2017 marks 200 years since the death of Jane Austen – one of the best-loved English novelists of all time. And to celebrate such an inspirational female figure, both The Royal Mint and the Bank of England have chosen to honour her on a brand new coin and banknote this year.
People power wins
Back in May 2013, a petition to ‘keep a woman on English banknotes’ gained momentum. Over 35,000 people signed the petition after it was announced that Winston Churchill would replace social reformer Elizabeth Fry as the face of the £5 note in 2016. At the time this meant that other than the Queen, there would be no women featuring on English banknotes.
However, it seems that people power has won as Jane Austen will soon become the new face of the polymer £10 note later on this year, replacing Charles Darwin.
It is thought that Jane Austen was already part of the Bank’s plans for the next new note as in a statement the Bank said it was “never the Bank’s intention” that none of the four characters on banknotes would be a woman.
The Bank of England have featured characters on their banknotes since 1970 to celebrate individuals that have shaped British thought, innovation, leadership, values and society.
Jane Austen will become the 17th historical figure to feature on a Bank of England note.
So not only will Jane Austen feature on the new £10 note, The Royal Mint also revealed earlier this month that she will also feature on the new 2017 £2 coin. Designed by Dominique Evans, the new £2 features a silhouette of Jane Austen with the dates 1817-2017.
The new £2 coin issued by The Royal Mint has been struck to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, one of the best-loved English novelists.
This is the first time ever that someone has featured on a circulation coin and banknote at the same time – other than the reigning monarch.
A tiny portrait of Jane Austen also appears on four of the new polymer £5 notes as a microscopic engraving produced by Specialist micro-engraver Graham Short. The collector’s items are said to be worth over £20,000 each and two of the specially produced notes have already been found in South Wales and in the Scottish Borders.
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I’m sure you’ll agree that 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for coin collectors with so many significant anniversaries being commemorated and some fantastic designs.
So which coins are you most looking forward to finding in your change?
2016 marks the 950th Anniversary of The Battle of Hastings. The reverse of the coin depicts the fate of King Harold at the hands of William The Conqueror, along with the date 1066 – when the battle took place. The obverse features the fifth portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark.
The Great Fire is one of the most well-known disasters to hit London, when an accidental spark from a baker’s oven on Pudding Lane led to the destruction of a third of the city. This £2 coin marks the 350th anniversary of this iconic moment from which modern London emerged. The reverse depicts the city of London burning in flames from a distance and was designed by Aaron West.
Continuing the 4 year commemoration of the Centenary of the First World War, the third in the series of £2 coins commemorates the ‘Pals Battalions’ and their tragic debut at the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago. The design features a modern interpretation of three ‘Pals’ side by side, inspired by the works of British WWI artist C.R.W. Nevinson.
2016 marks 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare. In honour of one of our greatest literary figures, The Royal Mint have issued three brand new £2 coins that honour an aspect of Shakespeare’s famous work including tragedies, comedies and histories.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter, the Royal Mint have released a series of 50p coins to celebrate the artist behind some of the best-loved characters in children’s literature. The coins celebrate Beatrix herself as well as some of the animals from her children’s tales.
To wish Team GB success in Rio de Janeiro this summer, The Royal Mint issued this Team GB 50p coin just last month. The reverse features a swimmer with the Team GB logo, the Olympic rings and the inscription “TEAM GB”.
Here at Change Checker we can’t wait for these coins to enter into circulation, but with so many great designs to choose from, which of these designs is your favourite?
Vote in our poll here;
Striking my very own £1 coin was just one of the highlights of the new Royal Mint visitors centre which opened on the 18th May.
Until last week, the workings of the Royal Mint have remained a closely guarded secret, secured behind high fences and guarded by MOD Police.
But that’s all changed with the opening of the new Royal Mint Experience.
As a keen Change Checker myself, I made sure that I was one of the very first people through the doors on opening day. And this is what I found…
The Royal Mint moved to Llantrisant in Wales in 1968 specifically to strike the new coins that were to be issued as part of decimalistaion in 1971. Before the production of coins moved here, there were two other main Royal Mint locations – The Tower of London and then Tower Hill.
For the first time in over 1000 years, the Royal Mint have opened its doors to the general public allowing unprecedented access to the history of our coins and a look behind-the-scenes of the UK’s oldest institution.
Let me tell you about my experience…
The tour starts with a short introduction to the Royal Mint before being guided over to a separate building to start the factory experience.
The Journey of a coin before it reaches our pockets
Each UK denomination is made up of different compositions which are agreed between The Royal Mint and HM Treasury but the exact amount is kept top secret. For example, 50ps are made from Cupro-nickel while Two pound coins are made from a combination of Nickel-Brass and Cupro-nickel.
These different metals are melted in temperatures that can reach up to 1450°C and then cooled before being rolled into large strips called ‘coils’.
Before the strips are rolled into the correct thickness required for the denomination, half a millimeter is shaved from the surface to remove the impurities which leaves it clean and shiny ready for striking.
Blanks are then punched from these strips at an extraordinary rate of 8,000 per minute per machine.
Depending on the denomination, some coins will have their edge lettering applied. This is to help against counterfeiting. What you may not know though, is the edge lettering is applied before the coin has even been struck.
Striking a coin
An astonishing 1500 Million coins are issued in the UK every year and this all takes place at the Royal Mint is Llantrisant. Add to this number the amount of coins they strike for other countries and you’ll reach an extraordinary 5 billion coins minted in just one year. That’s 90 million coins a week!
I mentioned earlier that the Royal Mint strike coins for as many as 60 other countries around the world. All this takes place in the same warehouse and you will be able to see the forklifts moving coins from machine to machine before they are eventually counted and bagged or boxed according to each countries criteria.
“I struck this coin”
As part of the Royal Mint experience, visitors can strike their own coins. What’s even more exciting is that I struck a 2016 ‘Last Round Pound’ £1 coin. You’ll know that the ‘Last Round Pound’ will not be entering circulation and is only available to buy in Brilliant Uncirculated condition. This striking process is only open to visitors and so only those who visit the attraction will have the opportunity to strike their very own ‘Last Round Pound’.
Adult tickets cost £13.50 and are available to buy from the Royal Mint website.