Author Topic: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics  (Read 245898 times)

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Offline <k>

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King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« on: November 25, 2011, 08:19:21 PM »



From Wikipedia:

Edward VIII, later The Duke of Windsor, was born in 1894 and died in 1972. He was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936. Before his accession to the throne Edward, as Prince of Wales, was associated with a succession of older, married women but remained unmarried.

Only months into his reign, Edward caused a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to the American socialite Wallis Simpson, who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second. The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions opposed the marriage, arguing that the people would never accept a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands as queen. Additionally, such a marriage would have conflicted with Edward's status as head of the Church of England, which opposed the remarriage of divorced people if their former spouses were still alive. Edward, who knew that the government led by British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin would resign if the marriage went ahead, abdicated. He was succeeded by his younger brother Albert, who chose the regnal name George VI. With a reign of 326 days, Edward was one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British and Commonwealth history. He was never crowned.

After his abdication, he was created Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis Simpson in France on 3 June 1937, after her second divorce became final. Later that year, the couple toured Germany. During the Second World War, he was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France but, after private accusations that he held Nazi sympathies, moved to the Bahamas after his appointment as Governor. After the war, he was never given another official appointment and spent the remainder of his life in retirement in France.

 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:30:54 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2011, 08:22:11 PM »



I used to think that Edward VIII was a numismatic non-entity, notable only for the fantasies, such as the one illustrated here, that were produced after his death, and his scarce pattern threepences. After all, due to his very short reign, no coins bearing his image were ever circulated. However, in recent months I have revised my opinion, and though I consider Edward VIII to have been a rather vain and shallow person, he did have some modernising and democratic instincts, and I now realise that his decisions as king had a profound effect on the coinage of King George VI.



EDWARD VIII: CROWNED AND UNCROWNED EFFIGIES

During the reign of George V, pressure grew throughout the Dominions for them to be allowed, like Britain, to use the uncrowned effigy. After all, they were now equal to Britain (even if Britain was, as head of the Empire, still first among equals), yet their coinage still resembled that of the colonies in being required to use the crowned head. Curiously, a system that had developed for very practical reasons was now seen as symbolic of a hierarchy, and the Dominions were keen to see their new status acknowledged on that most visible of national symbols, the coinage. However, George V died in January 1936, without their wish having been realised.

That was soon to change, and evidence for this can be found in an old Royal Mint document. Edward VIII acceded to the throne on 20th January 1936, and on 21st February 1936, Sir Robert Johnson, the Deputy Mint Master, wrote the following letter to the South African High Commissioner:

“When the Union Government [of South Africa] started to issue a currency of their own, the question arose as to whether the Royal Effigy should show the civil head, as in this country, or the crowned head as in all other parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The feeling in South Africa was rather strongly in favour of the civil head, but in deference to the personal views of King George V on this matter, they agreed to allow the crowned effigy to appear on his coins for the Union. I have now taken the opportunity to raise this question afresh and have today received the King's commands to the effect that he would wish every Dominion to say which effigy, crowned or uncrowned, they would desire to see on the new coins. Not only so, but he wished me specially to add that, so far as he personally was concerned, he would like to see them adopt the civil head in future. I thought your own government would like to have early information on a point which, I feel sure, will give them great satisfaction.”

No doubt Sir Robert wrote a similar letter to the representatives of the other Dominions. It is now clear that, in having previously denied the uncrowned effigy to the Dominions, the Royal Mint had deferred to the wishes of George V. Unfortunately, I have never found any record of that king’s precise opinions on this issue.
For Britain, 1936 was the year of the three kings: George V had died on 20th January, to be succeeded by Edward VIII, who subsequently abdicated on the 11th December, after refusing to give up his relationship with Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. Here is a letter from Sir Robert Johnson, Deputy Master of the Royal Mint, dated 21st December 1936, to one of the Palace officials, enquiring about the wishes of the new king, George VI:

“As you know, it was King Edward VIII's decision that whereas hitherto the coinage for the Dominions showed crowned effigies of the Sovereign, these should in future show the uncrowned head as at home and that the crowned head should in future be used only on the coinage of India and of the colonies and dependencies of the Crown. This decision was very popular throughout the Dominions and in the main it distinguishes His Majesty's subjects of European from those of non-European origin.

