I have been collecting coins for as long as I can remember. The first coins that I purchased were from the US Mint and included the 1986 proof set, 1986 proof ASE and the 1986 Statue of Liberty Proof set. Up until this year, I only collected coins that were “Made in the USA” and thanks to a fellow CT member who shall go unnamed (SPOCK), I now started collecting foreign coins. The purpose of this collage was to share with you three of my favorite designs joined together. I have always been fascinated with British coinage. Some of my very first coins were British Pennies that my grandmother gave me when I was just a child. These coins were marvelous; worn and faded and dated from the late 1800’s, thoughts of who held these coins and where they had been preoccupied my mind. So here I am, nearly 30 years later, deciding on what foreign coins I should collect and figure what better way to start that collection than with the Britannia fractional silver set. Stunning and stoic, she stands there as a country’s symbol of pride and freedom. Silver Britannias have been released each year beginning in 1997 and in all subsequent even-numbered years the reverse design has depicted a standing Britannia figure. Beginning in 1999 and continuing in odd-numbered years, a series of alternate, non-repeating depictions of Britannia have replaced the standing figure on the reverse. The silver coins have been available in 1 ounce, 1/2 ounce, 1/4 ounce, and 1/10 ounce since its inception and has made me wonder…. Where the heck have I been? According to Wikipedia, Britannia has been associated with coinage since Roman times where she appeared on the coins of three Roman emperors. The first English coins to bear the figure of Britannia were the copper halfpennies and farthings authorized by Charles II in 1672. Since then, Britannia has never been absent from British coinage. Britannia silver has a different composition than fine or sterling silver. Britannia silver contains 95.8% silver with the rest being made up from copper. Once again according to Wikipedia, “the Britannia standard of silver was introduced as part of the recoinage of William III in 1696 in an attempt to limit the clipping and melting of silver coinage. He reasoned that there would be less incentive to melt sterling silver when a higher standard was used for wrought plate. In 1697 Britannia silver became the obligatory standard for items of wrought plate, the hallmark being 'the figure of a woman commonly called Britannia'. Sterling silver was approved again for use by silversmiths in 1720 with Britannia silver remaining optional.” In 2008, the new Britannia design was created by John Bergdahl. The Royal Mint website describes the 2008 Britannia as “commanding, standing proudly between land and sea with her face towards crested waves that are formed from her robes. To the right of her is featured a lighthouse, an image that traditionally appears on coinage designs of Britannia”. During my research into British coinage, I learned that all modern British coins feature a profile of the current monarch's head. According to Wikipedia, “the direction in which they face changes with each successive monarch, a pattern that began with the Stuarts. For the Tudors and pre-Restoration Stuarts, both left and right-facing portrait images were minted within the reign of a single monarch. Medieval portrait images tended to be full face”. All current coins carry a Latin inscription which reads ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FIDEI DEFENSOR, which translates into "Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith“ 2006 was one of the most rewarding and exciting years for collecting US coins. In addition to the traditional sets produced for collectors, we saw the release of 4 fantastic commemorative coins, the 20th anniversary AGE and ASE sets which contained our first reverse proofs and new UNC coins minted on burnished blanks, and the introduction of the proof version of the American Buffalo Gold Coin which contained one ounce of 24-karat (.9999) gold. This was a first for US coinage. In addition to the proof ABG coin, the US mint made available a 1oz bullion edition for investors. Both the proof and uncirculated ABG Coins featured designs based on the classic 1913, Type I Buffalo nickel, by James Earle Fraser. The proof coins included the "W" mintmark of the United States Mint at West Point and the “uncirculated” bullion ones did not. But 2008 brought a third coin into the mix, the uncirculated ABG coin. What???? I know you are thinking… I thought we already had an uncirculated ABG coin? As the mint explains, they are now producing three types of ABG coins. The mint started doing this in 2006 with the AGE coins and continued this tradition with the 2008 ABG coins. The first two will be made for collectors and will include the “W” mintmark. There will be a Proof version and an uncirculated version. The third version will be produced for investors and will be considered bullion, not uncirculated as it was originally called. This coin will not display a mintmark. In addition to this small change, the Secretary of the Treasury authorized the United States Mint to strike and issue fractional denominations of the coins in proof and uncirculated versions as well. Unfortunately, due to a lack of demand and a shortage of gold blanks, the US mint has decided to discontinue the fractional and uncirculated coins and stick with the 1oz proof and bullion ABG coins each year. Last, but not least, we have the Reverse Proof ASE. This was the first of its kind from the US mint and was released together with its sister coin, the AGE. Taken from the US Mint’s web site, “The design for the American Silver Eagle was borrowed from an older American coin, the "Walking Liberty" half-dollar. Renowned for their beauty, Walking Liberty Half-Dollars are widely considered to be one of the United States' most attractive silver coins”. Designed by Adolph A. Weinman and adapted for usage on the ASE, the coin’s design remains an inspiration to collectors today. The reverse of the ASE was designed by John Mercanti. The picture was created on Microsoft Powerpoint. The original production had a lot of special effects, but unfortuately, they cannot be transfered to Coin Talk. I would like to give Ruben my many thanks for making this post even possible. He was able to reduce the size of the original picture so I would be able to post it on here. I am sorry that is isn't larger, but I hope you enjoy the display. Thanks for an exciting and wonderful 2008 and here's to an even brighter 2009.