The coronation of King Charles III was on the 6th of May 2023. There was no shortage of commemorative souvenirs available made by many different organisations, both official and less so. I picked this piece up from Downies purely because I like the coronation emblem and the cypher featured on it. Here is the Coronation emblem:
From Royal.uk: “The emblem pays tribute to The King’s love of the natural world, unifying the flora of the four nations of the United Kingdom; the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales and the shamrock of Northern Ireland. Together, the flowers create the shape of St Edward’s Crown, with which His Majesty The King will be crowned during the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, 6th May. The emblem has been designed using the red, white and blue of the union flag.”
And the cypher side:
Again from Royal.uk: “The cypher is the Sovereign’s monogram, consisting of the initials of the monarch’s name, Charles, and title, Rex – Latin for King, alongside a representation of the Crown.”
A design like that is often called a “monogram”, but there is a difference between a monogram and a cypher. From Project Gutenberg: “A Monogram is a combination of two or more letters, in which one letter forms part of another and cannot be separated from the whole. A Cypher is merely an interlacing or placing together of two or more letters, being in no way dependent for their parts on other of the letters.” The Postal Museum, as well as having some neat images and history, has a handy picture of these two post marks which neatly illustrates the difference between a cypher and a monogram:
On the left is Queen Victoria’s monogram. Note that the right stroke of the V forms the left stroke of the R. Those letters could not be separated, so it is a monogram.
On the right is Queen Elizabeth II’s cypher with the letters E II R. These letters are placed together under the crown, although they could be separated. The fact they aren’t actually touching isn’t important, it is just a design choice. Also note that Cypher is the British English spelling, Cipher is the US English spelling.
Back to the medallion, and it comes in a card. The front has the cipher in colour on the card. And the reverse has the specifications (32mm, 9g, .999 silver plated, proof-like finish) and the number. Mine is number #2666 out of a limited mintage of 9,999. Limited mintage can be important where you are purchasing a coin as an investment. In this case, I like to know the number, but I’m not expecting it to be valuable in future (but I would be very happy to be proved wrong).
Interestingly, the cypher side of the coin appears to be rotated around 10° compared to the coronation emblem side. I’m calling it an error, and on an official mint-coin that can increase the value, but on this one I expect it is just an interesting curiosity.