Nov 202017
 

A royal wedding is cause for much rejoicing. When Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011, a million people lined the procession route in London to glimpse the newlyweds while many more around the world watched on television.

Arguably, the marriage of the Prince’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, was one of the most welcome and celebrated royal weddings in history.

In 1947, the nation was still recovering from World War II. Austerity was tough for the people of Britain’s bomb-damaged cities. Drab clothes, endless queues and limited food supplies dominated everyday life.

In this atmosphere, the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten provided blissful relief from years of worry and deprivation. Cheerful crowds gathered in London on the cold morning of 20 November, their unbridled joy erupting in a thunder of cheers as the bride’s coach headed towards Westminster Abbey.

After the ceremony, the throng’s good natured enthusiasm reached fever pitch, at one point causing the police to temporarily lose control as the crowd burst through the cordon into Buckingham Palace forecourt.

Throughout the Commonwealth, millions of adoring supporters also celebrated the glamorous couple’s nuptials thanks to live radio broadcasts and the new medium of television.

Despite the pageantry, the royal couple were very aware of their people’s hardships. Here are seven interesting examples of how Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh showed solidarity with the people on their big day.

Seven remarkable facts about the Queen’s wedding

  • Princess Elizabeth paid for material in her wedding dress with the aid of ration coupons.
  • The future Queen did her own makeup for the wedding.
  • When her borrowed diamond tiara broke on the morning of the wedding, repairs were quickly made by the court jeweller.
  • Philip is said to have brushed off his naval uniform for the occasion and worn darned socks.
  • The guest list for the wedding breakfast comprised a mere 150 people.
  • Pieces of the couple’s wedding cake, made from ingredients donated by the Australian Girl Guides, were distributed to school children and institutions.
  • The bride and groom also instructed that 500 cases of tinned pineapples received as a wedding present from the Government of Queensland should be directed to the people.

Juicy pineapple from the Sunshine State must have been an unimaginable luxury for the hungry folk lucky enough to taste it!

70th Anniversary of the Royal Wedding
2017 Silver, Gold and Platinum Proof Coins

After 70 years of marriage, The Perth Mint is proud to mark Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s platinum wedding anniversary with four unashamedly lavish Australian commemorative coins featuring designs approved by the Queen.

Immaculately struck in proof quality from 1oz of 99.99% pure silver, 2oz of 99.99% pure gold, 1/4oz of 99.99% pure gold and 2oz of 99.95% pure platinum, each coin portrays the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom alongside the shield from the Coat of Arms of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

As well as St Edward’s Crown, the intricate design also includes a floral display representing the symbolic rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.

Housed in presentation packaging, the releases are restricted to limited mintages of 5,000, 350, 750, and 250 respectively.

POST A COMMENT

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

 
Nov 102017
 

Glenn Burghall has been researching connections between Britain’s 1928 Armistice Anniversary medallion and the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne. In this timely contribution, Glenn reveals how the famous medallion came to be on permanent display at one of Australia’s most important war memorials.


Keen eyed visitors to Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance may have noticed two large medals mounted at the entrance to the Inner Shrine, also known as the Sanctuary.

They are in fact the obverse and reverse of Charles Doman’s Armistice Anniversary medal, struck by the British Royal Mint for issue in 1928. Portraying Edwin Lutyens’ Cenotaph in Whitehall, and a figure of Britannia supporting a young warrior with a sheathed sword, just 7,000 of these medals were produced in a variety of metals.

Few are known to have reached Australian shores. Among those that did, versions are held by The Perth Mint and by Museum Victoria, but the precious silver examples to be found at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance probably have a more interesting history.

These are the medals that were presented to the committee overseeing the construction of the Shrine in 1930 by the then Deputy-Master of the Melbourne Branch of the Royal Mint, W.M. Robins.

Image: Glenn Burghall

Robins had high regard for Doman’s work, noting the common meaning in the medal design and the intended purpose of the new Shrine. In the new era of peace, those who had served in the War were to be supported, while those who gave their lives were honoured and remembered.

According to Robins1, the medal “was beautiful in conception and elegant in execution and design”. So impressed was he by the symbolism that he suggested to General Sir John Monash that Doman’s “exquisite production” should be incorporated in some way in the decorative scheme of the Shrine. The suggestion was favourably received and subsequently approved.

