Have you ever wondered how the coins in your change are made?
From the drawing board to your pocket, there’s a lot that goes into the production of UK coins, and so we’ve put together a 5 stage infographic to break it down for you…
First, The Royal Mint’s marketing team look at possible themes and develop a brief for the designer. They work with internal artists, graphic designers and external artists such as competition winners.
The designer sketches a concept either by hand or on a computer and this is sent to The Royal Mint Advisory Committee for feedback and approval.
The final stage in design is to send the coin to the Queen for final sign off of the design.
It was actually revealed recently that the Queen took a particular liking to the 2019 Stephen Hawking 50p, which has proven to be a big success and a hugely popular design this year.
2) Moulding and Engraving the Master Die
Designs are transferred and sculpted onto a plaster mould 5 times the size of the coin.
This model will be scanned and stored as a digital image to be used by an engraving machine.
The transfer-engraver reproduces the design onto a master die the same diameter as the coin to be struck.
This will be used to make the dies that will actually strike the coins.
Sheets of metal are pressed into the exact thickness of the coin required and then rolled into coils.
These huge coiled strips of metal are then cut into the correct shapes by blanking presses.
The presses punch out blank discs with a pressure of around 60 tonnes, creating coins at a speed of 850 strikes per minute!
The blanks are checked before being annealed and blanched to create a lustre suitable for coining.
To transfer the design onto the blanks to be struck, the coin blank is pressed between two dies using a hydraulic press.
The variable pressure of the press is up to hundreds of pounds per square inch.
This forms the shape and design of the finished coin, striking up to 25,000 coins every hour!
5) Inspecting, Sorting and Bagging
The final stage involves checking the coins for imperfections and sorting them into the correct denominations or designs.
They are wrapped and stacked in bags to be stored in ‘the long room’, ready for despatch.
The Royal Mint and cash distribution services regularly review the amount of coins in circulation and it’s only when they are short of a particular denomination that stocks will be called from The Royal Mint, and these coins will be issued into circulation, ready and waiting to be found in your change!
I don’t know about you, but the next time I check my change I’ll certainly be considering the journey the coins have been through to end up in my purse and the incredible production process that goes into creating UK coins.
If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:
– Find and identify the coins in their pocket
– Collect and track the coins they have
– Swap their spare coins with other Change Checkers
Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app
World Book Day is recognised across the globe as an opportunity to celebrate great books and authors. But more excitingly for Change Checkers, it’s an opportunity to take a look at which of these great books and authors have been commemorated on UK coins!
In recent years, we’ve seen some classic British books and authors celebrated on UK coinage, from Jane Austen to Julia Donaldson’s much-loved Gruffalo. Take a look below to find out what these coins are and where their designs came from.
Beatrix Potter 50p series – Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit has sold some 150 million copies since its release in 1903. The much-loved children’s character was initially featured on a 50p coin in 2016.
First issued as a series of five coins featuring Peter Rabbit and his friends the 50ps designs by Emma Noble, were taken straight from the illustrations of the original books. These 50p coins started an unprecedented collecting phenomenon and have been so hugely popular the series has been continued throughout 2017 and 2018 with the release of a further eight 50p coins. The question is, will we see more of these coins in 2019?
Shakespeare £2 set – In the 400 years since his death, William Shakespeare has become widely regarded as the greatest writer in British history and the world best dramatist. In 2016 The Royal Mint struck three official £2 coins in honour of the playwright – a first for the UK. Each coin celebrates an aspects of Shakespeare’s famous work, tragedies, comedies and histories, all designed by John Bergdahl.
Jane Austen £2 – It might come as a surprise to some collectors that it was only after Austen’s death in 1817 that her works were sent out to print. In 2017 The Royal Mint issued a £2 coin to commemorate 200 years since her death; the reverse design, by Dominique Evans, features a portrait of Austen herself and was approved by leading Jane Austen Academic, Professor John Mullan.
Frankenstein £2 – Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein’ is widely regarded as the first science-fiction novel. To celebrate 200 years since publication, The Royal Mint issued the Frankenstein £2 coin in 2018. The design, by Royal Mint designer Thomas T. Docherty, portrays ECG monitor style wording of ‘Frankenstein’. The coin also features the edge lettering ‘A SPARK OF BEING’ which is a quote taken from the novel.
