New coin reverse designs revealed

New designs

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.

New coins

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.

Adds The winning designer, 26 year-old Matthew Dent

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.

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  • Bigger Picture

    Have to honestly say not bad! However as a British Empire buff I am sad to see the old coins being replaced but I think using the royal coat of arms as a replacement stills shows Britain rather than the regions which is encouraging.

  • joeCanuck

    Have to agree that the concept is stunning and effective.

  • harry

    a waste of taxpayers money.. design new back for coins..sure they will be in the euro in a matter of years.

  • Dec

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • Dread Cthulhu

    harry: “a waste of taxpayers money.. design new back for coins..sure they will be in the euro in a matter of years.”

    Just wait until y’all catch up with U.S. “innovation” and they start issuing “collectible money” on a regular basis.

  • Pete Baker


    You mean like this?

  • Steve

    I think they borrowed that Idea from the Canadian mint as they have been doing it for decades

  • perci

    Is that the irish harp?

  • Dec

    Those designs aren’t that bad and I think the British empire was a very bad thing. Will this do?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Pete: “Do you mean like this?”

    Not exactly… proof sets of the common currency are a normal thing. Just select coinage at the mint, put them in protective card-board folders and sell them. I’m talking changing the coins to make them collectible… more below.

    Steve: “I think they borrowed that Idea from the Canadian mint as they have been doing it for decades.”

    I don’t mean taking changing a coin design to commemorate a specific event, like the bicentennial. I’m talking about creating a series of pre-planned changes.

    Right now, the US Mint is finishing up the “state quarter” run and I think five presidents into the “US President” Dollar coin run.

  • Turgon

    They are actually quite good. I am appalled; I heard this on Radio 4 this morning and was hoping to be able to foam at the mouth, shout NO (and No Surrender) a lot and do other flat earthish things. The reality is they are fine and with there being so many old coins still in circulation we will have the current ones for our lifetime.

    As an aside, I always thought that acceptance of the Euro would have been easier if it had been called the Deutchmark in Germany, Franc in France etc. etc. yet have new coins and them all be the same value.

    I worked with a German bloke when the Euro came out and he was actually quite sad to loose the Mark.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    I like them! I never like new designs of things because the UK seems to screw them up (London 2012 comes to mind) but these are really nice.

  • RepublicanStones

    with clenched teeth i have to admit the design is good, but until the anti-catholic legislation which the monarchy sits on is repealed, I feel the use of the royal coat of arms is anachronistic and ill-advised. no doubt some will feel my attitude the same, apologies, but there ya go.

  • Turgon

    This is now completely unacceptable; people of many different opinions are supporting and liking a change.

    Down with this sort of thing.

    I have changed my mind; I regard them as an evil plot against the people of Ulster.

    There I feel better now.

  • Steve

    I know dread but the canadian mint has still been doing it for a lot longer

    The 1974 mountie quarter

    the rememberance day loonies

    the provincial quarters

    ad infinitum

    Including most recently enameled coins for cancer and veterans

  • fair_deal

    They look nice. When I heard Britannia was going I fell into Daily Maill thinking of what sort of modern meaningless crap are we about to get? However, this really works as unifying concept across the range.

  • What about poor Wales!!
    This does not represent the whole of the UK.
    Why could on of the TWO sets of 3 lions not have been replaced with a dragon? There needs to be a national education in what the UK is esp. in England where people get confused when you correct them when they refer to the UK as England.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Again, Steve — not simply the commemoration of certain events or concepts, but the next step — commemorative money for the sake of commemorative money, with all the economic oddities that that entails.

  • Dewi

    Well said Andrew!

  • Matt

    who does the harp represent?….i would like the monarchy to drop the harp…they dont represent it,and we dont want them representing us!

  • Oilifear

    Beautiful and impeccably British design.

    Turgon: “I worked with a German bloke when the Euro came out and he was actually quite sad to loose the Mark.”

    Did you expect him to dance with glee at the Reich finally conquering Europe through the back door?

  • kensei

    Apparently I’m the only Philistine here, then. I liked the fact that all the coins had different designs. Not fussed this high flutin’ unifying bits of a bigger picture.

