As part of the celebrations for Chinese New Year, The Royal Mint has created a new design to mark the Lunar Year of the Sheep, the second issue in the hugely successful Shēngxiào Collection.
Following on from the popularity of the Year of the Horse design, which was the first ever United Kingdom lunar design made by The Royal Mint, the latest coin in The Shēngxiào Collection lends a uniquely British angle to an ancient Chinese tradition. The coins are the perfect way to wish good luck for the year ahead to its recipients.
British Chinese artist and printmaker Wuon-Gean Ho, who designed the 2014 Year of the Horse coin for The Royal Mint, continues the collection with a design that once again draws inspiration from both her British and Chinese heritage. The Year of the Sheep coin is the second in this auspicious series and its design reflects characteristics of those born in the year of the sheep: freedom-loving with a passion for company.
The design artfully uses symbolic elements to create a fusion of Chinese and British heritage. Blending the Chinese symbol with imagery of the distinctive Yorkshire Swaledale sheep, the intricate details of the design highlight its beautiful smooth curled horns in contrast to the swirls of their wool coats.
The design will feature on a number of different coins which range from 999.9 fine gold to gold-plated, and 999 fine silver. The range includes a Tenth-ounce Gold Brilliant Uncirculated Coin, a One Ounce Gold-Plated Proof Coin, a One Ounce Gold Proof Coin, and a Five Ounce Gold Proof Coin. In silver, the range includes the One Ounce Silver Proof Coin and Five Ounce Silver Proof Coin.
Each coin is supplied in bold red packaging, reflecting centuries of Chinese tradition, with a beautifully-designed booklet that reveals the customs that inspired the artist and her blend of both Chinese and British heritage.
All coins in the range are limited, with mintages ending in the number ‘8’ thought to be lucky in Chinese culture. The coin range starts from RRP £82.50 for the One Ounce Silver Proof Coin.
The Royal Mint’s Lunar coin series reflects the Shēngxiào tradition, linking each year to one of 12 animals and their traits, which are attributed to those born in a given Lunar year. Celebrated in February, it is a time during which it is traditional to exchange tokens, particularly gifts of money in red envelopes, symbolising good wishes for the recipient’s health, wealth and prosperity.
Shane Bissett, Director of Commemorative Coin at The Royal Mint said: “Following on from the hugely popular Year of the Horse coins range, of which three quarters were sold out in the first few months, The Royal Mint is happy to be bringing its craftsmanship and artistic skills to this latest coin in the Shēngxiào Collection. Supporting the centuries-old tradition of giving zodiac coins at the Lunar New Year, we’re expecting to see similar demand this year for Wuon Gean’s stunning design.”
Designer of the Year of the Sheep coin Wuon-Gean Ho says “I wanted the design to draw upon my British and Chinese heritage, as my parents are from Malaysia and Singapore and I was raised in the UK. I recall observing sheep as part of the British landscape – in the grounds of Blenheim palace, on the hillsides of the Peak district and in the rolling Brecon Beacons. My memories of the lambing season and the close bond created between mother and child was particularly helpful in capturing the passion for company symbolised by the Year of the Sheep.”
The second design in The Shēngxiào Collection is available to order from www.royalmint.com
About the Designer:
Wuon-Gean Ho is an artist of Chinese descent, born in the UK. She created the reverse design for the first Lunar coin from The Royal Mint, struck for the Year of the Horse, and has once again blended Chinese and British heritage in her latest design for the Year of the Sheep. Wuon-Gean works in many disciplines including printmaking, animation and books and has work in collections including the Tate and the Victoria and Albert Museum. After graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in the History of Art and a professional licence as a veterinary surgeon Wuon-Gean took up a Japanese Government Scholarship in 1998 to study woodblock printmaking in Japan.
For the Lunar Year of the Sheep design, Wuon-Gean was inspired by her veterinary experience and memories of the lambing season. She worked in shifts with hours of waiting before periods of busy and rewarding work, seeing new lambs come into the world and watching the mother and child bond. She recalls observing sheep as part of the British landscape – in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, on the hillsides of the Peak district and in the rolling Brecon Beacons – their presence part of British life.
About The Royal Mint
The Royal Mint has an unbroken history of minting British coinage dating back over 1,000 years. By the late thirteenth century the organisation was based in the Tower of London, and remained there for over 500 years. By 1812 The Royal Mint had moved out of the Tower to premises on London’s Tower Hill. In 1967 the building of a new Royal Mint began on its current site in South Wales, UK.
While The Royal Mint’s finest traditions are always respected, it continually innovates in order to stay at the forefront of world minting, embracing the latest production techniques and technology in order to offer excellence to our clients across the globe. By underpinning our proud heritage with a highly progressive outlook, coins from The Royal Mint remain a byword for trust and reliability the world over.
There were estimated to be 28.9 billion UK coins in circulation at 31 March 2014 ,with a total face value of over £4 billion, all manufactured by The Royal Mint. In total, nearly 2 billion UK coins were issued during 2013-14.
As well as over 1,000 years of producing British coinage, The Royal Mint has long been trusted with the currencies of other countries. It currently serves more than 100 issuing authorities around the world and meets approximately 15% of global demand, making us the world’s leading export mint.
The Royal Mint has recently introduced a new fineness of Britannia bullion coins and a highly-secure on-site bullion vault storage facility, building on the bullion Sovereign’s long-standing reputation for integrity, accuracy. This positions The Royal Mint and its bullion products as a premium proposition in this marketplace.
The Royal Mint has been making official military campaign medals since it was commissioned to make awards for soldiers who fought in the battle of Waterloo in 1815. The year 2012 was of particular significance for The Royal Mint’s medal-making team, with the manufacture of all 4,700 Victory Medals for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In April 2014, The Royal Mint unveiled plans to develop a purpose-built visitor centre at its headquarters in Llantrisant, South Wales. Construction is expected to be completed during 2016.