The Royal British Mint recently unveiled the third in a series of medals which are created to showcase the skill and craftsman ship of Royal Mint engravers. The gold and silver medals for this year are designed by Lee Robert Jones and inspired by the legend of King Arthur.
The obverse of the medal depicts Arthur as a Warrior King defeating the Saxons as Merlin stands in the background. The battlefield is shown with mist and smoke rising into the air and the dragon flags planted by the cavalry symbolizing victory. The reverse depicts Arthur as a wounded and defeated King offering his sword Excalibur to his Knight Bedivere. In the background appear Arthur’s wife Guinevere embracing Lancelot and Arthur’s half sister Morgana holding her staff with a raven atop.
Both the gold and silver medals feature the same intricate design and are struck in high relief. Both are oversized to provide a large canvas for the work. The .999 silver coin has a weight of 250 grams (8.04 troy ounces) and diameter of 80 mm. The .999 gold coin has a weight of 313 grams (10.06 troy ounces) and diameter of 65 mm.
As might be expected, these are extremely limited in mintage and premium priced. The silver medal has an issue limit of 500 and is £695.00, and the gold medal has a limit of just 25 and is priced at £23,500.00. The product pages can be found here and here.
What I like most about these medals and why I wanted to highlight them is the concept of the series. Coin design can be restrained by legal or other requirements for the depiction, the specifications of the particular series, and/or the inclusion of required inscriptions. This of course comes with the medium, but it is great to see the artists work in a format ideally suited to showcasing skill and craftsmanship.
From the Royal Mint’s own description of the Masterpiece series:
The Masterpiece is defined by attention to detail at every level; the medal is always highly intricate and immaculately struck to a high relief. The intention is to embody the history and heritage of the specialist art of engraving, the result of originality coupled with the quality of execution.