The Royal Canadian Mint is not the only one that produces collectable coins in honour of its country’s history and heritage. The Royal Mint in Great Britain also produces collectable coins in series that follow common themes. The Myths and Legends series began in 2022 with three silver coins featuring characters from the legend of Robin Hood.
The legend of Robin Hood dates back to the Middle Ages and is one of Great Britain’s most enduring folk stories. There are many different versions of the story, which was first told in ballads around the 12th century. The story has since been adapted many times in books, stage plays, movies, and television. English settlers in Canada continued to tell the stories in their new home, so Robin Hood holds a place in Canadian culture as well. The first three coins in the series feature Robin Hood himself as well as his lieutenant, Little John, and his love interest, Maid Marian.
Robin Hood Coin
Since Robin Hood is a legendary figure, it is hard to pin down his origin story. In some versions of the story, he is a nobleman who found his land taken away from him while he was away fighting in the Crusades and was forced to become an outlaw living and hunting illegally in the forest with a band of “merry men,” a euphemism for thieves and outlaws. In other stories, he is originally a member of the yeoman class. In all versions of the story, he is a prodigiously skilled marksman who specifically targets the wealthy and the highborn and helps the poor and lower class. In most versions of the story, he is loyal to King Richard the Lionheart, who is absent during the Crusades, and opposed to his usurper, Prince John, as well as the Sheriff of Nottingham, an agent of the prince’s.
The Robin Hood legend may have some basis in fact. Research into historical records has turned up several possible candidates with names that are similar to Robin Hood. As the legend grew, outlaws and poachers may have taken on the name as a way to capitalize on the legend as well as to obscure their true identities. On the coin, Robin Hood is depicted in his iconic hunting outfit, perched in the branches of a tree and drawing his bow and arrow.
Little John Coin
In the legends, Little John is Robin Hood’s second-in-command. In the stories, his original name is John Little, and he is a large, strong man, sometimes likened to a giant. Robin Hood has a mischievous sense of humour and inverts John’s two names to create an ironic nickname. Little John is Robin Hood’s best friend and most trusted lieutenant, but some of the stories start out with an argument between the two of them. On the coin, Little John is depicted as a large, muscular man with a beard, clutching a staff as a weapon and looking into the distance with a stern, determined look on his face.
Maid Marian Coin
Maid Marian is a later addition to the Robin Hood mythos. She doesn’t appear in the earliest legends about him. She may have grown out of French folk stories about a figure similar to Robin Hood and become conflated with the shepherdesses who were described as Robin’s love interests in earlier legends. In some versions of the legend, Marian is a noblewoman who runs away from home to avoid an arranged marriage. She dresses as a man to join Robin’s merry men in Sherwood Forest. Her fighting ability rivals Robin’s own, and she is respected amongst the merry men for her skill and courage. The coin depicts her in a simple gown with a quiver of arrows on her back, her hair partly braided but mostly loose. She seems to be hiding behind a tree and spying on someone, which is consistent with the role she plays in many of the stories.
You do not need to go to Great Britain to collect these coins. They are available for purchase from Colonial Acres.