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Numismatic Angle to Royal Watching
By David C. Harper, World Coin News
August 15, 2013

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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The British royal baby watch has ended and the numismatic royal baby watch has begun. I am sure the story by Kerry Rodgers on Page 1 is only the first of what likely will be many in the pages of World Coin News.

Newly arrived Prince George of Cambridge, full name George Alexander Louis, will be widely followed. Of that we can all be certain.

I expect I will find that information about him will slowly be drilled into my head for easy retrieval. Even in the age of the internet it still is faster if you learn things so you do not have to look them up.

For Prince George’s father, it was made a bit easier for me because Prince William’s full name, William Arthur Philip Louis, just happened to match the call letters of a local radio station. That tidbit worked its way into my memory in 1982 and it is still there, occasionally popping out in the context of coins of the British Royal Family.

Organizing coin collections by monarch is one of the most popular organizational themes in numismatics. Collecting the coins of Queen Elizabeth II has been a staple for my entire life. Her reign began before I was born. She probably will set a longevity record before her time on the throne is over. The question, of course is will it be a record for just Great Britain or for the wider world as well?

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She has nearly reached the 63-year milestone set by Queen Victoria, which will be reached in 2015. At this point, it looks like a slam dunk, to use a decidedly unroyal metaphor from basketball.

Monarchs who took the throne as children had a head start in the longevity tables. King Louis XVI of France holds the record with an incredible reign of 72 years and all of the coins that go with it. He became king when he was 4 years old.

Queen Elizabeth II had no such advantage. When her reign began in 1952, she was already nearly 26 years of age. However, as head of the British Empire and the Commonwealth, her coins probably vastly outnumber already that of any other monarch.

But another 11 years in Buckingham Palace will give Queen Elizabeth II both the longevity title as reigning monarch and probably another volume’s worth of Standard Catalog of World Coins entries.

It is the latter part that I count on. More coins mean more news. More news means more to tell readers of World Coin News. The best part is I do not have to stake out maternity hospitals as other journalists have done to fulfill my obligation to readers.

Will coins still be in use by the time Prince George takes the throne? That is an interesting question.

I expect that whatever advancement occurs in terms of making payments for purchases, coins will always have a place, even another three royal generations down he line. However, they might take on the aspect of Maundy money, something that has no reason to presently exist other than tradition.

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