1887 Victoria Jubilee Specimen Set | Blog | The Britannia Coin Company

Image Title Posted on May 27 2022
This workweek at The Britannia Coin Company we ‘re thinking about jubilees : both the approaching Platinum Jubilee and jubilees of the past. We ‘ve enjoyed all the new releases from the Royal Mint, tied to the seventieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II ‘s accession but did you know the tradition of celebrating these milestones started with Queen Victoria ‘s Golden Jubilee ?

Victoria’s Golden Jubilee

In June 1887 Queen Victoria marked her Golden jubilee. She had ascended the enthrone fifty years previously in 1837, following the death of King William IV .
A range of festivities were held to mark the occasion, including a feast on 20 June attended by fifty alien kings and princes a well as the governing heads of Britain ‘s oversea colonies and dominions. The follow day, push gathered to catch a glimpse of Victoria in an exposed carriage as she traveled to attend a serve of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey.

The 1887 Jubilee was commemorated with a particularly commissioned statue bust by Francis John Williamson ; an official decoration, awarded to participants in the celebrations and new Royal Mail stamps, the first gear to be issued in two colours. Items like these, a well as the proliferation of mugs and plates sold across the Empire, were retained as souvenirs of an authoritative imperial milestone .
For royal fans, however, the ultimate collectors item from Victoria ‘s Golden Jubilee might be an 11-coin specimen set, bearing an ill-famed portrait of the Queen. These sets besides marked the foremost appearance of the controversial Double Florin equally well as a new Half Sovereign design that was promptly revised. They represent a capture and debatable moment in british and numismatic history .

1887 Specimen Proof Set

Boxed sets were issued by the Royal Mint in the summer of 1887 and contained four gold coins and seven silver coins, including :

  • 1887 Gold Five Pound
  • 1887 Gold Two Pound
  • 1887 Gold Sovereign
  • 1887 Gold Half Sovereign
  • 1887 Silver Crown
  • 1887 Silver Double Florin
  • 1887 Silver Half Crown
  • 1887 Silver Florin
  • 1887 Silver Shilling
  • 1887 Silver Sixpence
  • 1887 Silver Threepence

official proof sets – or ‘specimen sets ‘ as they were referred to in the past – were first issued in Britain during the reign of George II. today, proof sets are an annual offer from mints across the world but in the nineteenth century they were only issued when significant changes to the neologism were made, such as when a new portrayal was introduced or to coincide with a coronation. Many would have been distributed as official gifts making getting hold of one a matter of who you knew preferably than braving a web site queuing system .
Jubilee Head Specimen Proof Set 1887 Queen Victoria in original box.
An 1887 specimen proof set in its original box .
reportedly, 1,881 specimen sets were sold in 1887 though some of the aureate coins seem to have been offered individually besides. Finding a full set of original Jubilee coins – peculiarly in high grade in their original box – is a rare pleasure .
In accession to the official proof specimen sets, jewellers created sets for collectors, using circulation-issue versions of the eleven coins to make up a set. These may besides come in a high-quality contemporary box .

Gold Five Pound Coin

The largest coin in an 1887 proof set is a 22 carat gold Five Pound mint, sometimes called a Quintuple Sovereign. This piece weighs 36.61 grams and has a diameter of 35 millimeters .
Pattern amber Five Pound coins has previously been struck during the reigns of George III and George IV. Early in Victoria ‘s reign a beautiful pattern £5 was minted in very restrict numbers, showing an allegorical delineation of the Queen as a character from Edmund Spencer ‘s The Faerie Queene. Gold Una and the Lion coins did not circulate but the denomination would in 1887 .
The mintage of general circulation 1887 Five Pounds was purportedly 54,000 but the count of proof is much smaller .
Obverse and reverse of Gold Five Pound 1887 Pistrucci Boehm Golden Ju.bilee Victoria
Gold Five Pound coin from an 1887 specimen set, besides available individually .
The gold Two Pound mint, found in the set, is besides an early exercise. Proof Double Sovereigns were beginning struck in 1820 and first circulated in 1823. The 1887 offspring represents only the second gear meter that this appellation appeared as currentness .
These two large gold coins are the most seek after in the set, both nowadays and in the late 1800s. As these coins – both in proof and circulated finish – were hard to come by, jewellers offered copies to fill out specimen sets. These ‘jewellers copies ‘ and later fakes made in the Middle East in the 1950s and 60s may have the like musical composition as the originals though 14 and 18 carat amber replica can besides be found. It’s important to check these pieces carefully before buying .

