The Royal Mint, in partnership with the Royal Academy, on Nov. 22
unveiled Britain’s first ever kilogram-sized coins.
The reverses of the Proof .999-fine silver £500 coin and Proof
.999 fine gold £1,000 coin were designed by two different Royal
Academicians. The designer of the gold coin is Sir Anthony Caro,
considered one of the most influential sculptors of modern times,
according to the Royal Mint. The designer of the silver coin is
renowned artist, composer and writer Tom Phillips.
The two reverse designs join Ian Rank-Broadley’s effigy of Queen
Elizabeth II on the obverse.
The coins mark the 2012 London Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Victory, heritage, cooperation
Caro’s design represents victory and Olympic heritage, depicting
the sports equipment used for weightlifting, boxing, football and
athletics framed by a laurel wreath and the official London 2012 logo.
Caro treated the commission as if for a sculptural medal.
The design “was inspired by how the Olympic and Paralympic Games
focus on success and pushing the body and mind to their limits, and
therefore emphasis has been placed on the laurel crown of the victor,
an ancient symbol of the Olympic games,” according to the Royal Mint.
Phillips’ design for the silver kilogram coin focuses on the idea
of the cooperation of teams working in unison to achieve collective
success and victory.
Phillips makes use of a style of lettering familiar from
sculptures and paintings he has created in the past for the
words UNITE OUR DREAMS TO MAKE THE WORLD A TEAM OF TEAMS to frame the
outer edge of the coin. The pennants are intended to be celebratory
flags, creating a sun for the Games, while also being representative
of the Olympic flame.
Phillips’ works have been held by some of the world’s most
prominent museums including the Tate Gallery and the National Portrait
Gallery (United Kingdom) while Caro’s commissions “have played a
pivotal role in the development of 20th-century sculpture,” according
to the Royal Mint.
Phillips designed the 50-penny coin from 2005 honoring Samuel
Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language.
Sir Anthony, knighted in 1987, was the first British sculptor
since Henry Moore to receive the Order of Merit, in 2000. The Museum
of Modern Art in New York City staged a major exhibition of his works
on its roof earlier in 2011.
The two designs for the coins are the result of the first
collaboration between the Royal Academy and the Royal Mint.
The coins are legal tender and were approved by Queen Elizabeth II.
Both coins will have a minimum guaranteed weight of 1,000 grams,
and both coins measure 100 millimeters in diameter.
The silver coin has a mintage limit of 2,012 coins and costs
£3,000. The gold coin has a mintage limit of 60 pieces and costs £100,000.
Both kilogram coins are presented in crafted, specially designed
presentation boxes accompanied by individually numbered certificates
of authenticity. Caro personally signed and numbered the certificates
for each gold kilogram coin.
Striking kilogram coins has recently become part of Olympic
commemorative coinage tradition, regardless of host nation, but the
Royal Mint had to receive a legislative victory to issue them in Great
Britain, as reported Nov. 15 online at www.coinworld.com/articles/royal-mint-to-issue-silver-gold-kilogram-coin/.
Before passage of a technical amendment that received royal assent
Nov. 3, wording of the Coinage Act of 1971 prevented the Royal Mint
from legally striking 1-kilogram coins for the United Kingdom.
The Coinage Act mandated how the average tolerance or variance of
weight of coins was to be determined, calculated for weights up to 1
kilogram worth of coins; the act did not make provisions for coins
that weigh 1 kilogram.
Member of Parliament Mark Lancaster (Milton Keynes North),
introduced the bill effectively allowing the large-size coins. The
legislation modified the wording to allow each coin proclamation to
specify the standard weight.
Without passage of the technical amendment, the Royal Mint would
have had to scrap its plans for kilogram-sized coins despite a
commitment to issue them as part of the bid for the 2012 Games.
Scrapping the plans would have forced the Royal Mint to “consider an
alternative product to fill the gap” in the commemorative coin
program, according to Feb. 4, 2011, testimony in the House of Commons.
“However, none of the alternatives would have anything like the
appeal of the 1 kg coin. There is a global expectation that the Royal
Mint and the London 2012 Olympic coin programme will follow in the
footsteps of London’s predecessors,” according to Lancaster’s testimony.
The mintage limit for the silver coin was incorrectly listed in
the testimony as 14,000 pieces.
The first kilogram coin was introduced in 1992, according to
Lancaster’s testimony, and most Olympic Games host nations in recent
years — for example, Australia, Canada and China — have issued such
coins, which have proved popular with collectors internationally.
The amendment also enables the Royal Mint to strike kilogram coins
for other themes of cultural significance and historical
anniversaries, as well as sporting occasions, “leveling the playing
field on which the Royal Mint can compete, appealing to collectors
worldwide, even at the top end of the market,” said Justine Greening
fellow minister of Parliament and economic secretary to the Treasury,
during the Feb. 4 testimony.
The Diamond Jubilee in 2012 is another possible theme for
The Olympic kilogram coins would not, however, be the first
kilogram coins struck by the Royal Mint; it has previously issued such
coins for Alderney (including such a coin marking the 2011 royal
wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in April).
For more information about the kilogram 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. ■