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Monday, 6 March 2017

457) King Arthur: The first coin in the six coins “Camelot Series”: a joint product of the Government and Treasury of Cook Islands, Choice Mint and Coin Invest Trust issued in December 2016:



457) King Arthur: The first coin in the six coins “Camelot Series”: a joint product of the Government and Treasury of Cook Islands, Choice Mint and Coin Invest Trust issued in December 2016:


Choice Mint has issued the first coin in its new, six-coin series titled “Camelot” on King Arthur.


The “Camelot’ Series of coins is a joint product of the Government and Treasury of Cook islands, Choice Mint and Coin Invest Trust.

The design and production of the coins has been undertaken by Coin Invest Trust who are the pioneers of the Smartminting technology, which achieves exceptionally high-relief with normal amounts of metal or alternatively, normal relief with less metal than conventional methods entail.

On the Reverse of the 10 Dollars Silver Coin is depicted the legendary King Arthur in a flowing cloak. The engravings/imagery on this face is beautifully detailed down to the rivets in the armour. His hands are folded on the pommel of the sword, which he has not yet pulled out from the famous stone.

In the background are the towers of Camelot. The design elements are treated with three different finishes – Arthur’s armour has a mirrored finish, while the other elements are Matte or Proof as appropriate.
 On the Obverse of the 10 Dollars Silver Coin is depicted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Ian-Rank Broadley (as against her latest portrait designed by Jody Clark, which is seen on new Great British coinage). She is surrounded by Arthur’s knights, who are shown from above, each holding his helm in one hand and his sword raised towards the Queen in the other hand.

The Queen’s head has been reduced in size and placed at the centre of the Round Table.

A closer look shows that each knight is different from his fellow knights, which is most noticeable in the hair, which varies from straight to curly, tousled to parted. The Knight on the extreme centre left lower periphery (shown at eight o’clock) appears to be bald on top.

The specifications of this coin are:

Denominational value: 10 Dollars; Issuing Country: Cook Islands; Diameter/Size: 50.0 mm; Metal Composition: .999 (2 Ounces Silver); Mintage limit: 999. Year of issue: 2016.

The Arthurian Legends:

The Arthurian legends are a topic rarely seen on coins. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were originally popularised in a novel titled “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White first published in 1939 and 1940 and revised in 1958. The book in my collection was the 8th printing in December 1968.


The book “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White in my personal Arthurian library

T.H. White’s novel was later the inspiration of a movie titled “Camelot”, presented by Warner Brothers.


An image of a poster from The Arthurian Epic “CAMELOT” starring Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, David Hemmings, Lionel Jeffries and Laurence Naismith.

King Arthur:

King Arthur was a legendary King of Great Britain who defended his kingdom from the Anglo-Saxons winning many battles and having many homes. His favourite castle was Camelot, (after which this six-coin Series is named) and he possessed a sword called the Excalibur, which was given to him by the “Lady of the Lake”.

His father was the King of England called Uther Pendragon, who fell in love with a lady named Ingraine, who died shortly after Arthur was born.  Uther had many enemies and to protect the young infant (Arthur), Merlin, his trusted wizard brought him to live with a knight named Ector who raised him along with his son Kay. Uther too died sometime later pursued by his enemies.

Pulling the Sword from the Stone to declare Arthur as the rightful King of England:

After Uther’s death, civil war broke out with many claimants to the English throne. Ultimately, it was decided to hold a tournament at a Cathedral to decide upon the next King of England so as to avoid further bloodshed.

When the Nobles gathered at the Churchyard, they came upon an astonishing sight. A sword was found stuck in an anvil placed on a large stone with the message on the stone reading “WHOSO PULLETH OUT THIS SWORD OF THIS STONE AND ANVIL IS RIGHTWISE KING BORN OF ENGLAND”.

One after the other nobles tried to pull out the sword but could not succeed, as such the Priest presiding over the whole affair decided to hold the tournament as planned the next day.

The next day Arthur was sent by his brother Kay to bring his sword from the tent where they were staying, as he too wanted to participate in the tournament. Arthur could not find Kay’s sword. On the way back to the Tourney, he chanced upon the sword stuck in the stone and thought that he would “borrow” it for his brother. Kay on seeing the sword and knowing about its importance wanted to claim the throne of England, but upon his father chiding him, admitted that Arthur had drawn the sword from the anvil.

Ector brought the sword back to the tournament ground and narrated the whole episode. Arthur was asked to replace the sword in the anvil and once again the nobles tried their hand in vain at pulling out the sword from the anvil. Then Arthur pulled out the sword easily once again and was declared the King of England.

Later after being declared King of England, Merlin took him to meet the “Lady of the Lake” where he received the sword titled “Excalibur”. It was believed that as long as he had the scabbard of the Excalibur on his person, no serious bodily harm would befall him in any battle/skirmish.

