Today marks the start of National Storytelling Week, which is celebrated in February each year. It’s a great chance for people to share their own stories and listen to the stories told by others.
As part of the celebrations, we’ve taken a look at some UK coins that celebrate some of the very best storytellers.
One of the greatest storytellers and playwrights of all time, William Shakespeare, shot to fame during the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages of British theatre.
He wrote 38 plays, 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets and a variety of other pieces!
In 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary since his death, The Royal Mint issued a three-coin series, each taking inspiration from a theme of Shakespeare’s plays.
This coin’s design was inspired by Shakespeare’s history plays, with an edge inscription that reads: “The Hollow Crown”, from his play “Richard II”.
Beatrix Potter’s enchanting tales of countryside characters, including Peter Rabbit and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle skyrocketed her to stardom. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published in 1902 and it instantly became a best-seller!
And it was in 2016 that Peter Rabbit escaped from Mr. McGregor’s Garden and made his first debut on United Kingdom coinage.
Issued to celebrate 150 years since the birth of renowned Children’s author, Beatrix Potter, this 50p changed coin collecting forever.
This series of coins continued into 2017, 2018 and 2019. Fifteen Beatrix Potter coins have now been issued since 2016, each featuring one of Potter’s delightful characters, from Flopsy Bunny to Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.
The title of the rarest of the Beatrix Potter 50p actually belongs to two coins! The 2018 Peter Rabbit and 2018 Flopsy Bunny both have a mintage of just 1.4 million!
A list of great story tellers wouldn’t be complete without Charles Dickens!
Dickens’ enchanting stories, vivid characters, and depiction of Victorian life are widely acknowledged across the world by critics and scholars alike and his novels and short stories continue to be widely popular to this day.
The reverse design of this £2 coin by Matthew Dent features Dickens’ recognizable profile crafted from the titles of his most famous works.
This coin had a circulating mintage of 8,190,000 and is one of my personal favourites!
Agatha Christie’s first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920 and it kick-started the nation’s love of her detective novels and murder mysteries.
In 2020, to mark 100 years since her first publication, The Royal Mint celebrated the world’s best-selling novelist with this £2 coin.
David Lawrence’s design of this coin pays homage to Christie’s crime novels, with a piece of a jigsaw slotting into place and her signature at the bottom.
The coin also features the edge inscription ‘100 years of mystery 1920’-2020’ to mark this very special anniversary.
Sherlock Holmes 50p
In 2019, to mark 160 years since the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Royal Mint issued this 50p coin.
The prolific writer is best known for his incredibly popular detective stories featuring the fictional Sherlock Holmes™. It is said his works revolutionized the crime genre, and despite Doyle sharing an ambivalent relationship with his famous character, Holmes’ popularity resulted in Doyle becoming one of the best-paid authors of the time.
The reverse has been designed by Stephen Raw and features a silhouette of Sherlock smoking a pipe, surrounded by a few of his most-famous story titles.
Are there any other great storytellers you think should be celebrated on our UK coins? Comment below!
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Last night, news emerged that a UK coin to celebrate one of Britain’s best loved children’s authors, Roald Dahl, was rejected by The Royal Mint.
Famed for his classic novels such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits and Matilda (amongst many more), the incredibly imaginative author was born in September 1916, meaning the 100th anniversary coin would have been due for release in 2016.
And yet no such coin ever came to pass…
The Royal Mint decided against marking the centenary of the Roald Dahl’s birth because of concerns about the author’s anti semitic views. According to official papers obtained by the Guardian newspaper using freedom of information laws, the proposal to issue a coin to mark the centenary of Dahl’s birth was dropped because he was “not regarded as an author of the highest reputation”.
The Royal Mint have made clear that “commemorative coins go through a rigorous planning and selection process” led by the independent Royal Mint Advisory Committee, and not every coin idea proposed actually ends up making it through this process.
In fact, in 2012 a special six-sided coin was very nearly released to commemorate one of the most significant celebrations in British history – the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This too was rejected by senior staff at The Royal Mint as the commemorative coin programme was already “sufficiently comprehensive.”
— Mike Wright (@MikeJGWright) 31 December 2015
The commemorative coins selected for release in 2016 actually included the great literary figures William Shakespeare and Beatrix Potter.