    I especially dislike the 5p.

  • Dewi

    “I especially dislike the 5p”

    Send all yours to me Kensei – I’ll make use of them.

  • Pete Baker


    “I have changed my mind; I regard them as an evil plot against the people of Ulster.”


  • abucs

    Agree the designs of the coins are quite good but there also should be a Dragon there somewhere.

  • Pete Baker

    “but there also should be a Dragon there somewhere.”

    The problem with that argument is that you’d have to completely rethink the entire concept behind this re-design.

    The new designs are very good. The over-all concept is very clever and effective in the implementation.

    Well done.

  • abucs

    Yes, i see your point.

  • Harry Flashman

    Actually not a bad design at all but I notice the crown and the lion and the unicorn have been dropped from the royal coat of arms. I imagine that was to minimalise the design and make it simpler rather than because of any sinister reason.

    I’m also sure the Welsh will be aggrieved that their prior recognition on the two pence piece and in several of the one pound coins has now been dropped. Then again England didn’t get its own recognition until the 1982 twenty pence piece and Norn Iron was never recognised on the coinage until the 1985 pound coins (do you think I spent too much time looking at this sort of stuff as a boy?).

    How do Unionists feel about losing the “Northern” Ireland symbolism in exchange for an “all Ireland” Harp? A bit like merging the Ulster Defence Regiment into the Royal Irish Regiment I suppose.

    Furthermore do no Nationalists feel aggrieved that the legal coinage of the Republic of Ireland clearly shows an international border truncating their island nation?

  • Harry Flashman

    Actually on further examination Northern Ireland does have its own coin here; the penny.

    The top corner of Ireland held under the vicious claw of England, very symbolic indeed.

  • Charles in Texas

    I think the artist is a genius! Coins have been struck for thousands of years, but I don’t recall such a clever idea for a series.

    Our poor American penny has had the same front since 1909, with the back redone in 1958 I think. Odd thing is it now costs more that a penny to make a penny, but government suggestions of its discontinuation are met with protests. The penny has been debased from copper to aluminium and does not bode well for soundness of the Dollar!

  • MollyBloom

    On the cusp of a global economic crisis, this seems a wise move indeed.

  • Harry Flashman

    I admire the fact that the United States haven’t completely redesigned or indeed utterly changed their currency every two decades or so the way Britain and most European countries have.

    I would go so far as to say this continuity has acted as a small brake on inflation by limiting the government’s ability to revalue the currency. Today a dollar bill is still respected as such, people know exactly what a dollar bill once bought and what it buys now so they understand the effect of devaluation in a way that those of us who have seen the pound note devalued, revalued and then made obsolete have difficulty doing.

    Our grandparents’ memory of the ‘decimal diddle’ was not a myth nor is the current conviction among people of the Republic that things have got more expensive since the Euro. Changing the design and denomination of bank notes has been a trick of inflationary governments since they were first introduced.

    When they do away with the US penny Charles you’ll know they’re up to something.

  • abucs

    Wonder if the British can patent the idea…..
    It’s sure to catch on. :o)

  • darth rumsfeld

    These are really very stylish designs, but why oh why couldn’t we have gone the whole hog and abandoned this decimalization nonsense?

    You young interweb whippersnappers don’t remember when a penny was the size of a saucer, and pocket money was a shilling, Tayto cheese’n’onion crips were a thruppenny bit and a pound paid for your butler for a year-or a guinea if you were feeling generous.

    Turgon- we’ve just found a policy for the TUV- bring back the half crown!!!

  • Dewi

    In response to a Western Mail query on the lack of Welsh symbiolism the bloke from Llantrisant (Q: What’s the difference between a Polo Mint and llantrisant ? A: A Polo is a mint with a hole….)
    said : Well the designer is Welsh….

  • rinceboy

    Bit wierd they decided to go with the Royal coat of arms anyway – i know its the insignia of the Royal mint but they’ve got rid of the good old welsh representation and using the Kingdom of Ireland harp. je ne comprends pas…

  • 1941 LLamedos

    This is unimaginative plagiarism at its worst. If a young University trained designer cannot come up with some original thought then God help us. Unimaginative burks.