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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Behind the Design Series: The 2017 Lunar Year of The Rooster coins

Behind the Design Series: The 2017 Lunar Year of The Rooster coins

The Royal Mint’s Shēngxiào Collection combines centuries of Chinese tradition with British minting craftsmanship, celebrating the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Each animal has their own unique characteristics and qualities and this year is the Lunar Year of the Rooster! The rooster is the fourth animal in The Shēngxiào Collection to be brought to life … Read more…

Jennie Bond: The milestone moments I’ve shared with The Queen

Jennie Bond: The milestone moments I’ve shared with The Queen

In our Royal Celebration blog series, we have been revisiting the milestones that Her Majesty The Queen has marked throughout her reign, from her accession to the throne in 1952 to her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The series has been a royal trip down memory lane, recalling key anniversaries and how these momentous occasions have … Read more…