Author Topic: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac  (Read 560 times)

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King Edward VIII.



On January 20, 1936, King Edward VIII acceded to the throne. His was a short reign. His desire to marry an American divorcee was considered unacceptable in those days, so he abdicated on December 11, 1936 and was afterwards known as the Duke of Windsor. His influence on the British coinage was, however, much longer lasting.

While King, he had granted the self-governing Dominions (nowadays termed Commonwealth Realms), namely Australia, New Zeeland, Canada and South Africa, the right to use the monarch’s uncrowned effigy on their future coins, in order to distinguish them from those of the British colonies, which were required to use the crowned effigy. Previously only the UK had allowed itself this privilege, but Edward considered himself to be a moderniser. He also wanted to modernise British coin design itself, and although no circulating British or Commonwealth coins were issued with his portrait, the changes that he initiated were adopted by King George VI, resulting in modern thematic designs for the farthing, halfpenny and brass threepence, being respectively a wren, Francis Drake’s ship, Golden Hind, and a thrift plant.
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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2021, 02:59:20 PM »


The UK wren farthing, introduced in 1937.



Less well known are the other designs considered for Edward’s coinage that were ultimately not chosen. The standard work on these designs is the booklet published in 1973, the year after the death of the Duke of Windsor, entitled The proposed coinage of King Edward VIII. It was written by Graham Dyer, OBE, with the approval of Her Majesty the Queen. Mr Dyer was at that time Librarian and Curator for the Royal Mint, but since his retirement in 2003, he has held the part-time position of Senior Research Curator at the Royal Mint. His booklet illustrates a proposed design series by an artist named Wilson-Parker to which he ascribes the theme of “Royal Animals”. Those designs featured a wren, a swan, a sturgeon, a dove and an eagle. Though both the King and the Royal Mint greatly admired these designs, ultimately they felt unable to sanction such a radical departure from tradition. However, the wren design was thought too good to lose and was adopted for the farthing in George VI’s reign, though originally it had been envisaged for the reverse of the half-crown. Anybody looking at the wren design, nestling among the various heraldic designs of the issued coinage of 1937, might imagine it came from a different conceptual set, and that was indeed the case.
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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2021, 03:03:50 PM »


From "The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser" of the 18th February 1937.



Mr Dyer tells us elsewhere in his pamphlet, “The sea was thought to provide possibilities for the coinage of a maritime nation, but in the event the Committee took a dislike to sea horses, tridents and anchors”. The Committee was the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, which since 1922 has examined proposed coin designs for the Royal Mint. The pamphlet does not include images of any such designs, yet an article of February 18, 1937 in the Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser does allude
to them. It states:

When at the death of George V the question of coinage was being considered by the Mint Committee, King Edward VIII expressed a wish for the complete breakaway from the traditional designs of
the previous reign and asked for something new and modern in spirit. The Mint Committee therefore asked a number of artists to submit designs embodying the King’s wishes. Sir Robert Johnson, the Deputy Master of the Mint, it is gathered, was particularly enthusiastic about the opportunity for introducing a new spirit into the national coinage. Eventually Mr Edmund Dulac, whose design for the King’s poetry medal of 1935 was considered by Sir George Hill [Director of the British Museum] to be the best English medal produced in recent years, was told that his designs were approved and he was commissioned to proceed with models. Mr Dulac accordingly produced models of the crown, half-crown, florin, shilling and sixpence, and the die for the reverse of the half-crown was actually cut—a design of a seahorse surrounded by waves and surmounted by the royal crown. The reverse of the two-shilling piece showed the rose, shamrock and thistle growing from a central stem, while that of the shilling was based on an arrangement of wings. The Mint Committee, on second thoughts, presumably shocked by the very novelty for which they had been seeking, then decided that Mr Dulac’s designs were unsuitable on the grounds that they were neither sufficiently British nor sufficiently heraldic.
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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2021, 03:09:50 PM »


Edmund Dulac in 1914.



Edmund Dulac was born in Toulouse, France in 1882. Intensely Anglophile, he settled in London in 1904 and took British citizenship in 1912. He made his living by producing lavish illustrations for high quality publications. It is curious that Mr Dyer did not include in his booklet any illustrations of Mr Dulac’s proposed coin designs of 1936, since plaster models and even electrotypes were produced from some of his sketches. Dulac’s proposed seahorse for the half-crown, of which he drew two versions, might be considered the most successful of his designs. It was not a zoological seahorse but a mythical one, being a horse’s body blended with the tail of a fish. His crown (five shillings) design was more traditional, showing an English lion standing on the royal crown. His florin featured heavily stylised versions of a rose, thistle and shamrock. His half-crown design consisted of a royal crown above an ornate monogram of Edward’s initials. One of Dulac’s shilling designs presumably features the arrangement of wings referenced in the aforementioned article. The wings are highly stylised, and for some reason Dulac showed them as appearing to emerge from equally stylised waves. The threepence and sixpence designs, being intended for smaller coins, include in one case only the relevant denominations and a repeat of the stylised waves seen on the seahorse design, but attractive seashells grace the second of his sixpence designs. How modern Dulac’s designs might have appeared in 1936 is difficult to say. Certainly, they looked very different in style from any British coin designs of that period. My own view is that the motifs clustered around the inner rim made the designs look too busy. A cleaner, less cluttered look would have been more attractive.

Perhaps Dulac’s designs, with their busy decorative motifs around the edges, would have looked better on stamps. The exposure of his artistic talents to the Establishment clearly did him no harm, because in short order he did indeed go on to design various stamps for the General Post Office, as the stamp collectors among you will know. He designed the UK stamp commemorating the Coronation of King George VI that was issued on 13 May 1937, as well as the standard portrait of George VI that appeared on Britain’s definitive stamps thereafter. Mr Dulac died in May 1953, aged 70.
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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2021, 03:16:26 PM »


Edmund Dulac's threepence and sixpence designs with decorative motifs.

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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2021, 03:24:51 PM »


Another sixpence design variation.





A sixpence design with seashells.


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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2021, 03:33:13 PM »


A shilling design with wings.


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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2021, 03:34:39 PM »


A florin design with stylised rose, thistle and shamrock.


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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2021, 03:38:28 PM »


Florin design variation.


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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2021, 03:39:44 PM »


Half crown design with a mythical seahorse: a horse with the tail of a fish.


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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2021, 03:40:26 PM »


Half crown design variation with crown.


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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2021, 03:45:24 PM »


Heraldic half crown design.





Another heraldic half crown design.

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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2021, 03:49:24 PM »


Heraldic crown design.





Another heraldic crown design.

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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2021, 03:51:55 PM »


Crown design with heraldic lion.


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Re: King Edward VIII: the unadopted coin designs of Edmund Dulac
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2021, 03:55:08 PM »


An electrotype of the seahorse half crown.

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