One year before the world focuses its attention on London for the
2012 Olympic Games, the Royal Mint has issued the latest commemorative
coins counting down until the big day.
More than 10,000 athletes from around the world are expected to
compete in the Summer Games, with another 4,200 in the Paralympic
Games, representing 205 countries, when the Olympic Games begin July 27.
Britain’s Royal Mint recently released the third annual issue in
its four-year Countdown to London series, each issue containing four
£5 coins counting down the year as the Games approach.
Each year, four different versions are being offered of the year’s
design: a Brilliant Uncirculated copper-nickel version, two Proof .925
fine silver versions and a Proof .9167 fine gold coin. One of the
silver coins is a piedfort, or double-thick version.
Reverse designs of the coins depict athletes engaged in a specific
sport. A cycling design is featured on the 2011 coins; a track and
field design was used on the 2010 coins; and the 2009 coins feature
swimmers. The coins in the yet-to-be-released fourth issue will show
three athletes on a podium.
All of the coins in all of the issues share certain design
elements, some unchanging from annual issue to annual issue, and
others changing to reflect the passage of time as the 2012 London
The “counting down” is achieved with two design elements that are
An annual numeral is superimposed at the center of the design; the
2009 coins bear the numeral 3, the 2010 coins bear a 2 and the 2011
coins feature a 1. No central numeral will appear on the 2012 coins.
The general design also contains a clock face, with a more
detailed quarter segment showing an indicator ticking down as the
Games approach. The indicator on the 2009 coins is positioned to the
right. The clock hand is moved into a new position on each year’s
coins, approaching the 12 o’clock position to signify the approach of
A bird’s-eye view of the outer framework of the Olympic Stadium
encircling the main design is an unchanging element. The London 2012
logo also reappears as part of each reverse design, but repositioned
from year to year into the field of the design behind the athletes,
and is colored blue on the silver and gold versions.
The reverses of all four years’ issues were designed by Claire
Aldridge, and are paired with the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen
Elizabeth II on the obverse.
All four of the coins are 38.61 millimeters in diameter, but their
weights differ. The copper-nickel coin and the standard Proof .925
fine silver coin each weigh 28.28 grams, the Piedfort silver coin
weighs 56.56 grams, and the gold coin weighs 39.94 grams.
The four coins have multiple packaging options, limits and prices.
The BU 2011 coin has a mintage limit of 250,000 pieces, regardless
of how it is distributed. The coin is available at face value to
customers in the United Kingdom only and packaged in a display card.
In addition, a slightly different package (showing the velodrome where
cycling contests will take place) houses BU examples that are
available for £9.99 (it is not clear whether the quality differs
between both BU versions). Also, a three-coin set comprising BU
examples of the first three Countdown coins is available for £28.49,
and is delivered inside an illustrated box with room to add the 2012
BU example when it becomes available.
The standard silver £5 coin has a mintage limit of 30,000 pieces
and costs £80, and the piedfort version is limited to 4,000 examples
and retails for £150.
With a mintage limited to 3,000 pieces, the Proof gold coin costs £1,850.
Prices for the coins are listed in British pounds. The prices in
U.S. or Canadian dollars will fluctuate with the exchange rate; the
price will be locked in upon ordering.
Shipping and handling are an additional charge.
To order the coins, write to the Royal Mint, FREEPOST, NAT23496,
P.O. Box 500, Llantrisant, Pontyclun CF72 8YT, visit the Royal Mint
website at www.royalmint.com,
or telephone the Royal Mint Customer Services Team toll free at (866)
519-7298 in the United States or at (866) 924-0861 in Canada. ■