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 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.
To the delight of collectors, a stand-alone Peter Rabbit 50p was issued in collector’s quality for 2019. But the question on everyone’s lips is, will we see any more Beatrix Potter coins this year?
Shakespeare £2 Set
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
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 50ps
Paddington Bear 50ps – 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.’
Excitingly, a further two Paddington 50ps were released in 2019 – Paddington at the Tower and Paddington at St Paul’s Cathedral. Will we be lucky enough to see this loveable bear’s London adventures continue in 2020?
The Snowman 50p
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. 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.
But the Christmas cheer didn’t stop there, as in 2019 a second Snowman 50p was released, designed by Snowman Enterprises themselves to capture the Snowman and James in a wonderful snowy scene. Could their story continue with another Christmas 50p in 2020?
The Nutcracker £5
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
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. 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 and is proving a firm favourite with collectors.
And so collectors were unsurprisingly overjoyed when they heard the news that a second Gruffalo 50p would be released in 2019. This coins features the Gruffalo and Mouse from Julia Donaldson’s bedtime classic and makes for the perfect pair with the original Gruffalo coin released earlier that year.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 50p
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 50p – Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the man who revolutionised the crime genre with his creation of one Britain’s best-loved detectives, Sherlock Holmes™. To mark the 160th anniversary of Doyle’s birth, The Royal Mint issued a commemorative 50p coin paying homage to the author’s legendary works. The reverse has been designed by Stephen Raw and features a silhouette of Sherlock Holmes smoking a pipe, surrounded by a few of the most-famous Holmes story titles.
It’s hard to believe we’ve had all these coin releases celebrating British authors and stories in just the last few years.
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.
This year celebrates the 200th birthday of one of the most infamous fictional characters in historic literature – Frankenstein’s Monster!
With film adaptations across various genres, from the quasi-rock opera The Rocky Horror Picture Show to sci-fi classics like Prometheus, the tale of the dysfunctional Victor Frankenstein and his mad scientific invention is known by all of us in some shape or form.
In the gothic tale – written by Mary Shelley – an obsessed Victor Frankenstein attempts to bring a corpse back to life in his laboratory through mad methods of chemistry, alchemy and a ‘flash’ of electricity.
To celebrate this important literary bi-centenary The Royal Mint has released a commemorative £2. The reverse features the word ‘Frankenstein’ in electric gothic font, along with ‘Bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s The Modern Prometheus’ written around the edge.
The edge inscription reads ‘A spark of being’, the words of Dr Victor Frankenstein when he creates ‘creature’.
We haven’t seen anything quite like this in a coin design before and since the design was revealed at the start of the year there has been a huge response from excited collectors looking to get their hands on this unusual coin.
What do you think of this new £2 coin? Let us know in the comments below!
Commemorate 200 years of Mary Shelley’s exceptional novel with the ‘Frankenstein’ BU £2
This striking £2 coin is now available to add to your collection in Brilliant Uncirculated quality.
Today, the 8th March, is International Women’s Day.
So what a great opportunity to take a look at some of the women who have featured on UK coins and how they have influenced recent British history.
Don’t forget to vote (at the bottom of the page) for which inspiring woman you’d like to see celebrated on a UK coin in the future!
Her Majesty The Queen (1926 – Present)
It’s a no brainer to start with The Queen’s as her portrait features on all current UK coinage.
The Queen has ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history, becoming a much loved and respected figure across the globe.
Her extraordinary reign has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking many historic overseas visits. Known for her sense of duty and her devotion to a life of service, she has been an important figurehead for the UK and the Commonwealth during times of enormous social change.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1900 – 2002)
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother was one of the most extraordinary Royal personalities of the 20th Century.
Born Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon on 4th August 1900, she entered public life in 1923 when she married Prince Albert, the Duke of York and younger son of King George V. When he unwillingly became King, it was her love and indomitable spirit during difficult war times which earned Queen Elizabeth the love and respect of her people.
In 2002 she sadly passed away, and to honour her, the Royal Mint struck a £5 memorial coin with her effigy on the reverse.
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 – 1997)
Diana Frances Spencer married the Prince of Wales in July 1981. Although the Princess gave birth to two sons, William and Harry, the marriage was unstable and led to a legal separation in 1992 and divorce four years later.
Constantly the subject of a media frenzy, Diana died in a car crash in Paris in August 1997 while she and her friend Dodi Al Fayed were trying to escape the paparazzi. The world was stunned at her tragic death, and her funeral a few days later triggered grief all around the world.
The Royal Mint issued this memorial £5 coin in 1999 featuring Diana’s profile on the reverse.
Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943)
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter, The Royal Mint released this 50p to celebrate Beatrix herself.
Designed by Emma Noble, the coin includes elements that celebrate Beatrix as the artist behind some of the best-loved characters in children’s literature along with the nostalgic font used for the inscription.
Along with this 50p The Mint have also released a further 7 Beatrix Potter coins, featuring many of our favourite characters from her beloved stories, including Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten and Jemima Puddle-Duck.
The popularity of both the 2016 and 2017 Beatrix Potter 50p series has been astounding and introduced many thousands more people to the world of change collecting.
Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910)
Named after the Italian city in which she was born in 1820, Florence Nightingale is famous for her work in the military hospitals during the Crimean War where she tended to wounded soldiers.
In 1860 she laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Her book ‘Notes on Nursing’ proved to be influential in changing the way hospitals were run and the role of nurses within them.
Released in 2010 to commemorate 150 years of nursing, the reverse design by Gordon Summers features the image of a nurse taking the pulse of a patient.
Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)
Jane Austen is one of the best-loved English novelists from the 19th century. Her novels were revolutionary and from her first novel, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, readers began a love affair with her fiction that has lasted two centuries.
Designed by Dominique Evans, a portrait of Jane Austen features on this £2 coin, released in 2017, to mark 200 years since her death.
Interestingly, with the introduction of both this coin and the new polymer £10 note, Jane Austen became the first person ever, aside from the reigning monarch, to feature on both a UK coin and UK banknote at the same time.
Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851)
This £2 coin was issued by The Royal Mint to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s famous novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.
Whilst on holiday in Geneva Mary Shelley and her poet friends, including Lord Byron and future Husband Percy Shelley, decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. Out of this Mary Shelley created Frankenstein, a story about a scientist’s scary act at playing God and creating life. It went on to become one of the best loved gothic novels.
The reverse of this gothic coin was designed by Thomas Doherty and features the words ‘Frankenstein’ in an electric gothic font.
Which influential women would you like to see feature on coins in the future?
I’ve made a list of some rather amazing women who’d certainly merit a place on a UK coin. You can vote for your favourite below or suggest another worthy candidate as a comment on this blog.