It is appropriate that the face of the medal depicting the Cenotaph is mounted closest to Melbourne’s city centre. Here, on the steps of the Parliament in Spring Street, a half-sized replica Cenotaph made of plaster and wood was erected prior to the Anzac Day Parade of 1926. In the years before the completion of a permanent memorial, this temporary structure played an important role in the community’s commemorations.

Image: Glenn Burghall

Though the Whitehall Cenotaph is inscribed with the words ‘THE GLORIOUS DEAD’, Doman preferred the biblical inscription ‘THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE’ for his medal. These words are also found on Stone of Remembrance monuments at Commonwealth battlefield cemeteries all across the Western Front. Thus he adeptly linked the final resting places of the fallen to the memorial at home where Australians went to grieve and remember them.

Newspapers in Australia featured widespread coverage of the Royal Mint’s release of the Armistice Anniversary medal, providing detailed descriptions of Doman’s designs and their meaning. It is worth noting that the sculptor’s initials ‘C.L.J.D.’ appeared on an early version of his depiction of the Cenotaph. They were removed from his final rendition, however, resulting in the work being incorrectly attributed to another artist.

1  Royal Mint’s 60th Annual Report (1929)

POST A COMMENT

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

 
 Comments Off on How elegant Armistice Anniversary medals found sanctuary at Shrine of Remembrance
May 232017
 

This medallion in The Perth Mint’s historic collection celebrates Earl Grey, who fought hard for the reform of the British House of Commons in the 19th century, paving the way for the form of parliamentary democracy enjoyed in Britain and emulated in nations around the world, including Australia.

Charles Grey is popularly known for the tea named in his honour. Believed to have been introduced to the Whig politician by a Chinese government envoy, ‘Earl Grey’ is a blend of tea flavoured with bergamot oil.

Grey became Prime Minister in 1831 following the resignation of the Duke of Wellington on the question of parliamentary reform. At the time, few people had the vote and rapidly growing industrial towns had little or no representation.

One of the most astonishing inequities was the existence of ‘rotten’ boroughs. Once a flourishing port on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich had long been submerged by the encroaching sea – and yet still returned two Members of Parliament! Another notorious constituency, Old Sarum in Wiltshire, was little more than an uninhabited hill, yet it too returned two MPs.

In the face of strong Tory opposition, the passage of the Reform Bill required all Grey’s determination and guile to ensure that the public’s widespread anger was placated. The Act swept away more than 50 rotten boroughs, created dozens of new constituencies, and increased the number of people eligible to vote. Even though these achievements turned out to be relatively modest, it proved that change was possible, paving the way for further reform in the future.

Grey’s other reforming measures included restrictions on the employment of children, and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. A respected figure, this likeness was created by Birmingham medallist Joseph Davis, who was noted for his reform and anti-slavery medals.

The symbolic composition on the reverse comprises a British lion sejant (on its haunches) with shield; fasces (from a Roman bodyguard’s bundle of rods surrounding an axe); cap of Liberty (an emblem of the French revolution); and the cornucopia (horn of plenty).

Quite how this fascinating medallion ended up in Western Australia remains something of a mystery. The most probable explanation is that it once belonged to A. M. Le Souef, deputy master of the Melbourne Mint. A passionate collector, he donated 36 medals to The Perth Mint in 1926 as the basis of a historic collection which subsequently thrived.

POST A COMMENT

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

 
 Comments Off on Historic medal captures Earl Grey to a T
Feb 272017
 

If you’re interested in pre-decimals, you may have noticed the presence of the letters ‘PL’ on some Australian sixpence, threepence, penny and half-penny coins issued in 1951.

It’s a mintmark associated with the Londinium mint, which stood on Tower Hill during the Roman occupation of Britain. As an officially constituted branch of the Mint of Rome, its coins bore the letters ‘PL’, ‘PLN’, ‘PLO’, or ‘PLON’, likely abbreviations of the Latin words Percussa Londinio – “struck in London”.

So why does it appear on these Australian coins?

PL_penny_

The post-War period was one of significant economic growth and Australian prosperity was reflected in burgeoning demand for coinage. With the Perth and Melbourne Mints working at full capacity, the Royal Mint at Tower Hill was asked to assist with Australian coin production for the first time since World War One. And with the request for additional coins from London, came the revival of the historic Roman mintmark.

A sudden downturn in the economy, however, meant Australian ‘PL’ coinage was only ever produced for 1951. Today, these coins are of interest to collectors: while choice grades are readily available, guide prices for high quality and extremely rare proof versions extend into the thousands of dollars!

