During 2017 Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her Sapphire Jubilee, making her not only the worlds oldest living monarch at 91, but Britain's first ever monarch to have reigned for 65 years.
Though the Queen's coronation ceremony was held in June of 1953, she ascended to the throne on the 2nd of February 1952 after the passing of her father King George VI. 2017 thus marks the 65th year of her reign and the first time that a British monarch will mark a Sapphire Jubilee. In celebration of this historic milestone, and in standing with a long held tradition, the Royal Mint is issuing special Sapphire Jubilee commemorative coins.
The Royal mint has announced that there will be two designs spread across seven different issues to celebrate the Queen's Sapphire Jubilee. The first is the official Sapphire Jubilee design by Glyn Davies. The reverse of these coins draws inspiration from the Stuart sapphire in the Imperial State Crown, that Queen Elizabeth II wore during and after her coronation ceremony in 1953.
The design features the Imperial State Crown slightly offset to the right, with the Stuart sapphire clearly viable to the bottom of the coin. To the right of the crown is engraved, in relief, an excerpt from a speech that the then Princess Elizabeth gave from Cape Town on her 21st birthday in 1947. It reads “MY WHOLE LIFE, WHETHER IT BE LONG OR SHORT, DEVOTED TO YOUR SERVICE”. The complete quote is :
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong.”
The remainder of the reverse legend simply reads : “SAPPHIRE JUBILEE” along the top, and “1952 – 2017” along the bottom with two small sapphire shaped dashes separating the two at either end. There is also an edge inscription that reads “SHINE THROUGH THE AGES”.
The obverse features the updated Jody Clark effigy of the Queen with the legend appearing along the rim in a clockwise direction. It reads : “ELIZABETH II - D-G - REG – FID - DEF – 5 POUNDS”. The abbreviations are fairly standard fair in numismatics and have been in use for centuries. They stand for the Latin tiles of “Elizabeth II Dei Gratia Regina Fidei Defensor” which translates best to “Elizabeth II by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith”.
This coin is firstly available in a brilliant uncirculated cupro-nickel coin enclosed in a printed blister pack, for £13.00 (US$16.25)each. Following that there is the sterling silver proof crown, presented in a standard Royal Mint presentation case for £82.50 (US$103.00)each. This coin has a maximum mintage of 8600 coins. There is also a 2oz £5 piedfort silver coin that carries a maximum mintage of only 3000 coins that the Mint is releasing for £155.00 (US$195.00) each. The coins all measure 38.61 mm in diameter and is struck from sterling(..925 Fineness) silver.
Then to round off this design there is a 22ct gold £5 proof coin with a stated weight of 39.94 grams(1.409oz). The coin is presented in an exclusive wooden presentation case and carries a maximum mintage of only 750 coins. The Royal Mint is releasing this coin for £1945.00 (US$2432.00) each. Both designs were officially approved by the palace for the Sapphire Jubilee.
The second design is reserved for the 5oz and Kilo coins in the range. The reverse of these coins were designed by Gregory Cameron, who was also responsible for the last commemorative “round pound” coin. For this coin he has created a special Sapphire Jubilee rendition of the Queen's personal Coat of Arms, nestled between an oak and olive branch with a cameoed “65” at the bottom. This is representative of the Queen's years of service and steadfast dedication to the British people and the nations of the commonwealth.
As already mentioned this coin, which is denominated as a £10 piece is available in both silver and gold variants. The 5oz pure silver coin is struck from .999 Fineness silver and measures 65mm(2.559inch) in diameter. At a maximum mintage of only 1700 proof coins the Royal Mint is releasing these coins for £415.00 (US$520) each.
The 5oz gold coin, in turn, is struck from pure .9999 Fineness gold(24ct) and measures 50 mm across with a maximum mintage of only 120 coins. By far the most exclusive, and expensive, coin in the release at £8250 (US$10 339.00) each, it is shipped encapsulated in an exclusive wooden display case.
Then finally there is the Queen's Sapphire Jubilee 2017 United Kingdom Silver Proof Kilo Coin. By far the largest, 100mm(3.937 inch), and heaviest coin in the range at 1 Kilogramme of pure .999 Fineness silver. This special proof coin has a maximum limited mintage of only 300 coins of which only 250 will be available to order in the limited edition presentation case for £2050 (US$2572.00) each.
For my money I definitely prefer the Sapphire Jubilee coin featuring the Imperial State Crown, but the heraldry on the 5oz and kilo coins makes for a very familiar touch to recognise the Queen's decades of dedication. All coins can be ordered directly from the Royal Mint's website, although I would expect the more affordable silver options to reach sell out status fairly quickly. In that event you'd have to contact your trusted international coin dealer for assistance.