Stamped in crude lettering across the head of the king is the phrase ‘VOTES FOR WOMEN’, the slogan of the suffragette movement. The deliberate targeting of the king, as the constitutional monarch and head of the Church of England, could be likened to iconoclasm, a direct assault on the male authority figures that were perceived to be upholding the laws of the country. As Neil MacGregor wrote in A History of the World in 100 Objects, ‘this coin stands for all those who fought for the right to vote’.
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In this 2017 episode of Curator’s Corner, British Museum curator Tom Hockenhull demonstrates how coins were stamped in protest with letter punchers during the British Suffragette movement in the early 1900s. The museum does note, however, that “the perpetrator has never been traced, and no direct connection has ever been established between the coins and the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) or other suffragette organisations.”
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