The ‘Jubilee Head’ Portrait

All coins found in an 1887 proof set sport a newly portrayal of Queen Victoria, introduced in this year. It ‘s one of respective effigies used on british money during her reign. You can read more about these in another article : king Victoria Coinage Portraits : Old, Young, Gothic and More .
The portrayal that appears on 1887 coins is an intricate head-and-shoulders break showing Victoria wearing a obscure, a little pennant and batch of jewels. It ‘s very different to the about un-adorned, neoclassic Young Head, designed by William Wyon but surely shows the same woman, albeit several decades older. The Jubilee Head has lines about her eyes and a bite of a double chin .
Obverse of coins with Jubilee Head in an 1887 Golden Jubilee Specimen Set.
Obverses of coins in an 1887 Golden Jubilee specimen set .
The crown that brushes the edge of the coin is the Small Diamond Crown. Victoria had this made in 1870 as a miniature of the unwieldy Imperial State Crown. As part of the Crown Jewels it ‘s presently on public expose at the Tower of London. The celebrated but ephemeral ‘ gothic Portrait ‘, created for the 1847 silver medal Crown, had shown Victoria with similarly cosmetic headgear but the Jubilee Head would be the first wide issued crowned coinage portrayal of a british sovereign since the reign of King Charles II .
other symbols of department of state besides have in the Jubilee Head portrait. On her breast Victoria wears the Imperial Order of the Crown of Indi a, an order in the british honor system given lone to women that Victoria established when she became Empress of India in 1878. Below that, precisely half cropped by the truncation of the portrait is a Garter Star, a decoration associated with the Most lord ordain of the Garter, a senior order of knighthood, dedicated to St George ( England ‘s patron saint ) that was founded by Edward III in the 1300s .
The decorations orient to the achievements of Victoria ‘s reign american samoa well as the diachronic bequest of monarchy that she embodied. The long lace head covering is a more personal touch : it ‘s a nod to the state of deep morning that she adopted after the end of her consort, Prince Albert, in 1861 .
She would wear her widows weeds until her death .

Joseph Edgar Boehm

The Jubilee Head portrayal was the work of Austrian-born sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm. You can seen his initials – ‘ J.E.B. ‘ – on the truncation of Victoria ‘s shoulder on her Jubilee neologism .
Boehm ‘s far was a decoration manufacturer and director of the Viennese imperial mint but Joseph ‘s peculiarity became portrayal busts. Working in England, he produced sculptures of contemporary notables ampere well as equestrian statues including the repository to the Duke of Wellington that hush stands at Hyde Park Corner. Many of his commissions came from the royal family with whom he had earned considerable favor with projects for Windsor Castle including a memorial to Victoria ‘s far, Prince Edward for St George ‘s Chapel.

Joseph Edgar Boehm in his London studio in 1884 by Joseph Parking Mayall.
Joseph Edgar Boehm in his London studio apartment in 1884 by Joseph Parking Mayall .
The coinage portrayal commission – on a slightly different scale to his more celebrated works – came in February 1879 : years before the Golden Jubilee and was not initially tied to the anniversary. By this orient, William Wyon ‘s Young Head portrayal had been in circulation for more than forty years and Boehm was employed to create a newfangled effigy : a more accurate delineation of a Queen who would celebrate her sixtieth birthday that class .
It seems that Boehm procrastinated the open ended mission, focusing rather on early projects. The models he had produced by 1880 must have bore some resemblance to the finished ferment as the modest crown was commented upon by those who viewed them. multiple patterns were struck over the next few years, some with a larger crown but all failing to meet the approval of Victoria and the Deputy Master of the Royal Mint, Sir Charles Fremantle. In 1884 Boehm sought aid from a former scholar, the Viennese sculptor, Carl Radnitzky. With more revisions, this design was approved with a view to completion in Victoria ‘s Golden Jubilee year. After the Queen ‘s consent was gained Leonard Charles Wyon, son of William, translated Boehm ‘s models into dies .

‘… A Distinct Disfigurement’?

Despite closely a decade of study of the undertaking, royal approval and round of golf after round off of painstaking revisions, the Jubilee Head portrayal was viewed with derision from the day it was unveiled, despite high expectations for the issue .

