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…
First of all – History For centuries the face, or effigy of the reigning monarch has appeared on British coins. Such effigies reinforced the identity and, therefore, the authority of the monarch in times when coins were one of the few methods of communication. Today there are so many media channels on which we have the pleasure of seeing Her Majesty The Queen that it is difficult to imagine being unfamiliar with her appearance. This privilege was not available in earlier times so the royal image on a coin was often the only way they would have any idea of their monarch’s appearance.
Four such portraits of Her Majesty have appeared on coins since her accession to the throne in 1953, although only her three most recent effigies are on the coins in circulation.
Also, a huge number of historical and national commemorations are marked on coins. For example, in recent years the 50p, £1 and £2 coins have depicted: sporting events – the London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 50p coins; UK landmarks – the 2004-07 bridges £1 series; and national anniversaries – such as the 150th aniversary of the London Underground 2013 £2 coins and the 100th anniversary of the Outbreak of the First World War 2014 £2 coins.
Secondly – Art This almost goes without saying. The variety of designs on UK coins and the range of designers who have contributed their artistic talents to those designs is breathtaking. Designers have ranged from acclaimed craftsmen such as Stuart Devlin and Timothy Noad, through to a young schoolgirl, Florence Jackson. Devlin and Noad are responsible for, among other designs, the UK capital cities and floral £1 series; whereas Florence was chosen from a national competition to design one of the London 2012 Sports 50p coins – hers is the ‘Athletics’ design.
Lastly, coins – and hunting them down – are something to Treasure. That thrilling moment when a rare coin is handed to you in your change in a shop… Do you know what some of the rarest commemorative designs issued into current circulation are? Take a look at our wall chart of ‘The rarest UK coins in 2014’:
Each of us can find history, art and treasure in our hands every day. All you have to do is take a look at the coins we use every day – there are currently over 100 different coin designs to find in your change!
That’s an astonishing amount of design and information at everyone’s fingertips every day – courtesy of The Royal Mint and the wonderful artists who design UK coins.
I have restricted this article to only UK coins but, of course, the same principles apply to the coinage of many other countries in the world. And coin collectors don’t restrict themselves! We’d love to hear from anyone who has a particularly interesting, beautiful or historic coin collection – big or small. Take a look at our Pinterest boards ‘Coins of the World’ and ‘Our Fans’ Gallery of Coins’ where we’ve pinned the best examples we can find of coins and the people who collect them, ancient and modern (the coins not the people!) from all over the world. We hope you enjoy them – and please join in by posting pictures or videos of your coin collections on our Facebook, Twitter or YouTube sites – we’ll add them to our Pinterest and you’ll be famous for five minutes!