Rare British 1950 Pattern Crown Graded by NGC
UK planned to release new crown coins in 1951 after a 13-year gap. The coins were to be struck in copper-nickel and the earlier issues were minted in silver. The edge inscription features the Festival of Britain, an exhibition that was going to be held in that year.
Due to the new composition and edge lettering, a lot of tests needed to be performed. This resulted in several ‘pattern’ and ‘trial’ coins. In most cases, these kinds of coins are destructed. Two 1950 Crown Patterns exist today making them extremely rareThe use of a new composition as well as the addition of edge lettering made it necessary for the Royal Mint to conduct extensive tests. Coins that are struck to test a new design or composition are called “patterns”, while coins that are struck to test dies are called “trials”. This distinction can be difficult to make, however, when the mint is testing all of the above, as was the case with the 1950 Pattern Crowns.
These trial coins were first reported by Stephen Hill in the Numismatic Circular in October 1998. They were probably saved from destruction by some Mint worker and today they reveal a lot about how the Royal Mint functioned in the 20th century. Two of the 1950 Crown Patterns, however, are now known to exist in private collections, and one was recently submitted to NGC for authentication and grading.The 1950 Crown patterns were struck before the 1951 Festival of Britain dies were completed. The Royal Mint, therefore, used leftover 1937 Crown obverse and reverse dies as well as an edge lettering collar that had been used to strike Maria Theresa Thaler restrikes in the 1940s. This odd pairing was likely one of convenience; the Royal Mint simply needed a collar that fit the diameter of the crown dies.
Besides its unusual edge, this test piece also features the number “120” delicately etched into the obverse field in front of King George’s face. This number was hand-engraved by Royal Mint staff after the piece was made to represent the tonnage setting of the press used to strike it. This engraving helped the workers differentiate between the various test pieces.