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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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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Are there more 2016 UK coins to come?

We recently announced the commemorative themes for 2016, and what a response we’ve had. We’ve been overwhelmed by the fantastic feedback we’ve received on our Facebook and Twitter; it is safe to say that 2016 is set to be a bumper year for UK coins!

To recap, in total we have revealed eight new UK coins so far. These include one 50p, one £1 coin, five £2 coins, and one £5 coin. Anniversaries for The Great Fire of London, the Battle of Hastings and William Shakespeare are all marked alongside the last ’round pound’, a £2 coin honouring the role of the Army in the First World War and a £5 coin marking Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday. But, have the recently updated collector albums revealed that there are yet more to come?

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The 2016 UK coin designs revealed

It’s been an exciting week for UK coin collectors and if you’ve not been following the announcements on Facebook or Twitter then this article should bring you up to speed! Those of you who have been collecting coins for a few years or more will know that November is normally an exciting time at The Royal Mint, as the coins of the following year are released. So, you’ll be excited to learn that on Monday the new coins for 2016 were announced! In total, eight 2016 UK coins have been revealed alongside The Sovereign for 2016.

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19 coins to find in your change in 2015

It’s safe to say that 2015 has been an exciting year for coin collectors and a historic year for UK coins! It’s been a year that’s seen the coinage portrait of Her Majesty The Queen change and Britannia return to UK coins on a new definitive £2 coin. There have also been several commemorative themes marked on UK coins in 2015, including the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the centenary of the First World War – all of which have been marked on circulating coins!

With so many exciting things happening to the coins we know and love, lots of you have been asking us ‘Just what will we find in our change this year?‘, ‘Which coins will feature the new portrait of The Queen?‘ and ‘How many coins will be struck in 2015?‘. So, we’ve created a handy fact sheet for you to keep track of your 2015 Coin Hunt.

Coin Hunt infographicIn total there will be 19 different UK circulating coins struck in 2015!

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Could this be the most popular coin of 2015?

Earlier this week The Royal Mint announced that it would be striking a range of coins to mark the moment Her Majesty The Queen becomes Britain’s longest reigning monarch. The announcement proved very popular with coin collectors and fans of the royal family alike, as the website experienced overwhelming levels of traffic – the like not seen since the launch of the first ever face value £100 coin. So, could this be the most popular coin of 2015? Have your say in our poll below.

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Coin collecting: A hobby to take on holiday

We’re now into the peak of summer and many of us have already returned from our summer holidays with slightly lighter pockets than when we left. That is, I’d imagine, the truth for most people, apart from perhaps us coin collectors. I recently returned from France with a new collection of Euro coins. Before I left, my coin collection only consisted of UK coins, so I set off on my holiday excited to expand my collection.

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Behind the design: Remembrance Day 2014

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
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.

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