The competition to replace the reverse designs on the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p and 50p coins by Christopher Ironside, introduced in 1971, and the 20p reverse design by William Gardner, introduced in 1982, was launched in August 2005 by the Royal Mint. Today, via the Guardian, and in greater detail by the Telegraph, the winning designs have been revealed – and they’ve added the £1 coin reverse to the original competition’s 6 coins. They’re not bad either. It’s not entirely clear whether the point noted below, from the Royal Mint website, applies in particular to the £1 coin – which has used different reverse designs for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Adds The winning designer. And it looks like that point does apply in particular to the £1 coin.
As you can see in the image
to the right[below], the Shield of the Royal Arms has been given a contemporary treatment and its whole has been cleverly split among all six denominations from the 1p to the 50p, with the £1 coin displaying the heraldic element in its entirety. This is the first time that a single design has been used across a range of United Kingdom coins.
The full set of coins showing how the separate reverse designs work together.
Also from the Royal Mint website
The new designs will enter circulation gradually throughout the year. It is normal practice for banks to order coins from the Royal Mint to satisfy public demand, which fluctuates over the course of the year. The current coin designs will remain in circulation and as legal tender for the foreseeable future.
In seeking to spread a single design across six denominations, Matthew Dent conceived an idea that has never been realised before on the British coinage. To have the £1 as the unifying coin only emerged towards the end of the design process. Matthew Dent has commented that the addition of the £1 coin design to the set was as a way of defining the whole series. A key coin uniting the designs. Against all the odds, a young artist has won a public competition and devised a stunningly original series that stands as an imaginative and clever solution.