Odd Change. How odd can it be?

The phrase ‘odd change’ is often used to refer to a small number of coins. But, when thinking about the phrase, we pondered on current and historic coins that could be considered ‘odd’ in some way. We searched for coins that ‘break the mould’ – both in the UK and worldwide – 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 are just a few that we’ve found to get you started…

1 Dollar Geometric-shaped coins - Somalia 2008

1 Dollar Geometric-shaped coins – Somalia 2008. Image source: xombit.com

Continue reading

Mary Gillick – Sculptor of a Royal Coin Portrait

In 2015, the year when the fifth definitive coin portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be revealed, it is poignant to note that 27 January marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the artist entrusted to create Her Majesty’s first coin portrait in 1952. Mary Gillick, already a sculptor of note at that momentous time, sadly passed away 13 years later, in 1965. So, who was this lady, whose work adorned the UK coins in our hands every day from 1953 to 1967?

Sculptor Mary Gillick with the plaster of her design for HM Queen Elizabeth II's first definitive coin portrait.  Image held at the Royal Mint Museum

Sculptor Mary Gillick with the plaster of her design for HM Queen Elizabeth II’s first definitive coin portrait. Image held at the Royal Mint Museum

Continue reading

10 interesting facts about Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill lived to the age of 90, and in those years he accomplished many things. Most of us will remember Winston Churchill, the politician, and he is certainly remembered for his contribution to the Second World War, but that is just one side of this great man’s story. His life and work are well documented, and too vast for a single blog post, so here are our top 10 interesting facts about Winston Churchill: Continue reading

The Evolving Effigy of Queen Elizabeth

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?”

Continue reading