It’s not Christmas without…the Christmas Tree!

The tradition of coins at Christmas has a very long history, from the three wise men bearing gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, to St Nicholas placing coins in stockings drying on the chimney ledge. Not to mention the slice of good luck if you find the silver sixpence in the Christmas pudding on Christmas day; somehow it’s just not Christmas without a coin – and yes, the chocolate ones count too!

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Behind the Design: Remembrance Day 2017

Ever since Remembrance Day began in 1919, the nation has fallen silent on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.

In 2012, The Royal Mint started to strike a special Remembrance Day £5 Coin, in honour of servicemen and women who have lost their lives in times of war. This year, for the first time, a Remembrance design has been struck on an official UK coin. Bearing poppies, synonymous with Remembrance Day, the coin has been designed by Royal Mint designer, Stephen Taylor. We caught up with designer, Stephen to find out more about his 2017 Remembrance Day design.

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Royal Celebration Series: 1947, a Royal wedding

In 2017, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will reach their Platinum Wedding Anniversary, celebrating 70 years of marriage. 

In the last two years, Her Majesty The Queen has celebrated three hugely significant milestones. In 2015 The Queen became the Longest Reigning Monarch in British history. In 2016 she became the first British monarch to celebrate her 90th birthday and earlier this year, The Queen became the first British monarch to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee. Earlier this year we began our Royal Celebration blog seriestaking a trip down memory lane, recalling key anniversaries and celebrations from The Queen’s reignAs we continue our Royal Celebration Series, we go back to 1947, a Royal wedding.

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Pioneers in the sky – Aviation in the First World War

At the outbreak of the First World War few people believed that aircraft would play a major role in the conflict. Hot air balloons had been used for observation and reconnaissance for almost 100 years and it was thought aircraft would serve a similar purpose. As the war developed the race for superior air power began, shaping the history of human flight as we know it. Alongside the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) grew from a force of a few hundred aeroplanes in 1914 into a huge, independent air arm of thousands of combat and support aircraft.

Pilots, observers and aircrews risked their lives testing the new technology to its limits. Deployed above the battlefields, often beyond the call of duty, they suffered the previously unknown effects of altitude, G-forces and freezing temperatures. Later, they also faced great personal danger presented by enemy guns and combat fighters. In this guest blog post, Charlotte Czyzyk from Imperial War Museum tells the story of the First World War in the air.

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Behind the Design: Sir Isaac Newton 50p coin

Sir Isaac Newton was the towering intellectual giant of the ‘Scientific Revolution’ of the seventeenth century. He changed our understanding of mathematics and physics and redefined the way we see the world. But many people may not know that, for more than three decades, he also played a vital role at The Royal Mint.

As Master of the Mint he made a considerable contribution to our coinage and economy, helping to make Britain’s currency one of the most respected and admired in the world. His meticulous report of 1717, commonly known as ‘the valuation of the guinea’, was pivotal in establishing gold coin as the pre-eminent currency of the United Kingdom. It suggested establishing the gold guinea’s value at 21 shillings which paved the way for the introduction of the gold standard a century later. Newton remained Master of the Mint until his death in March 1727, by which time British coins could claim to be the best-made and most trusted in the world.

In 2017 we celebrate a pioneer of science, master of minting, Sir Isaac Newton on a UK 50p coin, with a design created by Royal Mint designer, Aaron West. We recently caught up with Aaron to find out a little more about his design.

 

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A history of the ‘pound’ in our pockets

On 28 March 2017, the nation welcomed a big change, the new 12-sided £1 coin! Since its arrival, the pound as most of us know it, round and single-coloured, has been replaced with a bimetallic coin that has 12 sides.

The round pound has been in and out of pockets for the last 34 years. Since the introduction of the pound coin in 1983 it has featured 24 designs by eight different designers, themes of heraldry and the Royal Arms have featured regularly along with floral emblems and regional landmarks representing England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. But did you know that the pound has been around for much longer than that and by this, we don’t just mean the £1 note. The £1 coin made its first appearance in 1489 when the Henry VII Sovereign was struck, making it the largest coin ever made in England!

The new 12-sided £1 coin marks the latest stage in the pound’s history, which began over 500 years ago, here are few more facts and facets about the pound.

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Behind the design: Britannia 2017

Britannia is arguably the oldest and most famous symbol of Britain. Her image has appeared on the coinage for centuries, reflecting the spirit of the nation throughout shifts in art and politics, technology and popular culture. In 2017 we mark two important moments in the history of the Britannia coin, looking back to the moment the icon took up a new role as the face of Royal Mint Bullion on gold and silver coins.

