It’s surprising, in this new digital age, just how ‘hands-on’ designing a coin is. In fact, it’s very much the job of a master craftsman.
Never was this more evident than when the Isle of Man Treasury chose to mark the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria with three new coins, each with a brand new portrait.
The man they turned to was renowned sculptor Luigi Badia and here’s the remarkable process of how these coins were developed.
First Stage – Pencil designs
Like most products across all industries, designing a coin starts with pencil sketches. These are then amended, potentially many times, until a final sketch is produced and approved.
Second Stage – Plaster modelling
The second stage is arguably the most visually stunning. The sculptor, Luigi Badia in this case, will turn their sketches into a 3D ‘Plaster’ design. The skill involved in this process is really very impressive as every tiny detail must be modelled.
The plaster is far larger than the actual coin size to allow for this detail to be captured. The design will be resized in the next step of the process.
Third Stage – Digital Modelling
It’s during this stage where technology has certainly helped the design process. The 3D ‘Plaster’ designs are scanned and a digital file, called a greyscale, is created.
An engraving machine then uses this file to cut the design into a piece of steel that’s the actual size of the final coin. This will then be used to make the dies that will actually strike the coins.
Fourth Stage – Coin Striking
This final stage is when the physical coin comes to life. The specially prepared die is used to ‘strike’ the design onto a metal ‘blank’. The metal used for the blank can vary widely, from cupro-nickel to silver and gold.
Only once the mint is perfectly happy with the quality of the struck coins will they be issued.
The Queen Victoria Silver Antique £5 Set
This set is the only way to own all three of these stunning, specially commissioned Antique Silver £5 Coins.
Just 495 of these stunning sets are available worldwide and exclusive to The Westminster Collection.
A brand new Remembrance Day Poppy Coin has just been released in support of the Royal British Legion.
Issued especially to commemorate Remembrance Day, the Official 2015 Poppy Coin is the latest commemorative to be struck in support of the Legion and features a distinctive new ‘wreath’ poppy design.
I spoke to the designer, Chris Lloyd, to find out his inspiration behind the new design…
“I was inspired by the poignant poppy wreaths that are laid on War memorials during remembrance services all over the country and the world.
“I was keen to form the wreath shape around the edge of the coin using intricately detailed engraved RBL poppies, with individual poppies picked out in the traditional red colour as worn by the public every November.
“I hope that this coin will serve as a timeless reminder of the sacrifices made in conflict both past and present.”
A One-of-a-Kind Design
This exclusive new design is only to be found on the official range of coins issued in support of The Royal British Legion. The nuanced, textured piece of numismatic art is truly as unique as it is beautiful.
The only text on the reverse of the coin – ‘Lest we forget’ – taken from Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen – serves as a starkly poignant reminder of the sacrifice made by so many.
A Range of Coins Available – Each with a Donation
The limited edition coins are available to own in a range of different metals to suit all collections. From a Proof condition £5 coin right up to an impressive 22 Carat Gold edition – there is even a generous 5oz Silver version, truly a sight to behold.
To further support the work of the Royal British Legion, The Westminster Collection have organised for a donation from the sale of each coin to go directly to the charity, helping them to continue to provide financial, social and emotional support to all who have served and are currently serving in the British Armed Forces and their families.
You can add the 2015 Remembrance Day £5 Proof Coin to your collection today – click here for details.
A donation from the sale of each coin will go directly to The Royal British Legion.
50 years ago in 1964 Her Majesty the Queen approved a new portrait for her coinage, and set in motion a chain of events that led to the creation of the most reproduced image in the world.
The portrait in question was designed by Arnold Machin RA – and if you look in your pocket now you’re still likely to find a coin bearing the distinctive profile.
But even though millions of coins are struck every year – it was when the design was adapted for use on our stamps that it really took off…
300 billion and counting
Best estimates suggest that the Arnold Machin RA effigy of Queen Elizabeth II has now been reproduced on our stamps over 300 billion times – a staggering number.
In fact, amongst collectors, UK definitive stamps are now simply referred to as ‘Machins’ because the image is so ubiquitous.
But who is Arnold Machin RA, and how did he come to design this instantly recognisable image?
From pottery to sculpting the Queen’s portrait
Arnold Machin was born in 1911 in Stoke-on-Trent. Modelling and sculpture was in the family, but his father struggled to make ends meet with his freelance modelling job. Consequently Machin started work aged 14 at the Minton China Factory, as an apprentice china painter.
But he could not keep away from sculpture, and after a working for many years in the arts was appointed an associate member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1947.
As if this wasn’t enough of an honour, in 1964 Machin was approached to design an effigy of the Queen for the new decimal coinage to be introduced in 1971. So, despite never having designed a coin before, Machin was granted four sittings with the Queen.
Cleverly using the bas-relief technique, which creates a raised sculpture from a plaster base, Machin came up with a design the Queen appreciated so much she has insisted it be used unchanged on our stamps for the past 40 years.
An £18,000 plaster cast
Perhaps testament to the enduring popularity of the image, and the design process behind it, one of Machin’s original plaster casts recently sold at auction for the princely sum of £18,000.
And I don’t think this will be the last we’ll hear of record breaking Machin sales – as time goes by the power of the image will not diminish, yet the availability of collectables will.
And now we are due to see a new portrait of the Queen on our coinage in 2015, this is bound to be an area to watch.
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The Westminster Collection is proud to present the first ever officially licensed silver philatelic set featuring Arnold Machin’s famous effigy of the Queen.
NOW SOLD OUT