World Coins

Royal Mint issues silver coins resembling watercolors

Instead of pencil or computer mouse, two Royal Mint engravers started with a paintbrush.

For their latest series of coins, issued as a set by the Royal Mint, Glyn Davies and Laura Clancy captured watercolor-style portraits of some of Britain’s best loved natural landmarks. Creating real watercolors was the first step in the process that brought the designs to Proof .925 fine silver £5 coins.

Once the watercolors were created, Clancy and Davies began “the painstaking process of engraving every last detail onto the tools needed to strike these collectable coins,” according to the Royal Mint. A trichromatic color printing process rarely used by the Royal Mint was then used to recreate the subtle coloring of the designers’ original artwork.

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The scenes depict the Giant’s Causeway, the Lake District, Snowdonia and the White Cliffs of Dover, said to be among the most visited natural attractions in the British Isles, enticing thousands of visitors each year. The coins form part of an ongoing series highlighting the best known natural and architectural landmarks across the British Isles.

The designers worked to capture a real sense of place, representing the changing qualities of the British weather and to create a color effect similar to that of an Impressionist painting, according to the Royal Mint. 

In a statement, Royal Mint Chief Engraver Gordon Summers said, “Instead of a solid layer of colour we used the trichromatic process to create subtle tints. In effect, it’s the difference between painting with oils or with watercolours — it’s a softer effect that allows the metal beneath to show through. The process gives the designs an almost ‘Impressionist’ feel — reflecting the shifting light and colour of the landscapes.”

Clancy studied three-dimensional crafts at the University of Brighton and previously taught art and metalwork. 

Davies worked as an animator before gaining a master’s degree in post production at Bournemouth University. He subsequently worked as a set designer, video editor and motion graphic designer before joining the Royal Mint.

The Proof 2016 Portrait of Britain coins feature the Jody Clark effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. 

The coins each weigh 28.28 grams and measure 38.61 millimeters in diameter. The coins have a limit of 2,016 sets, for £295 per set. Delivery of the coins is slated to begin in mid-September, according to the Royal Mint.

For more information about the coin set and other British coins, visit the Royal Mint website

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