I should be grateful if I might be informed as early as ever possible whether, as I assume will be the case, this decision is to be maintained for the new reign.”

As we now know, that decision was indeed implemented. The great surprise is that the change was initiated by Edward VIII, whom I had always regarded as being of minimal importance in numismatics. After all, due to his very short reign, no coins bearing his image were ever circulated – though a few trials were minted, and plenty of fantasy pieces were afterwards released onto the market. The radically new coin series eventually issued for George VI, with its ship halfpenny, wren farthing and thrift plant threepence (brass and 12-sided), also had its origins in Edward’s desire for more modern designs. Perhaps, then, it is time to reappraise that monarch’s contribution to numismatics.

Nowadays the stated policy of distinguishing Europeans from non-Europeans appears overtly racist. And it was not entirely true: Jersey, as a Crown Dependency, was still required to use the crowned effigy. What would its almost uniformly white inhabitants have thought, in those days, about being lumped in with India and Africa? On the other hand, the Dominions were now, numismatically at least, regarded as equals with Britain, so the policy had both a democratising and an anti-democratic side.

 
 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 02:12:01 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2011, 08:26:02 PM »
Once Edward became king, he made it clear that he was very keen to modernise the coinage of the United Kingdom. The results were a bit of a mixed bag: the wren on the farthing, the Golden Hind ship on the halfpenny and stylised thrift plant on the threepence were most definitely, for the very conservative Britain of the times, radically modern designs. 






Thrift plant.





 

Wren.






Golden Hind.

 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 02:12:37 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2011, 08:28:46 PM »
Unfortunately, the designs for the sixpence, shilling, florin and half crown remained resolutely heraldic. Looking at them now, it is clear that the designs for the lower denominations and higher denominations belonged to two different conceptual sets. This becomes even clearer when you look at the proposed set that the farthing came from.



 



 



 

 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:36:47 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2011, 08:31:15 PM »
However, without Edward’s influence, it is likely that the designs of the British coinage would have been uniformly old-fashioned and heraldic, and the reverse designs for the farthing, halfpenny and penny were retained not just in the reign of George VI, but to the end of the pre-decimal system, under Elizabeth II. Whether George VI would, of his own accord, have shown an interest in modern coin design is something we do not know, but there is nothing in his history that suggests he would have. Moreover, George was more accepting of tradition than his elder brother and never keen to “rock the boat”. So it seems that, because of George VI’s decision to retain these three designs, Edward’s desire to modernise the coinage came partly true in the 1930s.

Offline <k>

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2011, 08:40:26 PM »
Some patterns from Edward's reign still exist, so we can get an idea of what his coinage might have looked like. Possibly most famous is his brass threepence, some of which were sent out to vending machine manufacturers as trials. Not all of these were returned, and a handful subsequently turned up in auctions! In the 1990s I read that one had sold for 25 thousand UK pounds sterling!

Edward famously refused to face in the opposite direction to his father on his coins, as tradition demanded, and insisted that his left side looked better in portraits. Was this purely vanity, or perhaps a desire to defy tradition?

In any case, in the reign of George VI the brass threepenny bit proved to be a very popular coin, as the public found the much smaller and thinner silver threepence an inconvenient coin, which was very easily lost. It was last minted in 1970, a year before decimalisation - another example of Edward's lasting influence on the coinage.

As you can see, Edward's pattern threepence came in two varieties.









 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:38:55 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2011, 08:45:48 PM »
Pattern crowns, half crowns and pennies also exist. The official uncrowned effigy of Edward was created by Humphrey Paget, who also went on to design the famous uncrowned effigy of George VI.













 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:41:16 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2011, 08:49:03 PM »
William McMillan, a Royal Academician, was also asked to prepare a portrait of Edward. It is seen here on a trial uniface half crown. Apparently the king thought it looked rather stern, and he preferred Paget's more flattering effigy.










This is Humphrey Paget's portrait of the king, with a pattern reverse for the half crown by George Kruger-Gray.

