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British Coins New Design

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

British Coins - New Design

After rattling in our pockets for 40 years the Royal Mint has decided to change the designs of 7 British coins; the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p and £1. The new designs are the result of a competition launched over two years ago and won by Matthew Dent.

The Design

The design utilises the Royal Arms displayed in part over 6 of the coins and as a whole on the £1 coin. The new design not only changes the imagery but drops the numerical value of the coin and the beads around the edge, but will also include a matt finish on parts of the coins. The choice by Matthew Dent to use the Royal Arms is not a unique one as this has been used on coins since the 14th century but to use the coins to display only smaller sections of the Royal Arms is an innovation. It is this unique approach that has caused some controversy. The Royal Mint have been careful not to alter the coins beyond the new imagery. All the coins retain their original colour, size and shape, which if changed throughout the coinage would cause much confusion. The last time a coin was altered in this way was the miniaturisation of the 5p in the 1990’s.

The Problems

It was always unlikely that when the new designs were revealed that their flaws would not be highlighted, these include:

  • The lack of Welsh representation in the Royal Arms will displease an already highly patriotic section of the population.
  • The lack of numeric value on the coins will confuse many foreign travellers.

The design also creates an issue for the future. If at any point it was decided to change one coin then all the coins would need to change as the design only works as each coin is part of a greater whole, if one was to change the puzzle would be missing a piece.

Personally I like the new designs and look forward to having a closer look. I especially like the idea of using part of the Royal Arms over each coin. I’ve always been interested if an image can be conveyed in part and retain it’s meaning or if people require the full image to ensure the meaning comes across. However the British coin is given such minimal attention in everyday life that the design is meaningless to many, but to design something that over 60 million people come into contact with must be a designers dream.