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3 April, 2008

All change

I really like the new designs for UK coins, which replace the 40-year-old reverses with segments of the royal shield of arms; very nice graphic design, and I particularly like the way one could assemble a complete rendition of the arms by arranging five coins, one of each sub-£1 denomination, on a table, whilst the £1 coin has the complete arms.

However, there are a few questionable points:

  • The arms feature icons of England, Ireland and Scotland, but not Wales. In the context of the royal arms, that's correct, but I'd have thought that to be a reason to avoid the arms, and to choose something more representative of the entire UK.
  • The new designs are for the reverses of the coins, but the monarch's profile will remain on the obverses. Is it really necessary to have royalist symbols on both sides? Hardly representative of modern British attitudes.
  • The denomination of each coin is solely stated in words, in English. Stating the value as numerals would be better for non-Anglophone visitors and again, this seems to falsely stress the primacy of England within the UK.
  • And the biggest objection: why the **** has the Royal Mint spent ~£35,000 on new designs, when that money could be far better invested in scrapping the isolationist pound and introducing a real currency, the Euro? At best, this is a short-sighted waste, revamping coins which will be obsolete within the near future. At worst, it's an illegimate attempt to sway public opinion towards irrationally retaining the Jolly Old English pound.
So: pretty stylish, but opportunities have been missed.


As and when we switch to the Euro we could keep this design on our own coins. But I imagine we'd stick Queeny Liz on anyway.

Posted by Neil T. at April 3, 2008 03:27 PM

Yes, that did occur to me. The designs would need some modification, but the concept could work.

It is usual for monarchies within the EU to depict their king, queen or pontiff on at least their 1 & 2 coins. I think it's Portugal which uses royal seals (which sounds dreadfully cruel).

Posted by NRT at April 3, 2008 05:27 PM
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