Featured Three British Kings and Three Types of Gold Coin Surfaces

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by johnmilton, May 31, 2020.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Here is another article from the archives. I wrote this in 2014.

    I've been working on a very general collection of English coinage. My goal has been to locate at least one piece for each British monarch who issued a coin in his or her name. Where it has been financially feasible I have bought a gold coin. Recently I completed a collection of the three of the four kings who held the British throne during the 20th century. For reasons I will explain later, acquiring an example of any coin for the fourth king is virtually impossible. Each of these kings led a unique, interesting and sometimes scandalous life, and each of their coins was struck using a different minting process.

    Edward VII was king from 1901 to 1910. Like Charles, the current Prince of Wales, he had to wait many years before he became king. For a time it appeared that his mother might outlive him and that he would never become king. Like Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Victoria a long rule, from 1837 to 1901, a total of 64 years.

    Albert Edward, who was known as Prince Albert or "Bertie" as the royal family called him, was the eldest son and second child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Since he was the heir apparent to the throne, his parents made elaborate plans for his education, but Albert was not a brilliant student and had a limited motivation to learn. He was high spirited, very much interested in the ladies and enjoyed boisterous practical jokes.

    Although he had a wondering eye, he married Princess Alexandra, the eldest daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark in 1863. Their marriage produced six children which took care of the royal line of succession. After that "Bertie" pursued many mistresses with the tacit approval of his wife. Albert loved great food, fine wines, fancy clothes, good cigars and friends (nice and not so nice) who were into having a rollicking good time. All of this worried stodgy old Queen Victoria who was concerned about a royal scandal.

    When Bertie rose to the throne he put his mistresses behind him and became a good king to the surprise of many. By this time the English kings had little to do with governing the country, but as a public relations man, Edward VII excelled. He was popular with Englishmen of all classes, and Edward's pleasant personality and fluent French endeared him the French people as well. In 1904 Edward was instrumental in cementing a rapprochement between the British and French Governments which resulted in the Entente Cordiale in 1904. That agreement ended more than 800 years of wars and strife between those two countries.

    Edward VII Two Pounds.jpg

    My Edward VII gold coin is a two pound piece that was issued as part of a 13 coin Proof set that commemorated his coronation. It is one of four gold coins (five, two, one, and one and a half pound) that were issued as Matte Proofs. The surfaces are very dull, like "a golden aspirin tablet," with no luster, but sharply defined devices. The obverse features a profile portrait of Edward VII, and the reverse presents the classic British design of St. George slaying the dragon. The United States issued similar pieces with the dull matte finish for some, but not all gold coins from 1908 to 1915. Interestingly one of the first public performances of the march Pomp and Circumstance was played at Edward's coronation. It has since become the standard piece at many high school and college graduation ceremonies.

    George V was the second son of Edward VII. As such he was second in line to the throne, and it was generally assumed that he would never became king. Like the modern Prince Harry, he enlisted in the military, in his case the Navy, where he learned the rough and ready manners of British seaman. He never carried the airs of a haughty king which earned the respect and admiration of his British subjects.

    Shadowy rumors have surrounded George's older brother, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, for many years. There has long been speculation that Albert Victor's "dissipated lifestyle" may have contributed to his death from influenza in 1892 when he was 28 years old. There were even claims that he was the legendary serial killer, "Jack the Ripper," although those speculations have since been disproven.

    George V ruled from 1910 to 1936. During the First World War the British monarchy changed its family name from The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to The House of Windsor to distance themselves from their German sounding name and ancestors while England was at war with that country. England would emerge from World War I with its empire intact, but it was becoming obvious that the days of a worldwide British Empire were numbered. George survived long enough to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of his reign, but he died shortly after that celebration from a respiratory ailment.

    George V Sov.jpg

    The coin that I added to my collection for George V is a 1925 gold sovereign. It is a common date in the sovereign series, but the coin is in MS-65 condition, which is an uncommon state of preservation. It has full mint bloom on both sides with a warm coppery golden color and only a few very light marks.

    Edward VIII was the oldest son of George V and Queen Mary. His full name was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, which gave him a lot of choices when it came time for him to select a name when he became king.

