Coin Curiosity

Researching the history coins of the British Commonwealth

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Andman Islands 1861 mule rupee

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The coinage of the Andman Islands off the East coast of India was unusual in that while the tokens bore portraits of Queen Victoria, the tokens were also holed - outside of patterns, all tokens had a central hole.

One of the rare, unholed patterns has an 1861 reverse with the 1866 portrait: in 1861 the tokens were struck with William Wyon's early Straits Settlements portrait of Queen Victoria while the the 1866 tokens were struck Leonard Wyon's British India portrait of Queen Victoria, and in the British Museum is an 1861-dated token with the 1866 portrait: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/C_1935-0401-12273

The circumstances in which the mule token were struck are not known - the 1935 in the British Museum item number suggest that it was acquired in 1935: given that it was bequeathed to the British Museum by Thomas Bryan Clarke-Thornhill who died in 1934, this seems almost certain. Clarke-Thornhill served as a secretary in Diplomatic Service from 1881 to 1900 and served in China in 1900 (https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG105767). Although his service in the East was well after the tokens were struck, as a collector he may have acquired the piece during his work overseas.


1897 London Sovereign

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The Royal Mint struck sovereigns in most years from 1817 to 1917 so it is unusual that none were struck in London in 1897. The Royal Mint's annual report of 1897 highlights this - although 42,060 sovereigns were issued in 1897, they were all dated 1896 and were from the previous year's unissued stock. It was expected that Queen Victoria's golden jubilee may have increased demand for sovereigns but such a reality did not eventuate (p7, Twenty-Eighth Annual Report of The Deputy Master and Comptroller of the Mint, 1897., 1898), and instead the Sydney and Melbourne Mints were the only mints that struck 1897-dated sovereigns.


Charles III coronation gold coins

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Like many kings and queens before him, King Charles III's coronation was commemorated with a number of gold coins. Unlike previous coronations, Charles III's gold coinage was not the first gold coinage of his reign (quarter sovereigns, half sovereigns, sovereigns, double sovereigns and quintuple sovereigns had already been struck with his effigy in 2022), and it was also struck with a crowned portrait of King Charles III.

The strikes and finishes were more varied than for previous coronation coinages too - the quarter sovereign was new altogether and was struck as both bullion and proof coins; the half sovereign was struck as both bullion and proof coins; the sovereign was struck as bullion, frosted proof and proof piedfort coins; the double sovereign was struck as both bullion and proof coins and the quintuple sovereign was struck as both uncirculated and proof coins.

1,250 three coins sets containing proof quarter sovereigns, half sovereigns and sovereigns were struck.
575 four coins sets containing proof quarter sovereigns, half sovereigns and sovereigns and double sovereigns were struck.
1,050 five coins sets containing proof quarter sovereigns, half sovereigns and sovereigns, double sovereigns and quintuple sovereigns were struck.

Additionally, 1,750 proof quarter sovereigns, 2,500 proof half sovereigns, 15,000 proof sovereigns, 960 proof piedfort sovereigns and 660 uncirculated quintuple sovereigns were struck, and a further 1,000 proof sovereigns were struck for milestones sets.


British Decimal Upsets

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A number of British decimal upsets/rotated dies are known, though there are no doubt others.

1p

  • 1994
  • 2008
  • 2011

New Zealand 1975 20c struck on Scalloped Planchet

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In 1975, New Zealand's 20c pieces were struck by the Royal Mint, Llantrisant. Among the 5,027,000 20c pieces struck in Wales, a small number were struck on scalloped edged planchets.

In 1975 the Royal Mint, Llanstrisant was also striking coins for Hong Kong, including the first striking of the Hong Kong $2 coin, which was struck with a scalloped edge. No doubt a small number of Hong Kong $2 planchets were accidentally mixed in with New Zealand 20c planchets, leading to the striking of a small number of wrong planchet New Zealand 20c pieces. It is unknown how many were struck: one was sold in Mowbrays numismatic auction 31 in September 2023 as lot 359, but no doubt there are other examples.