Armistice Day: The Centennial Collection: 12 Silver Coins from the Great War

Twenty-eighteen marks the centennial of Armistice Day. Here is a collection of silver coins to mark the occasion. For wholesale information, click here.

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On 11 November, 1918—on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month—the Armistice ending the Great War went into effect. The global conflict that began in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, with the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, ended in a railroad carriage at Compiègne with the stroke of a pen.

The total number of casualties in World War I exceeded 41 million—18 million dead, and some 23 million wounded, including those blinded in chemical weapons attacks. How did the demise of an unpopular royal from a middling empire in a backwater city lead to such a profound loss of human life? Why did this happen?

The answer lies in the dizzying array of international treaties that bound the countries of Europe together in 1914; these so-called “entangled alliances” accelerated the spread of the war. Austro-Hungary used the assassination as a pretext to declare war on Serbia. Russia, which had pledged to come to Serbia’s defense, mobilized its forces to honor its commitment. Germany, an ally of Austro-Hungary, subsequently declared war on Russia, leading France and Great Britain to enter the fray in the service of a tsarist government that would itself be overthrown three years later. By the late summer of 1914, most of Europe was engaged in a war whose underlying origins remain the subject of debate to this day.

For three years, the Central Powers of Germany, Bulgaria, and the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires fought the Allied forces of Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Finland, and Canada to a bloody standstill. In 1917, the tsar abdicated, the Bolsheviks took Moscow, and Russia abruptly quit the war. The entry of the United States into the conflict that same year finally turned the tide.

While the Central Powers lost, no one really won. The war left Great Britain, once the war’s great banker, in deep financial difficulty; France, embittered and vengeful; Russia, in the hand of the Bolshevik revolutionaries; and Germany deep in debt and owing more in reparations. By the end of the war, the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman empires had all collapsed, 18 million human beings lay dead, and an outbreak of the Spanish flu would claim another 50 million lives. When the smoke cleared, the appetite for war in Europe had been satisfied for the foreseeable future—or so it seemed. On 11 November, 1918, no one could have foretold that an even more catastrophic war was right around the corner.

 

Certificate of Authenticity

This remarkable collection contains 12 silver coins that were in circulation on 11 November, 1918.

 

  1. Austria, corona | KM-2820

Diameter: 22mm | Weight: 5g, 0.8350 Silver, 0.1342 oz. ASW

Obverse: Franz Joseph head, right-facing

Reverse: Crown above value, date at bottom, sprays flanking

 

  1. Bulgaria, lev | KM-31

Diameter: 23mm | Weight: 5g, 0.8350, Silver 0.1342 oz. ASW

Obverse: King Ferdinand I, left facing

Reverse: Denomination above date within wreath

 

  1. Canada, 10 cents | KM-23

Diameter: 17.8mm | Weight: 2.3240g, 0.9250, Silver 0.0691 oz. ASW

Obverse: Crowned bust of King George V, left facing

Reverse: Denomination and date within wreath, crown above

 

  1. Finland, as Russian Grand Duchy, 25 pennia | KM-6.2

Diameter: 16mm | Weight: 1.2747g, 0.7500, Silver 0.0307 oz. ASW

Obverse: Romanov imperial double eagle, with crown

Reverse: Denomination and date within wreath

 

  1. France, 50 centimes | KM-854

Diameter: 18.1mm | Weight: 2.5g, 0.8350, Silver 0.0671 oz. ASW

Obverse: Figure sowing seed

Reverse: Leafy branch dividing date and denomination

 

  1. Germany, ½ mark | KM-17

Diameter: 20mm | Weight: 2.77g, 0.9000 Silver, 0.0804 oz. ASW

Obverse: Denomination within wreath

Reverse: Crowned imperial eagle with shield on breast within wreath

 

  1. Great Britain, 6 pence | KM-815

Diameter: 19.5mm | Weight: 2.8276g, 0.925 Silver, 0.0841 oz. ASW

Obverse: George V head, left facing

Reverse: Lion atop crown dividing date

 

  1. Hungary, korona | KM-484/492

Diameter: 22mm | Weight: 5g, 0.8350 Silver, 0.1342 oz. ASW

Obverse: Franz Joseph head, right-facing

Reverse: Crown of St. Stephen within wreath

 

  1. Italy, 1 lira | KM-45/57

Diameter: 27mm | Weight: 5.000g, 0.8350 Silver, 0.1342 oz. ASW

Obverse: King Victor Emanuel II, right facing

Reverse: Quadriga with standing female

 

  • Russia, 20 kopeks | KM-Y22a

Diameter: 22mm | Weight: 3.5992g, 0.5000 Silver, 0.0579 oz. ASW

Obverse: Crowned double-headed Romanov eagle

Reverse: Crown above date and value within wreath

 

  1. Serbia, 50 para | KM-24

Diameter: 21.8mm | Weight: 2.5g, 0.0671 Silver, 0.1342 oz. ASW

Obverse: King Peter I, right facing

Reverse: Crown above value, date within wreath

 

  1. United States, 10 cents, “Mercury Dime” | KM-140

Diameter: 17.8mm | Weight: 2.5g, 0.9000 Silver, 0.0723 oz. ASW

Obverse: Liberty head in winged cap, left facing

Reverse: Fasces and olive branch