A new year seems usher with it a renewed sense of optimism, that new opportunities might arise and bring with it undiscovered bounty. Well in numismatics at least we can be assured that a new year will see the release of new and hopefully exciting coins.
The Royal Mint especially has a history of releasing innovative commemorative coins, both collector's and circulating, for each new year. The 2017 lineup is shaping up to be another compelling instalment in that legacy.
While not all of the coins have been announced yet, as the mint usually likes to keep a few surprises up it's sleeve for collectors, let's take a look at what we know so far.
In the year 1017, a full 50 years before the battle of Hastings, a Viking conqueror was crowned as King of all England. His almost twenty year reign was largely peaceful and was a period where the arts and civil society thrived. King Canute(or Cnute the Great) ruled over England, Denmark and Norway, often referred to as the North Sea Empire, which allowed him to offer England protection against Viking raids. A thousand years ago the Mint, what is today the Royal Mint, made coins bearing Canute's likeness and this year they do so again with the 1000th Coronation of King Canute 2017 UK £5 commemorative coins. Available in both gold proof, silver proof, silver piedfort proof and uncirculated cupro-nickel variants.
Then we have the special commemorative £5 coin to celebrate the Royal house of Windsor's centenary. This coin is yet to be released, but is expected to be issued closer to July 2017, as 17 July marks the official anniversary. The House of Windsor was created by proclamation of King George V. The year was 1917 and at the height of the First World War anti-German sentiments ran high. England was sacrificing hundreds of thousands of her sons to the war effort against the Germany and her allies. The Royal Family had been members of the decidedly German sounding House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha since 1840 when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. The decision was taken to abandon this abandon this legacy and create the English House of Windsor instead. In doing so a new royal dynasty was born, which still reigns to this day.
The next coin is only expected to arrive much later in the year, perhaps September, and is a circulating commemorative 50 pence coin dedicated to Sir Isaac Newton. Sir Isaac Newton was an intellectual giant of the 17th century’s ‘scientific revolution’. He also played a vital role as Master of The Royal Mint for over 30 years, helping make Britain’s currency one of the most respected and admired in the world. Renowned for his zeal in tackling counterfeiters, improving assaying techniques and refining weights and measures to an exacting standard never seen before, his report of 1717 paved the way for the introduction of the ‘Gold Standard’ - a system for valuing a nation's currency still referred to today. Newton used mathematics and rigorous experiments to provide universal descriptions of how nature worked. The coin design is inspired by the scientific theories relating to planets and bodies in space, detailed in Book One of Newton’s Principia Mathematica.
Then we have the fourth coin in the five coin series of commemorative £2 coins meant to remember the events that shaped the First World War. The 2017 coin is inspired by the aviators of WWI and has the title “THE WAR IN THE AIR” etched on the reverse design. The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) grew from a force of a few hundred airplanes in 1914 into a huge, independent air arm. Its personnel risked their lives testing the new aircraft technology to its limits, and endured the previously unknown effects of altitude, G-forces and freezing temperatures as well as the dangers presented by the war. In 1918 the Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force we know today and has defended Britain's the skies and ground forces in combat ever since. This coin is expected around April.
The second commemorative £2 coin is set to cause quite a stir amongst literary fans during it's expected release in July. The Jane Austen 2017 £2 coin celebrates one of the most beloved authors in the world, 200 years after her death. As a 35-year-old from Hampshire, she saw her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, published anonymously in 1811, after which readers began a love affair with her works which went on to include Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages with almost 100 film and television adaptions taking her works to new heights of fame across the globe.
Now this is strictly speaking not a commemorative coin, but the new twelve sided One Pound coin will undoubtedly make quite a few headlines when it enters circulation in March. The bi-metallic coin features a design by David Pearce that depicts the flora of the four nations of the United Kingdom emerging from a coronet. According to the mint, the coin incorporates ground-breaking technology and security features developed by The Royal Mint’s in-house team, and will be the most secure coin in the world when it launches. What this means exactly is not clear at this time but the World Numismatic News will be sure to report on it as details emerge.
In addition to the above coins, most of which have yet to see a proper release outside of the official 2017 commemorative proof sets, there are also some more annual releases that have now been available for some time. But I will feel remiss if I do not mention some of these as well.
Primary amongst this pride has to be the Lion of England proof coins in the Queen's Beasts series. Comprising of a series of coins from a 1oz silver all the way up to an astounding 1 Kilogramme gold coin, It's no secret that I love this series. The design is spectacular and these proof coins, regardless of which one you may choose make a perfect companion to the bullion coin released last year.
The 2017 Sovereign coin celebrates the 200th anniversary of the iconic design created by Benedetto Pistrucci. The coin uses the original “Garter” design for the first time since 1820 and places the date on the obverse for the first time since 1887. I wish more mint's would remember their legacies in this manner. The US Mint has tried similar things in recent years with the gold Mercury coin and such, but while that feels gimmicky this just feels right. A coin steeped in history returning to a classic design. Talk about “history in your hands”!
And then, naturally, the Royal Mint will not be left out of the Chinese New Year's celebrations. The latest in it's Shēngxiào Collection marks the year of the rooster with six variants in both gold and silver coins, ranging from a 1oz silver and 1/10 oz gold coins to a 5oz gold coin.