Paddington Bear 50p pair – Struck to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the classic book, two Paddington Bear 50p coins were issued in 2018. The design on each coin is derived from the modern film adaptation of the book and shows the much-loved bear at Paddington Station and at Buckingham Palace. Collectors and Paddington fans alike have been thrilled with the detail on the coins, designed by David Knapton, from Paddington’s famous duffle coat to the label around his neck that reads ‘Please look after this Bear, thank you.’
The Snowman 50p – To celebrate 40 years of Raymond Briggs’ classic tale, The Royal Mint issued this particularly special, festive commemorative Snowman 50p in November of 2018 that would not enter general circulation. Briggs’ characters are brought to life by designer Natasha Ratcliffe as the boy and the snowman soar through the night sky together. The design was approved by Robin Shaw, assistant director of The Snowman and The Snowdog animation, to ensure the detail was perfect.
The Nutcracker £5 – The Nutcracker story is renowned, and just like coins, it has a long history with Christmas. This £5 coin was issued by The Royal Mint to celebrate Christmas 2018; the reverse design by Harry Brockway shows an enchanted Christmas Nutcracker scene. £5 coins are reserved for the most important Royal and Historical anniversaries, which shows the significance of this Nutcracker £5.
The Gruffalo 50p – Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo was first published in 1999 and to celebrate 20 years of the world’s best-loved monster, The Royal Mint issued a commemorative 50p, featuring The Gruffalo, which will not be entering general circulation. The reverse image was designed by Magic Light Pictures themselves and features The Gruffalo as seen in the modern film adaptation. The Gruffalo 50p has seen remarkable popularity since its release last month and is proving a firm favourite with collectors.
It’s hard to believe we’ve had all these coin releases celebrating British authors and stories in just the last few years.
What’s more, in 2019 we’ll also see the release of a further two coins celebrating famous British authors – a £2 coin to mark 350 years since the famous diarist, Samuel Pepys’, last Diary Entry and a brand new 50p coin to celebrate the prolific writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s, famous detective stories featuring the fictional Sherlock Holmes. Although the designs for these coins have already been released they are not yet available to buy or find in your change – keep your eyes out for their releases later this year!
What authors and books would you like to see on UK coins in future? Let us know below and comment on what your favourite author, story and coin is!
You can now secure some of Britain’s Best Loved Coins featuring your favourite authors and book characters in Brilliant Uncirculated condition.
The Tower of London has been a symbol of royal power for nearly 1,000 years.
Built during the Norman conquest in 1066, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and fortress of the Tower of London has been used as a prison, jewel house, mint and even a menagerie.
It’s been home to kings and queens, thieves and traitors and lions and bears.
In tribute to the Tower, The Royal Mint announced they would be issuing a four coin series throughout 2019 celebrating the history of the Tower of London, one of Britain’s most iconic attractions. The series will include coins depicting the following:
- The Legend of the Ravens
- The Yeoman Warders
- The Ceremony of the Keys
- The Crown Jewels
2019 Ceremony of the Keys £5
The Royal Mint has just released the fourth and final coin in the Tower of London series, with the new £5 being issued to celebrate the Ceremony of the Keys.
Designed by Glyn Davies the reverse of the coin depicts the keys and lamp which take centre stage in the ceremonial unlocking of the Tower of London gates.
What’s more, now that all four coins have been released the full image showing the Tower of London walls can be created by connecting the coins.
The Ceremony of the Keys £5 is available in Gold Proof, Silver Proof and Brilliant Uncirculated quality and I’m sure collectors will be eager to add this representation of our royal history to their collection.
Featuring a Raven with a bird’s-eye view of the Tower in the background, this coin captures the illustrious history of the iconic British landmark and its most famous residents.
The Tower’s ‘raven mythology’ is thought to be a Victorian flight of fantasy and has been a source of many legends, including the fate of Greenwich observatory.