The story of Britannia continues to evolve every year, she has been depicted in many forms, providing different meanings throughout the ages; from a voluptuous figure on the coins of Charles II to the ‘Queen of the Seas’ when our naval power was challenged in the eighteenth century. Each design is of its time, revealing the mood of the era and conveying the values of the nation.

Each year, we invite a designer to create their own interpretation of the icon on our coins, Britannia and for 2017 it is the turn of Louis Tamlyn. We recently caught up with Louis to find out a little more about his design.

 

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Guest blog: ‘Duty called and called me to obey’ – Remembering Noel Chavasse

In 1917 British forces were engaged on many fronts, in an increasingly global conflict. On the Western Front the war became industrialised and remain deadlocked. The life of a soldier in the trenches was threatened by artillery, machine, guns, gas and disease. Despite the lack of breakthrough on the ground, the war proved to be a catalyst for innovation. Advancements in areas from equipment to medicine were vital to ending the war the following year, while many of the innovations, such as blood banks and plastic surgery benefit public healthcare to this day.

In 2014, we began a five year programme of commemoration to mark the centenary of the First World War, a six-coin set began a story in coins, ‘from Outbreak to Armistice’. This year, our First World War Centenary series continues with the 2017 First World War six-coin set. ‘Social and cultural impact’, ‘Armed Forces and Support Services’, ‘technology’, ‘conflict and battles’ and ‘heroes and famous figures’ are all subjects that have been captured on coins, each coin presenting a visual reminder of the innovation and fortitude that arose throughout the war.

Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC and BAR was a medical officer in the British Army and one of only three people to be awarded the Victoria Cross twice. 100 years after his death, his story remains truly inspirational, – Charlotte Czyzyk, from Imperial War Museum tells us more.

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A century of Royal service – the House of Windsor

The House of Windsor came into being in July 1917 by proclamation of George V. Since then the House of Windsor has produced four monarchs who have reigned over the subjects of Britain and the Commonwealth for 100 years. Both George V and George VI dedicated their lives to the service of their country, as has Her Majesty The Queen, the nation’s longest reigning monarch.

In 2017 we celebrate a century of Royal service on a UK £5 coin, featuring a design based on the badge of House of Windsor approved by George VI. The House of Windsor has served the United Kingdom ever since the Royal Family took a new name in 1917 – we find out how and why this new dynasty was established.

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Behind the Design: Jane Austen £2 coin

Jane Austen published her first novel anonymously in 1811 entitled Sense and Sensibility, ‘by a Lady’. Although she remained almost entirely unknown during her lifetime, readers across the world began a love affair with her fiction that has endured for 200 years. Years later, Austen’s Regency-era manners and settings continue to charm readers and viewers – though sometimes classed as simple romances, in many ways Austen’s novels were revolutionary in their treatment of subjects such as love, marriage and money.

Throughout 2017 Austen’s creativity and talents are being remembered far and wide; there are walks, talks, exhibitions, festivals, there’s even the chance to ‘sit’ with Jane on a Book Bench trail! We’ve joined the celebrations by featuring Austen’s portrait on a UK £2 coin, designed by Royal Mint graphic designer Dominique Evans. For 12 years Dominique, has brought her talents to her role bringing to life the rich and interesting stories behind coins and medals and for Jane Austen there has been no change. Ahead of Austen’s anniversary on 18 July 2017, we caught up with Dominique to find out a little more about the inspiration for her Jane Austen £2 coin design.

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Sitting with Jane: The Royal Mint book bench

For 200 years, Jane Austen has delighted readers across the world with her Regency-era romances. Now we celebrate her life and works by featuring her portrait on a UK £2 coin, designed by Royal Mint graphic designer Dominique Evans. But, we are not alone in the celebrations, Jane Austen’s creativity and talent is being remembered across the country, from walks to talks, festivals to exhibitions and even a book bench trail!

Sitting With Jane is a unique public art trail honouring Jane Austen’s connections with Basingstoke and her birthplace, Steventon. The trail brought to us by Wild in Art and Destination Basingstoke combines local culture and history with a creative, modern interpretation for all to see – 24 ‘book benches’. Each bench has been designed and painted by a professional artist and features a personal interpretation of a Jane Austen theme, and, just like we have previously done with Shaun-Xiào and Gromit Unleashed, The Royal Mint has sponsored and designed their own book bench.

Picture by Stewart Turkington

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