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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The Royal Mint have released many commemorative coins in the past few years and one recurring theme is prominent literary figures.
Tonight is Burns Night, a night when many people around the world will remember one of the world’s most famous poets, Robert Burns.
So naturally, I thought this was a great opportunity to take a look back at some of the recent circulation coins that have celebrated some of Britain’s best loved literary heroes.
Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)
Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist who is widely regarded as one of the great literary figures in British history.
Burns night is celebrated each year with a traditional Haggis supper on his birthday, 25th January, and is more widely observed in Scotland than the official national day, St Andrew’s Day.
The reverse design of this £2 coin features an extract from Auld Lang Syne, Burns’ most famous work.
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
William Shakespeare is the most influential literary figure in British history and his works are an important part of Britain’s cultural heritage.
This coin is one of three that celebrate William Shakespeare’s life work and commemorates the 400th anniversary since his death. This coin takes inspiration from Shakespeare’s famous tragedies and features a skull and a rose and was designed by John Bergdahl.
The other two coins in the series celebrate Shakespeare’s most famous ‘Comedies’ and ‘Histories’, taking inspiration from ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ and ‘Macbeth’, respectively.
Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)
Charles Darwin was a British scientist who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution and transformed the way we think about the natural world.
His book On the Origin of the Species was extremely controversial as it made it seem possible that humans evolved from apes, and contradicted the widely held Orthodox Church theory of creation at the time.
The reverse design by Suzie Zamit features a profile portrait of Darwin facing a chimpanzee and is a favourite amongst collectors.
Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)
Charles Dickens is much loved for his great contribution to classic English literature.
His 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.
The reverse design of this £2 coin by Matthew Dent features Dickens’ recognisable profile crafted from the titles of his most famous works.
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.
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