New UK Coin Designs

In 2005 The Royal Mint announced a competition to design six of the eight kinds of coin in circulation in Britain, the first full redesign of the coins since decimalisation in 1971. Open to everyone and with a top prize of £30,000, they received 4000 designs from 500 people, and I just saw on the news that the final designs have been completed and the first coins ready for issue. Not only that, but the £1 coin is now included in the redesign, and somewhat appropriately becomes the uniting element of the set.

You can tell they were done by a graphic designer; even with the complexity of the Royal Arms, the designs are clean and sparse, with pleasing variation in placement of the inscription, and on the 20p there is a sense of refraction through the thick border of the coin. Just take a look at them though, they’re fantastic, in fact, they’re astounding - I can hardly believe that these are actually official coins of the real United Kingdom, instead they look like they’re from some sleek, efficient, science-fiction alternate-universe version of the country.

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half-crown

The one thing that gives me pause in the whole process is the thought that we won’t be seeing any more of the beautiful 50 pence designs*. I’m not exactly a numismatist but I do enjoy seeing the new designs every couple of years or so. I suspect that the one coin not included, the £2, will continue to have commemorative designs on it. I wonder when we’ll get a £5 coin actually in circulation?

While researching this article, I was looking through earlier coin designs on the Royal Mint site, and I notice the 1948 Half Crown used the Royal Arms as well, but with a more elaborate shield design. I think it’s rather attractive, and I’m intrigued by the crowned GG ligature either side of the shield.

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