Newsletter, September/October 2011
Dear Madam, dear Sir,
time is speeding up. Just a few months and we will meet in Berlin at the 41st World Money Fair – held from 3 to 5 February 2012. We are very pleased that so many of you have already registered for our event. Thus, it is clear that, like in previous years, the upcoming World Money Fair will fully live up to its name! All over the world, preparations are under way for a successful numismatic weekend, and phones and fax in Berlin hardly ever stop ringing these days.
Against this background, we are particularly pleased to tell a bit more about our guest of honour 2012, the Royal Mint, in our second newsletter. Our honorary president Albert M. Beck contributes a report on our British friends from which we learn a lot about the history of this famous mint and the new releases it will present next year in Berlin.
In the coming weeks we will keep you well informed with our newsletter service. We look forward to seeing you again on the first weekend of February, 2012.
The organization team
of the World Money Fair
The Royal Mint of Great Britain as Guest of Honour
at the World Money Fair 2012
A report by Albert M. Beck
2012 – A Year of Superlatives for our British Friends
For the Royal Mint of the United Kingdom an extraordinarily eventful year begins with their appearance as guest of honour at the 41st World Money Fair. In 2012, the Britain will be in the limelight of international numismatic publicity: On 5 June, Britons will celebrate the Diamond Jubilee (1952 – 2012) of Queen Elizabeth II, which will go along with the issuing of several commemorative coins. Only a few weeks later, the XXX Olympic Summer Games will open in London (27 July to 12 August) – a mega-event and definite highlight not only for sports enthusiasts worldwide but also for all coin collectors keen on sports. For the first time in the history of the Modern Olympic Games a city will host the world's best athletes for the third time. This honour will also be reflected in largest series of exquisite Olympic coins ever which we are very excited to see showcased at the World Money Fair.
A Brief View into History
The Royal Mint, today one of the five leading mints in the world, originated in 896 when the first silver pennies bearing the inscription “LONDINIA” were issued under the reign of King Alfred the Great. With the striking of these memorable coins the foundation of the first state mint in Kingdom of England was laid, which later took its seat in the Tower of London. Based in London until 1968, the mint then moved to modern production facilities in Llantrisant/Wales. The Royal Mint is fully owned by Her Majesty's Treasury and makes all coins for the United Kingdom as well as coinage for over 60 other countries.
Products of Outstanding Quality
To ensure reliable delivery of their products to collectors all over the world, the Royal Mint (formerly British Royal Mint) has built up a firstrate distribution network. Representatives of the mint's management, led by the experienced CEO Adam Lawrence, have for some decades been among the top decision makers in the numismatic market, regularly attending international conferences and meetings on minting technology, as well as the Media Forum held each year at the World Money Fair.
At the Royal Mint's site in Wales where a staff of about 900 are employed state-of-the-art minting presses reach an output of up to 16.3 million coins per day, depending on the type of coin or medal required. The Royal Mint has also acquired a reputation as a generator of ideas and major innovator in the minting industry. Integrated holograms or colour applications such as the blue Olympic logo on the current Olympic coins give proof of the company's sophisticated technology and craftsmanship. Besides normal circulation coins, the mint manufactures commemorative and merit medals, tokens, military medals and countless other awards and decorations. Therefore, products of the Royal Mint will also be found on the winners' podium at the 2012 Olympics.
Excellence in the Design of Modern Coins
What would a visit to a mint be without casting a glance into the “sanctum” - the offices and workbenches of engravers and designers. The Royal Mint employs ten highly skilled designers who work under the guidance of a chief engraver and collaborate with renowned artists on special projects. Correspondingly, the “Royal Mint Advisory Committee on the design of coins, medals, seals and decorations”, established in 1922 by King George V, plays a central role in coin design as it ensures the invariably high standard of British numismatic art. A special subcommittee is responsible for the design of circulation coins for the United Kingdom, deciding upon new themes for which, according to the significance of the coin, the approval of HM the Queen may be required.
The Exquisite Treasures of the Royal Mint
The Royal Mint's numismatic collection is one of the finest and most beautiful coin cabinets. Founded by mint master William Wellesley Pole in 1816, it was originally just intended to provide inspiration for new designs and comparative pieces to designers and engravers. But only two years later, the directors of the collections received over 2,000 additional coins and medals from a donation, which still make up for the largest part of British coins prior to 1800. Meanwhile, the valuable assortment has grown to comprise about 70,000 pieces, completed by unique drawings, plaster models, and about 30,000 dies and minting tools. In order to showcase them in public, many of these objects are periodically loaned to temporary exhibitions. In 1986, for instance, the exhibition “The Royal Mint: 1100 Years in Minting” aroused the interest many international visitors who still vividly remember it.
The Royal Mint as Guest of Honour at the World Money Fair
“Welcome Britannia” was the headline when the United Kingdom first was invited as official guest of honour to the World Money Fair in Basel in 1995. On that occasion, the mint's delegation was led by the legendary duo of Roger M. Holmes (Deputy Master 1993 – 2001) and Allan Wallace (Assistant Director). The commemorative set on “50 Years Anniversary of United Nations” and the £2 coin featuring the dove of peace, issued to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Allied victory in Europe, then were the greatest attractions among the new issues presented at the fair.
Today, a strong management team led by Adam Lawrence (Chief Executive) is at the head of the Royal Mint, and the pieces showcased 17 years ago resemble somewhat modest compared to the commemorative coins of the Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics awaiting us this time. Besides, the Royal Mint will celebrate another anniversary when in Berlin: During the past 25 years it has regularly participated in the World Money Fair as an exhibitor and dialogue partner for hobby numismatists and experts alike. Many thanks for that!
The Official Olympic Coins of the XXX Olympic Summer Games in London
Since 1952 (XV Summer Olympics in Helsinki) special commemorative coin programmes have been released on occasion of most Olympic Games. At first, there were just some individual issues, but starting, at the latest, with the XXI Summer Games in Montreal (1976) coin collections have been professionally marketed. In addition, gold and silver bullion coins have found their way into the official programmes. The organisers of the London Summer Olympic Games 2012 will renounce on issuing bullion coins.
However, they impress us with the largest official Olympic coin programme ever launched. All in all, 120 coin issues are part of it. We are already excited about this variety comprising 18 gold coins, 56 silver coins, 7 piedfort coins (silver with double thickness) and 39 base metal coins.
The London 2012 programme started off with the socalled Handover coins commemorating the handover ceremony of the Summer Olympics from Beijing to London. Next, a series of 16 Countdown coins will be released, to be followed from 2012 by a coin set featuring athletes.
In view of such an overwhelming variety, collectors will have a hard time choosing which piece to buy and which to leave. Personally, I recommend to have a look at the beautiful core range. Surely, the 18 different £5 silver coins from the collection “A Celebration of Britain” are a good choice, and should your budget allow for something more, why not get the four £5 gold proof commemorative coins (38.61 mm, 39.94g, 22 carat gold) from the Countdown series, as well.
We look forward to an exciting coin fair weekend and to many splendid new issues presented by our guest of honour 2012 – The Royal Mint – and many more exhibitors.
Hoping to see you again in Berlin!