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Christmas on Coins

December 4, 2017 0 Comments

Now that we are into December, our minds turn to the holidays, and there seems no reason why our interest in coins shouldn’t turn in that direction too. We have many coins that celebrate events, but one area that is surprisingly under-celebrated is the biggest celebration of all – Christmas.

When we start looking around for coins with a Christmas theme, they are strangely few and far between. The UK might have turned that around however, with the release of their first ever Christmas coin – a £5 uncirculated proof made of copper-nickel alloy. Successful sales of this coin could spur other countries – and even the US Mint – into this market, which spreads far beyond coin collectors, and could also expose many young people to coins, creating future collectors and keeping this pursuit alive.

So what about this coin? The Royal Mint describes it as ‘brilliant uncirculated’, which translates into the US equivalent of an uncirculated proof coin. It is a cupro-nickel alloy, with a silver appearance, weighing 0.91 troy ounces (28.28 grams) and with a diameter of 1.52 inches (38.61 mm). The obverse features a bust profile of Her Majesty, the Queen of England, as do all UK coins. The profile portrait is by the Royal Mint engraver, Jodie Clark. His is the 5th portrait of the Queen to appear on coins since her coronation in 1953, and it has been the standard design for the obverse since 2015. Around the profile are the words “× 5 POUNDS × ELIZABETH II × D × G × REG × FID × DEF”. This all translates into ‘Dei Gratia Regina. Fidei Defensor’, meaning ‘Queen by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith’.

The reverse shows a decorated Christmas tree, with a star on top. Above the tree are the words, CHRISTMAS TREE 2017. The design is by Edwina Davis, a well-known British free-lance designer and engraver. She has already created a series of designs for the UK’s one-pound coins. Not only is this an official circulation coin, the design was approved by the Queen herself, giving this coin interest to the many lovers of the Royal Family.

To find other circulation coins with Christmas themes, you have to go into more interesting areas. In Latvia, there is a 1-lats coin featuring a Christmas tree, struck in 2009. The coin was minted for the country by the Staatliche Münze Berlin, one of four official German mints. The design was by Arvids Priedite, and Ligita Franckevica was the engraver.

While the Latvian coin could be a little hard to track down, the UK coin is readily available, and comes in a Christmas Card style packaging, showing a Christmas Tree in white on a green background. Ideal for slipping into a stocking, and who knows where it might lead?

This does seem to be a neglected market for official mints making circulation coins. Perhaps the UK Mint’s innovation will inspire others to follow. Private mints, on the other hand, produce many Christmas bars and medals, and those will be the subject of our blog next week – still in time for holiday purchases.

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