There’s more to coin collecting than just the denominations in circulation. Many of our designs feature on commemorative £5 coins. Often associated with Royalty, but not exclusively, a wide range of themes have appeared on this denomination, making it a firm favourite with many of our collectors. These larger coins really bring designs to life. Just take a look at our new Music Legends Collection which launched with a coin featuring the rock band Queen - a great example of these alternative denominations being used to showcase exciting new themes.
Popularity with collectors along with some limited mintages have made certain commemorative £5 coins highly sought-after. Just 7,500 silver editions of the £5 struck to commemorate His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s 90th birthday in 2011 were released as individual coins. The scarcity of coins like this one, the importance of the themes they commemorate and a long and illustrious history lend the commemorative £5 coin an air of prestige.
A Historic Predecessor
The coin’s origins can be traced to Tudor times. A gold coin known as a crown was introduced during the reign of Henry VIII in 1526. Later, in 1551, Edward VI issued a large silver crown also with the value of five shillings. Gold and silver crowns were struck concurrently until the reign of Charles II, when minting of the gold coin ceased.
An Attempted Revival
By 1751 the crown was playing a limited role in circulation. But in 1818 an attempt was made to revive the coin’s popularity – Benedetto Pistrucci’s portrait of George III was combined with his classic St George and the dragon to produce an exceptionally beautiful coin. Despite this and other efforts, the crown failed to re-establish itself as a circulating coin but thanks to its size, became a commemorative coin instead.
A Modern First
In 1935, the first commemorative crown was issued to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V. Featuring an art deco take on St George and the dragon, it is widely considered to be the first modern commemorative coin. The issue of this coin started an association with events of national importance. In 1953, a crown as above was issued to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, while another was struck to mark the death of Winston Churchill in 1965.
A year after decimalisation, in 1972, the crown was given a face value of 25 pence. One of the best-known examples is the coin struck for Her Majesty The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, which you might still have in a drawer somewhere at home. In 1990, its face value changed again, this time to £5 giving us the coin we know today. In keeping with the tradition of celebrating royal themes, the first commemorative £5 coin ever struck celebrated The Queen Mother’s 90th birthday.
Although the £5 coin has a strong royal connection, it has increasingly been used to commemorate a range of different themes. On New Year’s Eve 1999, as the fireworks went off and champagne corks popped, a commemorative £5 coin marked the start of the new millennium. Historical themes also feature prominently. In 2005, a £5 coin marked the 200th anniversary of the death of Horatio Nelson, while in 2015 another famous military anniversary was commemorated – 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo.
In 2017, the popular Queen’s Beasts Collection was launched. A huge hit with collectors, the range reimagines the fantastical beasts of heraldry that stood guard at Her Majesty The Queen’s coronation in 1953. The creatures are beautifully brought to life on a series of £5 coins.
£5 was also the denomination chosen for the prestigious Tower of London Collection, the first time this historic royal palace has featured on a series of official UK coins. Not only do £5 coins allow designers to showcase their talent and artistry even further, but by utilising a non-circulating coin we are able to commemorate a wider range of events and anniversaries, offering more choice to collectors. The larger size also allows us to include edge lettering, enhancing designs even further.
The £5 coin, along with a wide range of commemorative denominations that we also produce, are all legal tender, although banks and shops are unlikely to accept them. But with beautiful design, a superior finish and strictly limited mintages, why would you want to spend it?
Have you added any commemorative £5 coins to your collection yet? With some exciting ranges set to appear in 2020, it’s the perfect time to think about this fascinating denomination and its place in your collection.