Joanne joined The Royal Mint in 2009, following many years in a wide variety of roles and organisations, including the St Davids 2 shopping centre in Cardiff, RedSky IT and local government. She lived in Italy for 4 years, where she taught English as a foreign language and is fluent in Italian. She brings her enthusiasm for words and languages to The Royal Mint’s Social Media team. If you’re ‘tweeting’ us or commenting on our Facebook page, you will often be talking directly with Jo!
‘Odd change’, meaning a handful of ‘odd coins’ or coins that ‘break the mould’, doesn’t really apply to coins made at The Royal Mint. But, when thinking about the phrase, we pondered on current and historic coins that could be considered ‘odd’ in some way – both worldwide and in the UK – and the variety we’ve uncovered is amazing.
We’ve found coins that are: oval, scalloped-edged, triangular, square, rectangular, pentagonal and hexagonal, polygon-shaped and even guitar-shaped. There are coins with colour; of weird material; even coins that glow! Then there are the odd designs – but which are the strangest ones? When does a coin stop being a coin? And, if it’s not the shape, what makes a coin a coin? Here’s just a few that we’ve found to get you started…
Her Majesty The Queen’s portrait is on all current UK coins – that’s a fact we all know, isn’t it? Also referred to as The Queen’s effigy, it’s a sign of royal approval, but have you noticed that there’s more than one effigy of The Queen on the coins that we all handle every day? Take a handful of them and look more closely. You’ll find that there have been three royal coin portraits created since decimalisation in 1971.
There have, in fact, been four coin portraits of Her Majesty since she became Queen, if we include the pre-decimal period. The 2015 coin designs will be the last to bear the current royal effigy first introduced in 1998. So this seems a good moment to look back at the beautiful portrayals of Her Majesty that have graced the coins of her realm so far. We’ll consider the artists behind the designs and some of the events that have shaped Her Majesty’s long reign. And then we’ll ask the question “What might we see next?”
At this time of year The Royal Mint traditionally joins the rest of the nation in honouring all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in both World Wars. However, on Remembrance Day this year we particularly remember our own fallen colleagues as the First World War centenary commemorations continue. While researching this, I’ve recently discovered, tucked away in the library of our Museum, a volume entitled ‘Annual Reports of the Deputy Master of the Mint 1914-19′.
In this leather-bound document several names of Royal Mint workers who both served and lost their lives during the First World War are recorded for posterity.
In the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War, The Royal Mint has released a beautiful and touching 2014 Remembrance Day coin that pays tribute to the brave service men and women who were lost in conflict.This year’s design builds on the iconic poppy image, with an evocative ‘falling poppies’ representation by Royal Mint Engraver, Laura Clancy. The design is also a further advance in The Royal Mint’s range of coloured coins, following the release of the ‘Portrait of Britain‘ collection to which Laura also contributed.
Laura’s Remembrance Day coin design is enhanced by the packaging, created by Royal Mint Designer, Dominique Evans, which builds on the falling poppies effect and the simplicity of the coin design.
Artwork for 2014 Remembrance Day coin – Laura Clancy. Image Copyright The Royal Mint
In an interview with Laura we’ve gone ‘behind the design’ to get to know a little bit more about her and to find out more about the coin, the design and her inspiration.
Talented Royal Mint Engraver, Lee Jones, is the artist behind the coin that honours literary giant Dylan Thomas and celebrates the 100th anniversary of his birth. Lee’s design has elicited much comment so, in a recent interview with him, we’ve gone ‘behind the design’to find out what it was like to design the coin that commemorates one of his heroes.
Dylan Marlais Thomas was born on 27th October 1914 in Swansea, just after the outbreak of the First World War. No doubt, the social changes brought by the Great War impacted on his family and childhood, as it did for everyone in the UK during those years. His parents, fluent Welsh speakers who originated from Carmarthenshire, gave him his Welsh christian name, believed to mean ‘son of the waves’. However, in line with the thinking of those times, Dylan was not brought up to speak Welsh, which explains why one of the most famous of Welshmen wrote exclusively in English. Happily for the English-speaking world, this accident of destiny made his works internationally accessible.
Dylan Thomas statue at the Maritime Quarter, Swansea. Image Copyright Stu’s Images, via Wikimedia Commons
How many of us have ever asked ourselves the question – what’s in my change? Those of us who have will know the answer, of course, which is – more history, art and treasure than you could imagine! Let me elaborate…