|For centuries, collecting
the largest coins produced by nations and principalities has been a hobby of choice for those wishing to own the finest examples of medallic artistry and having the means to do so. The large space allows the designer to boldly display his skill with intricate detail and realism. Whether it be a dekadrachm from Syracuse, a fine city view thaler from central Europe, or a Bird of Paradise 5 Marks from Papua New Guinea, the finest work of high art comes in large packages. Milled (struck by machine, as opposed to hammered or rolled) coins were largely referred to as 'crowns', because crowns (or those who appropriately fit under them) were engraved on their surfaces.
Collecting the largest in the finest condition available is even more of a challenge, though a crown need not be uncirculated to be a majestic and beautiful representation. Crowns of the world may be accumulated for a few dollars each to thousands of dollars per coin, depending on the condition and date.
Design moved from somewhat arcane to classically artistic near the end of the 19th Century, to rather flat and utilitarian in the mid- to late 20th Century. The collector of these, however, chose to acquire ones around the turn of the century and graded by a renown certification service in Mint State/Proof 66 or better.
1935, Canada issued its first dollar coin
(though a trial or pattern dollar was made
in 1911) to commemorate the silver jubilee
(25th year) of the reign of George V.
The obverse contained the bust of George
V, surrounded by "GEORGIVS V REX IMPERATOR
ANNO REGNI XXV" which roughly translates
"GEORGE THE 5th, KING, EMPEROR FOR THE 25th
YEAR". (Emperor refers to his title as Emperor
of India.) The reverse has a fur
trapper ("voyageur") and Indian guide paddling
their canoe past an islet with trees and the northern lights in the background.
428,707 were struck at the Royal Canadian
Mint in Ottawa.
Shih Kai, whose military portrait adorns
this Chinese dollar from 1914 began a career
in the military and politics that culminated
in his becoming president, and shortly thereafter the self-proclaimed
Emperor of China, which he held for only
83 days. Lack of support forced him to abolish
the Monarchy and return to the presidency,
where he remained until his death a short time
later in June of 1916. This coin, with a limited original mintage of 20,000 commemorated
his founding of the Republic.
to be one of the most beautiful portraits
on a British crown, this "Veiled Head"
design of Victoria was created by Sir Thomas
Brock and appeared in 1893. Benedetto Pistrucci's
popular design of Saint George (the patron
saint of England) slaying the dragon (after
the rescue of a Libyan king's daughter in
the 6th Century) first appeared on coinage
Victoria ruled over Britain between 1837 (at the tender age of 18) until her death in 1901. She married her cousin, Albert, and mourned his death from typhoid for the last 40 years of her life. She was best know for expanding the British Empire to include India, Australia, Canada, and parts of the South Pacific and Africa. This design graced British coinage between 1893 and 1901.
crown-sized 5 franc piece was designed by
Augustin Dupré in 1794 and known as the
Hercules obverse (Hercules wearing the skin
of the Nimean Lion, flanked by allegorical
figures of Liberty and Equality on whose
shoulders he rests his hands in a fraternal
embrace). The motto of the French Republic, "Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité"
frame the three figures. The
reverse has the denomination and date encircled
by branches of olive and oak.
This coin, dated 1873 and struck in Paris
was minted shortly after the Franco-Prussian
War and the end of the Monarchy, when Napoleon
III (Napoleon's nephew) was exiled to England.
1930, Germany's Graf Zeppelin surprised
the world with its commercial round-the-world
flight in only 21 1/3 days. This 5 Mark
crown was issued to both commemorate the
event as well as to help recover some of the costs
incurred from the flight. (The United States
also issued Air Mail stamps to assist in
this venture.) 400,000 were struck at six
mints (this example from the one in Berlin),
mostly as circulation strikes. A small but
undocumented amount was struck as proofs,
this one being a superlative, frosty example.
The year this crown was struck fell seven years after the renown and destructive German hyperinflation and only three years prior to the rise of Adolph Hitler.
||Known as the country of the Mayans, the
obverse of this exceptional peso from Guatemala shows a
seated Liberty with cornucopia and scales,
leaning on a pedestal with the date June 30, 1871 (Date of the revolt for agrarian reform in which Justo Rufino Barrios overthrew the Conservative president, Vicente Cerna). The reverse
displays an olive wreath under two crossed
rifles with bayonets behind a scroll with
"Libertad 15 Septembre 1821", the date Guatemala
declared its independence from Spain. The
year (1894) and fineness (900) appear at
the bottom. Nearly 1.7 million were struck.
1870, one of the results of the 'Meiji Restoration'
was a move to modern decimal coinage. Through
the Emperor Meiji's reign, which ran from 1868 to 1912,
beautiful coinage based on the Yen denomination was created,
designed by Kano Natsuo and struck in Osaka
from British coining presses purchased in
Hong Kong. The obverse displayed a stylized
dragon holding a treasure sphere, with "Great
Japan - Meiji 27 - 416 (grains of pure silver)
- One Yen - 900 (fineness)" surrounding
it. The reverse has 'One Yen' in kanji within
a wreath topped by the country flower, the
Chrysanthemum. Many circulated as trade
coinage in Hong Kong and China.|
This particular piece, one of 22 million dated Meiji 27 (1894) was struck the year the Sino (China)-Japanese War began (ending 9 months later with Japan victorious).
||Designed by the French artist Charles Pillet, the majestic "Caballito" (little horse) peso of Mexico was coined to commemorate the Independence Centenary, which is commonly known as "Grito de Dolores" (Cry of Delores), honoring the first revolt against the Spanish in 1810.
The obverse shows "Freedom" represented by a feminine figure on horseback, holding a
laurel branch with her right hand and a torch in her left. The reverse has the Mexico Coat of Arms: An eagle on cactus with a snake in its beak.|
This gem example is dated 1913, and is one of 2.88 million struck. It was in this year that the newly elected President of Mexico, Francisco Madero was assassinated and a repressive dictator, Victoriano Huerta seized power for all of one year before being forced into exile.
||This outstanding Peruvian Sol was struck in Lima in 1914. The obverse shows Liberty seated holding a phrygian cap on a pole. On Liberty's right hand there is a shield with a sun ("sol") which was worshipped by the Incas. The message "Firme Y Feliz Por La Union" ("Firm and Happy for the Union") surrounds Liberty.
The reverse Coat of Arms was created by
José Gregorio Paredes. The field is divided
into three sections: The vicuña, the national
animal of Peru; a quina tree, the national
tree of Peru; and below, a cornucopia with gold
coins inside, representing the mineral richness
of the country. Surrounding the Arms is
"Republica Peruana (Republic of Peru) Lima
Fine Decimos Puro (9/10ths Fine) Y.J. (assayer's
||When silver mining interests were threatened with lower demand from the U.S. Mint due to a reduction in coin production, the Bland-Allison Act was railroaded through Congress, guaranteeing a steady demand for silver in the form of minted dollars. Over 500 million dollars were struck between 1878 and 1904, and due to limited demand by the public, most of these were stored in bank vaults. Some dates and mint marks are quite rare, but as a whole, the Morgan dollar is relatively common.
George T. Morgan created the obverse and
reverse designs. This gem example was one of 8.9 million struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1880.
Standard Catalog of World Crowns and Thalers
Krause Publications - 1994