What have Shakespeare, Beatrix Potter, the Army and the Great Fire of London got in common? They are all themes that will be appearing in pockets, purses and piggy banks across Britain on The Royal Mint’s 2016 UK circulating coins.
The history of The Royal Mint has been linked closely with the story of Britain for more than 1,000 years. Each of the nation’s new coins for 2016 is a snapshot of Britain through time, marking key events, organisations and people that have shaped how we live today.
The histories, comedies and tragedies of William Shakespeare are each represented on £2 coins marking 400 years of the Bard’s literary legacy, whilst a 50p coin honours Beatrix Potter, the author and artist whose illustrated animal tales have delighted generations of children worldwide, on the 150th anniversary of her birth.
The year 1066 is a date imprinted on many a schoolchild’s memory – the fate of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings features on a 50p coin 950 years after the battle took place, whilst the Great Fire of London, an event that changed the face of Britain’s capital city, is to have its 350th anniversary commemorated on a £2 coin.
The Royal Mint’s five-year programme of commemoration marking the centenary of the First World War continues with a £2 coin remembering the community pride that fueled the rise of the ‘Pals’ Battalions’ within the Army 100 years ago, bearing a poignant design reminiscent of the styling of the time.
Each coin bears the fifth definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Royal Mint Engraver Jody Clark, first introduced to UK coinage in 2015.
Anne Jessopp, Director of Commemorative Coin at The Royal Mint, says: “It is always exciting to see the new years’ designs revealed, commemorating the moments that matter, and revisiting some of the great events and stories from our history. The British public should start to see these coins appearing in their change from Spring 2016.
“This year is a special one for The Royal Mint too, with the opening of a Visitor Centre at its South Wales base for the first time in its 1,000 year history.”
For those too keen to wait to find one of the new designs in their change, each of the 2016 UK coins is featured in The Royal Mint’s commemorative annual sets, giving a complete overview of the anniversaries being marked during the year.
2016 Circulating Coin Designs
The Army 2016 UK £2 Coin
In 1914, as Britain mobilised for war, the whole country was swept by patriotic fervour in response to Lord Kitchener’s call to arms. Team mates, friends, neighbours and colleagues served side by side in ‘Pals’ Battalions to defend their country – a spirit of camaraderie that is remembered on this £2 coin by graphic designer Tim Sharp.
400th Anniversary Life of Shakespeare 2016 UK £2 Coins
William Shakespeare remains a household name 400 years after his death, and his writing is still central to our curriculum today. Shakespeare’s works make many references to coins, so it is apt that for 2016, renowned sculptor John Bergdahl’s designs reflect three aspects of his work on three different £2 coins:
- Tragedies – telling of downfalls and disasters
- Histories – reimagining the events of times past
- Comedies – tales with happy endings or the triumph of good over adversity
350th Anniversary of The Great Fire of London 2016 UK £2 Coin
It was 350 years ago in 1666 that the Great Fire of London started in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane. The Royal Mint, then based in the Tower of London, was saved from the flames by the demolition of houses that lay in the path of the fire. Royal Mint graphic designer Aaron West has captured the event that changed the face of the City of London forever, on a 2016 £2 coin.
950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings 2016 UK 50p Coin
On 14 October 2016, Britain will remember the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings – a landmark moment in British history. The 50p coin features a reverse design by sculptor of repute, John Bergdahl, and depicts the famous fate of King Harold.
150th Anniversary of The Birth of Beatrix Potter 2016 UK 50p Coin
Beatrix Potter’s name is known the world over for her 23 books for children featuring stories and sketches of animals. Royal Mint Engraver Emma Noble has designed the reverse of the 50p coin that commemorates the world-renowned author and artist.