It’s said that King Charles II disliked the raven’s droppings falling onto the telescope at the Tower’s observatory,and so ordered that the ravens must go. However, superstition stated that if the ravens left, the Tower would fall and Charles would lose his kingdom. Ever the pragmatist, the King decided that the observatory must go to Greenwich and the ravens must stay in the Tower.
Since Tudor times, the Yeoman Warders have been guarding the Tower of London. Nicknamed as ‘Beefeaters’, they originally formed the Yeoman of the Guard, which was the monarch’s personal team of bodyguards.
The Yeoman Warders were responsible for looking after the prisoners in the Tower and protecting the crown jewels, however nowadays they also conduct guided tours of the Tower and are an important icon for Britain, resplendent in their red uniforms and a favoured tourist attraction.
They need to be between 40 and 55 years old on appointment and hold at least 22 years’ military service, during which time they must have reached the rank of warrant officer and to have been awarded the long service and good conduct medal.
The Ceremony of the Keys
For over 700 years, as the clock strikes ten, the words ‘Halt! Who comes there?’ echo in the Tower of London. The ancient Ceremony of the Keys is a formal locking and unlocking of the Tower gates, which started in the mid 1300s on order of King Edward III after he entered the Tower unannounced one night and was able to walk straight in, unchallenged!
Tradition states that at exactly seven minutes to ten at night, the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower must leave the Byward Tower, wearing a red Watch Coat and Tudor Bonnet and carrying a lantern. He takes with him a very special set of keys – the Queen’s Keys.
A military escort meets him at the Bloody Tower and at 10pm he moves two paces forward, raises his Tudor bonnet and says: ‘God preserve Queen Elizabeth’. This is answered by ‘Amen’ from the guards and ‘The Last Post’ played on a bugle.
The keys are then taken back to the Queen’s House and handed to the Queen’s representative at the Tower, The Resident Governor.
Several expansions were made to the Tower throughout the reign of Kings Richard I, Henry III and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries, however in general the original layout remains consistent. It suffered structural damage during the Blitz, but this was repaired after the Second World War and the Tower was opened to the public, to marvel at the Tower’s most esteemed treasures – the Crown Jewels!
Not only a powerful symbol of the British Monarchy, the jewels have deep religious and cultural significance in British history and are used by HRH Queen Elizabeth for important ceremonies and royal duties.
However, the 12th century anointing spoon and three early 17th century swords are the only four original jewels left after the English Civil War in 1649, when the Crown Jewels were destroyed and the monarchy abolished. The jewels were remade for Charles II’s coronation in 1661 following Oliver Cromwell’s death.
From the late 15th century and during its peak period as a prison in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Tower housed some of Britain’s most notorious criminals, including Guy Fawkes, Anne Boleyn and even Elizabeth I before she became queen.
For those in a position of wealth, serving time at the Tower could be relatively comfortable, with some captive kings allowed to go out on hunting or shopping trips and even allowed to bring in their servants. However, for those less fortunate, the phrase “sent to the Tower” would conjure up gruesome images of torture and execution, such was its fearsome reputation.
Despite this reputation, only 7 people were executed at the Tower before the World Wars of the 20th century, where 12 men were then executed for espionage.
From 1272 until 1810, the Tower of London was home to The Royal Mint. Coins of the realm were produced in a dedicated area in the outer ward known as ‘Mint Street’. This dangerous task involved working with scorching furnaces, deadly chemicals and poisonous gases and many Mint workers suffered injuries including loss of fingers and eyes from the process.
In the 1600s, coins were no longer made by hand, but instead a screw-operated press was introduced. However, risk still befell the Mint workers, as they faced severe punishments should they be caught tampering with or forging coins.
In 1810, the Mint moved from the Tower to a new site at Tower Hill and eventually on to its present location in Wales to allow for expansion.
Now that the first coin in the Royal Mint’s brand new four coin series celebrating the Tower of London has been released, I’m sure £5 coin collectors will be looking forward to building up this fascinating collection.
Let us know what you think about the design and which coin in the series you’re most looking forward to seeing.
Complete your Tower of London £5 series
The Ceremony of the Keys £5 coin is now available to purchase in Brilliant Uncirculated quality.