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Coinage portrait of Edward VIII

Beauty and grace

One of the undoubted strengths of the Royal Mint Museum is its collection of pattern coins of Edward VIII. Quite apart from their extreme rarity, there are interesting stories surrounding specific pieces, the choice of the king's portrait being one such episode. William McMillan, a Royal Academician, and Humphrey Paget were asked to prepare uncrowned effigies of the king. When the portraits were submitted opinion on the Royal Mint Advisory Committee was so divided about their respective merits that the views of the king himself were sought.

Coinage portrait of Edward VIII

The uniface half-crown pictured here is a trial piece of one of McMillan's models and, although the king readily acknowledged the quality of the work, he chose instead the portrait by Paget. It was argued that McMillan's was sculpturally superior but its slightly more stern aspect stood against it. We should hardly be surprised, therefore, to find that the king liked the more flattering effigy by Paget.