Astonishing History Captured By Coins

Aside from their value and rarity, coins are so collectable and captivating because of the history they hold. Their origin, age and story often illustrate and tell a tale of exceptional and extraordinary events.

Today, we’ll be exploring a series of coins, which have captured and commemorated some fascinating moments in history.

The Falklands Liberation

The Falklands Liberation Day marks the end of the Falklands War on June 14, 1982.

Also known as the Falklands Conflict, the Falklands War was a ten-week warfare between Argentina and the United Kingdom over two British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

In April 1982, Argentina invaded the UK ruled Falkland Islands in the hope that by reclaiming sovereignty of the islands, they would divert public attention away from the country’s economic crisis and civil unrest.

Argentina had long claimed these islands as part of its territory, and in an attempt to cement this, landed 3,000 Argentine Special Forces at Port Stanley, the islands’ capital, capturing the islands two days later. In response, the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dispatched a task force to reclaim the islands. A decision had been backed in an emergency meeting of both the cabinet and the House of Commons.

On 14 June 1982, the conflict ended with the surrender of Argentina and the announcement of Britain as the victor.

It was an event that had a lasting impact on gender politics, Latin American History and British industry, and which tragically saw the loss of 655 Argentine, 255 British and three Falklands civilian lives.

In honour of the Falklands Liberation Day, Pobjoy Mint in a partnership with the Falkland Islands have released a unique collection of the anniversary coins that can be viewed and purchased here.

To commemorate the 35th Anniversary of the Falklands war, Pobjoy Mint have also produced the unique ‘Lest We Forget’ Poppy coin in honour of the soldiers that gave their lives for the sovereignty of Britain. Purchase here.

Challenge Coins

Challenge coins are small coins or medallions that are used within military ranks. Carried by members of US, Canadian, British, German, and Australian military forces as a symbol of pride, unit identity and brotherhood.

This unique tradition brings together a number of custom coins that have been minted for military units – each bearing their own respected symbols and mottos – that are often passed by secret handshake.

The history states that the challenge coins were initially used in the Roman Empire, where they have been given to soldiers to recognise their hard work and achievements. Later on, challenge coins were used as military identity discs during World War I when, before the entry of the US into the war in 1917, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons.

A popular legend tells that in one unit, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his pilots.

One of them decided to place his medallion in a small leather pouch and then wrapped it around his neck. During his next mission, ground fire damaged the pilot’s aircraft and he was forced to land in the German territory, their enemy.  The German patrol took all the pilot’s personal identification, except for his pouch, which he had soon needed to survive in a French colony, where he escaped once the German facility got attacked by British forces. Unfortunately, the pilot’s American accent hasn’t been recognised by the French who thought him to be a saboteur and the pilot was sentenced to execution. Luckily, the French captors recognised the American insignia on the pilot’s military identity disc and delayed the execution long enough to validate his identity.

To memorialise the periods of WWI and WWII, Pobjoy Mint offer a range of the historical coins made of materials such as Sterling Siler, Cupro Nickel, and Bi-Metal. View the range here.

Greek Numismatics

When there is not much evidence available, using coins as a source of historical knowledge makes sense.

A great example of numismatics that tell a story are coins that were in circulation during the Hellenistic age, which covers the period of Mediterranean history and usually considered to stretch from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC to the defeat of Cleopatra in 31 BC.

The Hellenistic age saw the globalisation of Greek culture, with the Greek language being introduced and spoken in the Ukraine, Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan and Bahrain. As the Greek empire had expanded into Egypt during the Hellenistic era, the rules of what the coinage would represent and how it was made went through some significant changes.

Greek numismatics, which primarily used deities, heroes and their attributes were replaced with coins that illustrated portraits of their leaders, including Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), who became king of Macedon in 336 BC. Hellenistic coins were also handmade, and were produced out of gold, silver, and electrum (a naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold).

As there is not much data of Hellenistic history (few sources from the period survived), coins play a significant role in establishing what went on. In fact, a number of the great Hellenistic kingdoms are only known from their coins-issues alone: the Greco-Macedonian kingdom of in Northern Afganistan and central Asia, and the Indo-Greek kingdom, in modern Pakistan.