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First World War posters

The massive impact of the First World War was felt throughout all aspects of life in Britain and the coinage was not spared. A circulating gold coinage, which had been sustained from the mid-14th century, was first of all threatened and then finally given up, and the satisfying jingle of sovereigns gave way to the rustle of Treasury notes.

Una and the Lion five-pound piece


As the war effort progressed, people were encouraged to invest in government loans at the Post Office and colourful posters, such as these two from the Royal Mint Museum, were devised to inspire generosity. On one we see silver coins literally turning into bullets, while on the other the obverse of a George V sovereign is shown, an image that was soon to become part of the historical record rather than a feature of the everyday economy. The posters make emotive use of the coinage, linking the familiar with the extraordinary turn of events.