First World War Outbreak Precious Metals | The Royal Mint

05 Jun 2014

The Royal Mint’s coin series commemorates the First World War, and the journey from outbreak to armistice.

As the world prepares to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, The Royal Mint has begun a programme of commemoration that will continue over the next five years, telling the emotive story of the journey from outbreak to armistice through a series of United Kingdom £5 coins, arranged in six-coin sets.

Five leading artists have been selected by The Royal Mint, which has made medals for military campaigns since 1815 including those for the ‘Great War’, to help build a picture of life at war and on the home front a century ago. Each year until 2019, six coins will be released that cover a range of themes– key battles, the armed forces and support services, technological developments of the period, the cultural impact of war and stories of some of the heroes of the time. The final set will be a poignant reflection on the armistice and the on-going legacy of the war.

For 2014 the six-coin set includes a coin honouring The British Expeditionary Force by John Bergdahl. John’s design captures the optimism of the first troops departing for France, an optimism that gains poignancy with hindsight. Military artist David Rowlands created the Home Front coin, which depicts a lone figure at work in the fields. It honours the role of women, who worked hard to fill jobs vacated by men. David Rowlands also created the coin that celebrates the Royal Navy, depicting a gun drill at sea.

David Cornell honours Walter Tull - the first black officer in Britain’s armed forces. His design shows troops going ‘over the top’ and features the poppy, a symbol of remembrance. David Lawrence’s coin explores the role of Propaganda in the war, the posters shown based on actual First World War designs.

The set include coins exploring the impact of war on technological developments by Edwina Ellis, starting with the 2014 coin featuring the Howitzer gun. Edwina was interested by the intricate details of this devastating technology, and also the human story.

This six coin set is the second issue in a programme of commemorative coins that will be released by the Royal Mint to mark the centenary of the First World War. It follows the launch of the Outbreak 2014 UK £2 coin bearing sculptor John Bergdahl’s powerful likeness of the instantly recognisable call to arms by Lord Kitchener.

Shane Bissett, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin, Medals and Bullion said: “For over 1,000 years, The Royal Mint has been producing British coins that have recorded the passing of history, documenting changes in monarchs, customs and national themes. This series captures the emotive wartime journey from outbreak to armistice.”

The obverse of each coin features the current coinage portrait of Her Majesty the Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS. The sets are presented with detailed information on the theme, the design and the artist, helping to tell the story behind the coins. They are available in a choice of 925 sterling silver or 22 carat gold crowns, struck to Royal Mint Proof standard, and are limited to just 1914 sets (Silver Proof RRP £450) and 20 sets (Gold Proof RRP £9,999).

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