Guest Blog, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust: Who was William Shakespeare?

This year marks 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare and, to celebrate his enduring legacy, three UK £2 coins have been released. This month, on the anniversary of his birth, we celebrate a poet, playwright, actor and literary great, whose legacy has not only survived but thrived for 400 years. From his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, that in itself is a celebration of his works, life and times, to a nation that still study, appreciate and enjoy his work, William Shakespeare’s legacy is unrivaled and its influence unquestionable.

In this blog post, the first in a series written by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for The Royal Mint blog, we find out more about William Shakespeare the man, where he was from, his family and his life.

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William Shakespeare’s birthplace

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Discover Shakespeare, Behind the scenes at the Royal Shakespeare Company Prop Department

This weekend the United Kingdom will mark the 400th anniversary of the death of perhaps one of the greatest playwrights that has ever lived, William Shakespeare. His plays have been watched, studied and enjoyed by generations for more than 400 years. They need no introduction; Romeo and Juliet. Hamlet. Macbeth. These are just a few of the plays that have become household names. In total, William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, many of which are still performed on stages across the world today.

One organisations still bringing William Shakespeare’s plays to life in 2016 is the Royal Shakespeare Company. From the Royal Shakespeare theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon to their travelling shows in London, the United States and across the globe, the Royal Shakespeare Company has been bringing Shakespeare’s plays to the masses for over 50 years.

We recently visited the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon to find out more about the world of William Shakespeare’s work and plays. And, with props the main feature of the three new Shakespeare UK £2 coin designs, we spoke to Alan Fell, Head of the Props Department at the Royal Shakespeare Company, on our visit to find out more about the role props play in bringing Shakespeare’s work to life.

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The Queen’s Beasts are brought to life in a new bullion coin range

We have some exciting news for you today. A striking new gold and silver bullion coin range is available on the Royal Mint Bullion website. The Queen’s Beasts bullion coin range is a series of new designs based on the 10 heraldic beasts, which begins with the Lion of England.

As well as introducing a range of striking designs to our bullion portfolio, The Queen’s Beasts range also provides a new option for silver investors. A new two-ounce silver bullion coin, struck to 999.9 fineness, is introduced alongside 1 oz and ¼ oz gold versions – the first time an official two-ounce United Kingdom silver bullion coin has been struck. In the UK, The Queen’s Beasts bullion coins will be exclusively available from www.royalmintbullion.com.

queen's beasts lion of england gold bullion coins

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The Great British Coin Hunt is growing!

The Great British Coin Hunt began during the London 2012 Olympic games, when collecting coins from change became a sport in itself. In total, 29 50p coins – each representing an Olympic sport – were issued in 2011 and 2012 to mark the home games. These coins were collected in their millions and unlocked a world of coin collecting for people of all ages, right across the country. People everywhere stopped spending and started collecting the coins in their change. But the Coin Hunt didn’t stop there. In fact, the 29 50p designs issued to mark the games joined around 60 different designs already in circulation on 50p, £1 and £2 coins.

In the last four years the Coin Hunt has continued to grow, with new UK coins released each year. Today you’ll find no fewer than 103 different designs in circulation and that’s before you include the 2016 coins, which you’ll find in your change later this year. 2016 is a bumper year for UK coins and, by the end of the year, the Coin Hunt will grow to 115 designs! So just where do you keep all these coins? Well, in 2012 a collector album was released along with the 29 50p coins to give collectors a means to catalog and store their new collection. As the Coin Hunt has grown, so has the range of albums, and today there are 10 albums and several ways to collect UK coins from change.

coin hunt collector albums

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Behind the design: The 2016 Lunar Year of the Monkey UK coins

With Chinese New Year just around the corner, we caught up with Wuon-Gean Ho, designer of The Royal Mint’s Shēngxiào UK Lunar Coin collection, to find out more about her Year of the Monkey coin design. This is now the third coin Wuon-Gean has designed for the Lunar coin collection, so we also took the opportunity to find out more about the lino cutting technique that she uses to create her designs.

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WIN a Lunar Year Of The Monkey gold coin

COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

To celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Monkey, we’re giving away a Lunar Year of the Monkey gold coin! This year, Chinese New Year falls on 8 February and from 4 – 19 February you’ve got a chance to win this amazing prize. To enter, all you have to do is correctly answer the question ‘Which breed of monkey is Wuon-Gean’s Year of the Monkey coin design based on?‘ and complete the entry form below. Tricky question? Well, take a look at our latest Designers’ Inspiration video on our YouTube channel because we caught up with UK Lunar coin designer Wuon-Gean Ho to find out more about her Year of the Monkey design! Will the Year of the Monkey be your lucky year?

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The Royal Mint blog needs your vote!

On 4 January the public vote for the 2016 UK Blog Awards opened and, for the first year ever, The Royal Mint Blog has been nominated for an award. Our blog has been entered into the Arts and Culture and Best Storyteller categories and now we need you, our readers, to help us bring home our first ever award! So, if you’ve enjoyed reading any of our blog posts in this last year, we would really appreciate your vote. Click the ‘vote now‘ image below to register your vote.

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