Arthur led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account in the “12th Century Historia Regum Britanniae” (History of the Kings of Britain) had Arthur establishing an Empire over Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Gaul.

Arthur fought his final battle against Mordred of Orkney at Camlann in which he was mortally wounded and went to his final resting place in a barge draped in black carrying three noble queens and their ladies all dressed in black, who carried him to Avalon, his final resting place.

After Arthur was carried away to Avalon, Queen Guinever joined a convent where she became a nun, Sir Lancelot, his best Knight heard about Mordred’s revolt against Arthur and arrives with his army from France, too late to save the King. He was so distraught that he vowed never to use his sword again and became a monk.

It is believed that King Arthur will rise again and come to England’s aid during its time of dire distress, hence he is called the “Once and Future King”. Perhaps, now is the time for him to come to England’s rescue, as England’s future after “BREXIT” is rather uncertain.

Camelot:

Many castles in England claim to be King Arthur’s Camelot, but the most likely one is Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.

The Round Table:

This was a table used by King Arthur and his knights as per Arthurian legends.

The Round Table was in Camelot, the castle where King Arthur and his knights lived.

Interestingly, while most tables are rectangular or square and have a seat called the “head of the table”, where the “leader” or “head of the family” usually sits, this table was round, symbolising that the persons who sat around it were “all seen as equal”.

The Knights of the Round Table:

Arthur’s Company was referred to as the “Knights of the Round Table”.

The Round Table was gifted to King Arthur as a wedding gift by King Leodegrance of Cameliard when Arthur married his daughter Guinevere or Guenever. Along with the Round Table, Leodegrance also gifted one hundred of his bravest knights to Arthur.  Merlin the wizard who was King Arthur’s confidant, well-wisher and Advisor was tasked to find the remaining fifty knights to complete the Round Table’s company.

Merlin was able to find only twenty-eight additional knights, but foresaw through his magical powers that the remaining seats would be filled when their claimant knights would come in due course to fill them. He even told Arthur the names and qualities of the remaining knights.

For example, Arthurian legends mention a special chair at the Round Table called the Siege Perilous (meaning the “Dangerous Chair”). The seat could only be sat upon by a knight who had a pure heart meaning someone who had committed no crimes or done any wrong. It was believed that if anyone who did not have a pure heart would die instantly.

This chair was kept vacant by Merlin for the knight who would quest for and find the “Holy Grail”. (A magical cup in which Jesus was said to have drank out of during the Last Supper). It is believed that Sir Galahad found the Hoy Grail, when he went on a quest for it along with two other knights – Sir Bors and Sir Percival, but Galahad was never seen again and the Holy Grail has never been seen again.

Several quests are associated with the Knights of the Round Table – the Quest for the Holy Grail, the Green Knight, the Black Knight etc.

The legends further hold that Arthur & his Knights met at the Round Table to discuss the safety of Camelot and the Kingdom (read England) and about adventures and quests for the knights to embark upon. King Arthur’s wife Guinevere did not have a seat at the table, but Arthur used to take her advice on occasion.

It is also believed that the wizard Merlin also had a seat at the table.

Every Knight who sat on the Round Table was sworn to a Code of Chivalry as under:

-To never do outrage nor murder (meaning “not to assault or murder anybody”)

- To by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy even those who were defeated in combat.

- To always do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succour and help them if they needed it.

- To never force ladies, gentlewomen or widows or harm them.

- Not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods.

The following books are also in my personal Arthurian library



“The Mammoth Book of Merlin” (revealing the magic of 24 binding tales from the time of King Arthur’s Camelot). This book contains 24 different stories by different authors on various episodes in Merlin, the wizard’s life and his interactions with King Arthur 



“I am Morgan le Fay – A tale from Camelot” by Nancy Springer (Published in 2002).

Morgan le Fay was an enchantress and a “Fay” (meaning a “sorceress”). She was born to Ingraine, the mother of Arthur, from her husband Gorlois, as such, Arthur was her half-brother. She becomes an apprentice to Merlin and a vindictive adversary of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, with a special hatred for Guinevere. She became an indirect instrument in Arthur’s death and that of his knights in the Battle of Camlaan, though she is filled with remorse and is one of the three queens who take Arthur on his final journey to Avalon.

The following images are taken from the Classics Illustrated Comic titled No. 108 “The Knights of the Round Table” in my collection. This comic now in tatters was gifted to me by my mother in 1964, when I was six years old:


 The Cover of the Classics Illustrated Comic in my library titled “Knights of the Round Table”.

