Chinese New Year 2015: Year Of The Sheep

This year, Chinese New Year falls on 19 February. It will mark the end of the Year of the Horse and the 2015 Year of the Sheep will begin – you may also see it referred to as the Year of the Goat and the Year of the Ram, as the Chinese symbol ‘yang’ is generic for these animals. More specifically, 2015 is the Year of the Green Wood Sheep. Like me, you may well be wondering what that means?


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A Badge For a Baronet

Early in 2013 The Royal Mint received an order for a baronet’s badge from Sir Michael Nairn, the 4th baronet of the Nairn family, a well-known name in the flooring industry, based in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Sir Michael and his two sons, Andrew and Alex, belong to the prestigious Royal Company of Archers that functions as the sovereign’s ‘Body Guard in Scotland’. All three were invited to attend a Royal Garden Party in Edinburgh in July 2013.

Being aware of his entitlement to wear a baronet’s badge, Sir Michael naturally wished to wear it for this very special occasion. So he contacted the Medals department of The Royal Mint, requesting – ‘could one be made in time’? That immediately set in motion craftsmanship and skills that, although infrequently called upon, are still available here.

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Numismatic Nostalgia: The 25p four coin set

The Royal Mint has released a new, nostalgic commemorative coin set which unites four 25p decimal crowns. Coins have long played an important part in celebrating special events throughout the history of the nation and the crowns are no exception.

Commemorative crowns, as we know them today, were issued from 1935 for the celebration of George V’s Silver Jubilee. Originally five-shilling coins, the denomination changed with decimalisation in 1971 to twenty-five new pence. Only four crown pieces were released with this 25p denomination, before the crown was re-valued in 1990 to five pounds. Covering almost a decade, the 25p coins in this appealing set were issued in 1972, 1977, 1980 and 1981 to celebrate an anniversary, a Jubilee, a landmark birthday and a royal wedding.

The British Decimal Twenty-Five Pence 4 Coin set. £27.00
The British Decimal Twenty-Five Pence 4 Coin set – £27.00 – Click here to purchase

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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:

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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

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