Images courtesy of Numismaster





The silver and brass threepence coins circulated side by side for some years. Here is a pattern threepence created for Edward. A similar sixpence pattern was created (not illustrated) showing six interlocking rings. The rings on the sixpence remind me of the Olympics logo, and perhaps it is not a coincidence that the Olympic games took place in 1936.

Images courtesy of Numismaster

 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:46:18 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2011, 08:51:29 PM »
Trials were also made for commemorative coronation coins and medals. Here you see the crowned and uncrowned effigies of Edward.



 

 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:46:50 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2011, 09:01:09 PM »
Though no coin bearing the portrait of Edward VIII was ever officially circulated, in the UK or anywhere else, coins bearing his name were issued, dated 1936, for Fiji, New Guinea, and the currency unions of East Africa and British West Africa.






Fiji issued a penny in his name.






New Guinea also issued a penny in his name.






British West Africa issued a 1/10 penny, a halfpenny, and a penny in Edward's name.






East Africa issued a 5 cents and 10 cents coin in Edward's name.


 
 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:57:24 PM by <k> »

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2011, 09:02:42 PM »
The Indian states of Jodhpur, Jaipur and Kutch also issued coins in Edward's name, in the local script.



Our member Figleaf has kindly provided images of some of the coins from Kutch:



These images show a silver 5 kori of 1936/1992 (Y67). On the obverse (left) you can see, within a circle, a moon above a trident and a katar (dagger), and in Nagari lettering "kori panch/Kuch Bhuj/1992" (denomination, state, mint, date). Around, outside the circle, are the name and titles of the ruler: Maharaja Dhiraj Mirjan Maharao Sri Khengarji Bahadur. The text in the centre of the reverse, in Urdu characters, is "Edward 8 kaisar Hind zarb Bhuj 1936" (Edward VIII, emperor of India, struck at Bhuj 1936). The one and 2-1/2 kori only have a different denomination and size, but are otherwise similar.





This is the name of the king as it appears on the coins.





These images show a copper 3 dokda (singular: dokdo) 1936/1993 (Y63). The image below shows a trident in the centre, above a Nagari text: "tran dokda 1993" (denomination, date). The circular legend reads: "Maharao Sri Khengarji Savai Bahadur". Between the stars below is Kutch. On the upper image is a katar above the date 1936. Below between the stars is "zarb Bhuj" (struck at Bhuj); above is "Edward 8 kaisar Hind"  (Edward VIII emperor of India).



More images found by Figleaf: these coins of 1936 are from Jaipur and in the name of Edward VIII.





 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 01:06:29 PM by <k> »

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2011, 09:04:07 PM »
Edward's portrait did appear on Britain's stamps, in considerable numbers, and they are not expensive to buy. Only four of his stamps were ever issued.
 


 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:59:04 PM by <k> »

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2011, 09:05:48 PM »
There are also many essays of stamps for Edward that were never issued. Here is just part of one set.



 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:59:25 PM by <k> »

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Re: King Edward VIII: His Place in Numismatics
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2011, 09:46:25 PM »
After Edward VIII abdicated, the new king, and especially his wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (better known to us as the late Queen Mother), made it clear that he was not well seen by them, or by the Establishment at large. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that history has taken a dim view of him, given that the powerful reigning Windsor dynasty turned against him. After all, was it really so awful that he gave up the throne for the woman he loved, and stayed with her till the end of his life? Of course, it might also have been considered noble for him to have given up his love in favour of his duty to his country. But after he abdicated, there was another king to take his place - though we know that initially the new king did not feel at ease with his new destiny.

In 1937, as Duke of Windsor, Edward, along with Wallis Simpson, notoriously paid a visit to Hitler. With hindsight we can criticise him for this, but we can also say that, while he may at times have been vain or even foolish in his later life, he was not fundamentally a bad or evil person, and he also had the propaganda of the Windsor dynasty to cope with. But however we may judge him as a person, it is clear now that the decisions he made as king had a profound effect on the coinage of Britain and its Empire, with the result that his numismatic legacy was considerably longer lasting than the ten months of his short reign.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 08:00:59 PM by coffeetime »