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Britain's Baby Coin May Start Tradition
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
August 22, 2013

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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For centuries German talers have celebrated coronations and their anniversaries, marriages, deaths, birthdays, baptisms, military victories and their anniversaries, and even Sede Vacante situations.

Likewise, Britain has issued commemorative coins marking birthdays, deaths, marriages, coronations, and their anniversaries. Great Britain has gone one step further, issuing annual Maundy coinage presented to selected pensioners. Currently the number of recipients selected is based on the age of the reigning monarch.

Many countries have celebrated political and military events or their anniversaries. While Philip II of Macedon (Alexander “the Great’s” father) celebrated his horses’ victories in the Olympics, the Roman Emperor Caligula celebrated his lust for his sister’s on a coin!

Well, it now appears the British may be ready to commence yet another unique but much more pleasant numismatic tradition than perhaps Caligula would have selected.

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The brilliance in the concept of issuing an extremely limited commemorative silver penny to mark the birth of the presumed future royal heir is not only of interest due to the specific coin, but because of the potential tradition it suggests for the future. The coin also closely shadows some classic superstitions surrounding money.

One superstition suggests that a coin should be placed in the hand of a baby. If the baby tenaciously holds the coin the baby is anticipated to grow up to be tight fisted with money. Should the baby quickly drop the coin, then it is anticipated as an adult this individual will become a spendthrift.

Another superstition suggests that crossing the palm of a newborn baby with silver will wish that child wealth and good health throughout his or her life.

While no country has yet decided to issue a coin meant for the tooth fairy to put under the pillow of a child in exchange for baby teeth, the new British coin may give coin issuing entities elsewhere new ideas for future emissions.

The British Maundy coin tradition has been around for centuries. Initially the coins were meant to replace a gift of clothing and other items to selected needy persons at the time of the annual Easter celebration on Maundy Thursday. The number of both men and women selected to receive this limited edition coin set is currently based on the age of the reigning monarch. The monarch or the monarch’s representative presents the coins in a rather formal and official ceremony.

The new British coin marking the birth of the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is a modern concept in more ways than one. Not only is this a unique idea, but the way the coins can be obtained is also thoroughly modern. Any woman in Great Britain who fulfills the requirement of having her child born on the same day as that of the child of the prince and countess does not have to attend a centuries old ceremony. Original thinking once more prevails. The coin can conveniently be requested through the British Royal Mint’s Facebook page.

There is one big difference between the Maundy issues and the baby coin. The Maundy issues are presented gratis. Anyone requesting the new coin will be required to pay £28 (about $40 U.S.) for the honor. Of course, who knows what such a baby birth coin will sell for later in coin collecting circles?



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