How does it feel to design the UK’s newest circulation coin? I caught up with Aaron West to find out.

Aaron West is part of the design team for The Royal Mint and is responsible for designing the latest coin released into circulation, the Sir Isaac Newton 50p.

Aaron West, a designer for The Royal Mint, signing the new Sir Isaac Newton 50p coin pack

This is the second circulation coin designed by Aaron, the first being the very popular Great Fire of London £2.

The two UK circulation coins Aaron has designed – The Sir Isaac Newton 50p and The Great Fire of London £2

I wanted to find out what makes a coin designer tick and Aaron kindly answered some of my questions:

How long have you been designing coins for The Royal Mint and how many have you designed to date?

I have been designing coins for over four years now. I have designed many coins but have been fortunate to win two design competitions.

How did you become a coin designer for The Royal Mint?

I joined The Royal Mint in June 2011. I applied for a maternity cover position and then was given a permanent position. I have been working as a designer for over seven years.

Which coins have you designed for The Royal Mint?

I have official coins designs for a £2 coin, The Great Fire of London and for a 50 pence piece, Sir Isaac Newton. 

Aaron sketching his initial Sir Isaac Newton 50p design ideas. (Image: The Royal Mint)

Can you tell me briefly the process involved when designing a coin?

There is no specific process involved when designing a coin. It depends on the subject. For example, The Great Fire of London, I broke it down to three elements. Firstly I concentrated on the bottom of the design (the river and boats) then I moved onto the middle part of the design (buildings / skyline). The third / top part of the design (the smoke) was the most difficult part. I try to keep all of my designs simple because a lot of detail will not be clear on a small diameter. 

Approximately how long does it take to design one coin?

Again, it all depends on the subject. I try to spend a few days on research before I start my design concepts. If the subject is complex then I’ll spend more time on research. It takes me approximately an hour for each design (rough sketch).

These sketches show the stages of the design process for the Great Fire of London £2 (Image: The Royal Mint)

What is the most challenging aspect when designing a coin?

The most challenging aspect when designing a coin is trying to fit everything in a small area. Coins are very small so to make a design stand out is very challenging.

How do you feel when you receive a coin that you’ve designed in your change?

Unfortunately, I have yet to find any of my designs in my pocket change but I am still looking. Some of my friends and family have found them and messaged me some pictures which was very thoughtful.

I am pleased that people are looking for them which makes me very proud. I am also very proud to a part of history. 

The Isaac Newton 50p coin has a very intricate design for a small area

Finally, other than one of your own (obviously!) what is your favourite coin design and why?

My favourite coin design would have to be the Jane Austen £2 coin. I like the portrait which is featured in the centre but I particularly like the inner silver edge. The inner silver edge is a picture frame which works very well. I also like the stripes which on the design, they stand out. 

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  1. Steve Langhorne on September 30, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Just after I received my coin I asked the Royal Mint for an explanation of the letters, they contacted Aaron West who replied this :-

    From: Aaron West
    Sent: 20 February 2017 13:00
    To: Jodie Jones
    Subject: Re: Sir Isaac Newton


    I don’t know what the letters mean as it was one of Isaac Newton theories.

    I have attached a screen shot which explain the theory in more detail. Also, the link below is an ebook about it.


  2. Jacq le Breton on September 16, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Congratulations Aaron. How can I get to design a coin?