Although the Royal Mail did honour the children’s author with a set of commemorative stamps celebrating his books in 2012, unfortunately the magic and wonder of Dahl’s literary works won’t ever be recognised on a commemorative UK coin.
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With the release of the brand new Paddington 50p coin series in 2018, I’ve been thinking back over some of the UK’s top coin releases and of course nothing is quite as exciting as a whole series of brand new coins to add to your collection! But which series has been your favourite, Change Checkers…?
The results are now in and it’s safe to say that we have a clear winner with the coin series that started it all – the Olympic 50ps! That’s right, Change Checkers voted this hugely popular series as their favourite and it’s no wonder, as these coins created a collecting storm back in 2012 when coin collectors and Olympic enthusiasts alike looked to secure these coins for their Olympic collections.
Find out more about these coins below and take a look at the results of our poll at the bottom of this page.
Coming in a close second were the brand new 2018 RAF £2 coins, closely followed by the new A-Z 10p coins. It seems that Change Checker’s are really enjoying these new coins releases and whilst the RAF coins haven’t been released into circulation yet and the A-Z 10ps are proving tricky to find, they are clearly holding a lot of appeal for collectors.
Read all about these coins, and the other 50p and £2 coin series below.
The first series to really kick start coin collector’s of the nation was the Olympic 50p series, which has since become so popular that it’s now estimated that 75% of the coins have been removed from circulation by collectors!
So what made this coin series so special? The 2012 Olympics were of course a hugely exciting time for Britain and people were undoubtedly looking for a ‘free’ souvenir to mark this significant event.
Struck at the organisation’s headquarters in South Wales, the coins were designed by members of the public as part of a Royal Mint competition in which nearly 30,000 entries were submitted. They are the first ever UK coins to be designed by the public.
Each of the twenty-nine 50p coins features an Olympic or Paralympic sport on its reverse. These include sailing, cycling and basketball as well as less well-known sports such as handball and the Paralympic sport boccia.
The 50p coins are seen as a perfect souvenir to remember London 2012 due to their intrinsic value and quality which holds an interest and fascination for generations to come and have been officially voted by Change Checkers as their favourite coin series!
2016 Beatrix Potter 50ps
Following the collecting sensation of the Olympic 50ps, the Beatrix Potter 50p coin series quickly became the next big thing to get Change Checkers and coin collectors across the nation excited! There have been three series of these hugely popular 50ps, with each series including much-loved characters from the Beatrix Potter books.
The first series was released by The Royal Mint in 2016 to mark 150 years since the birth of the beloved children’s author and featured 5 coins including Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle Duck and a coin depicting elements that celebrate the life of Beatrix Potter.
The response from collectors was staggering, with The Royal Mint’s website crashing under the sheer weight of the public’s interest in the first morning of the 2016 Peter Rabbit 50p going on sale.
He has since featured in each of the following series, the only character to appear in all three, which just goes to show what a popular little bunny he is!
2017 Beatrix Potter 50ps
In 2017, much to the delight of coin collectors across the nation, The Royal Mint released a brand new series of Beatrix Potter 50ps to carry on the celebrations of some of Beatrix Potter’s most loved animals.
This series included Peter Rabbit (of course), Jeremy Fisher, Tom Kitten and Benjamin Bunny.
The huge popularity of the previous year’s coins meant that collector’s couldn’t wait to get their hands on these coins and build their collection of Beatrix Potter 50ps.
We are now starting to see these coins entering circulation, with Tom Kitten and Jeremy Fisher turning up in people’s change, so make sure to keep your eye out for them!
2018 Beatrix Potter 50ps
This year, we’ve seen another Beatrix Potter series released and collectors seem to be continuing to fall in love with the adorable characters on these coins.
Peter Rabbit returns for a third year running in the 2018 series, alongside his friends Flopsy Bunny, the Tailor of Gloucester and Mrs Tittlemouse.
These coins have not been released into circulation yet and mintage figures remain unknown for now, but all four coins are now available to buy in Brilliant Uncirculated quality and collectors remain eager to snap up these coins for their Beatrix Potter collections.
But that’s not the end of the story for 50p coin series, because in 2018 The Royal Mint also issued a brand new series celebrating the 60th anniversary of Britain’s most loved bear, Paddington™!
Coin collectors were whipped into a frenzy with the excitement of owning these new 50p coins and it has even been suggested that this could be the most sought-after 50p coin series ever!