‘Those who have seen the newly coins are not taken with them ‘

— – freeman ‘s Journal of Dublin, 21 June 1887

‘… they are singularly inadequate in design and feeble in execution. ‘

— – Birmingham Daily Post, 24 June 1887

‘The portrait of the Queen is not a bad likeness, though surely not a pleasing or a dignified one. As to the Crown and the head-dress they are quite unnecessary and a distinct defacement. ‘

— – The Standard ( today ‘s Evening Standard ), 29 June 1887
The bantam crown – though normally worn as pictured by Victoria – was the source of a lot parody : it surely looks ready to topple off her head. It ‘s a combination of this, balanced against the Queen ‘s tucked-in, slightly double-chinned chin, that lends the portrait something of an ‘un-regal ‘ air travel. This is particularly true when compared with the clean-lined Young Head which was distillery very much in circulation and did not need any adornment to create a distinctive and compel trope of the sovereign .
Victoria really did wear a tiny crown and veil, as shown in the Jubilee Head portrait.
Victoria actually did wear a bantam crown and veil, as shown in the Jubilee Head portrait .
unpleasant comments were besides made, placing the blame on commissioning a foreign artist, reflecting criticisms of the work of italian artist Benedetto Pistrucci, made earlier in the hundred .
even the Queen disliked the portrait, despite approving it and sought to have it changed. however, replacing a portrayal that was already in multitude production was no easy feat, so it would not be until after Boehm ‘s death in 1890 that this would be badly considered .

Saints, Fakes and Double Florins

Though it ‘s easy to focus on the obverse portrayal, the reverses of the coins found in 1887 proof sets are similarly fascinating .
several coins in the specimen set, and in the cosmopolitan circulation Jubilee issues feature a historic Saint George and the dragon revoke, including the gold Five Pound, Double Sovereign and ‘full ‘ Sovereign, adenine well as the silver Crown. This effigy will be immediately recognizable to Sovereign collectors as the study of Benedetto Pistrucci. He created this engraving of England ‘s patron ideal for the first modern Sovereigns, issued in 1817. It had disappeared from british neologism for a half century before being revived in 1873 at the abetment of Charles Fremantle. Pistrucci ‘s Saint, mounted on a horse, sword pointed at a huddle dragon, has been a perennial bearing on these aureate coins ever since. You can read more about this design in another Britannia Coin Company article : George and the Dragon : Benedetto Pistrucci ‘s Masterpiece .
The trim and crowned carapace of arms reverse of the 1887 Half Sovereign was alike to former designs used on this gold mint during Victoria ‘s reign. As standard, the value was not mentioned though this practice was extended in this year to the silver Sixpence which bore a superficially like reverse featuring a crown harbor, surrounded by a garter, its topple dividing the date. The Half Sovereign and the Sixpence both measured 19.3 millimeters in diameter and this, plus the lack of a argument of value think of that the latter could be passed off as the former with a bite of gilding. The problem was cursorily recognised and output suspended. Before the end of the year the invert of the Sixpence was changed back to a unambiguous wreath with the words ‘SIX PENCE ‘ in the center .
1887 Sixpences were often gilded to look like Half Sovereigns.
1887 Sixpences ( right ) were much gilded to look like similarly sized Half Sovereigns ( left ) .
The Sixpence was n’t the only contribution of the Golden Jubilee neologism to cause problems. 1887 specimen sets contain a capture mint called the Double Florin, worth Four Shillings. The one in the set will bear a turn back have crowned shields of arms, arranged in a cruciate radiation pattern with sceptres in the angles. The appellation was introduced in this class but was entirely minted until 1890 making it one of the shortest-lived of all british coins. The exit with the Double Florin is its similarity in size to a Five Shilling Crown coin. If you ‘re taking cash in a benighted and dirty victorian public house – so the report goes – you might easily accept a double Florin as a Crown, peculiarly since neither mint was inscribed with their measure. This led to the Double Florin being referred to as ‘Barmaid ‘s Grief ‘ or ‘Barmaid ‘s Ruin ‘ and a crippled in production .
With these controvercies swirling and stay derision of Boehm ‘s Jubilee Head, the Royal Mint appointed a design committee to recommend improvements to the neologism. This group met for the first time in February 1891 and later that year a rival was launched to create a new portrayal for Victoria ‘s neologism. The choose broke was the work of English sculptor and medalist, Sir Thomas Brock and is known to numismatists as the ‘Veiled Head ‘, ‘Old Head ‘ or ‘Widowed Head ‘. This inaugural appeared on british neologism in 1893 alongside new turn back designs which listed the value .
Reverses of Golden Jubilee 1887 Jubilee Head coins.
Reverses of 1887 neologism : compare the size of the Crown ( center right ) and the Double Florin ( immediately left ).

1887 Golden Jubilee specimen sets are a keepsake of a fail but absorbing Victoria experiment. These proof coins give us an penetration into how coinage designs were chosen and how british money was used ( and abused ) in this period. Scroll down for more Jubilee Head coins a well as a excerpt of other jubilee issues .

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