Queen is shown wearing the George IV State diadem and ermine cape, quintessentially regal and serene, and a coin that makes a statement for an event to be remembered.

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