British crown coins of the monarchs who reigned before King Charles III
2023 will see the coronation of a new monarch, the first for over seventy years. It reminds us how special an event this is. There will certainly be special coins to commemorate the event, but it may surprise you to learn that of the five monarchs to precede King Charles III only three of them had crown coins issued for their coronation year, and of those only two were commemorative designs.
This set brings together those special coronation year issues with two others to mark significant jubilees of the five crowned monarchs to precede King Charles III. These are British five-shilling crown coins for his mother, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, stretching right back to his great-great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.
Coin 1: Queen Victoria 1887 Golden Jubilee Year Silver Crown
Features a portrait of the Queen designed to celebrate her Golden Jubilee
We take for granted that commemorative coins are produced for all major national celebrations, but that’s not always been the case. Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1838 saw the issue of her first circulation coins, but the large five-shilling crown was not one of them. The first crown didn’t appear until 1844.
Some fifty years later, for her Golden Jubilee (50th anniversary of accession) in 1887, a new portrait of her was designed and introduced onto her coinage, many of which had new designs. The five-shilling crown was one of them, appearing now with the acclaimed depiction of St George slaying the dragon.
Coin 2: King Edward VII 1902 Coronation Year Silver Crown
The only crown coin of this monarch’s reign
For the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, new coinage was released into circulation and as part of the celebrations the large five-shillings crown was minted. It featured St George and the dragon on the reverse and the accomplished portrait of the king by G W de Saulles on the obverse. This was the only issue of silver crowns in this monarch’s reign: the crown was very large and took quite a toll on the clothes of those carrying them, so it had fallen out of favour as a circulating coin.
Coin 3: King George V 1935 Silver Jubilee Silver Crown
The first silver crown with a commemorative design
The coronation of King George V for example led to the striking of specially prepared Proof coins in 1911 but these were the regular circulating designs and the crown coin was not part of them. In fact, the only regnal milestone commemorated in his reign was the Silver Jubilee (25th anniversary) of reign in 1935, marked with a specially designed silver crown coin.
Coin 4: King George VI 1937 Coronation Silver Crown
The last silver crown ever to circulate in Britain
His son and successor, King George VI, was crowned in 1937 and again, there were mintings of his new coinage, but there was also a one-year only silver crown coin to mark the coronation. This featured the Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. It was the last silver crown coin ever to be put into circulation in Britain.
Coin 5: Queen Elizabeth II 1953 Coronation Crown
The Queen is depicted on horseback, rather than in profile
Queen Elizabeth II, who was crowned in 1953, also had her coronation celebrated with a commemorative design crown coin. All of Britain’s circulation coins were no longer silver, being made from more durable and less ‘precious’ cupronickel. It featured the young queen on horseback, a style borrowed from silver crown coins of centuries past, and one that would be borrowed for the coins of her Silver, Golden and Platinum Jubilees.
It will be interesting to see what coins enter circulation in Britain to bear witness to the coronation of our new king, but they will join a select group of earlier coins for regnal celebrations of the monarchs who have gone before him.