Behind the design: The 2016 Army £2

In 1914, as Britain mobilised for war, the call went out to enlist. The response to Lord Kitchener’s call to arms was astonishing, with much of the whole country swept by patriotic fervour. Team mates, friends, neighbours and colleagues were encouraged to serve side-by-side in ‘Pals Battalions’, proudly defending their country; a recruitment tactic that, while highly successful in the short-term, would have devastating consequences for the communities from which the Pals Battalions were recruited.

In 2016 we continue our First World War centenary series  by honouring the British Army, focusing on the Pals Battalions and their fate at the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago. The 2016 Army £2 coin was created by Tim Sharp, Creative Director at design agency Uniform, and we recently caught up with him to find out a little bit more about his design.

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Great Fire 350. From the walks, to the talks…

2016 marks 350 years since the Great Fire of London, a fire that swept across the city, lasting almost five days, causing total devastation. The fire, which began in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane and raged across the capital before ending at Pie Corner, destroyed four fifths of the City all-in-all, including 13,000 buildings, 87 churches, three City gates and 52 livery halls. Though the Great Fire of London occurred more than three centuries ago, the story of this famous event in England’s history has lived on and this year we commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London on a UK £2 coin.

Fire of London small
The 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London commemorative £2 coin

We are not alone in our commemorations; a season of events has already begun with walks, talks and exhibitions, and there is even more in store this weekend! Having launched on 30 August, ‘London’s Burning’, a festival of arts and ideas said to “re-imagine the Great Fire of 1666 through the vision of contemporary artists, writers and thinkers” continues across the anniversary weekend. Here’s a little look into what’s going on in London to mark the event…

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Behind the design: Great Fire of London £2 coin

London in 1666 was very different to the city we know today. Wooden structures rather than soaring skyscrapers made up most of the homes and businesses in the capital, one of the main reasons why a small fire, which notoriously began in a bakery in Pudding Lane, went on to rage across the city. Can you imagine the sight; people fleeing the flames, leaving everything to the fire? Aaron West, a member of The Royal Mint’s design team, has taken the perspective of one of the Londoners seeking sanctuary on the Thames to capture the devastating scene.

The Royal Mint’s home at the time of the fire was at the Tower of London. As one of the few secure stone buildings in the city, it became a sanctuary for the displaced and the homeless. For a time, it was also a safehold for many of the city’s valuables, as people and businesses were allowed to store their assets within its walls. As the fire drew nearer, people became fearful that the Tower’s stores of gunpowder would explode and so these were removed by Sir John Robinson, the Tower’s Lieutenant. As the flames made steady progress through the city, action to save the building had to be taken. The goldsmith’s treasures were removed from the Tower and controlled explosions were made that brought down buildings in the path of the fire, starving it of fuel and saving the Tower from the flames.

This year we join many others in remembering the fire that changed London forever, with the 350th anniversary marked on a £2 coin. Ahead of the anniversary this weekend, we caught up with Aaron West, designer of the 2016 Great Fire of London £2, to find out a little more about his design…

Aaron West sketching

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Behind the design: The 2016 Beatrix Potter Series by Emma Noble

Throughout 2016, The Royal Mint has been celebrating the wonderful world of Beatrix and her most-loved characters, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter. Earlier this year, we announced that we would be marking the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter with a series of five coins, the first time that characters from children’s literature has appeared on UK coinage! The series began with a coin that honoured Beatrix herself, and continued with four of Beatrix’s characters, Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin.

It was the task of Royal Mint coin designer and engraver, Emma Noble to bring the coin designs to life. While the coins are available in the plain-metal circulating and Brilliant Uncirculated versions, they are also available in colour-printed Silver Proof versions, which allows for a new perspective. Emma has made sure that Beatrix’s characters are instantly recognisable, with every whisker, spine or feature captured in fine detail, while the colour printing allows the designs to reflect the style of the original, much-loved illustrations.

Earlier this year we caught up with Linda Lear, a member of the Beatrix Potter Society, to tell us a little more about the lady behind the tales in our ‘Who was Beatrix Potter‘ blog. Today we’ve been speaking with the lady behind the coin designs, Emma Noble, to find out more about how she brought the characters from the cherished little tales to life in a series of coins.

Emma-Noble-photo-small

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Behind the design: The 2016 Team GB 50p

We are now a week in to this year’s Olympic Games, which continue at pace, with the medal tally beginning to stack up for Team GB. As I write this, Team GB have accumulated 13 medals with plenty more events to come over the next few weeks. In fact, by the time the Games close on 21 August, more than 200 nations and 10,500 athletes will have competed in 306 events across 28 sports at this year’s Games. So as sports fans and patriots continue to be inspired by the performances of Team GB athletes in Rio, we caught up with Peter Blake, designer of the 2016 Team GB 50p, to find out a little more about his inspiration for the coin design.

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With the Olympic Games now upon us, here’s your ‘Guide to the Games’.

The Olympic Games are now upon us, with the opening ceremony of Rio 2016 taking place on 5 August. Across the world people are preparing to rally behind their favourite athletes. For die-hard sports fans the Road to Rio will have felt like a long one. While many of us will find it hard to believe that four years have passed since the Olympic Games graced Great Britain. So, before the Olympic Games get underway, we’ve put together a ‘Guide to the Games’ to make sure you don’t miss a sporting moment.

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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First World War commemorations continue with the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

It was on 1 July 1916, one hundred years ago, that one of history’s deadliest battles would begin. The Battle of the Somme is considered to be one of the bloodiest battles in military history. In total the battle spanned 141 days – ending on 18 November 1916 – and saw the British Army alone suffer more than 400,000 casualties. Now, on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, Britain prepares to remember the sacrifices made as the First World War centenary commemorations, which began in 2014, continue.

As part of the commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, our First World War commemorative coin series continues with a new coin issue.

100th anniversary of the battle of the somme coin

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