 


One of the pages shows the sword in the anvil which can only be drawn by the rightful King of England. A Noble attempts to pull the sword out but fails. The priest declares that as everyone has failed to draw the sword, and the next day a tournament will decide the new King of England 



On the next day, Arthur easily pulls out the sword to everyone’s amazement and is declared the rightful King of England 



Merlin takes Arthur to see the Lady of the Lake, who commands a creature in the Lake to bring forth the Excalibur, which is taken by King Arthur

 


King Leodegrance of Cameliard gifts the Round Table with 100 of his best knights to King Arthur as a wedding gift

 The inscription on the back of this chair reads “This is the Siege Perilous”



In the Battle of Camlaan, all combatants on both sides are killed and only three are left Arthur, Mordred and Sir Bedivere. Arthur meets Mordred in a fatal combat

 A grievously wounded Arthur being escorted by three queens and their ladies to his final resting place in Avalon

From “The Arthurian Tarot Deck in my Tarot Library:

I purchased the “Arthurian Tarot” from the Mysteries shop in Covent Garden, London during my trip in 2007 along with other Tarot decks:

The cover of the Tarot deck shows Arthur sitting with the Excalibur in his lap and his Draco standard aflutter overhead

The Tarot Card titled Arthur bears the number IV in the major Arcana. Arthur is the primordial guardian of the land of Britain. From Dark Age battle-leader who welded warring tribes together to medieval King whose Round Table brought justice, he is recognised as Sovereignty’s champion. He sits upon his throne in the high mountain passes of Snowdonia, with the chough that is his bird. Behind him is the Draco standard of the Pendragons

Guinevere or Gwenhwyfar sits spinning in a meadow while a white cow grazes nearby. She is Arthur’s Queen and the Guardian of peace and concord in the land. In Celtic tradition, she is the beautiful face of Sovereignty, the Flower Bride, whose consort rules the land

An esoteric impression of the round table in the likeness of Stonehenge seen through Merlin’s eye. Above the Stonehenge is the Round Table while further above this is a circle of stars surrounding a crystal cap. The Round Table seeks to find balanced ways of representing the rights of all beings

Merlin stands before a stone table bearing the map of Britain and the four Hallows. The red and white dragons intertwine between the Tower of Vortigen and Merlin’s other-worldly dwelling in a symbolism of infinity or perpetuity

The Wounded King suffers from an unhealing injury attended by his dog

From the Merlin Tarot Deck in my Tarot Library:  

The following images are from the Merlin Tarot deck in my Tarot library:
                                 The 78 Card Merlin Tarot Pack
                         The Back of the Merlin Tarot Deck Pack
                          The cover of the Merlin Tarot Jacket
The side view of the jacket containing the Merlin Tarot Card Pack, the Merlin Tarot Handbook and the Merlin Tarot Journal. This is ne of the most "magical" and esoteric of the Tarot decks in my Tarot library

Below is an image of one of my favourite shirts purchased sometime in the early 1990s bearing a label "Knights of the Round Table". I haven't worn it for almost two decades, but every time there is a spring cleaning in the wardrobe, this shirt goes back into the shelf, because of its timeless connection with Arthur's knights


 





Other interesting links to posts from Cook Islands minted by Coin Invest Trust:

1) Brexit : Britain's exit from the EEC : Coins issued by the Cook islands in the denomination of $1, $5 and $ 20 in 2016 

2) 150th Anniversary of "The Great Tea Race - 1866": Commemorative Coins in the denomination of 10 and 2 Dollars issued by Cook Islands in 2016

3) The Mystical Ancient Egyptian Labyrinth depicted on $10 Silver coins issued by Cook islands in 2016, under its "Milestones of Mankind Series".

4) King Arthur: The first coin in the six coins "Camelot Series". 


6 comments:

  1. Maggie Ksing has commented:
    "Rajeev, that's quite a lot of interesting information !!!!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Maggie. This coin gave me the chance to rummage thru my old Arthurian collection of stuff and post it on my blog.

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    2. Maggie Ksing has further commented:
      "Like with everything, you are always thorough !!!"

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    3. Hardly, Maggie. I just happened to remember the Arthurian legends. Studied them for my Tarot cards research too in which my collection of books also helped.

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  2. Vishnu Chandra Bajpai has commented:
    "A wealth of information about the coin and King Arthur. I also read the story of King Arthur and his knights in my childhood in one of the Gold Key Classics if I remember correctly. The images in your blog brought back a lot of memories of that time when a book or classic was enough to fire our imagination and create a sense of wonder.
    It has been said that if you want to be happy you must pursue complexity and detailing in your chosen passion,hobby or vocation.I know you will be the happiest when you dig information and put it so lovingly in your blog."

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    Replies
    1. Very nicely put, Sir. Thanks.You are absolutely right. Collating all the wealth of information gathered over a lifetime of reading about Arthurian legends and the other subjects and piecing them together into a concise post on Sumita's and my blogs has been a thrilling and amazing journey for me.

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