Following on the heels of the extension of the popular Warriors of History collection, the New Zealand Mint has now launched a new series of collector's coin entitled : The Battles that changed History collection.
Instead of focussing on the warriors whose legends have endured throughout time, this collection features famous battles that stand as key waypoints in the course of history. The first coin in this new series of silver collector's coins depicts a scene from the Battle of Yorktown.
The Battle of Yorktown, which is also called the Siege of Yorktown or Surrender at Yorktown by some, is considered as the decisive battle that brought the American revolutionary war to a close.
The siege took place between September 29 and October 19, 1781, at Yorktown Virginia. General George Washington led the American Continental Army alongside French forces under the command of Comte de Rochambeau. The ground assault was supported by a French naval blockade of Chesapeake Bay by Comte de Grasse and his French West Indies Fleet. The British army of over 7000 men, under the command of Lieutenant General Lord Charles Cornwallis, were effectively encircled by enemy troops. Surrounded from all sides, and outnumbered at a ratio of 2.3 to 1, Cornwallis had no way of escaping and but a sparce hope of victory.
Following a prolonged and sustained bombardment of the British defensive positions by American and French canon and artillery fire, and losing key forward defensive positions to the allied forces, the writing was on the wall for the British.
Surrounded by enemies, the morale of his troops depleted and with no hope of either escape or re-reinforcements arriving, Cornwallis had no choice but to ask for a ceasefire on October 17. Negotiations for the terms of surrender began on the 18th and by October 19th, 1781, the British troops at Yorktown had laid down their arms in surrender to the joint French and American forces.
Supposedly, when King George III was informed of the siege of Yorktown, his response was “I fear the Empire lost!”, and when British Prime Minister, Lord North, was told of the British defeat he exclaimed “Oh God, It's all over!”.
The design of the coin itself bears an astounding resemblance to the Warriors of History series. But instead of depicting an unnamed warrior in the foreground and indistinct army on the background, this series is set to focus on specific people and events.
The coin's reverse design features a colourized image of General George Washington to the left. While in the background, a sculpted image of American continental forces capturing a British canon position can be seen. This is most likely a reference to the capturing of redoubt number 10, one of the last forward defensive positions held by the British at Yorktown. Except for the mentioned colourized depiction of Washington, the rest of the coin is treated with an antique finish. The words “YORKTOWN”, “1781” are struck along the top rim of the coin, while “1oz 999 FINE SILVER” is inscribed to the bottom.
The obverse of the coin bears the standard Ian Rank-Broadley sculpted effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II, encircled by “ELIZABETH II”, NIUE”, “TWO DOLLARS” and “2017”.
Upon arrival the coin is nestled in a charming display box, resembling an antique wooden chest, lined with black velvet. The outer vanity case and uniquely numbered certificate of authenticity are printed with a period appropriate depiction of troop movements at the Battle of Yorktown.
As we may have come to expect from the New Zealand Mint, the coin is struck from 1oz of pure .999 Fineness silver to a 40mm(1.5748 inch) silver round. At a mintage of 5000 coins, the first issue of the Battles that Changed History series is being sold through the New Zealand Mint's website at a price of US$82.00 per coin.
This is a new series that I for one am rather looking forward to exploring, and should be a welcome addition to to the collections of many coin collectors and history enthusiasts alike.