Perhaps you’re an unwitting owner of a 1951 PL coin which proclaims its place of manufacture in a manner invented some 1,700 years ago?

 POST A COMMENT

 
 Comments Off on What’s the connection between these pre-decimal coins and the Roman Empire?
Oct 062016
 

Visitors to The Perth Mint Shop are in for a special numismatic treat over the next few weeks as we showcase a collection of some of Australia’s most desirable rare coins.

Included in the display is an example of the legendary 1930 Penny, Australia’s best-known rare coin; and Type I and Type II versions of the Australia’s first-ever (unofficial) gold coin – the Adelaide Pound.

Australia’s 1930 Penny

Fascination with the 1930 Penny stems from the mystery surrounding its accidental minting. The Melbourne Mint’s records report that the coin was never struck for circulation! It was not until the 1940s that its accidental minting was discovered, with the mintage subsequently estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000.

By the 1960s the public discovery of ‘the coin that never was’ had whipped the nation into a frenzy, capturing the imagination of investors, collectors and the average Joe as they rushed to get their hands on these elusive coins at rapidly escalating prices.

The Adelaide Pound

The Adelaide Pound was conceived and struck by South Australian Government Assay Office in Adelaide in response to the first Australian gold rush. Local men flocked to the goldfields, taking with them almost all the sovereigns in circulation. Ironically, this landmark event in Australian history left the South Australian colony on the cusp of financial ruin!

Early in the production of the Adelaide Pound the die failed. Consequently, the Type I, of which just 30 to 40 are believed to exist, is distinguished by a die-crack on its reverse. Around 25,000 Type II coins were struck with a new die, although it is thought that just 200 of these Type II coins still exist.

Serious Value

So sought-after are these historic numismatic rarities that they’re collectively valued at close to quarter of a million dollars!

Visitors to Perth and local residents are now being encouraged to come and view the remarkable artefacts, which are seldom on the market but currently available for sale.

As part of the same unique display you’ll also be able to view a Queen Victoria 1899 Sovereign, the first sovereign minted at The Perth Mint; another rare Australian copper coin, the King George V 1921 penny; and the renowned Roth Family Holey Dollar, which is on loan from rare coin dealer Sterling & Currency and valued at $225,000.

The numismatic rarities display is free to view at The Perth Mint Shop until 27 November 2016. Anyone interested in purchasing the 1930 Penny or Adelaide Pounds should either talk to our Shop staff, contact the customer service team on 1800 098 817, or email orders@perthmint.com.au.

POST A COMMENT

 
 Comments Off on Historic rarities a ‘must see’ at The Perth Mint  Tagged with:
Jul 052016
 

Half sovereigns were produced by all three colonial branches of the Royal Mint opened in Australia during the 19th century. The very first issue, dated 1855, and the very last issue, dated 1918, represent two of the most valuable and sought-after gold coins in the history of Australian-made coinage.

In its inaugural year, the Sydney Mint struck just 21,000 half sovereigns. Each coin bore the distinctive ‘colonial’ reverse featuring St Edward’s crown, a laurel wreath and the word AUSTRALIA.

But few of these 1855 Sydney-made coins have survived in good condition, which fuels enormous interest on the rare occasions one comes to market.

By the time half sovereigns were struck in Perth, the Australian branch mints had permission to strike Imperial versions identical to those made in London – with the addition of distinguishing mintmarks.

The ultimate half sovereign year-date is the subject of much investigation. Records suggest The Perth Mint did not strike half sovereigns during 1918, but used dies of that year to strike 113,572 coins in 1919 and a further 106,416 in 1920.

Given 10 shilling notes had recently replaced half sovereigns, it’s likely they were struck for export where the majority was melted down. Evidence of surviving 1918 dates did not come to light until the 1970s and today it is estimated that between 200 and 300 pieces may have escaped destruction.

Australia Half Sovereign 2016 Gold Proof Coin

This modern 22-carat gold tribute embodies the spirit of Australia’s 1855 ‘S’ and 1918 ‘P’ half sovereigns. Struck by The Perth Mint in stunning proof quality to traditional specifications, its reverse combines key historical design elements first seen on Sydney coins of 1855 with a ‘P’ mintmark.

In keeping with the extreme rarity of its historic antecedents, no more than 1,500 of these coins will be released, each in a beautiful timber case befitting its significance as a reflection of Australia’s long association with half sovereign production.

POST A COMMENT

 
 Comments Off on Tribute embodies spirit of half sovereign rarities  Tagged with: ,