World Storytelling Day is an annual event, with the ambition of getting as many people as possible to tell and listen to stories in as many languages as possible. Harking back to the days of camp fire stories, the international day showcases storytelling as an art form. This year’s event falls on the 20th March and the theme is myths, legends and epics.
For years The Royal Mint has being telling epic stories and capturing moments of history on its coins, condensing down legendary barbs and myths to an intricately designed image that honours history, authors and great works of literature.
Some of our favourite stories told on coins, include:
Captain Cook’s Epic Voyage
Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. He led to his commission in 1766 as commander of HM Bark Endeavour for the first of three Pacific voyages. In three voyages, Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe. He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously achieved. To mark the moment HM Bark Endeavour set sail, The Royal Mint created a three-year £2 coin set that charts the progress and unlocks the secrets of Cook’s epic voyage of discovery along the way.
Paddington Bear ™
The much loved Paddington Bear reached his 60th anniversary in October 2018. He first appeared on 13 October 1958 in the children’s book A Bear Called Paddington and has been featured in more than twenty books written by British author Michael Bond. To mark the anniversary, The Royal Mint released two official coins, capturing Paddington sitting on his suitcase at Paddington Station and also on an exciting day out at Buckingham Palace.
History, Comedy and Tragedy by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare is arguably one of the most famous playwrights in history. Taught as part of the national curriculum, loved on stage even today, and honoured in film and TV, his work has played a significant role for generations.
Such is the literary legacy of William Shakespeare, that in 2016, The Royal Mint struck three official £2 coins in his honour. John Bergdahl’s designs grace each one of these coins, an homage to Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies and historical works.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley, that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a hideous, sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. The first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818. Her name first appeared on the second edition, published in 1823.
Frankenstein continues to amaze, shock and inspire those who encounter it. Its legacy is unparalleled; many call it the first science fiction novel while others call it the greatest horror novel of all time. The coin, to honour the 200th anniversary, was designed by Thomas T. Docherty.
The Tales of Beatrix Potter
2016 marked 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter, one of the most cherished children’s authors in British history. A childhood favourite for many, Peter Rabbit, Flopsy Bunny, Mrs Tittlemouse, Tom Kitten, Benjamin Bunny and Jeremy Fisher are beloved characters for many. Captured on a series of 50p pieces, The Royal Mint has honoured these great works on coins for three years with the brand new Peter Rabbit coin going on sale this week. .
The legend of St George and the Dragon
The legend of Saint George and the Dragon describes the saint taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices; the saint thereby rescues the princess chosen as the next offering. Such is the legend for St George, he has been referred to throughout history in great works of literature and art. Example include Edmund Spenser expanding on the Saint George and the Dragon story in Book I of the Fairy Queen, initially referring to the hero as the Redcross Knight. William Shakespeare refers to Saint George and the Dragon in Richard III , Henry V and also in King Lear.
By 1348 St George had become such a symbolic figure in England that Edward III made him the nation’s patron saint.
The Royal Mint created the new gold Sovereign in 1817, designed by the Italian gem engraver Benedetto Pistrucci. His approach to the design was a refreshing change to the heraldry that had traditionally featured on coins.
The coin design has become a classic, and the coin expert Humphrey Sutherland praised it as one of the noblest innovations in English coin design from 1800 to the present day. Many collectors and historians would agree with him.
The Great Fire of London
While not a work of literature, The Great Fire of London is a historical moment in history, and the story of the fire has been told in classrooms, through books and in songs for centuries. The fire was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the city of London from Sunday, 2 September to Thursday, 6 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman city wall. It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St Paul’s Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. The image of the fire was depicted on a £2 coin and both commemorate the great disaster while celebrating the resilience of the city.
To find out more about these coins, and other great stories told through coin design, visit www.theroyalmint.com