World Coins

Shakespeare gets a starring role on new silver coin

Money is an often significant, if hidden, character in several plays by William Shakespeare.

The Royal Mint has given the playwright himself a starring role on a new Brilliant Uncirculated .999 fine silver £50 coin.

The coin is the latest issue in the series of silver coins sold by the Royal Mint at their face value. 

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Royal Mint coins such as the halfpenny, farthing and noble have all taken their turn on the Shakespearean stage, in plays that include Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice and the Merry Wives of Windsor. Even one-time master of the Mint, nobleman William Hastings, had a role in Henry VI, and in Richard III Shakespeare tells of his unfortunate demise.

The 2016 coin concludes the Royal Mint’s series of circulating and commemorative coins marking the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death. 

The new coin’s reverse features theater’s comedy and tragedy masks to represent the range of themes Shakespeare covered. The coin was designed by John Bergdahl.  

According to a press release from the Royal Mint, Bergdahl said, “There is no definitive proof of how Shakespeare might have looked, but there is a popular perception, so I took inspiration from a black and white engraving to create the masks; for me the two faces summed up his genius.”

The obverse of the 2016 coin features the Jody Clark effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

The coin weighs 31 grams, measures 34 millimeters in diameter and has a maximum mintage of 15,000 pieces.

The coins are presented in a colorful cardboard pack and sold at face value. 

To learn more, or to order, visit the Royal Mint website.

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