by Bryan E. Jones, Publisher
A Bit of History in My Pocket
I do not recall what prompted me to order, a few months back, the small object which could be described as a little pillbox or perhaps a pocket snuff box.
The “box” is actually round, crafted from two coins, formed expertly into two domes and threaded together by some very skillful brass machine work. It’s pretty unique in and of itself and I enjoy uncommon pieces.
What makes the coins, in retrospect, more valuable to me now, is they are British half-crown coins. The obverse (heads) side depicts the young Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse (tails) side depicts the Royal Crest of Queen Elizabeth II, with the famous initials ER (Elizabeth Regina).
The artisan who creates the special boxes obviously uses great care and has a proven method. He uses different coins of various vintages. I requested the half-crown dated 1953, as that was the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The coronation took place June 2, 1953 at Westminster Abbey in London.
According to The Royal Mint, when Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1953, the mint was asked to mark the occasion with a special set of proof coins.
“The process began with the commissioning of The Queen’s first royal portrait. International society photographer Dorothy Wilding was asked to take some photographs of the young queen. Wilding’s photographs showed The Queen in profile and facing to the right. Traditionally, monarchs had always appeared in profile on their coins, facing the opposite way from their predecessor. As Queen Elizabeth II’s father George VI had faced to the left, it was her turn to face to the right.”
Wow. The British even have a protocol for which direction the monarch faces on their coins. I have to admire the tradition.
Besides a couple of properly minted coins in my pocket, I once had the privilege of setting foot inside Westminster Abbey; exploring the grounds of Windsor Castle (the royal residence in the English county of Berkshire); and witnessing the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace — all of which put me in a place of wonderment at the tradition, opulence, power, and history that surrounded me on those occasions.
Of course, being where monarchs have trodden is not remotely the same at having an audience with The Queen, but one can imagine a bit more colorfully from there.
While I cannot eloquently, even adequately, add to the multitude of remembrances so well spoken and transcribed in the past few days at the passing of The Queen Sept. 8, 2022, there is a palpable sadness at her departure after 70 years on the throne.
A lot has transpired, both glorious and tragic, in seven decades; but I believe, with the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we lost a bit of the bearing and grace she embodied, a steadfast and constant presence, in a tumultuous world.
We are witness to a very historic event and her passing truly feels symbolic of a bygone era. Perhaps that is why we mourn, because the way ahead is fraught with uncertainty.
We would do well to remember the image on a coin is but a memento, it is up to us to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
by Bryan E. Jones, Publisher