Every year, The Royal Mint produces an Annual Set. The set captures some of the United Kingdom’s most striking stories, a snapshot of the year’s memorable events and anniversaries that will become a lasting reminder of a moment in time. This years 2018 coins have been struck and presented in a variety of sets.
Birth of a Nightmare
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a hideous, sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818, when she was 20. This coin commemorates the 200 year anniversary of this widely celebrated work of fiction.
Frankenstein is infused with elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement and at the same time, it is an early example of science fiction. Brian Aldiss has argued that it should be considered the first true science fiction story because, in contrast to previous stories with fantastical elements resembling those of later science fiction, the central character “makes a deliberate decision” and “turns to modern experiments in the laboratory” to achieve fantastic results. It has had a considerable influence in literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films and plays.
The Journey to Armistice
The First World War came to an end in 1918 as the Armistice was signed, bringing a silence to the battlefields. The design for the Armistice £2 coin features poignant words taken from Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Strange Meeting’:
It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand fears that vision’s face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now. . . .”
A Turning Point in British Democracy
The Representation of the People Act 1918 was an Act of Parliament passed to reform the electoral system in Great Britain and Ireland. The Act extended the franchise in parliamentary elections, also known as the right to vote, to men aged 21 and over, whether or not they owned property, and to women aged 30 and over who resided in the constituency or occupied land or premises with a rateable value above £5, or whose husbands did. At the same time, it extended the local government franchise to include women aged 21 and over on the same terms as men.
The coin’s design by Stephen Taylor, a graphic designer at The Royal Mint, shows newly registered voters lined up to cast their vote for the first time.
A Century at the Nation’s Service
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom’s aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain. This coin features the badge of the Royal Air Force, representing the RAF’s continued strength
The Progress of a Prince
His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge celebrates his fifth birthday this year. All the usual milestones of life, such as his birthdays and his first day at school, are celebrated not only by his family but by a captivated public. The young prince inspires a new interpretation of his namesake, St George and the dragon.
The legend of Saint George and the Dragon describes the saint taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices; the saint thereby rescues the princess chosen as the next offering. The legend and iconography spread rapidly through the Byzantine cultural sphere in the 12th century. It reached Western Christian tradition still in the 12th century, via the crusades. The knights of the First Crusade believed that St George with his fellow soldier-saints Demetrius, Maurice and Theodore had fought alongside them at Antioch and Jerusalem. The legend was popularised in western tradition in the 13th century based on its Latin versions in the Speculum Historiale and the Golden Legend. At first limited to the courtly setting of Chivalric romance, the legend was popularised in the 13th century and became a favourite literary and pictorial subject in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance, and it has become integral part of the Christian traditions relating to Saint George both in Eastern and Western tradition.
he story has been linked with royal coins for centuries, symbolising courage and the triumph of good over evil. This design, symbolising the triumph of good over evil, is a fitting tribute to the prince and his fifth birthday.
What memories have you made in 2018? What historical moments do you think will be memorialized for years to come?