    He was handsome and charming, but deep down he had no desire to be king. At age 25 while touring the British Empire in 1919 to thank countries like Canada and Australia for their help during World War I, he grew tired of shaking hands and living in the royal fishbowl. He was quoted as saying, "I do get so fed up with and despondent about it sometimes, and begin to feel like 'resigning'!!"

    Like his grandfather, Edward had an eye for the ladies, especially older married women. Needless to say his escapades with older women, who were technically unavailable, upset his father who feared another royal scandal. One of those women, Wallis Simpson, captured the future king's heart. When he became king in January 1936 he was totally in love with her. Once Wallis had divorced her current husband, Ernest, Edward thought that he would be free to marry her and make her his queen, but the head of Church of England strongly disagreed. Wallis had now divorced two husbands, and the thought of a two time divorcee as queen shook the establishment to the core. Edward would have to abdicate if he were to take Wallis as his bride, and that was exactly what he did "to marry the woman I love."

    A long standing custom dictated that the new king did not appear on British coinage until the second year of his reign. During Edward's short reign, the royal mint had prepared a small number of pattern coins and had produced four Edward VIII Proof sets as prototypes in anticipation of a 1937 release date. After Edward abdicated, production of those coins was halted, and today the Edward VIII coinage is virtually unobtainable.

    Edward VIII Sov.jpg

    I borrowed these photos from the British Museum. There are Edward VIII sovereigns in private hands, but I am not one of those lucky collectors.

    George VI was the younger brother of Edward VIII. As it had been for George's father, no one expected him to become king. Like his father George entered the Royal Navy, participated in combat and served with distinction at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. He ended the war as a member of the Royal Naval Air Service.

    George's health was never vigorous, and he had a persistent stammer which made it painfully difficult for him to speak in public. His struggles to overcome public speaking problems were wonderfully portrayed in the 2011 Academy Award winning film, The King's Speech. Because of his speech problems, George was never comfortable as king, but he persevered and became a national inspiration during the darkest days of World War II. Despite the fact that the Germans were bombing London, George and Queen Elizabeth (the mother of the current queen) did not evacuate from the capital city and even refused to send their daughters to a safe area. Their brave stand and public appearances bolstered public confidence and made the royal family national heroes.

    After the war the king continued to keep a busy schedule, but it became obvious that George's health was failing. The king had long been a multiple pack a day smoker, and in September 1951 doctors removed his left lung. At that time it was discovered that he had lung cancer. Although his health seemed to improve, King George VI died peacefully in his sleep in February 1952. Although he was a shy and retiring man who never wanted to be king, George did his duty by his family and his country.

    George VI Sov.jpg

    This George VI sovereign was part of a four piece set. I would love to get the other three coins, but the prices, especially for the 5 pound, have gone into orbit.

    The King George VI coin I have in my collection is a 1937 Proof sovereign. The coin is one of only 5,001 pieces that were stuck as a part of a four piece set of gold coins (five, two, one, and half pound) that were issued to commemorative his coronation. These coins were the only gold pieces that were struck during the reign of George VI. The coin is a brilliant Proof with the devices displaying a cameo contrast. As it was with American coins, the frosted, cameo devices only appear on the first dozen or so coins that are struck from a new set of Proof dies or sometimes Proof dies that have been refurbished. Therefore this coin is quite scarce and unusual.
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  3. QuintupleSovereign

    QuintupleSovereign Well-Known Member

    Believe it or not, you can generally find the 1937 2 pound piece at a more reasonable price (relatively speaking, of course) than either the one pound or five pound coins.
  4. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I have not had much luck buying any of the other three gold pieces. Even the last half sovereign, which was not even a cameo, brought moon money the last time there was one in a Heritage auciton.
  5. 1934 Wreath Crown

    1934 Wreath Crown Well-Known Member

    Yes because the 'pure' sovereign collector prefers the sovereign to the double or the 1/2 sovereign. I'm trying to buck the trend and apart from my key date sovereigns, I'm going to shift to double and quintuple sovereigns (5 pounds).

    One just has to look at the astronomical prices commanded by 2 and 5 Guinea coins and 19th century Double and Quintuple sovereigns, particularly proof versions to realise that sooner or later collectors accept that these are in fact the (much) rarer issues;)

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Nice coins John, very nice !
  7. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    Wow, Edward VIII and George VI really look alike.
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