By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for Coinweek …….
Two new British commemorative coins–honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday and famous children’s book author Beatrix Potter, respectively–are stirring excitement among coin collectors and the general public. The commemorative £5 pound coins honoring the monarch’s birthday are enjoying jubilant popularity – especially since Elizabeth is the first British monarch to reach 90 years of age. Some people have paid as much as £7,500 for the newly-released proof five-ounce gold version of the coin; other gold, silver, platinum, and cupro-nickel varieties in various sizes are also being struck.
“Coins produced to celebrate the Queen becoming Britain’s longest-reigning monarch in 2015 were very well received, with some ranges selling out completely,” said Royal Mint spokesperson Anne Jessopp. “We anticipate that coins created for Her Majesty’s 90th birthday will prove equally popular with members of the public wishing to mark this historic occasion.”
The £5 coin, also known as a commemorative crown, features a floral-themed reverse design by Christopher J. Hobbs that was approved by the Queen herself. The reverse of the £5 commemorative coin is anchored by a wreath consisting of nine roses, with each rose representing a decade of the Queen’s life. Within the wreath is the Queen’s Royal Cypher, with the inscription EIIR on an upper line and 90, signifying her 90th birthday, in a lower line; St. Edward’s Crown, incorporated within the Queen’s Cypher, is seen at the center-top of the design. The designer’s initials, CJH, are on the bottom-right of the reverse design near the rim.
According to Hobbs, the inclusion of the “90” in his design was met with initial hesitation within Buckingham Palace.
“I thought it was important to have the 90 prominently displayed on the coin, but I was told it raised a few eyebrows at the palace. Apparently it’s not the done thing pointing out the Queen’s age, but I think in this case it was absolutely necessary and the point was taken,” he related. “I am told the design was submitted to the Queen and she passed it.” The Royal Mint similarly struck commemorative coins to mark the Queen’s 70th and 80th birthdays.”
The obverse of the £5 90th birthday commemorative coin features a new portrait of the Queen Mother by Jody Clark (View Designer’s Profile), whose effigy of the gracefully aging monarch is the fifth different obverse of Her Royal Majesty to be seen on British coins since 1953. Clark’s design is shared on the obverses of all 2016 British coins.
That also includes the new Beatrix Potter commemorative 50-pence coin, which was released into general circulation over Easter weekend and has been selling for as much as 40 times its face value on eBay. The coin, honoring the 150th birthday of the iconic children’s book author, pays homage to Peter Rabbit, one of Potter’s most famous works. Peter Rabbit, a character introduced into the world of children’s literature in 1902, is seen at three-quarters angle on the reverse of the coin; his long, vertically enabled ears visually divide his name, PETER RABBIT, inscribed along the top of the coin.
The Peter Rabbit coin was designed by Royal Mint designer Emma Noble and was officially endorsed by Frederick Warne & Company (a Penguin Random House company). “I wanted to put Beatrix Potter’s illustrations to the forefront of my design as they are lovely images and the characters are very well known,” said Noble. “I felt they were strong enough to stand alone, and I designed them in this way as I thought they would work best for both the colored commemorative and uncolored commemorative coins.”
The Peter Rabbit coin is the second installment in a series of 50p coins, including gold and silver editions, honoring the life of the acclaimed British author. Brilliant uncirculated specimens of the cupro-nickel coin are being sold in a special presentation folder for £10. Colorized silver proof versions of the Peter Rabbit coin have a limited mintage of 15,000 pieces. They were offered by the Royal Mint for £55 but have already sold out.
Brilliant Uncirculated specimens of the other coins sell for £10.
Though all Potter 50p commemorative coins and the £5 coin honoring the Queen’s 90th birthday are enjoying brisk sales and wide acclaim, it should be noted that the Royal Mint’s commemorative coin program is embroiled in controversy.
The Royal Mint recently advised UK banks not to accept numismatic commemorative coins at face value, a seeming redefinition of the legal tender status originally accompanying those collectible coins. Furthermore, the Royal Mint now refuses to accept returns of these commemorative coins unless they are in their original packaging.
While none of the precious metal commemorative coins are intended to circulate, they were nevertheless issued as legal tender.
Beatrix Potter 50p Coins Currently Available on eBay