Coins Commemorating the Magna Carta’s 800th Anniversary
The Magna Carta is celebrating its 800th birthday this year. To mark the historic occasion the United Kingdom, Australia and several other countries are minting commemorative coins.
The Magna Carta was executed on a field in Runnymede in 1215 after an assembly of English barons demanded that King John recognize their rights as well as the limitations on his power. The assembly demanded the rights be memorialized in a written document, which could be read by freemen throughout the British Empire. The Magna Carta is widely regarded on both sides of the pond as the single most important document in the history of democracy.
The Royal Australian Mint is marking the milestone with its first rectangular coin. The $5 collectable silver coin features an intricate inscription in Latin, derived from the 1297 Inspeximus issue of the Magna Carta housed at the Australian Parliament House. It reads: “We furthermore grant and give to all the free men of our realm for ourselves and our heirs in perpetuity the liberties written below to have and to hold to them and their heirs from us and our heirs in perpetuity.”
According to Royal Australian Mint Chief Executive Officer Mr. Ross MacDiarmid, the coin needed to reflect the significance of the historic document. “As the first rectangular Australian legal tender coin ever produced by the Royal Australian Mint, this piece not only marks an important milestone in minting history, but it also provides a special hands-on personal experience that encourages people to really immerse themselves in the significance and importance of this anniversary,” said Mr. MacDiarmid.
Only 10,000 coins will be minted. They will be sold for $120 and can be purchased on the Mint’s eShop: https://eshop.ramint.gov.au.
The Royal Mint also recently announced the creation of precious metal versions of the United Kingdom’s official coin to mark the Magna Carta’s monumental anniversary. In the Royal Mint’s press release, the Director of Commemorative Coin and Medals, Shane Bissett, stated: “The Royal Mint has been making currency for the kings and queens of this country for over 1,000 years, and has a long tradition of marking significant moments in history on the nation’s coins. It is therefore apt that The Royal Mint is marking this significant occasion with the creation of the Magna Carta coin.”
Artist John Bergdahl designed the coin, which features King John himself with a bishop and a baron, all of whom were key figures in the formation of the historical document. According to Bergdahl, inspiration also came from the medieval art of the time. He explains, “I was influenced by the art of the medieval period, which was quite uncomplicated and crude, and the ornate cornice and rose carvings echo the architecture of the era reflecting the time the Magna Carta was created. The inscription uses medieval-style font that surrounds the design as the inscription on King John’s royal seal did in the middle ages.”
The precious metal coins will be struck in limited Gold Proof (400 coins), Silver Proof (3,000 coins) and Silver Proof Piedfort (2,000 coins) editions. Meanwhile, circulating coins to commemorate the anniversary are expected to appear later this year.