Two coins have now been released and are available to purchase in Brilliant Uncirculated quality, the first featuring Paddington wearing his iconic mack, sat on his suitcase at the station and the second showing the delightful bear waving a Union Jack flag outside Buckingham Palace.
This is the first time Paddington has featured on UK coinage and the world of coin collecting has been abuzz with the news of the release ever since The Royal Mint announced the coins would be issued earlier this year.
Have you secured your 2018 Paddington 50p coins yet?
Following a review of the United Kingdom’s coinage in 1996, the decision was made that a general-circulation £2 coin was needed and so the bi-metallic coin we know today was introduced. Whilst these coins are now in circulation and not reserved just for collectors, they have still become increasingly collectable, with a number of £2 coin series being released over the years.
Commonwealth Games £2s
The 2002 Commonwealth Games £2 coins are known as some of the scarcest £2 coins now in circulation, with even the largest mintage (Scotland) set at just 771,750!
But the coin you really need to be looking out for is the Northern Ireland £2. Just 485,000 coins were ever struck making it officially the UK’s rarest £2 coin.
At first glance, you might struggle to spot the difference between them. They all feature the same running athlete trailing a banner behind, but each has a different cameo, representing each of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom.
Are you lucky enough to have these coins in your collection?
In 2016, three different £2 coins were issued to honour Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies and historical works and were released into circulation just in time for the 400th anniversary of his death on the 23nd April 2016.
The coins were certainly amongst the favourites of collectors that year with the Skull design in particular receiving a lot of attention, and not just from collectors.
Each coin pays tribute to one of Shakespeare’s major genres and the reverse designs take inspiration from his most famous plays, including Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth.
Which Shakespeare £2 is your favourite?
World War One £2s
To mark the centenary of the First World War, the Royal Mint revealed a five-year commemoration of the wartime journey from outbreak to armistice.
The first coin in the series bears sculptor John Bergdahl’s depiction of Lord Kitchener’s famous call to arms alongside the words YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU. The British Secretary of War became synonymous with the enlistment campaign when war was declared on 4th August 1914.
Following coins in the series have featured renowned military artist David Rowlands design for the reverse of the Navy coin, Tim Sharp’s Army design honouring the ‘Pals Battalions’, the Aviation design by ‘Tangerine’ and Stephen Raw’s interpretation of Armistice which features the words ‘The truth untold, the pity of war’, from the Wilfred Owen poem Strange Meeting.
As this year marks the centenary of the end of World War One, this coin series is particularly poignant.
In this special centenary year, the Royal Air Force has been commemorated with a series of five brand new £2 coins!
The Royal Air Force was formed on April 1st 1918, in the early years of aviation. It was the world’s first independent air force, and is recognised today all over the world for its capability, courage and innovation, which has been represented on these striking coin designs, depicting some of the most iconic RAF aircraft ever flown.
These coins haven’t been released into circulation yet, but are already proving to be hugely popular with collectors and RAF supporters alike.
The first coin in the series features the synonymous RAF Badge, whilst the other four coin designs represent aircraft including the Spitfire, Vulcan, Sea King and F35 Lightning.
This striking series has been voted in second place by Change Checkers which is a fantastic achievement for these brand new coins.
A-Z 10p coins!
26 new UK commemorative 10p coins were released into circulation this year and collectors across the country have joined the nationwide coin hunt to get their hands on these hugely sought-after little coins.
The coins each feature a different letter from A-Z and each letter celebrates a different Great British icon, from Angel of the North to Zebra Crossing and everything in between (my personal favourite is ‘G’ for Greenwich Meantime).
We know that 2.6 million have been released so far overall, but exact mintages for each design are not yet available and so collectors are desperately trying to build up their collection of all 26 coins.
Whilst reports have come in from people starting to find these coins, they are certainly proving tricky to get hold of and it seems that they are quickly being snapped up by eagle eyed collectors!
These little coins have made the top three as voted by Change Checkers, but have you found any in your change and which design is your favourite?
Results of the vote!
It’s always worth taking time to appreciate the fantastic designs we see on UK coinage and I must say that each of these series is truly unique and impressive in its own way.
So now you’ve been brought up to speed with the top UK coin series, take a look at which series Change Checkers have voted as their favourite.
See the results of the vote here: