The 2022 Tutankhamun Discovery 100th Anniversary Gold Quarter Sovereign celebrates the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb on 4th November 1922 was quite simply one of the richest and most important archaeological discoveries of all time. For some 3,000 years, the burial site of the young Egyptian pharaoh had lain unknown until British archaeologist Howard Carter located it in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. Funded by Lord Carnarvon, Carter finally uncovered the stone steps leading down to the burial chambers after years of searching. On 27th November 1922, they reached a second sealed doorway and held their breath as Carter made a small opening and peered into the darkness within.
“Can you see anything?” urged Carnarvon.
“Yes,” replied Carter. “Wonderful things.”
The chamber was filled with an astonishing array of artefacts, including two life-size statues of Tutankhamun, a gilded and inlaid throne, jewellery, weaponry and foodstuffs for the afterlife. More chambers were discovered, and Tutankhamun’s mummy was discovered in a gold coffin upon which rested the death mask of the young Pharaoh, the most famous of all Tutankhamun’s treasures. A true wonder of ancient Egyptian craftsmanship weighing around 10kg, it was beaten from sheet gold and inlaid with semi-precious stones and coloured glass. It would take almost a decade photograph, record and remove more than 5,000 artefacts from the site, offering an unique insight into this period of ancient Egyptian history.
The discovery elicited a media frenzy, as reporters and photographers from around the world poured into Cairo to cover the story. The discovery that Tutankhamun was a boy-king further captured public imagination.
On 30th November 1922, The Times newspaper reported it as “the most sensational Egyptological discovery of the century”, continuing, “Seven years ago, work was started in the Valley of the Kings, after other excavators had abandoned the valley… At last, the dogged perseverance of Mr Carter, his thoroughness, above all his flair, were rewarded…’.
Radio, mass-circulation newspapers and moving film quickly shared the news of Carter’s wonderful discovery and ‘Egyptomania’ spread around the world like wildfire. Egyptian motifs appeared on clothes, jewellery, fabrics, furniture and in architecture. Graceful hieroglyphic symbols, such as the phoenix wings, were woven into the Art Deco style and figures such as the goddess Isis inspired Cleopatra-style bob haircuts and shift dresses.
Even today, a whole century after the discovery was made, the name ‘Tutankhamun’ is still associated with the riches of ancient Egypt, and Howard Carter must rank as the most famous archaeologist of all time.
An important gold quarter sovereign ‘first’ simulates the most famous of all the gold treasures emerging from the dark
On the 2022 Tutankhamun Discovery 100th Anniversary Gold Quarter Sovereign, the most famous of all Tutankhamun’s treasures shines forth: the magnificent gold death mask of the young Pharaoh. It is surrounded by deep black enamel, to simulate it emerging from the dark. This is the first time ever that a gold quarter sovereign coin has featured a selectively enamelled design, and it is superb the way this recreates the excitement of the treasures being discovered.
The glossy finish of the black enamel is semi-transparent, enabling you to also see the etched hieroglyphs in the background. These are taken from an inscription on the rear of Tutankhamun’s mask, which is in turn from the Ancient Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’.
The genius behind this design approach is renowned artist Matt Dent, designer of the current one, two, five, ten, twenty and fifty pence coins in circulation in Britain.
Events have transpired that also make these coins the very last gold quarter sovereigns of Queen Elizabeth II
For 70 years, The Late Queen’s portrait has graced Britain’s coinage. Five official effigies have been seen on circulating coins and now, with her sad passing in September this year, the last coins to bear her portrait have been struck. The commemorative gold quarter sovereign in this range is the last of its kind to feature Elizabeth II on the obverse side, the decision to sanction it for production having already been made prior to her death.
Authorised by Tristan Da Cunha and approved by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Buckingham Palace, it is a wonderful way to celebrate Howard Carter’s monumental discovery!