World Coins

Royal Mint announces design contest for £1 coin

The Royal Mint will issue a new ringed-bimetallic, 12-sided £1 coin starting in 2017. The obverse prototype design has been unveiled, and a contest will be used to select the reverse design.

Image courtesy of the Royal Mint.

Anyone in the United Kingdom who has ever wanted to design a coin now has a chance.

The Royal Mint and the United Kingdom’s Treasury announced Sept. 12 that anyone in the UK, regardless of nationality or age, is eligible to enter a contest to design the reverse of the circulating £1 coin, which will be released in 2017.

The new £1 coin will be 12-sided (resembling the 3-penny coin that circulated from 1937 until decimalization in 1970). It will also incorporate the latest in security features, namely the Royal Mint’s patented iSIS technology, which is “a revolutionary new high security coinage currency system,” according to the Royal Mint.

“iSIS — Integrated Secure Identification Systems — enables not just coins, but the whole cash cycle to be more secure, protecting the public, vending machine operators, retailers, and the wider banking system," according to the Royal Mint.

Replacement of the circulating £1 coin was announced March 18.

SEE Coin World's earlier coverage of the new coin.

The coin is set to be a ringed-bimetallic piece, with a gold-colored outer ring and a silver-colored center. Though specifications are not finalized, it is expected to measure between 22.5 and 24.5 millimeters in diameter. 

Budding designers are being asked to suggest designs that show what Britain, or “Britishness” means, “drawing on all of the qualities and quirks that make our nation unique,” according to the announcement of the contest.

One thing that will not be allowed on the designs are known persons, living or dead, according to the Royal Mint and Treasury, because the design is intended “to represent the whole of the UK.”

“The reputation of someone in the public eye now cannot be guaranteed into the future,” according to the announcement. “Since coins can expect to be in circulation for upwards of 30 years or more, there is a risk that the reputation of the coinage and the government could be damaged.

The denomination ONE POUND must be incorporated in the design, as the designer chooses.

Designs can be submitted in pencil, ink, paint or using computer drawing or design software but must not include designer initials.

George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, said in a press release: “Think about your favourite landmark, or a great British achievement or a symbol from our Islands’ Story.” 

Besides seeing the design on a coin, the winner will receive a £10,000 ($16,259 in U.S. funds) prize and be invited to the Royal Mint to watch production of coins bearing the design.

The winning design will be chosen in 2015 and the winner will be disclosed to national and international media.

Entrants may be of any age, but those under 18 years old must provide contact details so the Royal Mint can confirm that they received consent from a parent or guardian.

Entries must be submitted on a template provided by the Royal Mint, and are due to the Royal Mint no later than 23:59 (local time) on Oct. 30.

Would-be designers may submit multiple entries, but must pre-register to receive a unique reference code that is included with each entry. 

All entries become the property of the Royal Mint and the U.K. government, and must not be copied from someone else or violate copyright law.

The only people ineligible for the contest are Royal Mint employees and those directly involved in organizing the competition.

All entries will be stored in a secure room with limited access. The Royal Mint Advisory Committee, which presently reviews all designs for official British coins, medals, seals and decorations, will review the entries, which will be stripped of any reference to the artist's name.

The entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • How well does the design meet the published design brief?
  • How well has the design made use of the template?
  • How well would the design work as a coin?
  • How creative and original is the design?

The committee will create a short-list and may enter designs into a computer program to visualize how the designs will appear as struck coins. After making its final selection, the chancellor of the exchequer and Queen Elizabeth II will have to give final approval.

Three-dimensional models will be made of the designs that are short-listed, and designers will receive a fee of £1,000 per model. The fee will be reduced to £250 per model if the desginer chooses to have the Royal Mint prepare the models.

Entries mail be emailed but mailed entries are preferred. For full information about the contest, visit the page at the Royal Mint’s website.

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