Saturday, September 27, 2008

2p or not 2p?

Here's a shiny new two pence piece that I picked up at lunchtime today. The unusual design struck me straight away as I checked my change as we've never had a 'variant' 2p before. The coin was introduced in 1971 and, until now, every single issue has always carried Liz on one side and the Fleur de Lys ostrich feathers design on the reverse. So it's a bit of a first. And I like it a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing the others in the set. And yes, there is a set; we're just starting to see the first full re-issue of British coins in 40 years.

I've always maintained that we produce some of the most colourful, interesting and innovative currency designs in the world. The latest £20 note is a thing of beauty and this new set of coins is fantastic. In case you don't know, the Royal Mint held a nationwide competition to design the new coins and it was won by a 25 year old graduate called Matthew Dent. When arranged properly, his coins create the Royal Coat of Arms with the £1 coin displaying the full arms. Isn't that great?

I have a small ritual with coins. I throw all of my loose change - 1, 2 and 5 pence coins - into a pot in my study and then, once a year, I cash them in and find I usually have about fifty quid to spend. That's one good curry evening. I rooted around in my pot this evening and pulled out three 2p coins to demonstrate (a) how the coins go from being shiny copper-coloured to dull bronze-coloured in 30 years, and (b) that the queen's portrait gets redone every few years. Basically they just add more jowls and wattles.
1971, 1992, 2008

I wonder what King Charles III's portrait will look like? Assuming Queenie ever abdicates that is. Who knows? She may outlive him. Her mum got to be over 100 after all.

14 comments:

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Wow I had no idea about these changes, imagine my face next year when I pick up my dosh, had you not blogged these!

Like you, I love these simple but stunning designs

Stevyn Colgan said...

Sarah - Hope I haven't spoiled the surprise. Sexy though, aren't they?

chris hale said...

I rather like these new coins, but as you probably know, their introduction has resulted in the removal of Britannia from the 50p coin. The now rather old lady has, allegedly, been on one or other of our coins since 1672.

The model for the seventeenth century Britannia was one Frances Stuart, subsequently Duchess of Lennox, whom Charles II pursued with lustful intent before settling upon one Ellen Gwynne. She first appeared as the personification of the nation on some medals struck in 1664 to celebrate victories against the Dutch. Samuel Pepys observed:

"At my goldsmith's did observe the King's new medal, where, in little, there is Mrs. Stewart's face as well done as ever I saw anything in my whole life, I think: and a pretty thing it is, that he should choose her face to represent Britannia by."

Sorry. I'm wittering on again!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Chris - I can always rely on you to make my blog look intelligent. One day you will be my 'phone a friend'.

Tony E said...

I noticed the design on the 5p a few days ago and thought it was rather unusual. It now makes sense.
Isn't it good when something in this world finally makes sense...

Stevyn Colgan said...

Tony - Treasure this moment. Like Halley's comment, this world making any kind of sense comes around about once every 76 years.

Persephone said...

Of course, in Canada, we've been making cents since 1858...
(Sorry.)

Stevyn Colgan said...

Persephone - Ouch. Consider yourself spanked. Virtually.

Janet said...

Well, either I haven't received any of the new coins or I haven't noticed. If it's the latter, I'm going to be upset with myself, as I pride myself on being observant of the world around me!!!

I'll take a look in my coin purse - and in the big mug of coins on my desk here at work - and see if I can find any.

Janet

Stevyn Colgan said...

Janet - I didn't know either until I got that 2P. But I have now had two 2Ps. No others yet but I'm on the lookout.

Janet said...

Well well well - there's a bright shiny 2p coin in my mug with the new design on it! And my office mate (British) found one too, in the change in his pocket. He hadn't noticed either.

But my discussion with him led to our talking about the fronts of coins versus the backs. I commented on the new back side of the
2p coin. Gavin would call it the front side, as it's the side showing the denomination. I figured the Queen's head would always be the front of a UK coin.

In the US, the portrait side is the front, absolutely, but both sides of the coin tell you what it's worth.

Anybody want to join in to help us?

Janet

Stevyn Colgan said...

Well, if I may be permitted to chip in my twopenny worth (literally), I've always taken the Queen side to be the front because of 'Heads and Tails' when I flip a coin. Very few animals move backwards (cephlapods and Olympic rowers excepted) so the head is usually at the front of an animal and the tail at the back.

But what do I know?

Katie said...

We are getting a new penny design here in the states. yeah, boring. ;)

"Basicaly they just asdd more jowls and wattles." HAHA! Yep, I can see it!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Katie - Poor old Queenie. Cruel but true. I shall look forward to seeing the new penny.